Thursday, April 23, 2015

Vicky Pryce and Polly Toynbee in Omnibus Clapham

The economist Vicky Price and Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee are or were both long-term residents of Clapham, and appeared together last night at Omnibus to discuss their new books: It’s the Economy Stupid by Vicky Pryce, Peter Unwin and Andy Ross and Cameron’s Coup by Polly Toynbee and David Walker. The event was co-hosted by Clapham Books - it’s great to see collaboration of this sort between our local independent bookshop and Omnibus.

Polly started the evening by praising the successful launch of Omnibus in the old Clapham library, and indeed it is great to see this handsome old Victorian public building finding a new public role in the local community. It certainly adds greatly to the mix of amenities around the new Old Town piazza area.

Both speakers were critical of the Coalition government. Polly spoke of the rigidity and stealthy determination of its ideological purposes; Vicky more of the evidence-free economic policy. Although a liberal herself, she was a government economist under both New Labour and Coalition administrations, and had words of praise for New Labour at least attempting to follow the evidence. Far from having “a long herm economic plan”, the coalition choked off reviving growth and flatlined the economy for its first two years, before surreptitiously u-turning and quietly and half-heartedly loosening fiscal policy. Basically, the Tories are ideologically incapable of accepting that government investment can create growth in the wider economy.

Polly seemed more wholeheartedly to support Labour, but I liked the way she always backed up claims with independent  evidence and sources. She strongly feels this is a very important election, and people should vote tactically to keep the tories out.

It was a very interesting evening, and very well attended: practically a full house.

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