Did the right see the Irish disaster coming?

Ben Chu

ireland 150x150 Did the right see the Irish disaster coming?According to Guido Fawkes I’m “full of it” (see comments on my previous blog). He’s such a charmer that I can only guess that he means full of insight and perspicacity.

But I do think Guido misunderstands my argument about Ireland and right-wing economic dogma. He suggests that I am “pushing a myth that low tax rates brought Ireland down”. Off target I’m afraid. As I said in the blog, I think the two root causes of the Irish meltdown were banking excesses and low interest rates set by the European Central Bank.

The point I was trying to make in my original post was that much of the UK right allowed its obsession with fiscal tightening to eclipse its euro-scepticism over the past year when Dublin was slashing public spending.

I cite as evidence this blog from Guido himself last December in which he argues that, in the wake of Brian Lenihan’s emergency budget last December: “Guido thinks Ireland will bounce back faster than the UK”. Not a mention of the euro straitjacket or the costs of the bank bailout.

Guido maintains that he predicted disaster all along. Well, I’ll take his word for that.

But he wasn’t alone among right-wing commentators in giving the distinct impression that Ireland would be OK because of its brave austerity measures. See here, here, here and here.

Yet the twists and turns of right-wing commentators are of limited importance. What’s much more worrying is this now notorious article from George Osborne in The Times from 2006 in which we are told “Ireland stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policy-making”. No mention of the euro. No mention of a property bubble. No mention of crony capitalism. Just blind cheerleading for a deregulated, low-tax economy.

Gordon Brown gets deservedly slated by right-wingers for his hubristic belief that he abolished boom and bust and his failure to regulate the banks. Funny that they don’t lay into the Chancellor for getting Ireland so desperately wrong – and making the similar error of mistaking a credit bubble for sustainable growth.

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  • Red Rag

    I personally think that both the blogger and the future Baronet have a very similar understanding of economics. The “Irish Miralcle” they both so brilliantly described and promoted as the way forward for the UK economy backs up my thoughts.

  • jobsagoodin

    Would you care to provide an example of a country you think we should be emulating ?

  • Red Rag

    To simply state a country as to what this country should be emulating would be to fall into the same trap as Gideon and Gonad.

    Different countries have different economical problems. People who let their political ideology blind them to this simple economic fact deserve to have their economical stupidity highlighted. The problem for this country is that one of them is now the Chancellor.

  • Adrian Cruden

    The Right may well have seen this coming – they are not economic illiterates. But they are disiimulators par execellence: they have repeatedly and deliberately exaggerated Britain’s deficit and debt problems to almost hysterical levels, with Danny Alexander expressing his repeated shock at finding things so much worse than expected and George Osborne talking luridly about us peering into the economic abyss.

    Yet here we are today extending £7 billions to Dublin. I am not against helping our neighbours, but it does rather bring into question the Tories’ claims during the election that we were in the same state as Greece (supposedly the example that led to Nick Clegg’s top secret conversion to cuts in the middle of the campaign).

    The fact is that the cuts here are a political choice, not an economic necessity. Our debt levels have historically been substantially higher than now and disaster has not happened – rather the opposite: the NHS was born when national debt was over four times its current level set against GDP.

    As the blog rightly points out, Ireland has reached this state following a similar package of austerity measures as the Con dems are implementing here. But don’t expect that to change – this is not about saving the economy; rather, it is about reshaping our society.
    Ireland betrays the lie that Britain is nearly bust.

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