Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Cripes! Boris goes all Keynesian

Well, I never. Until a couple of days ago or so, all Tories and the people they represent were scornfully dismissive of J.M. Keynes and everything he stood for.

How the worm turns! BoJo in today's Torygraph extols the virtues of Roosevelt's 1930s efforts to spend America's way out of depression by such projects as building the Hoover dam: 
It is no wonder, frankly, that the average tourist to America still spends a lot of time looking at 1930s infrastructure, because Roosevelt's New Deal created 122,000 public buildings, 77,000 bridges, 664,000 miles of road and 285 airports, as well as jobs for 8.5 million people. Like the German autobahns - built at roughly the same time - these investments were indispensable to the country's future growth and economic might.
The lesson to be drawn, says the Mayor, is that in our present economic mess we must press on with big projects in London: Crossrail for starters, various other rail schemes, the Thames Tideway tunnel, and maybe, in the long run, his favourite fantasy, a new airport in the Thames estuary:
We will beat this recession more speedily, and emerge in far better shape, if we make sure we put people to work in projects that boost the long-term competitiveness of the country. That means investing in the things that can radically improve the transport, attractiveness and general liveability of the capital city, the motor of the British economy. We may be in a hole, but the lesson of history is that tunnels and bridges and dams can bring jobs and growth.
Boris Johnson's attempt to pose as the new FDR is a bit rich: Crossrail and the other rail schemes, notably the transformation of the North London Line into the London Overground and the inclusion in the latter of the extended East London Line, due to open in a matter of months, were planned and got started under his predecessor, Ken Livingstone. BoJo has merely inherited them all. Ditto the various DLR extensions that are well under way.

Still, his confidence that Crossrail is definitely happening is reassuring. Presumably he knows something we don't, because all the rumours recently have been to the effect that the project is being drastically scaled down, as first noted back in August by The Railway Eye and later picked up by Private Eye.

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