The Mid-Atlantic Blog

December 14, 2005

You Can Only Change When You Accept You Have A Problem...

Sometimes there is a right answer and a wrong answer to a question.

Most of us remember the long debate over entry to the ERM. It went on for years, and all right-thinking people were on one side of it: the Labour Party, the Trades Unions, most of the key players in the Tory Party of the Major years, the Press, much of the City.

There were not many people who disagreed, as I remember.

But let's be clear.

The people who thought it was a bad idea were right. Joining the ERM was a blinking stupid idea, and lots of people lost their houses because of it. And it cost the Tories their reputation for economic competence.

Now, the Tory Party has been dodging admitting this properly for years. We've gone round in circles using forms of words to pretend that it's not that clear cut, in part (it's always appeared to me and I'm sure to others) to save the faces of those who had their fingers in the blood of that decision. This lack of ability to be clear on this issue has meant that this mistake has infected the whole of our economic credibility. The public could spot that we weren't really telling the whole story, and drew appropriate conclusions.

Today we finally did it. This speech, covered elsewhere extensively, draws that line. Quite importantly, it also innoculates Cameron against his presence that day.

Now we've admitted that it was a mistake, and the leadership is from a new generation, we can begin to address the other elements of the issue.

There are two parts to that:
  • Independent audit, and basic structure
  • Detailed specific economic policies

The speech (full text here) deals with the first of these two issues, and appears to do so well. It covers the second in less detail, but frankly that's fine. I'll try to have a more detailed look through the details (here) from that perspective soon, but to me it's by far the least important part of the three key issues.

No. They key for today is that we've drawn a line under the issue. Now we can spend the next few years pointing out all the ways that Gordon has played fast and loose with the figures. That'll be fun to watch.

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