The GENIUS of Mr Bully Balls is to hold two completely contradictory views simultaneously without EXPLODING.
On the one fluffy foot, the (Hard Labour) Government CANNOT be blamed for the MASSIVE ECONOMIC IMPLOSION of 2008 because they were at the MERCY of worldwide economic conditions, the poor helpless little ducks.
On the OTHER fluffy foot, the (Coalition) Government are ENTIRELY to blame for their powerful, cruel, ideological policies causing the stagnation in growth and employment in 2011 because that CAN'T be anything to do with the meltdown of the Euro and the chaos in Americaland, can it?
Today, Mr Balls has made a speech to the Hard Labour conference setting out a plan to rescue the economy from the trouble
Oh and Labour didn't "build" hospitals: they RENTED them on the never-never from PFI firms that will OWN THE PROPERTY at the end of the contracts. IDIOTS.
Mr Balls has FIVE NEW policies for the economy. To a certain value of "new". To a certain value of "five" for that matter.
His policies are:
1. Repeat Hard Labour's bank bonus tax which does not raise as much money as the Coalition's bank levy
2. Bring forward capital spending like what the Coalition are already doing (CaptainClegg announced this a week ago)
3. Cut VAT
4. Cut VAT
5. Give businesses a National Insurance holiday like the one the Coalition are doing but a bit different. Ish.
Now as far as I can make out, that's FOUR policies, with "cut VAT" included TWICE.
Why am I thinking of that bit in Star Trek where Gul B'Stard has Captain Picard strapped to the torture-matic and is making him say: "There are FIVE policies!"?
And, you know, "cut VAT" (i.e. Mr Alistair Dalek tried last time and it didn't work but what the hell, we've got two slightly different flavours of VAT cut!) is an idea that Bully Balls has been banging on about for QUITE SOME TIME.
As is "repeat the bonus tax" (i.e. take VENGEANCE on the VILE BANKER!).
Now, I don't want to ASSUME anything but it does not seem LIKELY that Mr Balls has suddenly become an arch MONETARIST and so is not intending to LOWER the tax burden, so I must guess he means to do the bonus tax ON TOP OF the bank levy.
And just the other day Mr Potato Ed was talking to Andy Marrmite about "tax cuts for financial services companies", which turns out to mean the Corporation Tax cut for ALL companies (which, oddly enough is supposed to attract companies to move to Great Britain and hence stimulate GROWTH).
So Mr Ed and his almost-exactly-the-same-as-the-Coalition tuition fees policy wants to fund a cut in university costs FOR THE RICH by creating a differential Corporation Tax rate for banks.
Which is quite a LOT of extra taxes to heap on top of the banking sector. And yes, I know they've been VERY naughty, but still…
Look, I do think that we became OVER-DEPENDENT on financial services during the years that can only be described as "the Hard Labour government", but I am still a BIT dubious about policies that seem designed to drive THIRTY PERCENT of the country's economy into the SEA!
It's not exactly a solid GROWTH strategy, is it?
We need a MIXED economy which includes a SOUND banking sector, ideally with more and smaller banks – more because more competition is good for the consumer, and smaller because smaller is easier to bail out if they fail!
The bank levy is FAIR because we are charging the banks for the guarantee that we will bail them out. But PUNITIVE tax rates on both the banks as corporations AND the bankers who work in them will sooner or later see them relocate their businesses and, from a deficit-cutting point of view, their all-important tax revenues.
So, having redefined the word "five" (to mean "four") and the word "new" (to mean "same old same old") let's cut to something with more than one SYLLABLE and see what we can do about "profligate".
Mr Balls denies that Hard Labour were "profligate".
Well, let's see. You WERE spending more money than you raised in tax during the biggest longest boom in post-war history. Some might say that that was a touch EXCESSIVE. Maybe they might even hazard UNWISE. But was it "profligate"?
Well, the wiktionary gives me the definition:
"Inclined to waste resources or behave extravagantly."
So I suppose it depends on whether you think that Hard Labour ever WASTED any resources.
Was, say, invading a Middle Eastern country on the basis of a lie a "waste of resources" or was that a useful and productive endeavour that in no way wasted hundreds of our young people's lives?
Was it, to pick an example for which Mr Balls was personally responsible, "extravagant" to promise to rebuild every school in the country – whether they needed it or not? Whether we could AFFORD it or not?
Was it a waste of resources to commission a vast, pointless, endlessly unfinished IT project for the NHS?
Was "Blairforce One" an extravagance at all?
Did Mr Frown make the best use of resources when he flogged off the country's gold reserve at an historic low in the gold price?
Are you COMPLETELY sure that the Olympics aren't a MASSIVE VANITY PROJECT?
I could go on…
…and I shall!
The response to the foot and mouth outbreak, slaughtering pretty much every cow in the country, was that the best possible use of resources?
Surrendering the British rebate to the European Union, did we get all that we possibly could in exchange for that?
The Jubilee line extension, do you feel that all the extra payments to contractors have successfully avoided endless closures for repairs?
That, ahem, big tent in Greenwich for 2000 A.D.
Clearly it is POSSIBLE to argue that Hard Labour may have OVERSPENT by an few teensy BILLIONS and TRILLIONS, but only on things that were NECESSARY and IMPORTANT. Like the wallpaper in the Lord Chancellor's rooms. Or repaying Mr Bernie Ecclestone.
Clearly it is POSSIBLE… but only if you are BARKING MAD.
So, we must conclude that in Mr Balls' dictionary "profligate" means something like "spending wisely and with prudence", so he can deny ever being "profligate" and it be perfectly true. .