For 30 years, politicians have ducked hard questions about our economy. Now the Tories promise to magic the problems away
Boris Johnson’s latest wheeze is classical political economy. Faced with the chaos of petrol shortages, empty supermarket shelves and surging gas prices, Johnson offered an audacious response this week: this was all part of the plan. Britain, he explained, was merely transitioning out of a broken economic “model”, based around low pay and high immigration, and into a new one, based around high productivity and high-wage job creation.
His conference speech was immediately criticised by the right, on the basis that by celebrating tighter labour markets it appeared to be actively inviting inflation. But on the basic gut level, to which Johnson only ever speaks, he appears to have got away with it. Britain’s most exasperating economic policy riddle of recent decades – its sluggish productivity growth – was simply going to be magicked away, he announced.
William Davies is a sociologist and political economist. His latest book is This is Not Normal: The Collapse of Liberal Britain