Chancellor plays “denial” card

In: Uncategorized

17 Aug 2010

The reference by George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister), to “deficit deniers” is a blatant attack on the legitimacy of criticisms of the government’s economic policy.

In a speech in London today he argued that:

“Anyone who is serious about tackling the nation’s debts needs to come forward with an alternative plan.

“Both those who deny the need to cut the deficit and those who refuse to say how to do it are placing themselves outside of the domestic and international debate.

“And in becoming deficit deniers they are saying that they would set the country on a road to economic ruin.”

This suggests that anyone who questions the main thrust of economic policy is denying reality and therefore probably insane. In using the term “denial” he is following the lead of many greens who refer to “climate denial” – with its unmistakeable echoes of Holocaust denial.

As it happens I do believe that the deficit should be tackled but in my view the best approach is to increase production rather than curb consumption. But once Osborne gets away with declaring certain forms of argument illegitimate the terms of the debate will become even narrower than they already are.

It is vital to support the right of people to put forward whatever views they like on the economy – however absurd they may appear to the government. The public can then decide whether they want to go along with alternative views or not.