In an exclusive essay published in this week's New Statesman, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, discusses the ideological battle between left and right over John Maynard Keynes's legacy – and why Keynes would back the coalition's policies.
Cable argues that knee-jerk opposition to the cuts will not suit the long-term causes of the left. "If the British left follows Bob Crow and the National Union of Students to the promised land of the big spenders, it will enjoy short-term popularity at the expense of the coalition but it will also enter an intellectual and political blind alley," writes Cable.
The cuts that the coalition is making are not a matter of choice. "For all the protesters shouting 'No to cuts', this electoral term would always have been about public-sector austerity, no matter who won the election," Cable argues.
"The outgoing Labour government was already planning a fiscal tightening of 1.5 per cent of GDP in 2010/2011," he writes. "The difference between its deficit reduction plan beyond 2010/2011 and that of the coalition amounts to roughly half a per cent of GDP per annum: well within the forecasting error."
The rhetoric of anti-cuts protesters is overblown, says Cable. "Such differences, though not trivial, hardly justify the titanic clash of economic ideas advertised in the commentaries or a threatened mobilisation of opposition comparable to the General Strike."
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