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Daily View: How should Labour react to the Spending Review?

Clare Spencer | 09:51 UK time, Friday, 22 October 2010

Two days after the Spending Review commentators turn their gaze to how Labour should react.

In the Independent Andrew Grice advises Labour to attack the Conservatives' motivations for cuts:

Ed Miliband and Alan Johnson

 

"Today's ministers do not deny the claim by Alan Johnson, the shadow Chancellor, that their cuts will go deeper than those achieved by Lady Thatcher. Yet they point out that Alistair Darling, the then Labour chancellor, admitted on the day of his March Budget that his plan to halve the deficit over four years would be "deeper and tougher" than that of the Thatcher government. So there may be limited mileage for Labour in playing the Thatcher card. And most voters accept the £155bn deficit must be tackled.
 
"A more productive line of attack might be to accuse the Coalition of wanting to slim the state for the same ideological reasons which motivated Lady Thatcher. Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg are very sensitive to the charge that their cuts are motivated by ideological zeal, insisting they are a grim necessity. 'We are doing this because we need to, not because we want to,' is their message (and, by the way, the deficit is Labour's fault). Tory MPs are under strict orders from party managers not to look as though they are relishing the cuts ('same old Tories' again)."

Jeff Randall says in the Telegraph that Labour have to give up on the idea that the cuts are "draconian" or "savage":

"[W]e are not about to be blown back into an economic stone age, it's Labour's doomsayers who will need a Plan B. In the absence of a double-dip recession, Ed Balls's claim to forecasting competence will be threadbare... If Labour is to oppose the cuts with integrity and credibility, it cannot do so on the basis of deceit and ill-founded intellectual arrogance."

Philip Collins suggests in the Times [subscription required] that Labour should be specific about which cuts it opposes:

"Here's my advice to Labour: stop repeating that an unforeseeable global crisis struck. Bubbles burst; it's their tragic flaw. Stop kidding yourself that you didn't make mistakes and get a new policy. Split the difference between Alistair Darling's plan to halve the deficit in four years and Mr Osborne's to eliminate it in the same timeframe. Then publish a cuts programme. You can't carry on being in favour of cuts in general but against them in particular. Set a ratio of three to one. Tell me three cuts you support and I'll listen to the one you oppose."

In contrast Mike Smithson in the blog Political Betting thinks Labour's first priority should be to avoid the blame:

"The message that the coalition is trying to get over is that the crisis was caused by the profligacy of the Brown government together with its failure to control the financial system. Labour's argument that the primary cause was the global financial collapse caused by bankers is getting crowded out.
 
"This presents a problem for the official opposition because what's likely to have the biggest impact in the long-term is whether the overall blame point will stick. But in the immediate aftermath the Labour focus has, inevitably, been on the specific measures. Winning specific forays is fine in the short-term but if the lasting perception is that it was Labour that caused it then that could have serious consequences."

Laurie Pennie says in the New Statesman that Labour is letting down left-wing voters:

"The grim truth is that the recoagulated Labour Party has no ideology, and no new ideas. It was Labour that began the privatisation and withdrawal of public services in this country; now, today, with the Blairite model of intermittently caring neoliberalism buried at the crossroads of global economic crisis with a repossession order through its heart, even a new leader seems to have done little to raise any life from the ashes of the Labour left.
 
"Labour has no answers; not for Osborne, not for its supporters, and certainly not for the weary Hackney residents currently curled up in this NHS waiting room, wondering if they can afford to spend a pound on a hot chocolate from the machine."

Links in full


Andrew Grice | Independent | Has Osborne just completed the Thatcherite revolution? (Not that he'd ever want to admit it)
Jeff Randall | Telegraph | Spending Review 2010: Let's remind Ed Miliband where the deficit came from
Philip Collins | Times | Now the 'rich pipsqueak' is squeezing Labour
Mike Smithson | Political Betting | Should Labour's first priority be to avoid the blame?
Laurie Pennie | New Statesman | Labour let us down yesterday

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