I’ve had a comment wondering why I haven’t posted on the two Eds' recent pronouncements on cuts to spending and public sector pay.
I was thinking of writing something but I thought I will calm down a bit before doing so. Ironically I remember listening to a speech by Ed Miliband himself reflecting on the last Labour government. He remarked how sometimes he would be listening to the radio in the morning and hear for the first time a new government announcement and he would say to himself “why on earth did we say that”? I had a very similar feeling listening to reports of Ed Balls speech last Saturday on my headphones while out on a long run. Why on earth did he say that?
At best this is similar to the 1997 Labour manifesto to keep to Tory government spending limits during the first (two) years. At worse it seems just a complete back track on any alternative economic policy.
I can get the argument that any opposition party cannot commit to all cuts being reversed. I understand that you cannot predict exactly what state the economy will be in 2015. But to give the impression that there will be no rebalancing of budget cuts and taxation is simply daft. Equally why would an opposition Party want to agree with the Government on such profound and controversial issues? That is not their job? They are ...The Official Opposition. They are there to hold the government and its policies to account. While I don't expect yah boo politics and pointless oppositionalism. There is an alternative economic case to be made. I agree that we are not winning this argument at the moment but I genuinely think that the Party is in danger of missing the boat. The economic crisis will deepen and so many people will be so adversely affected by both unemployment and cuts to services and pay that there will be a political mood change for a fairer and more progressive society.
Finally, I simply don’t believe that a Labour government in power will do this and I also don’t think that the public will believe it either. So it is in my view pointless guff which has done nothing but to genuinely upset many Labour Party supporters and our core vote. I was pleased to hear today (while on another run) Margaret Beckett ring in to "Any Answers" and indicate that the whole matter had in deed been some sort of a presentational cock-up.
Being in Opposition is a pretty awful and frustrating job. Everyone in the Labour movement is absolutely desperate to do every thing possible to get rid of this government. But on this particular issue the Party leadership has got it wrong. These things happen from time to time. What really matters now is that the Two 'Eds stop digging holes and start building for change.
Check out UNISON response here.