Friday, 26 February 2010

Gordon Brown is not free, and neither are we

Today's Times asks "is Gordon Brown free?" The question comes in relation to the news that "the UK made a faster than expected climb out of recession in the final three months of 2009 with growth of 0.3%, official figures showed."

According to Ian King of the Times, "the upward revision in fourth-quarter GDP data is certainly encouraging, not least because it comes only 24 hours after news that business investment collapsed by almost a quarter on the same period last year." BBC News tells us that this was due to"stronger growth in services and production," although "there was still a chance that the economy could contract again in the current quarter."

Economics editor Stephanie Flanders thinks that "the big picture is that we are still looking at a weak and fragile recovery, after a recession that now looks to have been slightly deeper than we thought." In her estimation, "the expenditure figures show all the strength coming from household spending" whilst "investment and net trade took away from growth." She is understating things somewhat when she says this is "not an encouraging sign for the future."

In fact, it only makes the picture look bleaker. Just as we have borne the brunt of spending cuts and increased public debt, so ordinary people have also been the main source of economic strength in the so-called recovery. Industry and capital, after receiving a running total of £1.3 trillion in government aid, has slashed jobs and refused to invest. Even by the criteria of the capitalist economic model, this is an astounding failure. In the context of which, Gordon Brown's pledge to "stand up for the many" by "protect[ing] frontline services" from spending cuts and "protect future jobs and new industries" isn't even a bad joke.

Of course, anybody with a long enough memory will tell you that the Tories only represent something even worse. But don't be fooled into thinking that Labour are a viable alternative, or that "recovery" means anything as thousands of jobs and livelihoods remain under threat. Whatever politicians and the media may say, we are still in an appalling mess. And we can't vote ourselves out of it.