Monday, 10 October 2011

Eddie Izzard for Mayor?

There's an interview with Eddie Izzard in Saturday's Times, in which he says he's going to run for Mayor of London in 2020.  He's a comedian, but two years ago he ran 1100 miles round the UK in 52 days.  So he's got my respect and attention.

There's one paragraph of political analysis:
He thinks of the Conservative Party as the Dementors from Harry Potter ("It cannot be proved scientifically, but we're pretty sure that the Tory party wil suck your face off"), and is against the cuts. "Why the hell do we have to pay everything off so bloody quickly?" he asks me rhetorically, before delivering a small lecture on Britain's Second World War debt.
"It was paid off in 2007. That says it all to me..."
That might be a good joke about the Dementors - being funny is not my area of expertise. But I thinks he's serious about the cuts. It bothers me that as an aspiring politician he should be so disconnected from the facts on the one political subject mentioned in his interview. The fact is that we've not paying off a penny of government debt, and plan to continue to be net borrowers until 2016.  The cuts are about reducing the government deficit - how much it's overspending by - not about paying back debt.

The point about the War debt is misguided too.  We did pay back the money the USA lent us at the end of the war.  But we didn't do it by running a surplus.  There was a schedule of payments attached to the loan, which we met mostly by borrowing more money - the UK government has made net debt repayments in only 14 out of 55 years since the Second World War ended.

It's not that I expect better of politicians.  But I expect better of Eddie Izzard.

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