Wednesday, 5 June 2013

More Balls

“Ed Miliband's party (is) following a tactic pursued by Tony Blair's party. In important things, it turns out, the younger of the MiliBros has not altered fundamental Labour policy to any significant degree, despite all the chatter about a "break with the past". What was good enough for Tony is good enough for Ed. A Tory plan, smudged up a little, will do as a Labour plan.

Equally, if Mr Balls takes himself all the way to Canary Wharf – now there's symbolism – to give a speech at Thomson Reuters to say that "we will start, we will plan, we will expect in 2015-16 that we will inherit the current spending plans that the Chancellor sets out and we will work within them", what have the last three years been about?
Just that Mr Osborne was a bit hasty, a bit wrong, a bit slightly different from anything Labour might have done? It hardly counts as a grand refutation. Mr Balls has spent the last three years telling us that the Coalition erred in matters of fundamental principle. Now he simply says that Labour would do nicer cuts....

....In his speech, Mr Balls said a lot about growth and nothing much about how growth could be achieved. The purpose of his address was to assure someone – who and why? – that "Labour will take a tough and fair approach to deficit reduction". Not a single life will be improved by such nonsense. No single existence will be changed because Mr Balls thinks there's £100 million to be had from stripping away the winter fuel allowance from people in his income bracket.....

....Labour will not have worked it out yet, but the Shadow Chancellor's speech down in Docklands was catastrophic for his party. Set aside all the trimmings, it said that the Tories were right all along, that their view of how a state must balance its books must not be disputed, that cuts – quibble over the details, if you like – must always be made. (My emphasis) So the Shadow Chancellor sides with a Tory Chancellor whose record of achievement is, let's say, patchy. So a Labour hack who failed to notice warnings of the biggest financial catastrophe in a century says that, all of a sudden, he can fix things.....

.....Ed Balls says he is "striking the right balance for the British economy". Vote for him and the other Ed and you'll get "action now to raise living standards, growth and long-term investment". Were Mr Balls to be doing his job, he would explain what happened and why, if you give him access to the Exchequer, it would never happen again. That Ed Balls would give you analysis, explanation, and a promise. Instead, you get a character who accepts the logic of everything his supposed opponent has done, and sympathises faintly for the inconvenience.” Ian Bell, The Herald 5/6/13

He is not alone. Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian is similarly unimpressed. He sums up, “Britain’s political class, Balls included, remains in thrall to banking ideology. If bankers think austerity is good for the nation’s soul, Osborne and Balls will agree. They are talking not economics but redemptive theology. Present and future generations must apparently pay for the sins of their fathers, with no hope of release, however daft the policy.

This is cruel rubbish. History has given the Labour party a golden opportunity to return to its principles and redefine the economic leadership of Europe. Balls has fumbled it.” Guardian 5/6/13

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