Ed Balls turns Labour's regional policy on its head


Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls on Economic Policy in the South of England

For the 13 years that Labour ran the country there was a constant complaint here in the South of England.

It was that taxpayers' money (and so much of the government's tax revenue does come from the South) was being systematically siphoned off to other parts of the country.

Labour insisted they were not rewarding their key supporters in the Midlands and North, but making areas of unemployment a priority, assessing levels of health and poverty, and directing cash to where they said it was most needed.

It niggled nevertheless, but when business was booming the southern complaint was mostly limited to the need to expand our overloaded infrastructure.

Golden egg

"Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg" was the refrain I remember from the Chairman of the Regional Assembly, Keith Mitchell.

Now money is tight things have changed; there's a different mantra from government.

Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says we must "invest in success"

I heard Nick Clegg use an intriguing phrase the other day, he said: "We must invest in success."

Backing small and medium sized enterprises in places like Reading and Portsmouth and Basingstoke is suddenly a priority.

But where does that leave the idea of re-balancing the economy? Helping disadvantaged areas like South Wales and the North East?

When I spoke to the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls this week he confirmed that Labour are also endorsing this push for growth wherever it can be found.

His five point plan includes dumping the restriction that meant small businesses in the South East couldn't get a National Insurance tax break.

Maybe that's just part of Labour's growing awareness that they need southern votes to win again.

Or, given the speed with which he agreed that they were turning their previous policy on its head, maybe it's one more admission of another policy no longer fit for purpose.

Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England Article written by Peter Henley Peter Henley Political editor, South of England


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Poor old Ed - in denial about Labour's 13 year role in amassing UK debt.

    All I've heard from Labour politicians to date is where they'd like us to be, but with no realisitic plan to achieve it.

    Mr Balls unfortunately tends to rally around whatever topical, point-scoring flag of convenience is hoisted up Labour's pole on any given day!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Yet another about turn by the Labour party. After admitting they got the economy wrong, immigration policy wrong etc etc it is a great pity this conversion didn't occur when they were in government. That way we wouldn't be in half the mess we are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    This siphoning of money from the South to the North in government, NHS, roads, railways even the BBC seems to have been kept very quiet. Both Mr and Mrs Balls are quick to condem except when it is their own massive errors being examined. Selling the gold reserves, removing tax incentives from pension funds, HS2, immigration, benifits for spongers etc etc etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    The only reason Labour would do anything is for political gain. They realise that those of us in the South received nothing over 13 years and we rewarded them with hardly any seats. The only seats in the south that went to Labour were those with high public sector workers or high immigrant populations. I can see through this and still will not vote for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I find this article entrirely biased. Both conclusions you stated, "winning votes" or "another policy not fit for purpose", were clearly anti-labour.

    You did not balance this by saying, say, "or that with a threat of further recession the whole country may need all the help it can."

    Shame on you, be less biased please.


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