Zeroing the deficit zoom, zoom: essentially a grim vanity project?

Is the frenetic rush to reduce the deficit in reality more about the Chancellor’s ego, than about the UK economy?

It doesn’t take a great economist to see that when people don’t have a job, other working people are also vulnerable to unemployment. 

No wages equals no buying power.  No buying power equals less demand. Less demand means even fewer jobs…  and fewer jobs mean more misery.  Which is exactly what’s happening in the UK right now.

So the question which first comes to mind, as Larry Elliott of The Guardian reminds us today, is whether Chancellor George Osborne is up to the job?

This is the question that those who see civic responsibility and obligation at the core of politics may well ask.  But is economic competence in this civic sense the issue as perceived by those sons of privilege – none of them privy to the daily grind of unremitting poverty – who are George Osborne, David Cameron and Nick Clegg?

I am beginning to suspect it is not.

Perhaps the ‘real’ rationale behind the obscenity of visiting heartless hardship on the defenceless is simply this: 

The ConDem leadership wants to be known in history as the powerhouse whose legacy was to delete the deficit.  And to be sure this happens they ‘need’ to do it in a single parliamentary term.

Seen in this light – and alongside an abysmal failure to acknowledge or understand what real, personal, inescapable hardship is thereby inflicted – the relentless drive towards deficit reduction makes ‘sense’.   

For many others fundamental sensibilities may be offended by the human cost of the failure of care for the vulnerable.  But those who wish to leave historic legacies rarely let human suffering stand in their way.

It all fits nicely:  The right of the Conservative Party is desperate to achieve de-governance, the apparently modernising wing of the rising Tory ‘stars’ (Osborne, Cameron and co.) needs to show how energetic and clever they are, and the LibDems in the Cabinet want to make their mark, in the brief period of power now available to them.

Zeroing the deficit – albeit as a false dawn before who-knows-what future economic nightmare -becomes in these terms a defining and pressing project.

No need to take things forward, as so many urge, in a measured way.  If the deficit can be obliterated by brutal force of will in just five years, a place in history is assured.

We are, emphatically, not ‘all in this together‘.  From where it seems Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Clegg stand, the human costs of their fiscal blunderbus are simply collateral which will soon be forgotten.

Citizens too numerous, vulnerable and inconsequential to consider may fall by the wayside, but the political vanity project to beat all others is alive and kicking.  George Osborne will in this account soon claim his title as the man who zeroed the deficit, the ultimate in Iron Chancellors. 

What more could a chap who already has everything ask?

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