It’s very hard to defend the Labour Party sometimes from people on the left outside it who think that it’s a crock of shit. The fundamental principles of sticking with Labour are sound, but it is often, when betrayal follows betrayal, very difficult on an emotional level to defend what appears to be the indefensible. Ed Balls’ comments in an interview are a case in point.
Today in the Guardian he tells Patrick Wintour that
“My starting point is, I am afraid, we are going to have keep all these cuts. There is a big squeeze happening on budgets across the piece. The squeeze on defence spending, for instance, is £15bn by 2015 . We are going to have to start from that being the baseline. At this stage, we can make no commitments to reverse any of that, on spending or on tax. So I am being absolutely clear about that.”
Fantastic. And they wonder why people are losing interest in mainstream politics……
There is a lot of talk about ‘credibility’ and having ‘lost the argument’ on austerity from Labour ‘moderates’. And Balls has joined their ranks despite previously pitching himself against the need for savage austerity. Remember this, where according to Balls ‘there is an alternative’? It was the centrepiece of his failed leadership campaign in 2010. He has said again and again that the cuts will choke off growth. So why is he completely changing tack? What could possibly account for this abrupt about-face?
It’s clearly an orchestrated manouevure. Labour, reacting to external an internal rightward pressure, is shifting accordingly. This has also appeared in a very recent interview in the Fabian magazine:
“You’ve got to show that you can make the tough decisions [and] be tough with public spending. There will be no splurge giveaways.”
So that’s it then. A future Labour government would stick to the Tories spending plans. Remind me again, what exactly is the Labour Party for?
This quote is also interesting:
“The OBR’s forecasts are pessimistic. I’m worried that George Osborne’s failure with the economy will turn them into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it doesn’t have to be this way… Nobody in the Labour Party should get into the idea that it has to be this way.”
Isn’t accepting the logic of cuts also a self-fulfilling prophecy? As he says, it doesn’t have to be this way…….
What does ‘credibility’ mean? Not getting a favourable hearing in the press? Knowing that at the moment a majority appear to agree with the Tories on the economy? So fucking what? If the OBR’s economic forecasts are as dismal as he says they are, then surely the debate is far from over? They haven’t been vindicated in any sense, regardless of what all the editorials in the daily Telegraph may say…..
Balls of course is deeply unpopular with the Tories. He has been one of their most outspoken critics and a constant thorn in their side. When Cameron says he is ‘annoying’ he means that he doesn’t like having his and his hair dye-obsessed Chancellor’s lousy arguments constantly exposed. Austerity hasn’t worked, isn’t working and yet today Ed Balls is handing the Tories a huge political victory in their attempts to normalise their assault on the public sector. Over the next few weeks there will lots of quotes and articles welcoming Balls back into the ‘realist’ fold and crowing that they have been vindicated. (RTM: it didn’t take long……)
The PM will surely love Balls now whatever he may have previously thought of him.
So really well done Ed. Great work.