Don’t let the Tories hide their economic debacle behind their euro farrago

by John Woodcock

The European summit may end up being bad for Britain, but it has had at least one notable up-side for David Cameron aside from getting him back on Bill Cash’s Christmas list.

The drama of the summit has filled a space in the domestic media that would otherwise still be occupied by scale of the problems Britain faces after the failure of the Tories’ reckless economic gamble.

So let the pages of Labour Uncut, at least, return to the fray over the consequences for Britain of the Tories choking off the recovery too early, despite Ed Balls’ warnings. They are terrible and ought to dent the Tories’ reputation for economic credibility for many years to come.

There has been lasting focus on these pages on the excellent pamphlet that marked the birth of In the black Labour. But, in the brief window of interest before attention was diverted by the euro, most observers failed to probe and discount the crude Tory line that sentiments of the pamphlet were outside, and in opposition to, the party mainstream.

In fact, as, to their credit, its authors have tried to point out, the pamphlet is simply picking up what both Eds set out in their speeches to Labour’s annual conference on the fundamental importance of re-staking our claim as the party of economic responsibility.

What they said then stands us in good stead to recapture the public debate now on how to deal with the fall out of the failure of the Cameron-Osborne plan.

First, rebalancing the economy. Our opponents continue to mischaracterise and under-estimate the importance of what Ed M said in Liverpool. Far from being a flight of fancy, his words were driven by Labour’s basic recognition of the need for an era of increased responsibility to build sounder economic foundations after the global recession. At a time when we continue to reel from the crash, and when so many families worry that that their ability to make ends meet is hampered by things beyond their control – from the turmoil of the eurozone countries to the collapse of the banks – there has rarely been a more pressing need to re-examine how governments can encourage greater longer term success and stable prosperity. It is up to us to make that vision add up to a convincing programme that we can present to voters.

And critically, our opponents have under-estimated what both have said on the need for fiscal discipline to get the country back on track. Ed M said back in September that he would deal with the country’s deficit if the Tories fail to do so in this parliament. Given the mess that the Tories are making of returning the country to growth, that pledge to the British people could prove to be the most important we make. Similarly critical to delivering it will be Ed B’s commitment to new fiscal rules – independently monitored by the office of budget responsibility – to get the country back to balance and national debt on a downward path.

We should give way to no-one on the key battleground of economic responsibility. The framework that Ed and Ed have set gives us chance to win. We need to get out and make that case.

John Woodcock is Labour MP for Barrow and Furness and a shadow transport minister.


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8 Responses to “Don’t let the Tories hide their economic debacle behind their euro farrago”

  1. Nick says:

    A tad revisionist, isn’t it?

    What about your mess?

    What about the 7,000 bn of debts left by Labour?

    What about the fact that any government can’t pay that debt?

    What about the EU? You want to sign up for the latest deal. That means 0.5% maximum deficits.

    It would mean immediate cuts of 140 bn. What gets cut to generate that sort of reduction in spending?

    Or who gets taxed? Do we have a tobin tax on ATM transactions? A quid every time you go to a cashpoint. It’s a great tax isn’t it. It taxes the banks. It’s a transaction tax. It raises lots of money. The only problem is that the people who pay will see the money going. Or is it that you only want opaque taxes?

  2. aragon says:

    This article just demonstrates how shallow Ed’s understanding is, Fiscal Conservatism, includes the word conservative with a small c.

    You are accepting the framework, as defined by your opponents, you don;t even see the alternative.

    By definition you are failing on ‘to build sounder economic foundations’ by accepting the current foundations.

    A far more fundamental review of economic policy is required.

    You might not have noticed the comprehensive and serial failure of Neoliberalism. As usual the Political Elite are failing the public.

    Elite in this context does not refer to the best in class, just the incumbents. Rather like the economic policy.

  3. swatantra says:

    Bill Cash is a disgrace.
    What Cameron has done is cockasnoop at Merkozy and the European Alliance and shown once and for all that Britain is not a team player.
    The EU should kick Britain out and let Britain flounder on its own, just to make the point. Maybe at some time in the future Britain could be re-admitted,but I fear the terms will be less favorable.

  4. swatantra says:

    The poiint is that there is a convergence of views on greater responsibility and discipline, as highlighted by Turner and the FSA Report, which was absent under Govts of both complexions. The difference I imagine lies in building on the foundations a stable and proserous economy. But before we even get there we have to first correct the faults and carry out the damage limitation exercise, and that is going to be painful for veryone.

  5. Mark Krantz says:

    John, while I disagree with those like Nick above, there is a serious problem that when you promise ‘to get the country back to balance and national debt on a downward path’ by insisting on the ‘need for fiscal discipline to get the country back on track’ you fail to point out that this means wage cuts, sackings, cuts in welfare, and further privatisation, while the only financial promise made by Ed Balls has been that Labour’s future economic strategy will satisfy the needs of the 1% in the City – and leave the 99% even further impoverished.

  6. swatantra says:

    you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg, r the city that creates wealth; you tax it with a ftt, and you regulate it.
    in the meantime, you try and rebuild a manufacturing base, and create secuity, rather like we should be creating energy security.
    the next decade should be devoted to ideasabout self suffiency and security, so we rely less and less on importing goods and products and services.

  7. Stephen says:

    0.5% maximum deficit. What does this do to Labour’s economic policies based on keynesianism?

  8. @Mark Krantz

    I agree that wage cuts and falling standards of living for the vast majority of people in this country ought to be given much greater priority but bashing 10% of our GNP will only make matters worse. It is the twin strangleholds of regulation and taxation for small businesses in particular that are making unemployment and lower wages worse at present. These have also killed off huge swathes of our manufacturing sector, meaning we have exported a million or more jobs instead of keeping them at home.

    You can’t achieve this by pulling down the shutters. Economies that do this eventually collapse. What it takes is to be competitive and that means governments allowing businesses to do the job that only they can do.

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