Duncan’s Economic Blog

The language of economic policy

Posted in Uncategorized by duncanseconomicblog on July 1, 2009

Paul makes the good point that ‘Building Britain’s Future’, is a rather wishy-washy name for what looks to be a very interesting document – I haven’t been through it in any detail yet.

Now, Paul thinks it should have been called ‘the National Plan’.

I agree that that would be both a better name and a more general statment of intend. Let alone that it would put very clear dividing lines down.

Interestingly, on a post at Labourlist a few weeks back, I argued for a form of ‘National Plan’ but suggested the more neutral ‘Blue Print’.

In hindsight, I’m not sure why.

Today the East Coast Mainline is being nationalised. And yet the word ‘nationalise’ is not even in the BBC story. Instead we hear that it is being ‘taken into public ownership’. The same happened with the banks.

Although the Government is embarking on a fairly ambitious ‘industrial policy’ the term itself is rarely heard.

I know that the common explaination for all of this is that to use phrases like ‘National Plan’, ‘nationalise’ or ‘industrial policy’ would conjure up the images of the 1970s and all that entails. Burned deep in the New Labour mind is the notion that such ‘codewords’ must be avoided.

I think though it is time to ask – is this still true?

I was born in 1982. To me the phrases are in no way loaded. In fact I doubt anyone under 40 has any real memories of the economics of that era.

And even those in their 50s and 60s, will they really run a mile from a party using the phrase ‘nationalise’? I don’t know, but I suspect not.

The Government has been forced to ‘tack left’ on economic policy. It might be time to be honest about that.

2 Responses

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  1. newmania said, on July 1, 2009 at 9:34 am

    The Government has been forced to ‘tack left’ on economic policy. It might be time to be honest about that.

    Oh please

  2. charliemarks said, on July 2, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Other than the sale of council housing, none of the privatisations were popular with the public. But without referenda on policies, we can’t say. Were there to be a vote on taking the railways into democratic public ownership, I’m sure there’d be huge support.

    Conversely, there’s not much appetite for the sale of Royal Mail. Even Thatcher refused to countenance selling anything associated with the monarchy!


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