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How Ed Miliband is dealing with the past

Nick Robinson | 15:45 UK time, Saturday, 15 January 2011

It was billed as the moment Ed Miliband would recognise and criticise the last Labour government for being in denial about the deficit and the need for spending cuts. The speech fell some way short of that. Here's the relevant extract:

"Why was the last Labour government too slow in the language that we used, after the financial crisis had created a big deficit, to acknowledge what our own plans implied, that there would eventually have to be cuts? Part of the answer is that we hadn't shown other ways of delivering social justice."

I suspect that Blairites will regard Ed as being, in his own words, "too slow in the language" he has used. Gordon Brown wasn't just slow to say the word "cuts". He denied the need for cuts and attacked David Cameron as "Mr 10 per cent" while his own chancellor drew up plans to raise VAT and to cut spending not "eventually" but, as Alistair Darling has himself acknowledged, immediately after the election at a rate deeper and faster than Mrs Thatcher had.

My sense is that Ed Miliband's speech is made up of the things he instinctively believes and those bits of political positioning he's been advised to adopt. His own views are interesting. At one point he argues:

"We can't build economic efficiency or social justice simply in the way we have tried before. It won't be enough to rely on a deregulated market economy providing the tax revenues for redistribution. New Labour's critical insight in the 1990s and 2000s was that we needed to be stewards of a successful market economy to make possible social justice through redistribution. The critical insight of Labour in my generation is that both wealth creation and social justice need to be built into the way our economy works."

By this he says he means a high wage economy, the introduction of a Living Wage and respect for communities so that their concerns about government targets, out-of-town supermarkets and post office closures are not simply ignored in the name of efficiency. What he does not say is how this rebalanced economy - something which, incidentally, I have heard both George Osborne and Vince Cable call for - can be created. Watching how his thinking develops will be fascinating.

What is clear already, however, is that Ed Miliband believes that his old mentor got his language, but not his fiscal policy, wrong. Why, you may ask, does this debate about the past matter? The answer is to ask yourself whether other issues of the past mattered - the Winter of Discontent or Tory sleaze and divisions on Europe. The crisis of 2008 and the cuts that have followed it have the potential, as the Labour leader himself points out, to reshape politics as dramatically as the IMF crisis of 1976 or the ERM crisis of 1992. Labour were out of power for four terms after their crisis and the Tories for three terms after theirs. The electorate will, at the next election be asked to judge whether to blame Labour for the current crisis or the coalition for its harsh reaction to it.

Ed Miliband needs not only to provide a credible alternative to the coalition's policy of cuts and "Maoist" public service reforms. He needs to explain what social democratic politics looks like in an era without easy money to spend. To do so he may need to develop an account of Labour's period in office that addresses more than just a failure to regulate the banks and a slowness of language.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Labour are ahead in the polls in spite of Milliband.

    He does not have the aura of a Prime Minister - just like previous leaders who we voters just knew would never be PM - Kinnock, Hague, Duncan Smith and Howard. He simply isn't prime ministerial and without a good narrative never will.

  • Comment number 2.

    Red Ed has finally shown his true agenda : He is utterly and totally anti-business and anti-private sector.

    His comments that Gordon Brown's government focussed too much on markets instead of the common good are laughable. Brown was a socialist spendaholic who paid little attention to markets,

    Only someone who has spent their entire life Whitehall & with his Union paymasters could be this out of touch with reality.

    What a desperate situation UK Plc is going to be in if Red Ed ever gets into power. How long till he appoints Bob Crowe as chancellor?

  • Comment number 3.

    Who is this 'Bob Crowe' and is he any relation to Bob Crow, who has never been a member of the Labour Party and whose union is no longer affiliated to the Labour Party?

  • Comment number 4.

    The really asd thing is that there are far too many people in this country who will believe that, as Ed says in different words, you can have your cake and eat it too. Let's hear some meaningful proposals for dealing with the deficit created by him and his former Government colleagues. Only then can the people of this country make a reasoned judgement on who is best to run the country. you cannot have a high wage economy if the only part paying high wages is a bloated public sector.

  • Comment number 5.

    Labour would be ahead in the polls with any leader short of Michael Foot.

    The reason for this is that the British people never take responsibility for their own choices so simply blame the Government.

    1. The country blitzed on credit and is now hungover will bills to pay.
    2. The country voted for higher deficits rather than cash hoarding prior to economic shocks and as a result we are where we are.
    3. Now people are being educated in reality, they won't accept it. So they protest, strike and generally don't accept a democratic outcome to an election.

    In all this, the Labour Party is rather like a philandering husband outraged that his erstwhile wife has filed for divorce and is shagging a younger model. They got a good kicking in the election and they deserved it.

    What is clear about the future is this: unless politicians engage in really adult, really long-term and really honest discussions about what is, or is not possible in framing society in future, then all this talk about 'cleansing the past' is just Saatchi and Saatchi window-dressing.

    One wonders how many of them actually have the desire, the ability and the empathy to do that.

    Particularly when the media identifies folks like that who try and sets out to destroy them if they actually start showing signs of achieving something.

  • Comment number 6.

    Red Ed has a voice like a can of baked beans negotiating its way out of a cows bottom.

  • Comment number 7.

    Ed Miliband is doing a good - and thoughtful - job as Labour Leader. The political correspondents who derided his election are not as in touch with voters as they think they are. He isn't anti-business and is simply arguing for fair treatment of trade unionists, not preferential treatment. Anyone who thinks someone like Bob Crow has any influence whatsoever over Ed has failed to understand the landscape at all.

  • Comment number 8.

    @2. No more boom and bust

    Your comments about UK plc reveal your complete lack of understanding that any nation is not a business but a society.

    Should a more liberal Britain whose people are less enslaved to corporate concerns not be built, I for one will be cashing in my "shares" and choosing to GTF.

    You can rot in a cesspool of inequality and bitterness. You're welcome to it.

  • Comment number 9.

    3. Bob Crowe and the RMT no longer affiliated with Labour? Don't make me laugh.

    Red Ed is in hock with all of the Unions - they bankrolled his election campaign and Labour overall.

    Red Ed is on record as saying countries with higher Union membership have better living standards.

    The fact that these countries also have the lowest GDP growth in Europe doesn't seem to bother him one bit.

  • Comment number 10.

    But, but...

    Labour state in their clause IV that they are a 'Democratic Socialist Party'.

    They practice socialism when they impose state intervention on our way of life and when they raise the state's share of GDP to 47%. Instead of nationalising businesses, they started nationalising the economy.

    So unless they ditch the S-word from clause IV, they will always be finding ways for the state to command the economy and though it the people, through regulation or plain taxation.

    We need the government to cost less in this country and to deliver excellent services that are value for money. Labour just want to deliver services that employ too many people. The NHS has more people than the People's Liberation Army in Chine and still people died of neglect under their care.

    Labour were given the benefit of the doubt form 13 years and they squandered the public's trust.

  • Comment number 11.

    I wonder if Tony Blair could see all this coming? He's an astute man and he must have known what was likely to happen under Gordon.
    Is that why he cleared off altogether and has kept stumm ever since?

  • Comment number 12.

    Re the comment about Bob Crow/e
    I think David Boothroyd knows only too well who he is. He is the man together with Unite Union who once again are trying tohold the Country to ransome.
    Red Ed too knows who Crow is even if he is reluctant to be in any way critical of his views [or that of Unite]
    What kind of Democratic system do we have in this Country when the Politics are decided by those that bankroll the party. I would like to join a Union but not one supporting the Labour Party !
    Is this not a case of 'cash for questions' in a different guise ?

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Any and Every politician should just read 1 article by the taxpery's alliance or the institute of economics affairs. for example:
    1. every 1% increase in government spending results in a short term gain in GDP, but a long term loss of 0.1%. So tell me, where is the logic in increasing government spending?
    2. Britian has slipped 5 places in the economic freedom index. this is based on 2009 data, so it was fully under the labour administration.
    3. in 2000, the official national debt was £311 billion. that skyrocketed to £890 billion (£57.9 billion p.a.). This does not include the governments UNFUNDED PENSIONS, UNFUNDED STATE PENSIONS, OTHER GOVERNMENT DEBT. In 2000, the real national debt was £2.3 TRILLION. In 2009, it was £7,873 billion. Any person who spends more than they earn is stopped from borrowing money. Any greedy country is just given more. Who gave us this vast debt? LABOUR. and LABOUR DON'T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT

  • Comment number 15.

    Next he will be denying they were ever in office during 1997/2010 and writing to the PM demanding an apology!

  • Comment number 16.

    I just think it's about time that all political parties of whatever persuasion get together to get this country out of the Quagmire we're in now and worry about party polictics later.

    It's to easy to blame this party and that party.

    Over the years they have all done there best to get us where we are now.

    It's to easy to pick a party because of it's leader, but who really makes the policy of each party, not you and I,(the electorate.)

    So who does ?

  • Comment number 17.

    The UK has a huge debt, all parties agree. Part of it predates Labour, most of it doesn't. Part of the massive increase since 1997 is due to the banking crisis, most of it isn't.

    The current government is tackling the structural deficit which doesn't disappear with growth in the economy. That shortfall in income to cover government spending is not down to the support given to the banks either, however convenient a scapegoat they make.

    The ConDem's have outlined their plans to tackle the deficit and undoubtably it's going to be painful. Labour, if they had been returned to office, would have had to make many of the same cuts. I'd have far more respect for Labour if they actually admitted where they shared common grounds on the cuts. They could then outline where any further cuts or tax rises would have come, or if cuts over longer how they would fund the increased national debt interest.

    Until Labour come up with their plans, all the pious hand-wringing is just opportunistic, disingenuous nonsense.

    PS Ed Miliband reminds me of Beaker out of the Muppets which is quiet sad as I liked Beaker ;)

  • Comment number 18.

    The insinuation that trade unions are somehow maltreated in the eyes of the law is quite frankly rubbish. Anyone will tell you that in Britain and throughout Europe, the laws are tilted ridiculously in favour of unions - and against business.

    Take the Royal Mail strike, for example, the postworkers' unions protested at Royal Mail having the 'audacity' to employ other staff while they were on strike. The arrogance is astounding.

    Labour's inability to accept the huge mistakes they made with the economy isn't what concerns me. Their insanity doesn't bother me. It's just that their lies tend to become commonly accepted fact, and they tend to get dangerously close to being back at the controls.

    I don't contest that all political parties lie copiously, but these mis-truths are minor compared to the 'whopper' along the lines of "there's no need to worry about debt levels, we can can carry on spending like maniacs and it won't matter". It worked on the people of Oldham East, and there's no reason why it shouldn't work on the rest of the country.

  • Comment number 19.

    I suspect that all of this is largely irrelevant, both the extreme Left and the extreme Right can "bang on" about their favourite subjects all they like, the public isn't listening because they already made their decision which was not to trust any one party.

    If the May General Election was re-run today, I bet that the result would be pretty much the same. After the madness of Brown in not 'owning up' to just how bad things were, no one political party will be trusted for some years, the public wanted a three legged race and they have got it, get over it, that is the way it is.

    The next significant Labour Leader has likely not yet even stood for Parliament, Ed Miliband's only job is to try and give the public a reasonable 'narrative' to explain just why the Labour Government got it so wrong. Neither of the Milibands or any of the Front Bench from the years of the Labour Government will ever see power again, that requires a whole new generation of Labour politicians who are untainted by the Blair/Brown years.

    It doesn't matter that Ed Miliband is the "Leader", whoever was, they are only a caretaker, not even a 'John the Baptist' figure, the real replacement figure is yet to appear. The problem Brown had was not personal stupidity, it was the realisation that just as when he took over from Blair as PM, he was trapped in a web of bad decisions HE had already made as Chancellor, he could never "Fess Up" to that without looking weak. Ed as a guilty outrider to Brown, is in exactly the same place.

    Labour would have had a better chance of political recovery and a shot of regaining power in the near future if they had selected a complete outsider who did not have a Cabinet job in Brown's Government. They didn't so, it will be 10 to 15 years before they have a serious shot at regaining power.

  • Comment number 20.

    Mostly I feel angry & puzzled that Labour are not aggressively attacking the Government's Financial Policies.
    Then I read the attitudes, imaginings, & personal, internal angers
    in nearly all the comments here.
    People who imagine essential Public Services can exist at high quality with next to no Direct Public Money or direction.
    People who will allays blame Government as much as possible whilst
    making endless excuses for Private sectors where apparently money will grow on trees without Government Direction.

    These Posts read less like Right Wing Conservative than Anarchists who can't bare to actually think through what they are proposing.

    Labour has go slow n gentle to make ANY useful impression on them.@@@@@@

  • Comment number 21.

    In the short term Miliband will be doing his job if he vigorously opposes the excesses of the coalition in implementing the cuts much of which will have little effect in the deficit but serve to limit the recovery and exacerbate poverty. There is plenty of time for the proper development of polices but Nick is right he does have to account for the failures of the last government. By saying that we cant rely on sweeping up the crumbs produced by the private sector for re-distribution he his saying much about the failure of New Labour economic policy.

  • Comment number 22.

    #20 Trimble Bracegirdle

    The private sector is where national wealth is created, the public sector is a consumer of that wealth.

    We all want high quality, essential services but we're not paying enough in to pay for them. We've either got to make the money go further or raise taxes... adding the shortfall to national debt is not an option.

    If the option was put to the electorate of either; A) Cut public spending or B) Raise taxes even more, which one do you seriously think most would vote for? A) Would have win it by a mile.

  • Comment number 23.

    Ed M is now sunk. By refusing to admit that Labour gave us the biggest deficit in the G20 and denying the need to cuts he pleases Labour supporters but makes himself ridiculous to anyone who is economically literate. No-one has ever won an election in recent times without economic credibility and he has none.

    But to be fair he has no leadership skills either and the public seems to realise this. Whatever the hypothetical "voting intention" questions say, people never elect a PM who they see has no leadership skills. On the YouGov tracker Ed M's net approval rating is -21 (down from +20 in Sept) and only 5% of the electorate see him as "a natural leader" or "charismatic", and just 4% think he is "good in a crisis".

  • Comment number 24.

    #12 Andy MacGregor

    Bob Crow is RMT, not Unite! They are completely separate (and in fact rival) unions.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Why was the last Labour government too slow in the language that we used, after the financial crisis had created a big deficit, to acknowledge what our own plans implied, that there would eventually have to be cuts? - Part of the answer is that we hadn't shown other ways of delivering social justice."


    One really does have to wonder what that's got to do with it! And that's in addition to the fact that he’s actually 'spun' the question.

    Let alone level with the electorate, Labour can't even admit to themselves what really happened.

  • Comment number 26.

    15 Ava wrote . Next he will be denying they were ever in office during 1997/2010 and writing to the PM demanding an apology.
    I totally agree , they all seem to have forgotten we are in this awful mess because of them ...."not me gov honest " it would be hillarious if not so disgusting it must pay to have a bad memory , or maybe they hope we will , well hard luck Ed .

  • Comment number 27.

    He needs to explain why he thinks that people fortunate enough to earn over 44k should not have their child benefit cut. We also need to know why he supports Millionaire Landlords, particularly in London, who have been making monopoly money from the Local Housing allowance. I'm sure all this will go down very well on the doorstep of someone who is earning the minimum wage in Mr Miliband's Doncaster North constituency !

  • Comment number 28.

    The current Labour strategy is pure opportunism. They think that all they need to do is sit on their hands and blame the Tories and the Liberal Democrats for the cuts and the obvious consequences. This is wholly inadequate and utterly immoral.

    The last Labour government was inadequate in the way it sold British manufacturing industry down the river in the name of the market whilst at the same time as turning a blind eye to the horrendous behaviour of the City and also running up a fiscal deficit in the years from 2001 to 2008 of between GBP 36 to 48 Billion which ballooned in 2010 to a deficit around GBP 158 billion. Please note this was just the deficit, the consequences of an unbalanced budget, this does not include the debt which went from around GBP 330 billion in 1997 to around GBP 850 billion by 2010.

    Such inadequacy was compounded by the immoral manner in which Labour refused to do anything about it until the last few months in office. I must say though that this was not the fault of the then Chancellor Alastair Darling who did fight for cuts and thus retains some credibility.

    Now the Coalition is setting out to tackle the deficit over five years with public spending cuts in the region of around 4.5% per year. This also includes the VAT tax rise among others. All the other issues such as bankers' bonuses, banking reform, private debt, unemployment, housing and the structural imbalances of the UK economy remain as festering sores which it is quite apparent challenge the current government as much as they challenged the last.

    The first task that Labour has to address is to explain why they ran up those massive deficits and debts and for whose benefit. Then they have to explain what their solution would be if they had remained the government.

    As it stands it is quite insufficient for Labour spokesmen to go honking on about the wickedness of the Tories and the weakness of the Liberal Democrats without setting up their own stall as to how they would tackle this very serious crisis.

    If Labour fails to come forward quickly with a set of rational proposals then they will be exposed as the opportunists they appear to be. What is more, if they fail to come forward with logical arguments about social, political and economic reform then whilst they may very well get elected at the next election on a band-waggon of public distress they will suddenly find themselves in the maelstrom of an economic crisis as our lenders rush for the exit.

    My concern is where are the political leaders to describe to the people the real nature of our difficulties? Massive debts, a massive fiscal deficit, an imbalanced economy, burgeoning unemployment, a taxpayer supported banking system which is in denial, a stuttering economy and a central bank which hasn't a clue. At least if there was an admission of the truth then we might be able to start doing something about it. The cuts are not enough as a policy and quite insufficient in substance. We need radical reform as well.

  • Comment number 29.

    From the ComRes poll in tomorrow's Independent

    A Labour government under Ed Miliband would be better at protecting people’s jobs

    Agree: 30%
    Disagree: 38%
    Don’t know: 32%

  • Comment number 30.

    Labour are still in denial over the fact that the dreadful financial situation we find ourselves in had anything to do with them. They maintain the banks and the recession are the reason we are where we are. While they continue to take this line they will never be trusted to handle the economy again. They have brought us almost to the point of bankruptcy three times in my lifetime now and yet there are still people who vote for them. Why, I ask myself? If they get in again I think immigration may be the only answer.

  • Comment number 31.

    This man irritates me more with every speech. When is he going to come out with an alternative and stop with this "we don't need to cut, it's not that bad really" argument that seems to have sway with so many people who don't really understand the severity of the problem?

    This country is broke, seriously broke. Almost £1 trillion in debt! We can't solve the debt problem with just jobs and growth or by taxing bankers; even Bill Gates doesn't have the cash to plug this mess. That's why it's called a structural deficit.

    We can't not sort out the problem either because the people we owe money too might stop lending to us if they think we can't repay or demand more interest (which would be far worse than the 2.5% VAT rise).

    Are the cuts necessary? yes, are they fair? well we'll be debating that for years to come but I think they broadly are (just my opinion). I've already had to cut back myself due to my squeezed income and i'm nervous about my job sercurity too.

    I'm all for an alternative, for better ideas but Brown had none, Ed has none either and by the sounds of things we're not going to get any from his party.

  • Comment number 32.

    Would all those people who are honking about how wrong the cuts are please provide alternatives that will work in the real world (not just 'tax everyone who earns more than me and assume they will just sit there and accept it'.

    A considerable chunk of Gov't and public services under Labour were paid for with borrowed money. Now the country is nearing its 'credit limit'. Remember that under current plans we will still be running a structural deficit - i.e. increasing the national debt - until 2015. All the cuts are doing is reducing the rate at which the debt increases. Unless we want to go the way of Greece, we have to do something. Sadly, one way or the other, we're going to have to get use to having less than we thought we would have.

    To those who either blame 'the banks' or 'Labour' for all that has gone wrong - the banks were not to blame for the fact that the Gov't spent more than it earned for nearly a decade. The Gov't were not directly to blame for the banks' activities that led to the credit curnch (regulations or no regulations, the banks should have known that what they were up to was a disaster waiting to happen).

  • Comment number 33.

    Yet another "fair and balanced" review by Tory Nick of the Labour Party and Ed Miliband. Don't mind the critique but you never critique the Tories in the same way. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 34.

    @22: The private sector is where national wealth is created, the public sector is a consumer of that wealth.

    Maybe so, but to some extent the public sector enables the private sector.
    How much less wealth would the private sector create if the country had no police? Or if nobody maintained the road network? Or if there were no waste disposal infrastructure? How many fewer companies would be willing to invest in the UK if it were militarily insecure?

    At the same time, the state can't (and shouldn't) do everything. The flip-side of this is that we need to do more for ourselves and not expect the state to do it for us.

  • Comment number 35.

    "He needs to explain what social democratic politics looks like in an era without easy money to spend."

    To me, this is the interesting part of the piece. It is one that applies not just to Milliband struggle for respect, but also to Cameron's attempts to define 'Big Society,' and the Lib Dem's seeming paralysis when faced with picking the lesser of two evils.

    How do we spend less money, and simultaneously do more good? Most of us couldn't agree on what 'good' really meant (but we know 'bad' when we see it!).

    Hopefully one of the major parties stumbles across an acceptable answer, sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 36.

    "He needs to explain what social democratic politics looks like in an era without easy money to spend. "

    Why do you assume, Nick, that there will not be easy money to spend?

    Government spending is limited by the risk of creating too much demand, causing the economy to over heat, not by the size of the deficit. Before the crunch easy credit created so much demand that there was limited room for government spending. Banks have since dramatically reduced their lending hoping to avoid needing another bailout. Stricter regulation will stop them lending on as great a scale again, even if they want to. So there will not only be plenty of room for government spending, but a high level will be needed to avoid a slump.

    There are several options for financing the expenditure. These include taxes targeted at wealth which is being accumulated and not invested, and quantitative easing. The choice will depend on what exchange rate policy is adopted.

  • Comment number 37.

    Perhaps if Miliband said what cuts Labour would make, where, how deep etc and give an alternative to the Coalition's strategy then he may get respect. However, to continually attack cuts and plans with zero alternatives to show is just short-term and ineffective - ask Hague and IDS who tried it and failed.

    Personally I think once the public sector jobs are cut then the unions will but Miliband in a no win situation and force him to either ally with the unions or against and he will then either lose the unions or more likely the support of his own party.

  • Comment number 38.

    I concur with the general consensus of the comments so far. The fact is that the Labour Government, a lot of firms and a lot of householders overspent over the past 10 years and we simply have to pay down the debt overhang. Labour are in complete denial over their part in this and until they do, and until they have a credible leader, tney will be out of power for a long time for good reason.

    As uninspiring as it sounds, collectively we've got to reduce our debts and reduce our unit labour costs through lower pay settlements, lower benefits and increased productivity. Germany has done that for nigh on 20 years to pay for re-unification and it is now finally bearing fruit for them. Facing down the red baron unions and freeing up small and medium firms from red tape this year would be a good start.

  • Comment number 39.

    "At 11:00pm on 15 Jan 2011, Andrew McSherry wrote:
    Yet another "fair and balanced" review by Tory Nick of the Labour Party and Ed Miliband. Don't mind the critique but you never critique the Tories in the same way. Shame on you. "

    Ed Milliband is in opposition, you'd think he was in government reading this.

    It's a sad state of affairs when people ask more questions about the opposition than they do the government running the country, even worse now that we have two parties in power to question.

    I find it very strange that some writers take more care in trying to question a guy who's been in power in opposition for just a few months than a couple of people running the country.

  • Comment number 40.

    Ed certainly does need to find an answer to what his vision of society when there is no easy money flowing to Government from an unsustainable boom. And maybe he will be able to do just that ....

    BUT - he first needs to recognise the economic failings of the Blair/Brown. In my view there were 2 BIG mistakes

    1. Labour thought the boom was the new never ending reality. No-one will forget Brown saying he had eliminated boom and bust.

    2. Labour was seduced by the banks and did not regulate them appropriately.

    Until Ed can openly acknowledge these failings Labour is going nowhere.

    Yes the cuts will make the Coalition unpopular but they at least have a narrative.

    PLEASE ED BE HONEST ABOUT THE FAILINGS ABOVE SO LABOUR CAN MOVE FORWARD.

  • Comment number 41.

    Stan @ 28 - I agree.

    Ed the entire country can see you need to do more to acknowledge Labour's mistakes on the economy. They are really not so terrible.

    - Everyone over spent and took on too much debt during the boom. Cameron and Osbourne were promising to match Labour's spending plans till Lehmans. And why not point out how has been spent on Blair's wars.

    - The Tories supported light touch regulation at the time.


  • Comment number 42.

    Nobody shouted about new schools, nobody shouted about falling crime... Cameron agreed with Labour spending plans, Osborne called for more deregulation of banks, then the bomb fell. I do blame Blair for many things, the turning of Labour into a pale-blue is one. But, they (the Tories) were fellow-travellers. Most of your contributers are now writhing in blue-rinse heaven, asking what Labour would do while knowing that a new leadership group need time to formulate approaches/policy etc. as the Tory lot had to do - till Cameron popped up and applied the PR/airbrush. Maybe a complete re-writing of approach is needed by Labour to answer these cynical criticisms - like, we will approach spending/taxation on a social-good basis not a corporate basis. Surely, if the (alleged) wealth creators are decent patriots not opportunists (as Ed Milliband is labelled) and also believe in Society then they will not run from this nation? If they do - who needs them?

  • Comment number 43.

    When looking at all Millibands speeches and writing he reminds me of me (and many others) when I used to write a political blog:

    The words are nicely put together from gut reasoning without any realistic notion of how they can actually translate into action.

    The phrasing sounds intelligent, is carefully delivered with just the right amount of passion - probably real passion.

    I gave up writing a political blog because the gulf between what, from my gut, I felt needed to be said and done, and what would be actually feasible, assuming I even had any of the skills, was huge. The trouble is that I have dealt with and used words professionally for 30 years - I know how to put them together. But that does not mean I can run a country!

    I get the same feeling here too.

    Milliband's words sound good, they sound like they are from a passionate person, they sound like they have purpose, mostly. But behind the words I detect nothing that is actually a plan, nothing that actually adds up to a set of arguments that can actually be turned into positive action.

    All I hear, I am afraid, is a young blogger.

    That is not very encouraging.

  • Comment number 44.

    Problem is that he can admit what he likes about Labour's awful record in office but the trouble is that he can't provide any guarantees that Labour wouldn't do it all over again.

    Labour is really a bit like a wife beater. They'll apologise for whatever it is they've done, give you a cuddle and tell you they love you but a couple of days later they'll do the same thing all over again.

  • Comment number 45.

    It's not all about the Leader more what we as a party (Labour) want to achieve. The current mob do not understand the problems of ordinary people the sooner this country realises that we are currently going in the wrong direction the better. As a Government we SHOULD be able to create employment hence saving on benefits and getting this country on it's feet , not kid on jobs real sustainable jobs. The cuts affect the majority and it's about time they were heard peacefully may I add.

  • Comment number 46.

    I see the Tory central office have been furiously posting away their anti labour/Miliband vitriol on this site once again.

    Why does every thing have to be about money, what about social capital, what about a four day week to create jobs for the young people who can't find a job because all the old people won't retire.
    What about a high wage economy for everyone, not just those within the square mile. What about an end to this inane fixation with capital growth, why can't we just be happy with what we have?

  • Comment number 47.

    Nick, I look forward to the day the when you direct an awkward question or two towards the governing party/parties. Your constant sniping at the opposition is becoming tedious and worse still is giving this unelected marriage of convenience an easy ride.

  • Comment number 48.

    The comments above have, by and large, proved a refreshing read.

    It's good to know that by no means everyone in this country is burying their heads in the sand and/or rioting in London. It's also nice to see that not everyone has forgotten the last 13 years of Labour misrule.

    My favourite comment, however, has to be number 20 by Trimble Bracegirdle. I love the idea that those who disagree with Labour must, for some reason, not have thought things through. Further, no matter how 'slow and gentle' Labour goes, unless the message and tactics changes dramatically, no-one much is going to listen. This exercise in self-delusion reminds me strongly of the general election. I read countless blog posts expressing confidence that people would 'see through' Cameron and realise that Brown was 'a man of substance', while the defeat was later put down to a 'failure to get the message across'.

    No. Just no. The reason Labour lost was because they mucked up and didn't 'fess up. And unless the party addresses past failures and future strategy immediately, its prospects don't look good either. As things stand, it'll be relying entirely on the coalition being about as unpopular as John Major in 1997 in order to win a general election. I wouldn't rule it out, but surely it's better to give the electorate reasons to vote for you rather than rely on the government to provide reasons why no-one should vote for them?

  • Comment number 49.

    8. At 6:46pm on 15 Jan 2011, RangerWillRobinson wrote:
    @2. No more boom and bust
    "Should a more liberal Britain whose people are less enslaved to corporate concerns not be built, I for one will be cashing in my "shares" and choosing to GTF."

    Enslaved. Care to expand? Slavery is a serious business and should not be treated lightly, I'm sure you agree. So how exactly are the people of Britain 'enslaved', and by who, exactly, please? I think you need to choose your words more carefully.

  • Comment number 50.

    Nick, I'm not much of a political animal, but I do read your blog on a fairly regular basis. I would just like to say that the slagging off you regularly get from either extreme of the political spectrum, mean you must be getting it about right. Keep it up nick, you rock!

  • Comment number 51.

    unless there is a recognition of labour failings over the term of their previous governments, then there can be no way forward for miliband (either of them)

    as i recall, the alternative labour proposed to the VAT increase, was a national insurance increase, which would have come from each and every wage packet and been far more of a punishment to the people in that they had no choice but to pay it, whereas at least a VAT increase allows us some choice in the matter.

    i was astounded to see the by election result was a win for labour - exactly what did people vote for? the way the "blank sheet of paper for policies" was folded because there was nothing on them?

    those inside government during the blair/brown years, who left, wrote books and gave interviews said that the labour years was more about making "the left" needed again, pre 1997, a fifth general election loss would have wiped the labour party out.

    spreading the wealth is ok in theory, but in government labour simply didnt do it, instead they increased taxation on the people, by adding more than 100 individual new taxes.
    why didnt labour give the bail out money to the people?

    all financial roads lead back to the banks... what is the rate upto now? £24,000 per voter?
    imagine all the credit card bills that could have been cleared off, imagine the chunks of mortgages/mortgage arrears being paid off, if the individual had none of these, then they would have spent that money with businesses, regardless, the money would have fed back to the banks, saving mergers, increasing competition between banks and benefitting everyone's financial circumstances over night.

    if the labour government had genuinely wanted to be progressive, then it could have been so, instead it left the people with huge bills/cuts in services to pay for and a debt interest burden that could more than fund our entire armed forces budget for a financial year!

  • Comment number 52.

    Well done Nick. At last an article telling the truth about labour, their dreadful record in government and the rubbish being spouted from the man with the most awful voice in politics Ed Miliband.

    Hopefully a few more balanced articles will appear on here and a close investigation of exactly the financial mess that labour mainly created for the UK on bbc news and politics shows.

    It is a shame articles such as this weren't given some prominence before the recent Old & Sad election as labour might just have lost their seat.

    Once again Nick, congratulations on writing a piece which isn't anti coalition or anti tory for a change.

  • Comment number 53.

    BBC presenter suggested the Winter of Discontent is a lazy cliche, most people now have not a clue what it is. But the old BBC habit of direclty copying the tabloid phrase continues- by the way Larry Lamb of the Sun first used the phrase.

  • Comment number 54.

    EVALENA-LIVERPOOL HI NICK...IVE BEEN TRYIN TO FIND YOUR BLOGS 4 AGES,YOU ARE WANNA THE BEST POLITICAL ALSO IN GENERAL BROADRCASTERS WE HAVE TODAY,I DO THINK WE ALWAYS NEED SOMEONE LIKE YOU,WHO KNOWS WHAT YOUR TALING ABOUT AND YOU DO IT IN A RESPECTFUL POSITIVE WAY,PERSONALLY,I THINK NICK CLEGG REGRET SHOWS BY HIS BODY LANGUAGE?I WAS SO LET DOWN WHEN TONY BLAIR COULDVE BEEN 1 OF THE GREATEST HAD HE NOT BEEN YES SIR NO SIR&WHEN IT GOT TERMINAL PASSING IN ON TO GORDEN BROWN I FEEL WAS SLIGHTLY UNFAIR?BUT TODAY WHEN MR HUGHES SAID HE WENT WITH TORIES 4 A CHALLENGE?THATS DEBATABLE/?MORE LIKE PWE,WHICH HAS BACKFIRED ON TEM TENFOLD,I LIKE ED MILLERBANDS WAY,LETS FACE IT WERE IS THERE A GOOD GOVERMENT?BUT I LIKE THE WAY SIMILAR TO YOU IF ASKED OR SPOKEN TO EASY NATURAL WAT OF REPLYING ANSWERTING WITHOUT BEING DISRESPECTFUL,BUT CUT N DRY,I THINK ONLY TIME IVE SEEN NICK CLEGG SINCE THE COALITION LOOK GENUINELY HAPPY,IS WHEN WE RECIEVED THE 2 PANDAS FROM CHINA,HE LOOKED HAPPY IN A WORLD OF HIS OWN,?I DONT THINK 4 POLITICAL REASONS EITHER?I JUST THINK MAYBE ITS THE ONLY THING THATS MAD HIM CRACK A SMILE SINCE IN MY VIEW MAKING A DREADFUL MISTAKE ON PEOPLES TRUST?WATS THE USE IF YOU HAVE NO SAY,RESPECT AND DISAGREE WITH JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING THEY NOW STAND FOR...ID PERSONALLY LIKE TO SEE YOU ELECTED HA TRUE AT LEAST YOUR GREAT AT YOUR JOB AND VERY SINCERE,ANYWAY TAKE CARE BE IN TOUCH LOL EVALENA X I WANT TO ADD THOUGH IN NOWAY DO I AGREE WITH ANY TORIE COMPARED TO MANY OTHER COUNTRYS WE SHOULD B GRATEFUL SOME THINGS IVE SEEN PLACES IVE BEEN WERE LUCKY TAKE CARE EVA X

  • Comment number 55.

    HI NICK IS MYTWITTER FACEBOOK IM NOT USED 2 ALL SOCIAL NETWORKING YET SO MY TWITTER IS @EVALENA13 I KNOW YOUR VERY BUSY IF YOU CAN AS YOUR GENUINLY INTERESTING TO ALL AGES ETHNICS CREEDS ETC KEEP IN TOUCH IF I MAY ASK?YOU DONT ASK YOU DONT KNOW MANY THANKS EVALENA X

  • Comment number 56.

    Isn't it amazing that when finally someone at the BBC decides not to quote the usual Labour supporting rubbish that all the Socialists come out and have a go at him.

    Well done Nick, finally someone showing that our licence fee does pay for decent journalism in the odd corner of the BBC.

    Perhaps instead of all the Socialists complaining, they should look at the facts of Labour's misrule and admit Labour were a shambles and cannot be allowed back to govern unless they admit mistakes and change the party setup. Then again there is probably more chance of Tony Blair telling the truth!

  • Comment number 57.


    #20.....'People who imagine essential Public Services can exist at high quality with next to no Direct Public Money or direction.People who will allays blame Government as much as possible whilst..making endless excuses for Private sectors where apparently money will grow on trees without Government Direction....'These Posts read less like Right Wing Conservative than Anarchists who can't bare to actually think through what they are proposing...'

    Your post is unreal. Regarding 'Private sectors needing Government Direction', We don't elect HMH Government to tell Marks & Spencer or any
    private business how to run it's business. Get real... Businesses actually perform much better when they don't have the govt regulating everything!

    Also where do you think government money comes from ? Father christmas?
    Nope government money is mainly our money. It comes from taxing the UK population (ie. you and me), taxing private businesses, borrowing money,
    , selling any government assets to raise money and lastly any other sources of income. Over the period of the last 13 years we have increasingly done more of all of these to pay for a huge spending spreed on the public sector. In particular this included borrowing huge amounts more money from international 'creditors' which was extremely unwise. Also pensions schemes were raided which was scandalous. Labour even sold off our nations reserves of Gold at a pittance of what it's now worth all to pay for the boom. At the same time Blair/Brown said no more boom and bust under Labour. The trouble they had almightly spending boom which in the end like all huge booms turned to a huge bust. A couple of the comments here show the casual disregard for simple economic realities and exemplify how LAbour got itself and this countries finances into a complete mess.

    Then to round it all of anyone who doesn't agree with must be anarchist (nice one!). People of all political views want decent public services but in the real world they have to be paid for out of our money. The trouble is the last government spent all the money and the rest of us are now left paying the bill for years.

    Or does this sound too much like an anarchist ?

  • Comment number 58.

    #39
    'Ed Milliband is in opposition, you'd think he was in government reading this.'

    The point is that he was in government for 5 years until this year, and before that was Brown's 'SPECIAL' economic advisor from 1997 until becoming an MP in 2005. Then when we became an MP he was still advising Brown on economics anyway. So overall I'd say he has alot of historical baggage to look at!. Also what oppositions argue for is surely very important and we are all perfectly entitled to comment here. That is democracy isnt it?

    The trouble for Milliband is overtime people will increasingly ask - what does he actually really stand for. Would he cut or wouldn't he ? How much , how deeply ? Otherwise he's just being an opportunist. Occasionally it's amusing to hear him as recently i heard him say they would cut but they would do it more 'fairly'..! What rubbish

    When Labour was in government a year ago they themselves earmarked huge swingeing 'cuts' in public spending after the election BUT they didn't want to tell anyone .They then lost the election anyway. So now Milliband is opposition leader trying to make huge political capital from painting 'cuts' as unfair. His masterplan is not to say alot at all and paint Labour as being 'fair' and 'moderate' and the Tories as being 'unfair' even though Labour hasn't really got any alternative policies. His hope is that the electorate wont ask difficult questions. But he should listen very carefully not to Neil Kinnock but instead to Lord Reid who had a few things to say before christmas on TV. Lord Reid who even I respect told Labour they couldn't turn into a policy vacuum and sit there moaning about cuts in the vain hope that power would return to them. Labour had to present alternative policies which meant things to ordinary working people. He also shock horror said he thought Cameron was actually doing quite well. His words not mine.

  • Comment number 59.

    Phillip at #1 has it right - Miliband E. is another Kinnock, destined never to lead the Labour Party into office. There was, and perhaps is still, the opportunity for Miliband D. to recover the situation but the longer Ed is there the more tarnished the brand becomes and the less chance David will be given. Meanwhile let's see how Ed faces up to the emotional outbursts expected from TU leaders and students this Spring - will he be faced with his own Hattons and Scargills?

  • Comment number 60.

    Hmmm.
    Looking at comments on this page are we to understand that Labour are to be blamed for the whole economic crisis in world banking which also affected the UK. In which case if it is only a UK problem you folks will be telling me next that the crisis didn't actually hit the rest of the world and every government on the planet. You might also want to tell me that in modern times the whole of the world markets and financial systems are not linked.
    Well actually I don't think so!
    Any government which was in power when the crisis broke will be unlucky enough to be aportioned blame, though clearly the greed of bankers and the culture of letting them run unregulated all came from the Thatcher eara.
    I also think that what is being missed here is that the VAT increase from a Tory perpective is not really about addressing the deficit. Both Cameron and Osbourne have said that the higher rate is here to stay (even when the deficit is under control) and that their idea of the way forward is to cut higher rates of tax. I therefore maintain that this government is actually about trying to make the rich richer at the expense of the rest. The deficit is actually for them a rather lucky smoke screen.
    Also the comments about unemployment and other benefits reveals that this governemnt is not keen on catching up with very rich individuals and corporations who manage to evade taxation, but wants to make the middle and certainly the poorest and most vulnrable shoulder the burden. We have seen on many of the BBC pages eveidence that these high tax evaders are responsible for sums of money many times that of all the benefits added together. But these are not the ones that the government wish to pursue.
    I maintain that if the deficit was really the top issue of the coalition then the corporation tax case against Vodafone would not have been dropped and there would not be mention of cutting highest rate Income tax.
    Finally I would argue that in England, the parties do not really play on a level playing field, as this page of comments prove. The acusation that Ed Miliband is dancing to the tune of trade union leaders such as Bob Crowe is absurd when the union leader and his union are not even part of the Labour party. Why therefore can't we turn this argument back onto the Tory party and ask who exactly funds the Tories? Then we can ask who Tory policies aim to protect? Well for a start the afore mentioned Vodafone contribute heavily to the Tory party. Then of course there are many of the superrich who will be seeing their income tax fall. Finally of course the big banking lobby, who do you think that they vote for? and more to the point are they going to end up paying more or less tax personally and corporately under this government?

  • Comment number 61.

    The last Labour administration went out of its way to make saving a dirty word by reducing interest rates to near zero, raiding pricvate pension funds and spending like a drunken man. The only people who will now back Labour will be those with a vested interest.

    The sooner the electoral boundaries are changed to reflect the electorate more and not enable Labour to win with 25% of the national vote the better. Labour have always been a national disaster and will always be, unfortunately the Lib-Dems have much the same position as Labour and so are no better.


    Maybe if Milliband were to back the present fiscal changes in parliament and be behind removing the millstone left by Brown I would feel more for him and his party, however he has done what all his predessors do and having made the problem now snipes at those who are trying to put it right. If Brown had not signed the Lisbon Constitution we would have an even better chance of removing the defecit but as we are now tied to the fraudulantly ruinous EU nodoubt we will be bankrupted by the EU as well.

  • Comment number 62.

    Of course the lovely thing about leaving the country up the creek without a paddle is, that as opposition, you can now rant and rave at the incoming people as they attempt to put it right. The Governor of the BofE was right, this was probably a good election to lose but things have to be put right. I Think it has been an eye opener for the lib-dems to come into office and see just what this country has to pay back in interest payments on literally a daily basis. I Can't help watching Ed Miliband and thinking he looks/sounds like Pitt the Younger out of Black Adder III....

  • Comment number 63.

    There are lots of anti-Miliband/Labour comments and I can only assume that the writer's are the owners of banks or have a peerage of some kind. It is obvious that the Coalition Government will do anything to get the deficit down including destroying the social fabric of this country. Miliband is primarily about society rather than markets. There is nothing wrong with this. Look what happens when we let the markets take over things; the taxpayer has to bail them out! Cameron's contribution to society is the Big Society which has no substance and requires money (which he has none to give).

  • Comment number 64.

    Jeremy @ 60. Not what I am saying.

    It was a global crisis but had a bigger impact on the UK because of Labour's policies. That said Labour did very well (lead the world) in addressing the crisis when it came.

    But Labour MUST acknowledge some mistakes in order to move forward.

    They must then develop a clear position on the deficit - I do not see how you can credibly attack any cuts unless you state what you would do instead.



  • Comment number 65.

    "How Ed Miliband is dealing with the past"

    It would appear that Miliband is adopting an age-old reaction to distasteful truth;
    place index fingers in respective ears and repeating the mantra 'La La La, nothing to do with me, I'm not hearing you'..... it's about time he was sent to bed without supper!

  • Comment number 66.

    Hi Cassandra, (64)

    I don't think that we are as wide apart as all that.
    Thank you for your well balanced comment that Labour did really well and lead the world in addressing the crisis when it came. In fact no one really saw it coming. My main point is that in all of the anti Labour ranting no one actually seems to remeber that point, and instead the media turned it into "Goron Brown's recession".

    My point is that many of the cuts are not really motivated by the deficit but are an opportunity for a Tory to get away with policies that would otherwise cause national uprising. As usual the policy of the Tories is to look after the interests of the very rich at the expense of the rest.

    So firstly I would look at the tax evasion of the extremely well off, and the very large corporations, not because I am some sort of extremist (I am not) but because their shortfall actually accounts for a bigger share of the problem.
    Secondly I think that the deficit is actually second problem in line to the danger of sinkning back into mega recession (which would then blow the deficit even higher). The answer is to cut gradually and to only reduce public secotr jobs when these private sector jobs that we have heard so much about (and which history tells us probably don't exist) actually appear.
    The key to this is that we must not have huge levels of unemployment and that Tories have a history of using high unemployment as an economic tool (in 1980's it was as an anti inflation measure).
    Cutting is one of many aspects to the problem, maintaining an economy where there are jobs and a country where there is still adaquate policing, crime prevention, defence (including anti-terrorism) is actually more important.
    This is exactly what the Libs Dems identified in their election manifesto and exactly what they U-turned on. It is exactly what I think will also prove to be their undoing.

    In short I think that the way back is complex and requires stages of cuts as and when private sector picks up. I also think that cutting too soon makes the private sector recovery far less likely, and many cuts have actaully caused more private sector unemployment than public sector.

    Of course if the economy shrinks, we will also loose our tripple A credit rating and face the same results as we would from going under in debt.
    I also think that with terror threats increased, unemployment on the rise
    security an issue, and the need to stay on top of crime, we have in the coalition the equivalent of a boy with a chain-saw attempting brain surgery because "something needs to be done". And I'm afraid I have about as much confidence in Cameron bringing about good in the UK as I would in the boy with a chain-saw.

  • Comment number 67.

    My difficulty with Labour is the fact that they have "Milibland" as leader, even now I am still not sure which one we have, they are both the same, boring, middle class Tories in Disguise.

    To be blunt labour could exchange either of the Miliblands for Cameron or Clegg and no one would notice.

    and yes I deliberately miss-spelled his surname as BLAND is what they are.

  • Comment number 68.

    Quite a good summary, Nick; 7 out of 10.
    Just watched your colleague Andrew Marr interview Miliband and even he is putting some reasoned questions to Red Ed.
    Miliband is, of course, still ducking and denying the deficit despite the truth, as this article by the tpa points out -
    http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/economics/2011/01/ipprs-excuses-cover-governments-dire-fiscal-irresponsibility.html
    It's amazing what you BBC 'journalists' can do when you are not being emailed the latest lie to spin out of No10 as you were under the last maladministration.



  • Comment number 69.

    I don't really care which bits of the Blair and Brown government's economic policies are described as mistakes by Ed Miliband and which bits he says were right. What I want is a plan for what the Labour Party proposes to do now. There are valid arguments in favour of less spending cuts, but as long a Labour has a policy to halve the deficit in four years, they still have to cut spending. We know which cuts they oppose, but which cuts do they support?

    Labour's current policy seems to be waiting to see which cuts are unpopular, then opposing them - the most blatantly opportunistic one being child benefit to higher-rate taxpayers. If they carry on behaving like this, it might help them in the polls in the short term, but they'll regret it at the next election.

  • Comment number 70.

    Post 60 & 63 both spot on, nice to see some reasoned comment rather than the rabid "it's all Labours fault" comments that litter this blog.

    If the Tory bloggers were able to put their bias to one side and look at the situation objectively and HONESTLY they would probably come to the same conclusion, however I doubt they have the ability as their Tory greed and ideology will cloud their limited judgement.

  • Comment number 71.

    Nick, this is an excellent piece you have written. Of course in reality, fundamental change is needed in our society, political systems and attitudes. However we are where we are. And if in the short term we have to accept middle ground politics, the most important thing is to remove this coalition. When I say that, I really mean, remove conservative ideology from govt. History will show that the liberal democrats decision to join the conservatives was a huge mistake. But there are still some good liberal democrat mps (excluding coalition mps). And a hell of a lot of good liberal democrat voters. Their future in the short and medium term only lies with relevant and ethical association with the labour party. Ed Milliband must not be afraid to admit new labours many mistakes. He must not be afraid to admit any association with those mistakes either. You see its a numbers game. So many people have already suffered in bad economic times. And much worse is to follow. We are in the midst of severe cuts to essential public services. And a huge austerity drive. Many people already know the injustice of it, but once this grows, the momentum will swing violently away from Conservative/ coalition support. When more people realise the billions lost through tax evasion, and billions paid to bankers has been furthered and rubber stamped by this coalition while at the same time, the poorest up to middle income earners have footed the bill, the revulsion will be sweeping. Labour have to combine and harvest this feeling and build on it with well thought out and strong ethical policy. For too long now we have let down, our pensioners. Let down and swept aside the vital contribution our senior citizens can make. For too long we have let down our youth. For too long we have let our communities become broken and disconnected. Greed, arrogance, selfishness, apathy and individualism is pandemic. And despite the huge mistakes of new labour, and some of the hypocrisy they showed over the last 13 years, they have never had better opportunity to stop the rot. Especially when so much of the conservative led coalitions immoral and unethical ideology is so blatant. An ideology that so obviously champions injustice. Be bold Ed. In the face of suspicion, and a majority rabid right wing press. Once you can formulate detailed ethical policy all that will be left for the right wing is cries of hypocrisy, and statements full of lies and ignorance. Note that very little will be said to morally justify their policies. We only have to see Mr Camerons display at prime ministers question time to see that.

  • Comment number 72.

    #60, 'My point is that many of the cuts are not really motivated by the deficit but are an opportunity for a Tory to get away with policies that would otherwise cause national uprising. As usual the policy of the Tories is to look after the interests of the very rich at the expense of the rest.'

    Ask yourself a question - IF Labour had won the last election what do you think they were going to do ?

    Your answer is probably the same old labour lie of clobbering the rich. The left always uses this mood music when it is really desperate. So what Labour actualy do for 13 years? Well they didn't clobber the rich did they, instead Mandelsohn, Blair & Brown all sucked up to these people on a huge scale. In reality they knew that most of our tax money raised actually comes normal taxpayers and taxing the 'rich' is just a popular game to play to get your vote!

    The real answer is that Labour would have done ALOT of the same cuts anyway. Darling (who by the way was in charge the economy!) admitted that to rebuild our finances they had a huge plan of cuts that would have made Maggie Thatcher look like a pussycat. But unsuprisingly they lost the election so this was conveniently shelved.

    I don't blame Labour for a global recession and also think Blair/Brown did an ok job in areas. But equally they caused a massive mess of our UK public finances which will take years to rebuild. I would respect Labour alot more if they actually admitted this and admit they would have to do alot of what the 'Coalition' are doing now anyway ! Otherwise this is just pure opportunism.

  • Comment number 73.

    68 Auntie Rose

    You talk of the "truth" as though you have a monopoly on it.

    Miliband made a salient point...

    At the time imediately before the Banking crisis the UK had both a lower debt and deficit than at the time they entered Government in 1997 (that handover from Clarke often referred to by such as yourselves as a golden economic legacy!!!)Debt approx 43% GDP in 97 approx 38% GDP in 2008. Deficit at 4% at end of 96/97 and below that at end of 2006/7.

    Furhermore, as a key plank of Tory Policy before the recession was to match Labour Spending but also to cut taxes by "sharing the proceeds of growth" its hard to see how they were planning to cut the deficit at the time or that they were unhappy with the level? Yes?

    Now should you be so fond of a different version of "truth" then clearly you'll be able to disprove the above, but I suggest to you that this could be difficult as it is one of those rather uncomfortable and verifiable matters of record.

    However, you can always stick to the tried and trusted path of endless repetion of the "party line".

  • Comment number 74.

    68. Aunty Rose
    Had a look at the link you posted. Thought it would be a good idea to post one back on the taxpayers alliance themselves and who they are.

    http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2008/03/17/who-are-the-taxpayer%E2%80%99s-alliance/

  • Comment number 75.

    #63 - 'There are lots of anti-Miliband/Labour comments and I can only assume that the writer's are the owners of banks or have a peerage of some kind'.

    -> Nope just ordinary people who have had quite enough of Labour for a while Thank you. Your comment is like me saying you are obviously a member of the socialist worker party. Abit 'Unfair' isn't it !?

    'It is obvious that the Coalition Government will do anything to get the deficit down including destroying the social fabric of this country.'

    -> As I said on my last post if Labour had won the last election they had plans to do much of the same cuts anyway. In Darlings words their cuts were harsher than the early 80s. So your view above is just disingenuous.

    'Miliband is primarily about society rather than markets. There is nothing wrong with this. Look what happens when we let the markets take over things; the taxpayer has to bail them out! Cameron's contribution to society is the Big Society which has no substance and requires money (which he has none to give).

    -> So your answer is to have government running everything then ? Where do you live? Communist Cuba? In real world 'New Labour' spent most of the 90s/00s telling the markets/business not to be scared and that it believed in their ideals. The labour special advisor to Brown for all this time was none other than Ed Miliband. Wake up ! Society and Markets are heavily linked

  • Comment number 76.

    70. Governmentdept4propergander

    'If the Tory bloggers were able to put their bias to one side and look at the situation objectively and HONESTLY they would probably come to the same conclusion, however I doubt they have the ability as their Tory greed and ideology will cloud their limited judgement.'

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I enjoyed reading that post.

    Yet another suggestion that those who support the Conservatives must be wrong and that they simply haven't yet, for whatever reason, seen sense. It's a brilliant example of sticking your fingers in your ears.

    Labour lost the election. Under Miliband it will not win the next one, unless there is a dramatic change in strategy and/or a dramatic nosedive in the popularity of the coalition. Not everyone shares your visceral hatred of the Tories, whatever you may think and despite your hopes/expectations, everyone isn't simply going to come round to your way of thinking. Thank goodness.

    You can go on deluding yourself that you are right and others who disagree with you must be stupid or ignorant. But perhaps it'd be wiser to consider, just for a moment, that others aren't going to be quite so forgiving of Labour's record.

  • Comment number 77.

    #63 David Knowles
    David you say "It is obvious that the Coalition Government will do anything to get the deficit down including destroying the social fabric of this country. Miliband is primarily about society rather than markets."
    Had you read about the people moved out of their homes in Liverpool, their old homes demolished to make way for a new school built two years ago under BSF / PFI with an ongoing liability of over £150m? There are now insufficient pupils and so the local authority wants to close the school despite accepting that the financial burden will remain. Presumably the education of the 500 students will be further disrupted.
    Is this not destroying the social fabric, and at a huge financial cost?
    What exactly would Ed Milliband's Labour do to correct the mistakes?

  • Comment number 78.

    Jason 22 says;

    "The private sector is where national wealth is created, the public sector is a consumer of that wealth."

    =============

    A much repeated and gross over simplification of how a mixed economy works.

    I put to you that actual "wealth creation" as you describe it, is actually limited to a very small proprtion of the Private Sector which inturn depends on the Public Sector (Roads and infrastructure etc etc) to enable it to "create" wealth through exports or attracting inward spending through tourism etc. Subtract from this our imports and outward investments then actual wealth created by anyone is minimal or negative.

    The vast majority of the active economic output of all sectors is simply about the circulation of existing wealth through a series of transactions which allows taxation to be levied at each stage. Whether the transaction is for payment of employment or for goods and services, it simply circulates the money which gets taxed every time it changes hands, which in turn funds the Public Sector whose spending is a key % of the transactions that inturn provide the revenue upon which the Private sector depend.

    If you look at it like this then perhaps the current vogue of Private Good/Public bad will yeald to a more realistic reality of imter-dependence.



  • Comment number 79.

    73. At 11:42am on 16 Jan 2011, Eatonrifle wrote:

    You talk of the "truth" as though you have a monopoly on it.

    -> Generally not a good idea to band on about 'truth' when 99% of what's on here are people's own views and comments. Which by the way they have a perfect right to have.

    Miliband made a salient point...

    -> Oh dear....

    At the time imediately before the Banking crisis the UK had both a lower debt and deficit than at the time they entered Government in 1997 (that handover from Clarke often referred to by such as yourselves as a golden economic legacy!!!)Debt approx 43% GDP in 97 approx 38% GDP in 2008. Deficit at 4% at end of 96/97 and below that at end of 2006/7.

    -> So I see the our current level of huge UK debt/deficit is JUST because of the banking crises ? Well even if this is right (which is debatable and slightly laughable) the fact is Labour carried on spending our money at unsustainable levels throughout all its time in government. In 2009 the UK government's debt as a percentage of its overall economic output ballooned to 70%. When the banking crises hit several years before they lost power they could have calmed spending and been reasonable. They didn't!!!

    Furhermore, as a key plank of Tory Policy before the recession was to match Labour Spending but also to cut taxes by "sharing the proceeds of growth" its hard to see how they were planning to cut the deficit at the time or that they were unhappy with the level? Yes?

    -> Both main parties play this game. They dont do this out of political principle but because they don't want to avoid the other side attacking them. Labour kept Tory spending commitments for the remainder of the 90s! That is before they ballooned.

    Now should you be so fond of a different version of "truth" then clearly you'll be able to disprove the above, but I suggest to you that this could be difficult as it is one of those rather uncomfortable and verifiable matters of record.

    -> Equally uncomfortable for you then when Labour lost power. Labour's Liam Byrne just about summed everything up leaving a note to his 'coalition' successor with the words "Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid to tell you there's no money left.". Slightly sick joke isnt it ?!

  • Comment number 80.

    78. At 12:21pm on 16 Jan 2011, Eatonrifle wrote:

    Jason 22 says;

    "The private sector is where national wealth is created, the public sector is a consumer of that wealth."
    =============
    A much repeated and gross over simplification of how a mixed economy works.I put to you that actual "wealth creation" as you describe it, is actually limited to a very small proprtion of the Private Sector which inturn depends on the Public Sector (Roads and infrastructure etc etc) to enable it to "create" wealth through exports or attracting inward spending through tourism etc. Subtract from this our imports and outward investments then actual wealth created by anyone is minimal or negative.

    -> Totally disagree with you. Basically reading your 'blog' you think the government creates wealth and private businesses mainly feed off that wealth. Erm sorry it's the other way round. Private business creates longterm jobs, tax income for the government and wealth creation. Public services are an investment and an extremely worthy one. But like all investments we have to pay and carry on paying for them. No one is saying here that public sector is 100% bad and private is 100% good. But the 'balance' of the mixed economy you talk about has disappeared and became unsustainable. Labour appeared to promote private enterprise (& the banks/finance sector as well!) only so it could use tax revenues to massively increase the public sector. When private businesses and the UK population ran out of money we have ...no more money left

  • Comment number 81.

    74. lefty11 wrote:
    ""68. Aunty Rose
    Had a look at the link you posted. Thought it would be a good idea to post one back on the taxpayers alliance themselves and who they are.

    http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2008/03/17/who-are-the-taxpayer%E2%80%99s-alliance/""

    So you don't dispute the facts, you just prefer to shoot the messenger (even though you miss!).

    About par for a New Labour lefty!

  • Comment number 82.


    81. Aunty Rose
    No, I dispute bias and the link to tpa. Who aren’t really taken very seriously. Prefer something like this which sticks more to facts rather than spun facts.
    http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/uk-economy/uk-national-debt/

    ps. I don’t want to shoot the messenger , just want to point out hes a libertarian.

  • Comment number 83.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 84.

    Lefty 11

    What about the off balance sheet borrowing Gordon Brown was so fond of like the pfi schemes to build their schools and hospitals, some of which are now closing after only 2 years? Many labour or ex labour politicians, including Blair and Darling acknowledge that they carried on spending far too much after 2004 but Brown would not have it. As Miliband was in the treasury with him he was presumably happy with this level of spending. They thought the money from the city was going to continue to come in at that level forever. The conservatives and liberal democrats should have made a stronger opposition to that so they are not blameless.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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