Vanity and Ashes

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

The AGC (or A-GC if you're a stickler for syntactical niceties) was our shape-shifting government's enemy of choice: the "anti-growth coalition"; this is a catch-all phrase for all those "holding Britain back".

It reminds me of (as a lot of things do these days) of Reggie Perrin and his brother-in-law Jimmy's not so secret army.  Asked by Reggie who it was going to fight against Jimmy said:

"Forces of anarchy, wreckers of law and order, communists, Maoists, Trotskyists, crypto Trotskyists, union leaders, communist union leaders, atheists, agnostics, long-haired weirdos, short-haired weirdos, vandals, hooligans, football supporters, namby-pamby probation officers, papists, rapists, papist rapists, foreign surgeons, head shrinkers who ought to be locked up, Wedgwood Benn, keg bitter, punk rock, glue sniffers, Play for Today, Clive Jenkins, Roy Jenkins, up Jenkins, up everybody's, Chinese restaurants (why do you think that Windsor Castle is ringed with Chinese restaurants?). "

Glorious writing (although very 1970s so mark all those words and ideas that are taboo these days).  You can watch it here (which includes Reggie's even more 1970s' response).  Suitably updated (who was Clive Jenkins?, you'll be asking) it surely bears a lot of resemblance to our ex-PM's list.

I know quite a few people who genuinely are anti economic growth, usually on the grounds that the planet cannot bear it any more, and that humans should just get poorer in material terms.  Others, including me, I think, are happy with the idea of growth provided that it is somehow 'sustainable'.  We usually struggle to define what that means, other than to want to get away from the rigidity of GDP where breaking a window, committing GBH, crashing a car and flying on a private jet (which all lead to more economic activity) all are present in 'growth'.  There are some nuanced approaches around and Paul Vare and I wrote about this in The World We'll Leave behind.  None seem near to being adopted around here any time soon.  Some folk think that growth (whether sustainable or not) is just a very unhelpful idea and that other concepts might be better in our thinking about social development.

But I suspect that the Truss clique's idea of an A-GC wasn't actually about growth at all; rather, it was a reference to those being agin it policies and how these are expressed.  And it's not at all clear that those policies would lead to 'growth' even of the GDP variety.  The way they wee announced certainly didn't.

But it's all vanity and ashes now.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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