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Blairites want to go down the Osborne route

It’s becoming quite a pattern. The Blairites wait in the wings, biding their time till there’s a slippage in the polls for Labour (caused, bizarrely, this time by Cameron’s Eurozone veto) and then use the opportunity to snipe at the leadership and push their view yet again that Labour should indulge in an orgy of cuts to show it can be just as macho in slashing public expenditure as Osborne. That was always Blair’s way: anticipate what the Tories were going to do, get in there first, and go even further to out-tory the Tories. In other words, just when almost all commentators admit the Osborne strategy has failed and made likely a double-dip slump this year, we should jump on board.

All this last week the Guardian through successive stories from its political correspondents Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt have been pushing this line. It’s a determined attempt to bamboozle the leadership into adopting the Tory strategy at just the point when it’s collapsing. Not exactly sensible politics, and the Guardian should be ashamed for allowing itself to be used for this stream of factional stories without seeeking a balance from other views widely held in both the PLP and the wider party.

Whenever there’s a household overdraft or national budget expenditure, there’s always two ways of addressing it, as indeed of course it has to be addressed. Either income can be increased or expenditure can be cut. The former is far preferable if feasible. In this case it is. A jobs and growth strategy would take thousands of people off the dole, so they are no longer dependent on benefits and can instead earn and through income tax, NICs and VAT enhance Treasury revenues, and they would be valuably employed building houses, improving Britain’s creaking infrastructure especially in transport and energy, and laying the foundations for the green economy of the future.

But wouldn’t the bond markets panic at the increased public borrowing? No, because there wouldn’t be any increased borrowing. Keeping a million people on the dole costs £8-10bn a year, and instead for the same sum of money half a million jobs could be created. Also, the Tories are planning to release another £75bn in quantitative easing (i.e. electronically printing money) to the banks, and £10bn of this could much more profitably be diverted to generating jobs for the victims of the bankers’ folly. Or perhaps the rich might jcontribute a bit. According to the Rich List the 1,000 richest persons in the UK increased their wealth in the last 2 years alone by £127bn, enough to pay off the entire budget deficit. I’m sure if we asked nicely, they could spare a dime.


  1. Matty says:

    Spot on Michael. Patrick Wintour was well known as the messenger for Mandleson. I don’t know much about Nicholas Watt but saw him on the BBC once and he was an even posher version of Andrew Rawnsley (with even more Blairite views).

  2. Mike says:

    Is it mysterious Blairites who are pushing this agenda or forces from within the Ed Mliliband leadership itself? The most prominent people advocating Tory-scale cuts come from within the Shadow Cabinet. Liam Byrne’s outburst against welfare scroungers is actually supposed to part of the Policy Review process, although I doubt any rank and file submission expressed these ignorant views. And if Ed Miliband disagrees with him, why doesn’t he slap him down with the same ruthlessness that he was happy to display against Diane Abbott?

  3. Matty says:

    Not all the shadow cabinet are Ed supporters by a long way. Eg Liam Byrne voted David Miliband

  4. Phil C. says:

    Now that Ed M has had time to settle in and choose the leader’s staff, and Iain McNicol is in office, a pressing priority for 2012 ought to be to re-invigorate the grass roots and increase party democracy.

    At the last GE, a whopping 35% or 16 million electors did not vote. I reckon the 65% turn-out was some 8-9% or 4 millions down on what it should be. And it’s mostly these missing few millions with whom the LP has to (re-)connect. Any more non-voters beyond this would be a bonus.
    “Swing voters”, as The Sun so astutely observed, will decide late and, opting for the feel-good factor over political values, align themselves with whichever party they think is going to win.

  5. RedMan says:

    This is absolutely astonishing, that a former member of Blair’s frontbench is now undergoing a form of amnesia towards his role in the beginnings of New Labour, however minor, and a voting record which is extremely Blairite – I find it astonishing! There would be cuts, Michael but we are losing the economic argument. Blairites aren’t saying let us go the Osborne route what they are saying is “let us have a clear and distinctive, progressive alternative deficit reduction which gains credibility”! That is the right way forward, and that has always been the plan but to ignore the deficit and just try and evoke your orgy of pre-New Labour politics, when we are usually in Opposition is stupid. Stop making these inaccurate, untrue blogs which divide the party and are effectively lies on a group of people who are trying to defeat the Coalition!

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