A budget for growth? Sorry, pull the other one. Below the spin, even the official forecasts are laden with gloom. Funnily enough, it is 50 years since one of Jeremy Hunt’s chancellarial predecessors, Tony Barber, produced a “budget for growth” that really worked – indeed, rather too well. It resulted in the “Barber boom”, when gross domestic product rose by some 6% in real, adjusted-for-inflation, terms in one year.
They don’t come like that any more, which is just as well, because the Barber boom ended in tears. (In truth it was the Heath boom, because the prime minister was really in charge.)
What Europeans such as your correspondent are especially appreciative of when it comes to Edward Heath is not his overambitious growth plans, but his strong championship of our entry to what was then the European Economic Community.
We joined in 1973, with a confirmatory referendum in 1975, deftly handled on Labour’s side by prime minister Harold Wilson. On the Conservative side, few were more passionately pro-EEC than the then up and coming Margaret Thatcher.
Now, the majority of the rightwing Tories who inflicted Brexit upon us consider themselves Thatcherites. They know that Thatcher enjoyed the huge support of her chief press officer, Bernard Ingham. Well, I have news for them: my brother Victor and I had a most interesting lunch with Bernard shortly before he died recently, at the ripe old age of 90.
Ingham himself was an unashamed Brexiter. But he, who knew Thatcher’s views as well as anyone, told us in no uncertain terms that his boss would have undoubtedly voted to remain in the European Union. She fought her – and our – corner in many an EU dispute, but she knew where our economic interests lay; and, of course, she wasRead more on theguardian.com