Week 26: Prat – Ed Miliband & Ed Balls

by Jackie_South on June 30, 2013

Labour_PratThis week,our award for the persons acting the greatest prats over the last seven days sadly goes to the Leader of the Labour Party and the Shadow Chancellor

On Wednesday, George Osborne announced his slash-and-burn Spending Review for 2015/16, shaping the decisions for the 2015 budget just before the next general election.  144,000 public sector jobs to go, local authorities to lose a further 10 percent in a single year on top of the average (pre-inflation) cut of 28 percent they have already taken, and an unnecessarily vindictive attack on the newly unemployed through preventing them from signing on for seven days.

In his response, Ed Balls made a good gag about Osborne “‘Friends call him George, the president calls him Jeffrey, but to everyone else he is known as Bungle”, but that really was about it: a bit of finger-waving about how Osborne had previously got his sums wrong, but no substance in setting out an alternative.  Jokes about 70’s kids TV are probably not going to win an election. There was no challenge to the devastating decisions being taken, other than a probably correct but ultimately unprovable argument that we wouldn’t be here if Balls had been in charge.

Balls hands were of course tied – but tied by a fundamentally stupid decision he and Miliband took. They had already announced that they would keep to the spending decisions announced by Osborne before they even knew what they were. The corrosive defeatist poison of the old Blairites about having a ‘credible fiscal strategy’ which amounted to no more than aping the Tories had finally taken its toll in killing off the alternative economic vision once promoted by Balls.

And even the new approach seemed a mess as the leadership tried to decide whether or not signing up to Osborne’s cuts did or did not include capital infrastructure investment.

It clearly isn’t working as a political strategy either.  Labour’s former formidable double-digit lead in the polls has crumbled away to 5 percent in today’s YouGov poll.

The job of HM Opposition is to oppose and to set out an alternative vision. This week, Labour singly failed to do this.  By just signing up to the Coalition’s cuts agenda rather than putting forward an argument for a different view, Labour is conceding everything. If they concede this much, they by default also concede the Coalition line that the deficit is Labour’s fault, rather than that of the banks and international economic collapse.  By not saying you will do anything different on welfare, you concede the argument that it is all the beneficiaries’ and Labour’s fault.

This week, Labour conceded its entire political narrative to the Conservatives. It looks as if the electorate has noticed and is losing its faith in Labour being able to change anything.

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