15 October 2008

Boris the Keynesian?

A surprising article in the Telegraph yesterday by Boris Johnson, sounding like Old Labour , if anything. Get this:

We will beat this recession more speedily, and emerge in far better shape, if we make sure we put people to work in projects that boost the long-term competitiveness of the country.

That means investing in the things that can radically improve the transport, attractiveness and general liveability of the capital city, the motor of the British economy. We may be in a hole, but the lesson of history is that tunnels and bridges and dams can bring jobs and growth.

Is this the same buffoon who somehow managed to win the London mayor election? Well yes, probably, as Boris has probably realised he's unlikely to get re-elected if unemployment in London has sky-rocketed by 2012 and all he can do (other than handing out free tickets to the London Olympics for the unemployed) is tell people to get "on their bike".

But when Boris Johnson is making the case for Keynesian infrastructure spending to combat the slump, you know the political battleground has shifted.

So who's left in the rapidly shrinking camp of balanced budgets, fiscal rectitude, and the position the Americans are calling 'neo-Hooverism' - conspiring to prolong the slowdown by reducing demand for goods and services at the point the economy can least take it? That's right, it's our old friend Simon Heffer again:

The orgy of borrowing over which Alistair Darling now presides and which some Tories wish to continue — such as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who recklessly calls for continued spending on capital projects for the capital that, pending economic revival, cannot be afforded — must end.

Nice use of "capital" twice in one sentence, there, but otherwise an intellectually negligible contribution. In the same article, Heffer recommends John Redwood - Klingon and one-time Tory leadership challenger - for the Shadow Chancellor post. This guy must have bubbles on the brain or something. I will have to resist the urge to post any more from Heffer this side of Christmas, as you good people need something intelligent to read, not rehashed monetarist bullshit.

Stock markets tanked again today - no real surprise, as the fact that the world economy's been saved from sudden death doesn't mean that it won't still face a long period in intensive care. Never thought I'd say this, but Boris Johnson is right: time to dig out those big public transport projects and borrow to pay for them.

Someone should make Gordon Brown a really big credit card - like those big cheques you get if you raise a large sum of money for charity. It would be a good gimmick at the next Budget.

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