According to Mr Osborne, “What Britain needs is — to coin a phrase — a long-term economic plan.” My heart sank. But then I read on, and it started to float again. For Mr Osborne’s very next paragraph was:
“Pressure from Corbynistas to raise business taxes, increase union power and — in their leader’s extraordinary words — ‘abolish the gig economy’ needs to be contested with an alternative vision of an innovative, competitive free-market future.”
He had not meant “plan” in the Soviet sense where the state directs investment. He had meant it in the everyday sense. The plan is to have a free economy. The plan is to have no government plan but only private plans.
Alas, no. He went on immediately to explain this “free-market future”:
“The announcement that Britain wants to be a world leader in the move towards electric cars is welcome. Let’s now see the policy that will make sure those electric engines and batteries are manufactured here. The newly elected mayors in our cities need to come forward with their vision for local growth, and work with the government on concrete funding plans for big infrastructure – such as Crossrail 2 here in the capital, and its equivalent, Crossrail for the North, linking Liverpool through to Hull with a high-speed line across the Pennines.”
Mr Osborne favours free-markets. The only problem is, he doesn’t know what they are.
We here at the IEA publish “primers” – short books explaining economic ideas in plain language. They are aimed at students. But it looks like we need to add Chancellors of the Exchequer to the mailing list.