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6 October 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:11am

The truth about the cuts/deficit debate, part 77

My economists v George Osborne’s economists . . .

By Mehdi Hasan

Since David Cameron is going to do a version of “Labour gave us a crazy deficit, it’s worse than we thought, we have to cut, cut, cut and everyone in the world backs us” in his big conference speech this afternoon, I thought I’d do a pre-emptive blog post on the two (yes, two!) sides to the deficit reduction argument.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, in perhaps the most disingenuous and immature section of his speech on Monday, deliberately mischaracterised the two sides when he said:

There are two sides to this argument.

On one side, there is the IMF, the OECD, the credit rating agencies, the bond markets, the European Commission, the Confederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Governor of the Bank of England, most of British business, two of our great historic political parties, one of the Miliband brothers, Tony Blair and the British people.

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On the other side is Ed Miliband and the trade union leaders who put him where he is.

No, George, on the other side are:

* Barack Obama

* Ben Bernanke

* Tim Geithner

* Paul Krugman

* Joseph Stiglitz

* George Soros

* Richard Freeman

* Robert Reich

* Brad DeLong

* David Blanchflower

* Martin Wolf

* Samuel Brittan

* Anatole Kaletsky

* Robert Skidelsky

For a longer list of leading economists (including other Nobel prizewinners and ex-members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee) who back the Ed Miliband/trade union position on slower, less draconian cuts, see this letter in the Financial Times from February this year.

As for invoking the support of the “British people”, a recent Populus poll found that only one in five voters — 22 per cent — agreed with the coalition’s plan to deal with the deficit by 2015.

Oh, and on a side note, I must point out that Osborne’s “backers” include most of the institutions that failed to foresee the financial crash and the recent recession — the Bank of England, the ratings agencies, the IMF, etc. Typical . . .

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