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Daily View: Verdicts on Ed Balls' plan for the economy

Clare Spencer | 09:37 UK time, Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Ed Balls


Political bloggers assess shadow chancellor Ed Balls' speech to the Labour party conference.

In the Spectator George Eaton gives Ed Balls' speech a thumbs up, saying "Labour's Keynesian rottweiler" gave a confident performance:

"Balls had the energy and spirit of a man who knows that he is winning the argument. With even the IMF now warning that Osborne may have to slow the pace of the cuts if growth continues to disappoint, the consensus is slowly turning against austerity. As the economic data continues to worsen, Balls will win further converts to his approach."

Another supporter is Cormac Hollingsworth who says in Left Foot Forward that Mr Balls managed to reassure the country that "while this coalition lasts things will be bad, there is a credible alternative":

"Balls telescoped through the pain of the next 4 years to the election in 2015. By then the cuts in spending will have happened and he knows that the cuts will have gone to the bone. But with no growth the deficit will still be stubbornly high, the economy will be stagnant and people will be looking for an alternative.
"By the time Labour gets back in, confidence in the economy will be so low after four years stagnation that we will need much smarter ways of lifting confidence. He answered this challenge in his commitment on spending."

However, Dave Osler argues in the blog Liberal Conspiracy that measures such as a VAT cut don't go far enough to avert the danger of a full-blown slump:

"The timidity of the left's intellectual response is shocking. The terms of debate are more or less limited to the desirability of slightly tighter financial regulation and the ringfencing of investment banking activity. There is no recognition that cyclicality is built into the system itself."

In the Spectator's Coffee House blog Jonathan Jones says Mr Balls' attacks on cuts are unfounded:

"The problem is, it's hard to claim that government cuts are hurting the economy when central government is spending more this year than last. The cuts haven't begun to have an effect yet, which means they can't be responsible for our weak growth and Ed Balls is a long way from being able to say 'I told you so' when it comes to the UK economy."

Hopi Sen complains in the Labour List blog that Ed Balls' policies are irrelevant to Labour:

"We're not in government and won't be for three or four years. When we are in government the fiscal situation will be very different, for better, or worse.
"The only thing that's certain is that we won't face the crisis we have now, but a different crisis altogether. (Even if it's a Japan style lost decade, the very fact we'll have been in it for half a decade would constrain any future Labour government). The great certainty of Ed Ball's five point plan is that it will only come to fruition in an alternate universe."

Liberal Democrat blogger Mark Pack is curious about the policies Labour has chosen to abandon:

"The two policies we've had dropped in the last couple of days aren't simply policies from the 2010 general election manifesto but rather policies Labour has been pushing since May 2010. Remember the talk about mutualising the nationalised banks? All gone, with Ed Balls's promise to sell the nationalised banks and use the money to pay off the national debt. Remember too Ed Miliband's attack on the government's tuition fee plans, saying that only an increase of a few hundred pounds was needed? All gone too, with the new policy of backing a doubling of fees."


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