Labour’s Alistair Darling has surfaced again, possibly the Party leader they should have had(there’s still time)…I wonder if there is any coincidence in this.
‘The relationship between Labour’s two most senior figures has recently become strained amid disagreements over the party’s approach to the City and cuts in public spending. ‘
Oh…and…‘The party will meet for its annual conference next month and senior insiders warn that they are still not in a position to announce many policies.‘
Two years…and they still haven’t worked it out?
Whilst we keep hearing about Thatcher, and indeed hearing she is to blame for this recession, it might be good to have a reminder of what the BBC can’t bring themselves to drag out of the archives…Darling’s own words and policies:
• Chancellor and Mandelson spell out election priorities
• PM’s core vote strategy rejected in policy shift
The chancellor, Alistair Darling, and the business secretary, Lord Mandelson, yesterday signalled a shift in government strategy when Darling warned that Britain faces the toughest spending round in 20 years if Labour is re-elected.
His remarks assert his authority over the schools secretary, Ed Balls, and, to a degree, the prime minister, who had tried to claim that the government could create an election dividing line based on Labour investment versus Tory cuts.
The chancellor told the Times that spending restraint was “non-negotiable” as he tries to bring down Britain’s £178bn budget deficit. He said: “The next spending review will be the toughest we have had for 20 years. To me, cutting the borrowing was never negotiable. Gordon accepts that, he knows that.”
We need to protect frontline services, but it’s essential we cut the public deficit.”
He added “many departments will have less money in the next few years”, a tougher stance than his previous position that spending would be “broadly flat” outside the protected areas of schools, police and hospitals.
He said: “I have always been clear that you have to level with people. We are talking about something like a £57bn reduction in expenditure through tax increases and spending cuts. It’s a change in direction.”Saturday 9 January 2010
Even The New Statesman has had a pop:
Shadow cabinet ministers and Labour-supporting bloggers alike have become excited by this quote [below] from the Tory minister Greg Barker, speaking in front of an American audience:
‘We are making cuts that Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s could only have dreamt of.’
He’s right. But the Labour response is, ahem, odd. Angela Eagle, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, says:
‘Greg Barker has let the cat out the bag about the ideological agenda behind this Tory-led government’s deep cuts to public services’
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The inconvenient truth is that Labour, in the so-called Darling plan for deficit reduction, had also planned to go beyond Thatcher, too — and were equally keen to “let the cat out of the bag”.
Here’s the relevant quote from the then chancellor, Alistair Darling, in an interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson in March 2010:
Robinson: “The Treasury’s own figures suggest deeper, tougher than Thatcher’s — do you accept that?”
Darling: “They will be deeper and tougher — where we make the precise comparison, I think, is secondary to an acknowledgement that these reductions will be tough.”
The FT quite fairly analysed the figures: the difference between Labour and coalition deficit reduction plans is just £24bn by 2014. Ed Balls’s claim that cutting half as much is “a massive difference” is only true if he offers a route map to explain what tax rises and what growth formulae deliver the same deficit reduction as would Tory cuts. Both Eds sound uncomfortable because sticking to the Darling plan means more painful cuts than they can admit. The argument that they are not in power so don’t need a complete budget may be tactically correct, but it doesn’t work as a public statement. Labour can only take a commanding lead over the next austerity months by offering a more convincing economic alternative.
The Scots have a go:
Selective amnesia as Darling ignores his own role
Tue, 19/06/2012 – 14:43
Alistair Darling has been accused of utter hypocrisy after calling for greater capital investment, despite having personally cut Scotland’s capital budget by 36% when he was chancellor.
Here’s a few quotes from an FT interview:
Osborne is using the same plan as Darling for the ‘cuts’, so called, but has started a year earlier….remember also that Labour had plans to cut NHS spending by £20bn…something the BBC neglects to keep reminding us:
My number one priority is to get the borrowing down, to get the deficit down in the department.
The priority though must be to get our borrowing down, because to be borrowing £178 billion is something you need to get down, you need to reduce it and you need to be pretty single-minded about it.
If we’re going to get long-term growth, you’ve got to get borrowing down.
Yes, we have had to borrow a lot more, but then if you take the revenues from the financial services sectors, who are down by about a third, and that’s bound to have an effect on us.
The BBC thinks we should keep bashing the Bankers, should we?:
The financial services industry, which has obviously taken a knock, this is something that you may want to pursue further. It is a real asset to this country. It’s something that, properly supervised and regulated, will continue to be an asset to this country. The million jobs, it generates a lot of wealth in the country,
Flander’s thinks we can have too much employment and wonders where it all came from….but wasn’t asking the same question back in 2010 of Labour:
One of the reasons that we spent quite a lot of money on getting Jobcentre Plus, getting people back into work, is that what is really damaging to an economy is you start getting long term high levels of unemployment.
Do you understand why the labour market here has performed seemingly a lot better than in the US, where they’ve had a disaster?
Alistair Darling: I think it’s a combination of things. We do have a flexible labour market here. I think that one of the things; I know it has happened here in the private sector, is there are many people who have taken pay cuts, as a trade off against keeping their jobs, which is… there are lots, especially in the SME sector, but also in the car industry, 12 months ago, they went through a lot of; they had to take a lot of difficult decisions.
Banker’s bonuses….Labour wants to tax them?
As far as the bank bonus tax is concerned, I said in December that it was a one off tax and it is a one off tax. We’re doing it this year, and that’s it, because it was designed to deal with a particular problem, and I said to banks that I thought they ought to be using their profits to rebuild their position, and therefore to show some restraint in relation to what they do, but I said they’ve got a choice, and if they insist on paying bonuses, then we will impose this one off charge, and it is a one off charge.
Gordon Brown was praised for making the bank of England independent…he did didn’t he?
Financial Times: The Bank seem to take the view that the government decides fiscal policy and then the MPC sets the course for the economy with monetary policy.
Alistair Darling: Yes.
Financial Times: Do you think, with interest rates as low as they are, it’s a little bit more complicated than that and there has to be a little bit more give and take? I’m not saying that you tell them what to do, and they still take the decision, but there has to be a bit more discussion between the two?
Alistair Darling: Legally, of course there’s a demarcation, but one can’t move too far without the other, and although I don’t and I wouldn’t suggest to the MPC what it should do, the MPC doesn’t take its decisions in a vacuum. It can see what we’re doing, and as you know, before any fiscal event, budget or pre-budget report, we tell the MPC what we’re doing. The two work together. But I wouldn’t do anything to imperil the independence of the MPC, and that’s actually a cardinal feature of the system we’ve got here now, but I don’t have any problem with the Governor. In fact, it’s very difficult for the Governor to do his job without having a view of the economy generally.
The major problem with the BBC is that it isolates news stories as if they occur in a little bubble of their own….say the British economic woes are completely unaffected by the Euro crash….or Israel is a war monger…despite actually defending itself against 60 years of Muslim attacks. The BBC found the time to list the Palestinian casualties from the 2009 Gaza conflict for over a year in just about every report from Israel, but can’t find time to report the Fogel family or any background to the 60 year war.
Not making comparisons allows the BBC to create the ‘baseline’, the benchmark from which say Coalition policies are to be judged…if there is no reference to the previous Labour government or to any concrete proposals from Labour now anything the Coalition does can be made to look extreme or ill-judged.
We know full well that Labour were planning £20 billion worth of cuts in the NHS…but how often, if ever, do you hear any reference to that when we hear the ‘outrage’ at Coalition cuts?
That’s pretty much par for the course on any Coalition policy….whatever they do is twisted to make it look like a looming disaster.