Saturday, August 28, 2010

Silly Dunt... Deficit Deniers, The Holocaust & PR

Ian Dunt writes on that the use of the phrase "deficit denier" is unacceptable. Of course, we're used to being told what words we can and can't use by those on the left. But it's worth looking at this argument as there is, at least partial, truth in what he says.

Dunt gives two main reasons for not using the "deficit deniers" phrase, the first of which we can dismiss out of hand. He refers to it having "overtones of the Holocaust", because it is a derivation from the phrase "Holocaust denier". Again, a typically silly over appliance of political correctness to address some perceived offence that could be causes by a phrase used by political opponents that you'd expect from the mind of someone on the left.

Now, as it happens, I've not been using the phrase a lot myself but there is nothing offensive about it. To my mind, and others who share the view that there are those in the Labour party who want to continue the reckless and unsustainable spending of the previous government, the phrase sums up their delusional view of the world. The deficit exists, fact. The Holocaust happened, fact. As such the phrases are comparable. Using the phrase "deficit denier" doesn't suggest they are comparable to Nazis, as Dunt seems to think it does. Merely, that they are as deluded as those that deny the truth of the Holocaust. Indeed, not all Holocaust deniers are Nazis, necessarily. Some are just hopeless conspiracy theorists. Use of the phrase does not imply an equality of seriousness either. No one is suggesting the deficit run up by Labour is as horrific as the systematic murder of millions of people, that is, surely, obvious. But, this is not his main point. His second argument has (slightly) more substance to it, in my opinion.

He points out that Coalition politicians are using the phrase to discredit and suppress any alternative argument on how to manage the economy through the next few years.

Of course his main concern is that the phrase accurately and effectively sums up some left wingers' position of public spending and is being picked up by the media and public as it chimes with their own views on the subject. In reality this makes the Coalition's opponents feel uncomfortable as the arguments they'd like to see winning the debate are not gaining traction partly because this phrase so concisely sums up the alternative's argument as delusional and allows the idea to be transmitted easily. He knows the phrase effectively undermines the left's position and he'd prefer it be struck off the list of acceptable phrases.

Well, actually, he has a point. Not the politically correct one, obviously, but the point about attempting to suppress another argument through clever phraseology and PR. There is a legitimate alternative position to the Coalition's approach to tackling the deficit. To be fair, under Alistair Darling, Labour took it up during the election campaign. That was: Yes, deep cuts are necessary, but with slightly different timing and not quite as much, at first anyway. For those on the Left making that point, the phrase deficit denier is inaccurate and unfair. It doesn't fit well into the "new politics" approach if anyone is trying to portray all opposition politicians in that light. That kind of tactic is too reminiscent of the ruthless and sinister Labour propaganda machine that we all came to hate. The Coalition would do well not to emulate, or be seen to emulate, it.

However, since the election, that more realistic view of the deficit has all but disappeared from our TV screens when we hear Labour spokespersons oppose each and every Government action to reduce the deficit. There has been no mention of it during the Labour leadership campaign and in this respect, there really does seem to be a sense of delusional deficit denial running deeply through Labour at the highest level.

But Coalition politicians do need to be careful not to generalise all Labour people as deficit deniers. Certainly, the likes of Ed Balls should be exposed as an arch denier. He has said himself and it's been confirmed in the auto-biographies, that he opposed Labour's deficit reduction plans before the election. But, Alistair Darling may have planned a woefully inadequate reduction in the deficit, meaning we'd still be adding to our £1 Trillion++ in 4 years time, but at least he understood the deficit needed reducing. In that respect, he and others like him in Labour are not deficit deniers. The Coalition will be better advised to argue their case against these "deficit inadequates" if they are to continue the "new politics" approach that so sharply distinguishes them from their Labour predecessors.

No comments:

Post a Comment