Monday, October 25, 2010

What the papers say, continued

Hat-tip to Mike Smithson at "Political Betting" for pointing out some more interesting press responses to the CSR.

Simon Hoggart in the Guardian wrote here that: “Labour has, on the whole, decided that the deficit isn’t its fault. It has, you would imagine, been invented by the Tories purely in order to allow them the cuts which they are imposing with an odious relish.”

Andrew Rawnley is on the same lines in yesterday’s Observer, here, when he writes

“Labour’s attacks on the government have so far failed to gain traction. The new shadow chancellor, Alan Johnson, will not get a serious hearing for Labour’s arguments until his party has restored its own economic credibility and that can’t start to happen until the opposition’s spokesmen and women stop sounding like people living in a fantasy universe in which there is no deficit to address and a Labour chancellor would have been able to announce free holidays in Barbados all round.”

Rawnsley - who, remember, used to be very close to New Labour - continues

"The thrust of Labour's response has been to accuse the coalition of pillaging public spending because they are activated by a Tory lust to eviscerate the state. 'This was a spending review driven by ideology,' says Ed Miliband.


"I'm doubtful that this line of attack from Labour will work. For the charge to stick, Labour needs David Cameron and Nick Clegg to look like ideological crazies and, whatever Labour may wish, the prime minister and his Lib Dem partner simply don't come over that way.

"Nor does the evidence support the Labour critique. The great squeeze will reduce public spending from its current level of 48% of GDP to about 41% by 2014-2015. That is above, not below, the postwar average for Britain. It is fairly typical of a European welfare state. Spending will fall to about the same proportion of GDP as in 2007-08 when Ed Miliband was a senior aide at the Treasury to Gordon Brown. In cash terms, at the end of the four years, the government will be spending 6% more than it does now. In real terms, the coalition will be spending more than when New Labour came to power in 1997.

"That won't be much solace to anyone who relies on a public service that is going to be reduced nor to anyone working for the government who is fearful of losing their position. The forecast job losses in the public sector are 490,000 over four years. That is a big number, there's no doubt about it. But even if every one of those jobs does disappear, the state will still be employing about 200,000 more people than it was when Labour came to power.

"I wish Labour luck in trying to paint Dave'n'Nick as the evil twin brothers of Sarah Palin. They will need luck because the facts don't support the argument."

I'm going to stick my neck out and make a bold prediction. No matter how unpopular the coalition gets, Labour will not again win a majority at a General Election until they have convinced middle Britain that they understand what they did wrong and are determined not to repeat the mistake.

Last time a Labour government lost power, they didn't get back for over a decade, until Tony Blair convinced middle Britain that Labouir had learned the lesson that unresticted union power combined with tax rates of up to 98 pence in the pound were a really bad idea.

Similarly, the Conservatives didn't begin to really recover support after 1997 until David Cameron convinced people that we were not just saying that we had learned from our mistakes in government but meant it, and were determined not to repeat them.

And I don't believe Labour will be elected again until they convince middle Britain that they really understand that doubling the National Debt and letting the deficit reach one pound in four of government spending was a REALLY bad idea and will not be repeated if they get back in.

On the basis of this week, Labour are not only failing to convince the middle ground that they get this, they're failing to convince their intelligent friends in the media, and I see little sign that they've convinced themselves.

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