Yesterday, there was a mini-rebellion in Parliament, to be precise in one of its Committee Rooms. Britain’s (increased) IMF subscription was being discussed, and although it got through, there was a little flurry of excitement, as Guido reported:
Something very rare happened in what is usually the dullest of committees. A dozen or so Tory non-members of the committee came and spoke against affirming the instrument. Government whips cajoled the pliant Tory and LibDem members of the committee to vote to affirm the instrument while Tory MPs spoke from the floor against it. Promising new boy Steve Baker and backbench eurosceptic Douglas Carswell were among those who spoke against affirming the instrument.
You can now read what was said in Hansard.
When these kinds of things are argued about, everything depends on whether the contrariness on show is a genuine argument that we should switch to an alternative and better policy, or merely grumbling. If all that is happening is that people don’t like whatever it is, what with them not having created the problems (or so they say) with their decisions, and what with all the cuts they are having to put up with now, well, frankly, that doesn’t count for very much. If the powers that be are able to say: Well, what would you do that would be any better? – and if you don’t then have an answer, you might as well not have bothered. All you are saying is: This hurts. And all that the government has to say in reply is: Yes, we hear you, we feel your pain, but we are going to do it anyway, because despite all the pain, we remain convinced that this is the best thing to do.
Scroll down at Hansard and you can read, in particular, what Steve Baker MP had to say. The thing about Baker is that he really is arguing for a paradigm shift in economic policy thinking. He even quoted a chunk out of Human Action, which I think I will quote here, again:
The wavelike movement affecting the economic system, the recurrence of periods of boom which are followed by periods of depression, is the unavoidable outcome of the attempts, repeated again and again, to lower the gross market rate of interest by means of credit expansion.
There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” (Human Action, p. 572)
Baker is not just saying: this is a crisis. Everyone knows that. He is also saying: and we need to have the crisis, now, all of it and get it over with as soon as we can.
This is the kind of politicking that is capable of having actual impact. Not now, and certainly not right away, but … in the longer run. In the longer run, ideas can change.
LATER: The Cobden Centre blog now has a more user friendly version of Steve Baker’s words, here.