by Dan McCurry
Way back in 1992, at the TUC conference, John Prescott stunned the socialist movement, by making a forceful speech in favour of John Smith’s proposed trade union reform. He attacked the unions for even questioning the motives of the Labour leader. He shamed them into submission. He showed that his loyalty is to the party over the unions and as a result, was rewarded with the deputy leadership when Tony Blair later rose to power.
He is the closest thing there is to Labour party royalty, and he just accused the party leader of being ineffective. This is not unreasonable. Everywhere I look I see the government’s economic policy being attacked. The Economist magazine calls the right to buy policy “A daft new government-subsidy scheme”, but what did we hear from Labour? Nothing. Not a dickie bird.
Look at the way the non-aligned commentators judge Osborne’s policy. Here’s Frances Coppola, an economics blogger, and academic of the Cass business school,
As my regular readers know, I am determinedly politically non-aligned, so what I am going to say now will probably shock a lot of people. Osborne’s behaviour both angers and frightens me. He is playing brinkmanship with the UK economy to achieve political ends. Nothing he does makes much sense from an economic point of view – which is why the flagship Help to Buy scheme has been universally panned, even by his own department and by people from his own party. But if you view his actions as entirely determined by his desire to secure a Conservative victory in 2015, it all makes perfect sense. He is dangerous.
Osborne knows full well that his policy of subsidising debt and boosting house prices is totally against everything the Tories said previously, but it could win them the election if he gets away with it. However, he will only get away with it if the opposition Labour party are totally ineffective. I imagine Osborne considered the question of Labour’s effectiveness for no more than a few moments, before chuckling to himself and then pressing ahead with creating a false boom ahead of an election.
Labour’s existence is counter-productive. If, through a wave of my magic wand, the opposition party no longer existed, then the media would fill the vacuum of scrutiny and be much more vociferous in pursuing George Osborne’s hypocrisy. As long as Labour exists, but with only marginal effectiveness, then the Tories are free to create a debt bubble without scrutiny, and therefore without losing the support of the voting public.
My mum says that they always knew who was a leader in her youth, because all the politicians had served in the war. In the modern day, we source our politicians from think tanks, so only find out if they can lead once they are doing the job. In the case of Ed Miliband it is imperative that he now starts to lead. Because failure to do so will almost guarantee that the Tories will win in 2015.
Dan McCurry is a Labour activist who blogs here