Johnson hasn’t got a New Deal, Green or otherwise unless bringing us to our knees can be called a Deal

Posted on

They depravity of Johnson’s political claims is becoming ever more apparent. The latest is that he is heading a Rooseveltian New Deal.

This is pure rhetorical nonsense. As Larry Elliott and Heather Stewart note in the Guardian, the announcement to be made today will simply relaunch existing plans: there will be no new money. What that means is that plans announced in the budget in March - before anyone in the government had any comprehension of the scale of Covid 19 - are now being deemed to be an adequate response to something they were never designed to address.

I said at the time, rather publicly on Radio 2, that Sunak’s plans were a wholly inadequate response to what was coming our way from Covid-19. That remains true except we now know, and I admit I underestimated this, the demand for action is vastly greater than anyone could have imagined then. To describe the plans as hopelessly inadequate is, then, to be generous.

Second, these plans are not only not a New Deal, they’re also quite emphatically not the Green New Deal we need. I am quite sure that Cummings has deliberately band-wagoned the New Deal metaphor because the Green New Deal has become the appropriate rallying call for change. In doing so he is copying Cameron in 2010. He relabelled a pathetic programme of boiler upgrades as the Green Deal. But it wasn't anything of the sort. Now Cummings has relabelled his equally inadequate plans as the New Deal. And it isn’t. Planting trees to offset EasyJet’s emissions is not a Green New Deal. It’s welcome, but so far short of what is required it is absurd.

So, this is a government out of ideas that it can only relabel its already inadequate responses.

And it is a government that will not do enough: as economic crisis overwhelms this country it is now apparent that it will just sit and watch.

And it is an administration that will spin until the appreciation that there is no substance to that spin overwhelms it, as surely it will. Like a Ponzi scheme - which is very much what the Johnson approach to government looks like - the time will come when no more hype will persuade anyone else to buy, and then the whole edifice will come tumbling down as people realise that there never was anything to the whole supposed plan behind the Cummings scheme for reform. It has always been campaign and no substance. And the campaign has always been about opposition, and not about building afresh.

But opposition is not the role for government: there is an opposition to do the opposing. The task for government is to build. And we have never seen a plan for what is supposedly on its way.

What is more, the opposition in this case is to the best interests of the people of the country, as will be apparent when Brexit and mass unemployment bring us to our knees very soon.

Unless, of course, breaking us for the next stage - the end of democracy stage - requires that reduction to our knees stage first of all, that is.

I can’t rule that out. But maybe, just maybe, that is the plan, after all and it’s me that’s being conned into thinking something else. In which case I’ll put on record my awareness of this now just in case it’s true, which is at least plausible.