On Thursday, Conservative incumbent Sajid Javid and the Labour Party’s would-be finance minister John McDonnell used speeches to argue that the Dec. 12 election is a critical moment for the world’s fifth-largest economy, and that choosing their rival will set Britain on a path to fiscal ruin.
“This election isn’t just about the next 12 months of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, or even about the next five years. It’s about the next 10 years,” said McDonnell.
“It’s about future generations, and the future of our country and, yes, the future of our planet.”
But, set aside the ideological differences and for the first time in over a decade the Conservatives and Labour are fighting an election campaign with a similar promise: borrow, spend big, and pour billions into building roads, schools and hospitals.
Javid, a 49-year-old former Deutsche Bank financier, would rewrite the country’s fiscal rules so he can spend an extra £20 billion per year, raising borrowing for infrastructure to 3% of economic output from its current 1.8%.
That willingness to spend reflects Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s need to broaden his appeal with the electorate and reach those voters who typically vote Labour.
McDonnell, 68, is a lifelong campaigner who is promising to borrow and spend even more - £400 billion over 10 years. He says the fiscal rule should be that interest payments on government borrowing should not exceed 10% of tax revenues.
Their rules are different, but the direction of travel is the same, even if neither candidate wants to admit it.
“The difference between our approach and Labour’s approach is like night and day, there is a huge gulf in difference in our economic approach,” said Javid.
McDonnell said he wanted an “an irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people”.
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.