Ireland: a glimpse into the UK’s future?
Ireland has chosen a very different solution to its public finance problems than the UK. It has effectively done what many on the right have been urging on the Chancellor: massive spending cuts to bring the public deficit down. The resulting bitterness building up in Ireland is described very well in this Guardian report. I was struck particularly by this paragraph which shows why the very different political discourse today from that of the early 1980s means this is not the point for a triumphant return of Thatcherite economics:
Public sector unions, charities, NGOs and churches are furious over cuts in workers’ pay, unemployment benefit and welfare payments to the disabled, as well as almost €1bn (£900m) lopped off capital spending projects. They believe the poorer and most publicly spirited sectors of Irish society are paying a higher price for the collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy than are the property developers and banks they accuse of fuelling an unsustainable boom.
Let’s hope it’s not a glimpse into the UK’s future particularly since the Irish approach is not actually working.