Labour leadership: Divided on the deficit
At last a substantial issue has surfaced in the Labour leadership race. It's the deficit and how quickly Labour should pledge to cut spending to tackle it.
Ed Balls has come out fighting against not just the coalition's policy but the one which his own party fought the last election on. Cutting the deficit in half in four years is too ambitious he says. He urges his party to challenge the consensus and to answer critics who attack "deficit deniers" as "growth deniers".
Alistair Darling's policy is still backed by David Miliband. Brother Ed meantime describes it cryptically as a "starting point"- hinting, although not spelling out, that he would, like the other Ed, re-write it.
Meantime, Tony Blair warns about the dangers of not tackling the deficit in language David Cameron must wish he could match.
Old opposition hands advise that it is never wise to spell out what you'd do in government years before an election. Messrs Balls and Blair have now made it hard to avoid. They have, though, created another problem.
If David Miliband wins the leadership contest it would be nigh on impossible to make Ed Balls shadow chancellor since they have publicly disagreed on the most important aspect of economic policy.
PS. After my apology earlier in the week I have a confession. I am involved in what some see as a BBC conspiracy to examine the most important issue of the day. I am travelling down the A1 making a series of films on public attitudes to spending cuts and how to deal with the deficit. They'll be broadcast next week.