David Blanchflower: David Cameron's economic gibberish

The PM’s speech to the CBI was an insult to the intelligence of his audience


The CBI, was much in the news last week. Of particular note was the publication of new data from its industrial trends survey that suggested that the UK is heading back to triple-dip recession. The CBI found that manufacturers expect to reduce output over the next three months, while overall orders are relatively flat. Of the 409 manufacturers responding, only 19 per cent expect to increase their volume of output over the next three months and 28 per cent expect it to fall. The resulting balance of minus-9 per cent marks the lowest prediction this year. This suggests GDP growth in the fourth quarter will turn negative again.

Plus there was the Prime Minister's trite and empty-headed speech to the CBI's annual conference that warrants careful examination as it was supposed to have been about how to generate growth but wasn't. It was an insult to the intelligence of its audience of businessmen who wanted to hear how the government intended to raise business confidence. Sadly it was full of platitudes and incomprehensible gibberish but had no substance, as I will outline below. I was hoping to hear an announcement of some policy initiatives but all we got was flimflam as the economy tanks. There were many jewels in the speech but I thought I would examine the 13 worst bits of drivel. Let's start with the worst of the worst.

1. "There's not a job in the world where you don't need a good grasp of English." Has he ever been abroad? Firemen in Montevideo, farmers in Borneo and street cleaners in Cairo come to mind. LOL.

2. "You need us… to have a proper industrial strategy to get behind the growth engines of the future." I haven't the faintest clue what "getting behind the engines of the future" means. Surely we would want to be investing so we can be the ones inventing the engines of the future? Why would we want to be behind the future anyway? Twaddle.

3. "You need us to be tough. To be radical. To be fast. I'm going to tell you what that means. First, you need a government that is tough." No; what is actually needed is a government that is competent, which this one isn't. Being tough has caused so much unnecessary pain. Borrowing is rising, not falling, and the economy is shrinking.

4. "But here's the thing. Being tough on the deficit doesn't mean being simplistic – salami-slicing budgets and taking an axe to everything." Sadly that is what the Government has done. There are no growth sectors. None. Slashing public investment has crippled the construction sector.

5. "It's got to mean prioritising the right things, backing enterprise, growth and business, even in the teeth of fierce opposition. That's what we've done." No, actually you haven't, as the economy is shrinking. There is no evidence you have backed enterprise, growth and business, the evidence is the opposite. Three of the last four quarters have been negative and less than half of the output drop in the recession has been restored. In output terms this recovery is the slowest in 100 years and much worse than in the thirties.

6. "Interest rates at record lows. A million new private-sector jobs created in two years. Exports up dramatically." Actually interest rates are at historic lows as there is no growth and there is no chance the Monetary Policy Committee will raise rates. It has nothing to do with the credibility of the coalition's strategy but much to do with the fact that the MPC is buying most government bonds. One million private-sector jobs have been "created" only by fiddling the data; 200,000 jobs in further education and sixth-form colleges were reclassified from the public to the private sector in June. Plus export volumes are lower today than they were a year ago or two months ago. So not true.

7. "We've been utterly intolerant of failure too… And we're having an all-out war on dumbing down too." I believe the count is 37 U-turns so far, including aircraft carriers, pasties, grannies, forests, caravans, school milk, EU veto, circus animals ban, petrol duty and badgers. It is clear these U-turns have come because the policies were not thought through in the first place. Dumb and dumber.

8. "So this government has been tough and we've been radical. But there's something else you desperately need from us, and that's speed because in this global race you are quick or you're dead." What? Not sure what the quick and the dead have to do with economic growth.

9. "And this goes all the way to the top. The Cabinet I chair is now a Growth Cabinet. I go around that table and hold people to account for progress on everything from superfast broadband to housebuilding, in a way that has never happened before. But we need to do more because government can still be far too slow at getting stuff done." But still the government has no growth plan.

10. "Now let me be clear: over the past two-and-a-half years I've worked with exceptional civil servants who are as creative and enterprising as any entrepreneur." And then he fired them all.

11. "Well, this country is in the economic equivalent of war today and we need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every 't' and dotting every 'i'." You must be joking. Not dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's is what got you in trouble in the first place and probably explains most of the 37 U-turns.

12. "And I'll tell you why. Not for our country to climb the ranks on some global leaderboard for the sake of it but for the sake of our people and their aspirations." I assume this is in the speech just for the sake of it. I have no idea what this means. Total gibberish.

13. "This is what it's all about. Getting Britain on the rise. Helping our people thrive. Building an economy that's not just worth something but worthwhile. And we'll build it together." More meaningless gibberish.

It is clear that David Cameron hasn't the slightest clue how to get the economy growing again. We should expect more from a Prime Minister who seems to think it's okay to insult our collective intelligence. The country needs another U-turn.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Public Accounts Committee found widespread concern among civil servants that they would be victimised if they spoke out about wrongdoing  

Nikileaks explained: The sad thing about the Nicola Sturgeon saga is that it makes leaks less likely

Jane Merrick
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?