Labour: Misunderstanding or division?

Len McCluskey Len McCluskey has been critical of Labour's stance on the public sector pay freeze

Related Stories

Compare and contrast the following two statements about Labour's approach to the economy:

"We are going to have to keep all these cuts."


"There is a big squeeze happening on budgets across the piece... We are going to have to start from that being the baseline. At this stage, we can make no commitments to reverse any of that, on spending or on tax."

The first is what seems to have inspired Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of the country's biggest union, Unite, to describe Labour's economic policy as "a victory for discredited Blairism... the last gasp of neo liberalism" which was dragging the party into "the swamp of bond market orthodoxy".

The second is described by the same Mr McCluskey in the Guardian today as "absolutely reasonable".

Starting point

And yet both are quotes from the same interview with the shadow chancellor on Saturday.

Ed Balls and Ed Miliband spent the weekend trying to regain some economic credibility by signalling that they understood the constraints that the deficit would place on the next Labour government.

As I explained in my last post they were changing much less than many people thought. This becomes clear when you see the first of these in its proper context.

What Mr Balls said was:

"My starting point is, I am afraid, we are going to have keep all these cuts."

Internal difficulties

And he went on to explain that he could not promise to reverse any cut and made one - just one - specific policy announcement - that Labour would not oppose continuing public sector pay restraint.

McCluskey objects to it, saying it disenfranchises the half a million who marched against the cuts.

A row with Labour's biggest union backer poses some internal difficulties but it helpfully highlights the very change the Eds wanted to highlight, while allowing the Labour leader to make clear that he is not in the pocket of the unions.

What should worry Labour's Eds, though, is the fact that their position is not widely understood.

McCluskey, like the coalition, is asking an important question: "How can you pledge to keep cuts in future while opposing them now?".

They have an answer. It is vital for the Eds that the public understand it.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

Debates - on or off?

David Cameron says he wants to take part in TV election debates and that he thinks a deal can be done but he's also setting new conditions for taking part.

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    119 Lefty - interesting link - topics listed for ethical socialism were;
    - re opening coal mines
    - Taxing the rich
    - keeping competitive labour forces out of the public sector
    - affordable child care
    - making socialism attractive in s england
    Internal debate is good and why not seek the progession of a political group/class but I found it a bit light on ethics. I obviously dont get it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Bryers 240 prev post - keynes = money in the pockets of the poor/middle is spent on product whereas the rich's surplus can be wasted in speculation (keynes should know). Good point - the dogma comes when this is taken as open ended argument for redistribution. Someone has to put their capital at risk to invest production/inovation and in tax and spend govt effectively becomes the speculator.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Bryers - there you go again you really are wedded to the idea of inequality as a source of crisis. Otherwise (not wishing to be patronising) there is much in your posts to agree with. Neoclassicals believed in free markets then create partial 'analysis' to support it, post keynsians/marxists detest inequality and have created 'analysis' to support that. This is not scientific method.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.


    My conscience is completely clear. The reason you think its ironic that I refer to labour tribalists, is for one simple reason. You lot think that everyone who doesnt think exactly like you, who doesnt toe the party line, everyone who doesnt viscerally hate tories IS a tory, a counter-revolutionary. Your party is fast becoming a laughing stock, mate. Enjoy....

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    baby to bed

    Mine 30, 28, both 'worries'!

    Gladly 'pool' pension for universal secure equality - of Willing

    Gave 'as allowed', Private & Public Employ: so much more POSSIBLE

    Overt & / or subtle, rule of Fear & Greed poisons People & Planet

    We too long 'hope for the best'

    Baby cries, something wrong
    Child misbehaves, viral prodrome
    Teen trouble, oppressed
    Adult crime, excluded


Comments 5 of 138



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.