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Friday 9 October 2009

What’s Up, Doc?

So the man who would be the Good Doctor, the one who prescribes the medicine for the British people and their country, has spoken. Young Dave’s speech – given a suitably rapturous reception by the Tory faithful – told us what a steep climb he foresaw, and contained lots of the usual rhetoric. But it is what it didn’t contain that is significant.

In a speech that lasted for the best part of an hour, there was no mention of banks, bonuses, the banking system – or markets. Given the amount of time and energy Pa Broon and his cabinet have had to expend on those areas in a period of just over a year, and the significance they have to the wellbeing of the UK, that’s an omission of non trivial size.

He also laid into Labour over poverty, although the Tories will not be repealing the Minimum Wage, which may just have helped hundreds of thousands of the least well off – and which his party opposed consistently. Neither will he cut the Sure Start programme. Or the independence of the Bank of England. Or the ability of same sex couples to enter into Civil Partnerships, an area in which Cameron – who resisted the repeal of Section 28 – has managed to finesse expertly, exemplified by his good wishes to Alan Duncan on his Civil Partnership, but his lack of appearance at the ceremony.

So we know that Young Dave is a shrewd politician, but not how he would face a major crisis, such as that which so nearly brought down more than one of the big banks. Nor do we know how a Tory Government will approach the economy – and, after all, as Bill Clinton’s team pointed out during his 1992 Presidential campaign, “it’s the economy, stupid”. Will they move to cut spending and induce a slump along the lines of the early 80s – or 1937 USA? Are they pragmatists merely talking up the challenge, only to take a more nuanced line after getting elected, or are they really going to slash and burn?

We would be better served by knowing before the General Election. But, chances are, we won’t know until he’s in Downing Street. Bit late then.

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