By Ray Fleming

ON Friday the score was 64 to 20; now its 73 to 20. We're counting leading economists who have gone public with their advice on whether Labour or the Conservatives have the better approach to putting Britain's economy to rights -- specifically, whether the inevitable cuts in the government's budget should be made soon after the impending election (Conservative) or not until 2011 (Labour). The debate began in the Sunday Times last week, with 20 big economic names signing a letter favouring the Conservative view, and continued in the Financial Times on Friday with two letters backing Labour's preference. Yesterday a Letter to the Editor in The Times added nine more voices arguing strongly for a delay in cuts until 2011. This most recent letter also made the case for urgent public investment in the Green New Deal to transform the country's energy supply while creating thousands of “green-collar” jobs.

When I wrote about this valuable public debate in Looking Around yesterday I quoted George Bernard Shaw's view that “If all the economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion.” There were two other quotations in the letter to The Times: John Maynard Keynes -- “Look after unemployment, and the budget will look after itself”, and George Santayana -- “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, a reference to previous recessions which have been made worse by premature withdrawal of government stabilisation measures.