Branson on the deficit: Virgin’ on the idiotic
Richard Branson was in yesterday’s Evening Standard, voicing his support for immediate cuts in public spending to address the deficit:
“We are going to have to cut our spending and I agree with the 20 leading economists who said we need to start this year. The next government, whatever party that is, must set out a plan to reduce the bulk of the deficit over a Parliament by cutting wasteful spending and must not put off those tough decisions to next year. These factors threaten to undermine the confidence of international and UK business, UK consumers and the global financial markets. That could cost jobs and reduce investment in Britain.”
And there we were thinking the debate had moved on a bit, with all three main parties now agreeing it better to hold off on major cuts until at least 2011. Big public spending cuts this year would risk sending the economy back into a double-dip recession. It’s obviously not ideal, but the deficit can and should be financed until the economy is growing again.
Much of the business of Branson’s hugely diverse Virgin Group depends on consumer confidence to survive. He really should be more careful he wishes for, or does he think that ‘forcibly increasing leisure hours’ for many more people will somehow lead to them consuming more Virgin lifestyle products?
And of course as Left Foot Forward point out, Branson himself may have a more direct connection to the deficit. It’s been widely reported that he makes use of offshore trusts to minimise his contribution to the UK Exchequer’s revenues, and has in the past been convicted for tax evasion. A bit rich (possibly a bit super-rich) then to prefer others to stump up the difference in service cuts and job losses.