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28 September 2022

Letter of the week: Fantasy economics

Write to letters@newstatesman.co.uk to have your thoughts voiced in the New Statesman magazine.

By New Statesman

Both your Leader and Andrew Marr (Cover Story, 23 September) mention the desirability of a pro-growth policy. But it is difficult to see how Liz Truss’s tax cuts will achieve 2.5 per cent growth in the long term, even though the cuts and the borrowing will give some short-term relief. Apart from the inequity of his tax reforms, Kwasi Kwarteng’s measures appear to show little idea of how commerce and industry work. It is deluded to expect that corporation tax cuts and uncapping banker bonuses will persuade investors frightened by Brexit to return to the UK with sacks of gold. The proposal for 40 “investment zones” sounds as tenuous as Boris Johnson’s 48 “new hospitals”.

We also hear much about a “high-skill, high-wage tech economy”. In reality we see a government allowing the sale of successful British tech companies to foreign firms, such as DeepMind and SwiftKey to Google and Microsoft respectively, as well as other companies such as Autonomy, Arm and Newport Wafer Fab. Some of these acquisitions were approved by Kwarteng as industrial secretary. Meanwhile, the pound slides, interest rates rise and borrowing grows.
Geoff Brown, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

The growth gap

As your Leader (23 September) points out, Liz Truss’s pro-growth provisions do not stimulate growth, as the rich save while the poor spend disposable income. It also suggests raising Universal Credit “would be both fairer and better for growth”. In contrast, the latest provisions for Universal Credit claimants under Truss include a tougher regime of sanctions faced by those who do not attend sessions to help them find “better jobs”.
David Clarke, Witney, Oxfordshire

Margaret Thatcher’s economic principles became the ten commandments of the Conservative Party, and Liz Truss has embraced them with the zeal of a crusader. Thatcher’s apparent improvements were the privatisation of monopolies (a disaster), fiscal discipline and changes to labour laws. But, given her history, screeching U-turn about capping energy prices and lax fiscal control, Truss’s faith may turn out to be a case of, “Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.”
Guill Gil, London N1

Lifting the ban

The NS asks, “Where will fracking resume first?” (State of the Nation, 23 September). The only place that has been fracked in the UK is Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire. The site breached the agreed regulatory seismic limit of 0.5 with tremors measuring 1.6, 2.1 and 2.9 in a single week in 2019. A British Geological Survey report published in July 2022 concludes that we don’t have sufficient scientific information to allow fracking to restart in the UK.

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THANK YOU

Nonetheless, my bet is that the answer to your question is… Lancashire.
Austen Lynch, Garstang, Lancashire

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Dark matter

Having finished the book, I take issue with Imogen West-Knights’ review of Robert Galbraith’s (aka JK Rowling’s) The Ink Black Heart (The Critics, 16 September). West-Knights’ assertion that a crime thriller has no business “being 1,000 pages long” and failure to mention the book’s main theme of dangerous off- and online misogyny (the real ink black heart) made me wonder whether she reached the end. West-Knights says that she would “hate to conflate the art and the artist”, then blames Rowling for her going on to do exactly that – a fresh twist on victim blaming.
Lucy McCarraher, Norfolk

Reform in name only

James McSweeney (Correspondence, 23-29 September) refers to David Cameron granting a referendum on electoral reform. Rather than proportional representation, the 2011 referendum was about the Alternative Vote (AV), which produces nothing like a proportional result. The Electoral Reform Society estimated that, under AV, Cameron’s overall majority in 2015 would have been 24 instead of 12, despite the Conservatives receiving only 37 per cent of the vote.
Alan Pavelin, Chislehurst, Kent

The incredible truth

Hats off to Howard Jacobson (The Diary, 23 September) for naming “incredible” as a linguistic irritant. It was Matt Hancock’s superfluous repetitions of this superlative in a single paragraph of a Covid briefing that first alerted me; since when “incredible” has become the dominant adjective de jour, eclipsing all other more meaningful alternatives.

Its proliferation among BBC Radio 4 broadcasters, commentators and interviewees is a new norm of epidemic hyperbole. A nadir was reached, perhaps, when I heard an educated interviewee utter “incredibly unique”.  
Paul Anthony Newman, Winchester, Hants

Major betrayal

Nicholas Lezard (Down and Out, 23 September) describes John Major as a “thoroughly decent man without airs and graces”. I fail to see how any politician who oversaw the selling of school playing fields could be described as such.
Christine Williams, Llandysul, Ceredigion

Riot act

Andrew Marr cannot believe that the British “moan but they don’t riot”. (Cover Story, 2 September). What about the major riots in 1981 (two), 1985, 1990, 2001 and 2011? Further back, 1768 (Wilkes), 1780 (Gordon), 1811/12 (Luddites) and 1830 (“Swing”) come to mind.
Jonathan Kiek, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Reading list

Regarding travelling on the Elizabeth Line to Reading, Nicholas Lezard (Down and Out, 2 September) should read A Much Maligned Town: Opinions of Reading 1586-1997. I lived there from 1956 to 1973 before escaping to London on British Rail.
Caroline Holmes, London N17

Taking up the cudgels

Kevin Maguire (Commons Confidential, 23 September) refers to a wooden implement used in shinty. The wooden implement is actually a caman.
Ian Hartgroves, Stourbridge, West Midlands

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[See also: Letter of the week: New model monarch]

This article appears in the 28 Sep 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The Truss Delusion