Our economic narrative has just much more muddled…….
Opinion seems to be divided over the dictum of Ed Balls that no Shadow Cabinet Minister will be allowed to commit to rescind Coalition cut-backs. Some think it’s a tactical masterstroke – others, like me, are less convinced. In fact, I think this ‘tactical masterstroke’ is actually a torpedo that has been launched by Balls right into the soft and tender bits of our economic narrative. Having said that, it’s the kind of tactical ‘genius’ that smacks less of Balls and more the bumbling incompetence of Tom Baldwin.
You can imagine the conversation:
“Look fellas, we seem to be lagging a bit when it comes to economic credibility in the polls”
“Didn’t we have this problem before? What did we do? Oh yes! We pledged to stick to the Conservative governments spending plans and look what happened!”
“Ok, let’s roll with that then! Now can we get back to playing some hard-ball table football”.
Except, of course, we weren’t at that time faced with a nose-diving economy which was being destroyed by those Conservative spending plans and this is the rub. It’s a bit much for Balls to turn round and say the austerity madness of the government is bad and a disaster for the economy, which it is, and then in the next breath, we are going to stick with it. It introduces a logical dichotomy which will just confuse the voter, understandably so, and actually make us look more incompetant and a bit like a troupe of colour blind hedgehogs struggling to find our way out of a wet paper bag.
The truth is that some cuts will be reversed because they are damaging; some wont be because they cant be and some that should be made perhaps will be; for example, we should not be wasting money on Trident. However, with some cuts the question is how you make them. For example, if less was being spent on welfare because more people were in gainful employment which paid a real living wage, i’d tend to think that’s a good thing. This is no way means I approve of the brutal and barbaric cuts being inflicted on our most vulnerable by this government – far from it. However, it does mean that we need to have a rational, not ideological, approach to this debate. Sadly, the politicking behind the Balls commitment moves us further from, not closer to that goal.