Today I walked into a rapidly filling conference hall with a sense of discomfort and just a little skepticism – it was an hour before the shadow chancellors speech. The hall had an air of anticipation which I did not share, for my part it was more a sense of foreboding.
By the time John McDonnell walked to the podium the hall was full and as he stood applause and whooping from the evangelical enthusiasts erupted.
He started by telling us he would be straight and honest. His theme was that austerity was a choice not a necessity and that there was another way to reduce the deficit. Promoting growth and using production to increase wealth and tax receipts. Returning the railways to public ownership, repeal of the governments Anti-Union legislation, social house building and the repeal of benefit laws used as tools to eradicate poverty, as well as a review of the way the Bank of England and the office of fiscal responsibility operate and a move to cut down on tax evasion by the usual suspects, blah blah blah.
Boring? ……er, no.
The shadow chancellors first major speech was delivered in a matter of fact, calm and measured manner. There were no attempts to impress, just a statement of facts as he saw them……..the blah factor was dispelled when he announced that every measure would be examined and approved by the OFT and a panel of experts including Danny Blanchflower, an ex deputy BOE exec and renowned academic, and world respected economists, such as Thomas Piketty and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz.
No thrills, no flash, just facts.
To my own surprise, I found myself applauding – not politely, but with enthusiasm!
Dare I hope that this man could carry these through? Dare I let myself hope that we really do have a future chancellor that would deliver? Time will tell, but I seem to have developed a smile for the first time in a long time.
Mmmmm. Leaders speech tomorrow and an interview with Look East. Might everything be looking up again?
Watch this space.
Len Jacklin, Spokesperson for Finance, 28/09/15