Ed Miliband channels the The Temptations’ Melvin Franklin
Its been a few days now since my last post. That’s not because nothing has happened, quite a lot has and is, its just that I feel like Ive written about it all before. That’s not because of any great predictive powers on my part. Its just that the political and economic policymakers I write about most seem stuck in the same ruts.
Take the euro. A little over a week ago the European Union agreed to a second bailout of Greece on the questionable logic that if a cure has failed the best thing to do is try it again. Markets rallied and the crisis seemed to have passed.
Except it hadn’t. As Ive written again and again and again and again the euro is a project with fundamental economic flaws, a fact which no amount of wishful political thinking or borrowed cash will change. To prove the point the last few days have seen rising yields on Spanish and Italian bonds and fresh crisis, the very outcome we were told the most recent bailout would avert.
Opposite the Scylla of the eurozone crisis we had the Charybdis of the near default of the United States. President Obama has been blamed by the right for the ballooning spending but, as Ive said before, the Bush administration kicked off the current orgy of debt. This, as I have also written previously, shows up how empty all the rhetoric about ‘change’ was. The only ‘change’ is that Obama borrows more than Bush did.
What do we see domestically? The economy continues to be sluggish but given the extent of deleveraging going on this is only to be expected. Indeed, I have previously expected it to lead back into double dip towards the end of this year. There isn’t much George Osborne could do to avoid this and despite what Ed Balls says he would only make it worse. On the bright(er) side, the economy wont pick up properly until this happens.
So we come to the one area where perhaps there is room for me to, not only say something new, but do it in between mouthfuls of humble pie; the renaissance of Ed Miliband as leader of the Labour party. I’ve mocked Miliband though I’m hardly the only one, and he does make it so easy when he turns up at marches comparing himself to Martin Luther King or giving the funniest interview of all time. Indeed, Ed’s comedy antics saw him getting an ‘excellent’ rating from just 22% of Labour members while 53% thought he had been “Poor or Very Poor”.
Then came ‘Hackgate’ and all was changed, changed utterly. Labour supporters hailed “The emergence of Ed Miliband Mark II” or crowed that “his courage in putting his neck on the line to take on News International has vindicated the trust that I and a majority of Labour’s Electoral College put in him last September”
But a week, a famously long time in politics, is an eternity in the Labour party. Today saw reports that Miliband wants to weaken the power the trade unions have over Labour party policy. A sensible enough idea (though those are no more fashionable in the Labour party now than they ever were) but one that sees those won over so recently warning darkly that “Ed is playing a dangerous game” All is changed, changed utterly. Again.
But, again, there isn’t much for me to write about here as I’ve already said that “Ed Miliband was an incompetent party leader before ‘Hackgate’ and ‘Hackgate’ hasn’t changed that. After its done Ed Miliband will still be an incompetent party leader”
This isn’t to say I told you so or to claim the power of second sight but simply to reflect on how our leaders insist on repeating their obvious mistakes. Whenever they do something daft you find they did exactly the same thing fairly recently and that it was just as daft then whether it be bailing out busted Mediterranean countries, running another trillion dollar deficit, or changing your mind about Ed Miliband.
Marx said that history repeats itself “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce” He was doubly wrong. You don’t have to wait for something dumb to become shrouded in the fog of history for someone to repeat it and it can be worse than farce; it can be a dull Sunday afternoon repeat of Poirot. Personally I think The Temptations had it more right than Marx
Air pollution, revolution, gun control,
Sound of soul
Shootin’ rockets to the moon
Kids growin’ up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will
And the band played on
So round ‘n’ round ‘n’ round we go
Where the world’s headed, nobody knows
Just a Ball of Confusion
Oh yea, that’s what the wold is today