Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and the 'Cuts'

Of course Ed and Ed were right about the cuts. In mid-2010, the Coalition committed themselves to a programme of cut-backs that were too deep and too fast. It was impossible to avoid stifling any nascent recovery with such a programme. The tragedy is that 'the market', at that point, would have accepted a more sensible cut-back programme over a longer period; interest rates would have stayed low. Now it is too late. Any 'Plan B' that eases the planned cuts at this stage will  be punished by 'the market'.

The Eds say that they will not commit to reversing the cuts if and when they are returned to power. The tabloids and some Trade Union leaders are, predictably, interpreting this as two-faced. It is, of course, nothing of the kind. Such a promise of action in 2/3 years time would be nothing less that irresponsible, stupid and an obvious hostage to fortune since it is quite possible that the fiscal position of the UK will be worse in 2014 than it is now.

Although the Eds have made this point in the media, they have used the wrong language to do so and are bound to be seen as inconsistent by the electorate. They should have said:-

"In Goverment, we will give priority to the reversal of these cuts and, in particular, to those that are unfair to those on low and middle incomes. The speed of such a programme will, of course, depend upon the fiscal position that we inherit."

Did they say that? No. They simply said that they could not commit to reversing the cuts because, at this stage, it was impossible to foresee the fiscal position at the next election. By omitting the first part of my suggested statement they put their heads fairly and squarely into this obvious trap.

Silly boys. They will pay the price.

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