Do you remember in the deep, dark days of the general election campaign all those many, many years six months ago? If you can, can you search your memory further for the economists’ letters that were sent to the Telegraph? First, there was one where business leaders supported George Osborne’s plan to cut corporate NI contributions. Imagine. Business leaders supporting a cut in the taxes of businesses. Then, a couple of weeks later, there was a letter signed by 58 economists opposing Osborne’s plans and supporting Gordon Brown.
Proper tit-for-tat stuff going on there. The second letter completely cancelled out the effect of the first, wasting the time of the people who had orchestrated that letter in the first place. As a campaign tool, it was frankly pretty piss poor. The initial letter was fairly obviously contrived by the Conservative Party. A bunch of the signatories turned out to be supporters of the party in one form or another, on top of the fact that they all stood to benefit from the proposed NI cut. The second letter was equally obviously a rebuttal put in motion by the Labour Party. The tactic didn’t work, and we’re beyond campaigning now, so we won’t be seeing any more silly letters, which is a relief to us all.
Except, of course, that a new letter has been sent once more to the Telegraph. Quite why the ToryTelegraph is the media of choice for these letters I’m not sure. But yesterday’s Telegraph once again played host to a letter from 35 business leaders this time stating their support for the cuts to be announced tomorrow.
The signatories of this latest letter, supporting cuts that will affect the poorest of our country more than anyone else, each earn between £250,000 and £3.1 million a year. Of course, I’m not saying they’re not entitled to an opinion but people earning that sort of money don’t really have the same level of fear about cuts to services and jobs as someone earning minimum wage does. And how will it look if any of the signatories of such a letter start making redundancies and cutbacks in their businesses?
With the original letters, it was only ever implied that the Parties had been behind the letters. There was no explicit admission, so it carried a little bit of weight. However, Tom Watson MP has shown here that this just isn’t the case with this current epistle, destroying any credibility it may have had.
Here is the transcript from last night’s Channel Four news:
Jon Snow: Alan Johnson’s told us that this letter is just a wheeze got up by Conservative Party central office. Do you feel part of a wheeze?
Moni Varma: No not really.
Snow: Who asked you to sign?
Varma: Who asked me to sign? I think, you know I have several friends there who…but I agree with the policy. Let’s forget about who asked me to sign. I can name that f that makes any difference, right? I can name the person. Stanley Fink who is now the treasurer of the party mentioned and then I looked through all the aspects of the cut, I fully agree that somebody has got to take this measure.
So this particular signatory was asked by the Conservative Party to sign the letter. How long before these people start showing up in honours lists?