THE BBC carried an interview with Kenneth Clarke, former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, who warned that government borrowing is a serious problem and urgent steps are needed to address the deficit. Rishi Sunak, the current Chancellor, is making similar noises, but not quite so forcefully. The electorate is being prepared for the return of austerity.
Clarke in particular, and Sunak to a fair extent, are both completely wrong. Austerity was put in train by George Osborne when in office and the policy did a huge amount of damage.
The main thing that was learnt from the period 2010-14 was that Keynesianism works. Over 90 per cent of academic economists would today endorse the use of contra-cyclical spending.
A time of historically low interest rates that look like persisting means that government investment spending is a “no brainer” whilst retrenchment via austerity is a mark of economic illiteracy.
There is a perception amongst perhaps most voters that only the Conservatives can be trusted with running the economy effectively. This is a myth. Dispassionate academic economists would argue that comparing the records of Conservative and Labour chancellors in office over the last 50 years shows that Tory chancellors win only the silver medal.
From: Neil Richardson, Kirkheaton.
TOM Richmond’s sharp outlook (The Yorkshire Post, February 27) on educational catch-up plans includes Boris Johnson’s worry over ‘the biggest challenge our country faces’.
A simple summary of secondary school life as 40 weeks (six classroom hours plus two homework hours daily) gives 1,600 annual learning hours.
If only half of such learning must be carried forward from last year to April 2021, teachers and pupils face a nine-month academic slog uphill, assuming last year’s work (800 hours) is to be delivered alongside material for 2021 (1,200 hours). Yes, my uncomplicated problem definition omits a great deal, for instance, school financial budgets, staff morale, a planning period, variety between schools (plus subjects within schools), and – not least – the entire primary sector.
Hence, a richer definition agreed pronto by policy makers and teachers might advance discussion on an important issue probably much bigger than we think it is, one of those awkward problems that won’t stay solved for long.
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