Tories definitely don’t have the economist vote sewn up


9:58 am - May 5th 2010

by Left Outside    


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Here’s the Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman:

For sure, Gordon Brown — like the Rubinites here in America — made the great mistake of buying into the promises of high finance. But is there any doubt that a Tory government would have done the same?

And I understand the sense that Labour has been in office too long. If I were British, I might well consider voting Lib Dem.

But its not just him who are confused that anyone would support the Tories, the endorsement for the Tories from the Financial Times and The Economist have brought some other big guns of the American Blogosphere out in shock. Brad DeLong succinctly titles his post “The Financial Times and the London Economist Lose Their Minds.”

DeLong quotes Matthew Yglesias who explains why so many across the pond are confused that the Tories are being widely supported by our press.

[The] FT, in the course of endorsing David Cameron, concedes that “As a crisis manager, Gordon Brown has been a better premier than his critics claim” and simply doesn’t say anything about the substance of the Tories’ opposition to stimulus, a policy that had it been adopted would have sank the economy.

The Economist does take this issue head-on and concludes that the Tories “were wrong to oppose the economic stimulus after the banking crash” but endorses them anyway….

Britain confronted a giant economic challenge and the center-right party responded with such bad policies that even center-right business-focused newspapers think they were wrong, but… [urge] voters are urged to vote Tory anyway…

I’m no Brown fan, but the Tories have managed to get pretty much every important call of this financial crisis and recession wrong.

These papers both once supported Labour and have been relatively impressed with Labour’s performance throughout this recession but they are breaking ranks now. But what strikes me is that they are really unenthusiastically breaking ranks.

The only convincing explanation is that they’re doing this because they’re rats and the Labour Party appears to be sinking. The Tories are not doing dreadfully and are certainly in the ascendant even as their poll lead wobbles.

This makes sense for these papers, they have their circulation to think about and that will partially rely on the access they can get to the next Government and they are betting on a Tory win. This seems a sensible policy even if the Lib Dems do well, they are not going to begrudge a non-endorsement from papers they were not expecting to back them anyway.

However, the support from across the pond for the anyone but the Tories vote illustrates just how foolish their economic pronouncements have been at times. These American bloggers don’t have particular axes to grind against the Tory party, they’ve just looked at the policies and personalities and decided they are a really unsafe pair of hands.

Can’t say I blame them really. I’m glad that David Rendel now has the nobel laureate vote sewn up.

———-
Cross-posted from Left Outside

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About the author
Left Outside is a regular contributor to LC. He blogs here and tweets here. From October 2010 to September 2012 he is reading for an MSc in Global History at the London School of Economics and will be one of those metropolitan elite you read so much about.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Elections2010

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Reader comments


The only convincing explanation is that they’re doing this because they’re rats and the Labour Party appears to be sinking.

I’d have thought that they based their decision on whether they really wanted Gordon Brown to be Prime Minister for another five years. Once you’ve eliminated this ghastly prospect (and, lets face it, there isn’t a single newspaper in the entire country that offers a whole-heartedly enthusiastic endorsement for Labour) there’s really only one option.

However, the support from across the pond for the anyone but the Tories vote illustrates just how foolish their economic pronouncements have been at times.

Balls, it simply illustrates how amazingly tone-deaf the Americans usually are when it comes to pronouncing on British politics. On both sides of the debate too, look at Alex Massie’s spats (now and previously) with John O’Sullivan.

2. Luis Enrique

yes, I also wonder whether wanting to back the winning team is what matters … but I really don’t believe that the circulation of either The Economist or the FT depends on friendly relations with the UK government. Neither paper is read for political inside dope. As a commentator on Giles’ blog pointed out, The Economist backed Major in 97 – hardly a rat-leaving-sinking-ship sort of move.

I also think DeLong and Krugman are treating overseas politics a little differently than they’d treat it at home – I wouldn’t take too much of a shift in the electoral calender to have a US elections right now – how much sympathy do you think those two would have for arguments that Republicans “didn’t cause the crisis and dealt with it reasonably well”?

All this said, I agree that the Tory economic record is not good. I am not surprised the FT and Economist think Labour ought to go – I guess they don’t have enough confidence in the Lib Dems. Why not believe they back the Tories for the reason they say they do: that the deficit needs to shrink and the Tories will get that done best? I mean, I think they’re wrong, but I’m not sure I see the need to posit ulterior motives.

“As a commentator on Giles’ blog pointed out, The Economist backed Major in 97 – hardly a rat-leaving-sinking-ship sort of move. ”

And how many of the papers now endorsing Cameron and the Conservatives endorsed Balir and New Labour in the 2001 and 2005 elections?

Clear warnings in the media about the fiscal black holes in New Labour budgets can be tracked back at least as far as 2001 and there were warnings, too, about the inflating house-price bubble in Britain going back at least to 2003 (links available).

The political cry of the Conservatives through the inflating house-price bubble was for more and more deregulation, which shows just how much they understood what was going on and the case for necessary corrective policies. John Redwood was even made shadow minister for Deregulation at one stage.

Btw I didn’t vote in the last election because I was so alienated by the policies of the three main parties but then the turnout at the 2005 election was the second lowest since 1918.

Bob,

“The political cry of the Conservatives through the inflating house-price bubble was for more and more deregulation, which shows just how much they understood what was going on and the case for necessary corrective policies. John Redwood was even made shadow minister for Deregulation at one stage.”

The logic of an argument which states that because stronger regulation failed to work, weaker regulation would have been worse is rather opaque. There is a rule around regulation, which is that it is easy to over-regulate, at which point the completion of the regulatory process begins to obscure the actual regulation. Procedure overtakes investigation if you like. You would need to prove the tripartate regulation system was not over-regulated for your argument to stand.

I think the last comment is of dubious validity. These bloggers are not merely economists; they’re Democrat-aligned economists, and the UK election is a proxy war for the US debate about their stimulus. It serves their interests to argue that the Tories are wrong because the Tories here serve as a stand-in for Republicans. Republican-aligned economists would take the opposite side; they’d probably say that the UK is an example of stimulus failing to deliver, and that we don’t have a counterfactual non-stimulus economy to prove that Gordon really did save the world. Again, nothing to do with their opinion about the details of what’s happening in the UK, but just another volley in America’s never-ending partisan blog wars.

(I mean the last comment in the post, not the subsequent discussion.)

Ooo it’s the Guardian’s letters to US electors in reverse.

Subject to editorial approval, I’m reposting a recent comment of mine in another thread because it relates here as well:

Supervisory failings on the part of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in London – never mind the ensuing regulatory failings as well – have been at least partly acknowledged.

There were some public complaints (excuses) from the FSA that salaries were uncompetitive with going pay (including the astonishing bonuses) available in the private-sector financial services industry with the foreseeable consequence that it was verging on impossible for the FSA to attract calibre staff familiar with what really went on in the markets. Gillian Tett on: Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream (Little, Brown 2009) yields insights into market developments which led to the crisis, including how the infamous Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs) started:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/books/review/Barrett-t.html

Lord Turner – chairman of the FSA – produced, in March 2009, a review of regulatory reform proposals:
http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pubs/other/turner_review.pdf

What is especially worrying in retrospect is that in America, the meltdown there of leading financial institutions was a replay, with variations, and on a greatly enlarged scale of what happened in the earlier Savings and Loan Association debacle of the 1980s and 1990s – see this Wikipedia entry:

“The US Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was the failure of several savings and loan associations in the United States. More than 1,000 savings and loan institutions (S&Ls) failed in ‘the largest and costliest venture in public misfeasance, malfeasance and larceny of all time.’ The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around USD$160.1 billion, about $124.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the U.S. government, which contributed to the large budget deficits of the early 1990s.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savings_and_Loan_crisis

Now I first learned about moral hazards in connection with the S&L Association crisis of the 1980s and 1990s on reading the first edition of Donald E Campbell: Incentives (Cambridge UP, 1995), which is the sort of academic text I would expect officials in treasuries, central banks, and financial services regulation to read and take note of.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. House Of Twits

    RT @libcon Tories definitely don't have the economist vote sewn up http://bit.ly/aiT0Rd

  2. Daniel Arlt

    Liberal Conspiracy » Tories definitely don't have the economist …: The Economist does take this issue head-on an… http://bit.ly/9Tdx9F

  3. Daniel Arlt

    Liberal Conspiracy » Tories definitely don't have the economist …: The Economist does take this issue head-on an… http://bit.ly/91gosI

  4. Joanne Potter

    RT @libcon: Tories definitely don't have the economist vote sewn up http://bit.ly/aiT0Rd

  5. Daniel Kennedy

    The Financial Times and the London Economist Lose Their Minds.US media review the election over here. http://tinyurl.com/3yamssk

  6. Liberal Conspiracy

    Tories definitely don't have the economist vote sewn up http://bit.ly/aiT0Rd

  7. Michal Polák

    RT @libcon Tories definitely don’t have the economist vote sewn up http://bit.ly/aXOjHP #ge10 #ge2010 #UKelection

  8. Therese

    "Tories definitely don’t have the economist vote sewn up" http://bit.ly/9dUlwK #GE2010 #GE10 #UKELECTION No they don't! #ignorantosborne

  9. Stuart Laws

    So @markeetee Welfare and social justice didn't convince? Then how about the economy? http://tinyurl.com/3yamssk #imnotvotingconservative





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