It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. Jonathan Todd looks at Labour’s progress, or lack thereof, on the economy.
As anticipated in my first Uncut piece, the deficit has defined the politics of this parliament. The political premium on being able to say where the money will come from has remained high, while the interest on government debt has stayed low.
George Osborne claims these low interest rates as City endorsement for his policies when really they implore him to borrow to invest. The market, it seems, is always right but only when it’s politically convenient.
While ministers struggle to offer the Treasury the cuts that the spending review demands, the political potency of the cuts narrative hardly seems diminished. This is in spite of the government failing to meet their stated objective: deficit reduction. As they reap a whirlwind of youth unemployment and stagnant growth.
Yet the economic debate stubbornly refuses to turn to Labour. The public seem trapped in a doom loop that is economically self-fulfilling and debilitates Labour, which must convince that a better economy could be achieved under prime minister Miliband.
As well as winning on bread-and-butter issues, Miliband has to address the deep structural problems that the nasty hangover from the NICE – non-inflationary continuous expansion – decade has revealed. Economic rebalancing requires rebalancing our top heavy state. The best chance for this in this parliament came and largely went with the mayoral referendums.
Having worked on Siôn Simon’s campaign, it was a big disappointment that Birmingham rejected this way forward. I’m working with Demos to try to think through new ways ahead for our cities.
These are times laden with immense challenges and without the resources that the delusions of the NICE decade conjured. Solutions urgently demand bold imagination. “One more heave” isn’t enough, as my first Uncut piece concluded.
Jonathan Todd is Labour Uncut’s economic columnist