Not new Labour

We continue to oppose the government's cuts but we can't promise to reverse any of them. That, in summary, is Labour's supposedly "new" position this weekend.

However, it does not represent, as many seemed to think, any change in the party's economic policy. It is a change merely of political message.

The Two Eds still believe that the government is cutting too far and too fast. They still believe that the chancellor's strategy is not just unfair but will lead to a bigger not a smaller deficit. They still oppose cuts like those to benefits, defeated in the Lords last week, and those which will be challenged in the weeks to come - as the Labour leader made clear this morning.

So, what justifies the talk of a big policy shift? The Eds believe, as I wrote earlier in the week, that Labour's economic credibility will be restored by what they say about the future not the past. Therefore, they have chosen to highlight promises that they won't make.

Yesterday's announcement that Labour will back and not oppose continuing public sector pay restraint was chosen precisely because it would cause a fuss. It was a carefully selected symbol of realism meant to prove that the party is not in denial about the deficit.

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have been urged by some in their party to apologise for the past as a way of being taken seriously now. They will not do that. They have decided, instead, to sound tough about the future in order to be listened to more in the present.

It should worry the party that after two big speeches by the two Eds many seemed to have misunderstood what they were trying to say.

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