LETTER: Issues are more deep-rooted than PM Boris

A reader discusses Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Roger Watts is conducting a concerted campaign to pin all our nation’s woes on the Prime Minister.

First of all I would make clear that I don’t believe the current Government is well led and most crucially for me, its policy agenda is not wrong headed.

I do however believe it is worth reflecting on what is at the root of our woes. Mr Watts is keen to advance the benefits of EU membership at any opportunity. I don’t share his views having voted to leave.

That being said, my challenge to Mr Watts is to seek an answer as to what is at the root of our economic ills. In previous posts Mr Watts is keen to address national debt. The gist of his claim being that Boris does not take it seriously and displays a juvenile, bumbling approach to the problem.

Well if this is so, how does Mr Watts explain and distinguish the mass of national debt built up by other governments? Why does he claim greater competence for others when year in, year out national debt has risen remorselessly

Even prior to the pandemic, the UK had £1.9 trillion of sovereign debt all, I may add, accumulated during our 40-plus years membership of the EU. What caused all that? Plainly Mr Johnson didn’t.

The real problem for this country is not going to be solved by governments. Indeed government is part of the problem. Successive governments of both main parties have built a monumental sovereign debt and if that were not bad enough, the largest tax share of GDP of any of the G7. That is some achievement which leads me to conclude that the real core problems is not the personality nor an individual party, but are rather structural, woven into our politics.

What I mean by this is that the institutions and bureaucracy of the state are deeply inadequate. Self interest is prevalent and cosy crony relationships between government and big business are prevalent. Corruption is never distant and the stewardship of our money at national and local level is not fit for purpose.

Further from this I contend that policy has come to rely far too heavily on state top down solutions. The belief that Government is competent to intervene well in an economy is demonstrably not so. Well managed capital projects are fine in principle but can Mr Watts name one that stands investment appraisal scrutiny? Where has been the real bang for buck committed?

During the past 50 years the UK has become wedded to consumption seeking continually to feed demand. The result has been a total neglect of the supply side of our economy. Productivity has tanked and wages followed as a result. Government has been the problem not the solution and believing that the current lot are any worse does not stand scrutiny.

Lower taxes, both business and personal, more sane regulation that doesn’t destroy small to medium-sized enterprise and a devolution of power out of Westminster seem to be worth a go.

Build back better and levelling up are slogans and I doubt they mean anything different than previous government attempts to address our woes. Mr Watts is wrong to imply both that Johnson is uniquely incompetent and second that changing the horse rider will cure the ills. There is too much evidence that they are all deficient. and that the policy consensus, certainly on the economy, is a disaster that is deeply rooted not the result of either Mr Johnson nor our leaving of the EU.

Martin Bristow, Wolverhampton

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