Each year A-level Economics students from Whitley Bay High come to the Commons to see for themselves the workings of Parliament. This year their visit coincided with the Spring Statement, the Government’s assessment of the economy which replaced the Spring Budget.
What seemed of most interest was the opportunity to link the theories and phrases they have learned about in lessons with a real-time debate on economic policy.
Language is important. Not just the mobilisation of terms like fiscal responsibility but the Chancellor and his Shadow describing, in stark terms, their economic differences. On the one hand there is an acknowledgement austerity may be coming to an end but there is a world of economic difference between a continuing monetary straightjacket of cuts, tax cuts for a few and a wage freeze for many, against a more Keynesian approach of investment putting people in work, able to pay tax.
Language was also important the next day in exchanges over the incident in Salisbury when Russia used a deadly nerve agent to exact revenge on two of their former citizens. There is a shared view about the appalling nature of the incident and a strong view amongst most MP’s that Russia must be held to account. But the proportionate and necessary actions the Government proposes were also carefully worded. Deterring further aggression demands clear communication. It also demands the credibility which comes from a united, if not unquestioning, response.