Posts Tagged ‘autumn financial statement’

Osborne lays the trap. Enter Labour, not walking but running

12/12/2012, 03:29:50 PM

by Rob Marchant

The weekend before last, I watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the classic kids’ film of my own childhood, with my five year-old for the first time. When the famous “child catcher” scene came on, and the children were being tempted into the evil kiddy catcher’s van with sweets and lollipops, it ended with genuine, heartfelt cries of “no, noooooooo…!” as she vainly urged Jeremy and Jemima to see the danger. The bright colours and bunting suddenly fall from the van to reveal a cage, inside which the children are helplessly trapped (the point at which, as I remember, I was usually to be found hiding behind the sofa).

This last weekend, then, on seeing the media coverage of a mooted Miliband “war” on benefit cuts, the cage metaphor already seemed like déjà vu. And the Commons statement by Ed Balls, confirming that Labour will vote against the welfare bill, seemed to be accompanied by the clunk of a big door closing.

Labour does not, of course, really think that people should be allowed to “scrounge”, and there is a genuine, balanced debate to be had on how to prevent abuses and dependency while continuing to protect the vulnerable. But there is also a realpolitik argument of ensuring that your argument can be painted in primary colours. Shades of grey can and will be twisted.

The logic is not subtle. It is not about nuance. It is about how well our subtle argument will fare in the political joust against a brutal cudgel of one: that Labour is “on the side of the scroungers”. And the answer is not very well, if the relative success of the competing economic narratives – “too far, too fast” versus “Labour maxed out the credit card” – is anything to go by.


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Sunday review: The autumn financial statement and “In the black Labour” by Graeme Cooke, Adam Lent, Anthony Painter and Hopi Sen

04/12/2011, 02:20:54 PM

by Anthony Painter

There’s no hiding place. The autumn financial statement outlined in full the dire economic situation that this country will face for much of this decade. Squeezed living standards, high borrowing, cuts in public services and the shrinking of the welfare state, ongoing uncertainty, and high unemployment will define the 2010s: the austerity decade. What’s worse is that all of the risks are on the downside.

George Osborne has made the situation worse – unnecessarily so. Cutting short term programmes and investments such as the future jobs fund and building schools for the future which don’t add to the structural deficit was myopic. Once his model of economic recovery – driven by exports and private sector investment – was faltering early this year he should have intervened. He didn’t and that has made things worse. We are all paying a price as a consequence.

The choreographed dance so far this parliament has been for the Tory-Lib Dem government to blame the last Labour government for all our economic ills. And for Labour to blame the government austerity. The reality is far more complex. The government bears some, but by no means all, of the blame: a strong stance on fiscal consolidation has reduced the risk of government debt in the eyes of investors; world oil prices and food prices that have increased by 30% in a year have also been a drag on growth; eurozone crisis is starting to be a drag on confidence and demand; but an early and inflexible fiscal consolidation, especially the VAT increase, has made matters worse.


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