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If Labour had won under Gordon Brown……..

with 23 comments

…….their “cuts” would begin to bite in two days time.

It is so easy to forget that during the campaign for the last general election you could hardly pass a cigarette paper between the economic and fiscal policies of the two main parties, the Conservatives were promising around £16bn worth of savings to reduce the structural deficit built by Gordon Brown’s regime, and Labour were proposing £14bn worth of cuts in their next planned budget which would have been effective from April 1st. next year. That £2bn difference is minuscule when viewed against the £1 trillion (and growing) debt that they left us.

Yet now that Gordon Brown has been consigned to the history books and Alistair Darling forgotten about, can the Labour Party in Opposition be responsible enough to stand by their manifesto pledges and talk freely about the areas which would have suffered had they swung their axe?

It appears not, in recent days both Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor and Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader have both evaded questions about Labour’s cuts whilst the party’s leader embarks upon a campaign of supporting street demonstrations and direct action, Balls in his interview with The Daily Mail on Monday made the slightly ridiculous argument that the economy had started to show signs of strong growth at the end of Labour’s stint (0.2% if I recall correctly) and that coalition policies had stunted that growth re-stoked inflation and set unemployment on an upward path. The ridiculous part of the argument is that  the fiscal measures announced in Gorge Osborne’s first budget will not come into effect until April 1st. this year, and Balls knows it full well, it is the same date that Labour’s budget would have been effective from if they had won the election. In his interview Balls gave no clues at all on where Labour would have wielded the axe as they set about “halving the deficit in four years”. Yet he and his leader were prepared to share a platform in London decrying the government for doing what Labour would necessarily have had to do.

Harriet Harman repeated the same lame argument on the BBC’s Daily Politics Show yesterday, and once more utterly failed to convince in her answers to the questions about where Labour’s cuts would hurt.

Interviewer: You talk about the cuts being wrong but you do not talk about the alternative. You also do not mention that you would also be making cuts.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “We do. We say that we would halve the deficit over four years. Now what happened is  the economy was hit by a global financial crisis. We had to allow the deficit to rise to protect the economy.”

Interviewer: “I know it’s tempting to get into the history lesson.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “I’m just trying to explain what we would actually do instead. There is an alternative and that’s what we’re setting forward.”

Interviewer: “So when it comes to cuts where would you cut and what would you cut?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well we think that Government is making matters worse because they’re slowing down economic growth.”

Interviewer: “You’re not answering the question and that is the problem.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well I am. Because basically the cuts are making. What the Government is doing is making the situation worse. They are making unemployment rise. We are seeing growth falter and that makes it harder to cut the deficit. So my point is they are making the deficit worse.”

Interviewer: “Don’t you see the problem though with this approach because you at the last election said that you would have to make cuts. Now it is impossible…”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Halving the deficit over four years.”

Interviewer: “To get you to say where you would cut. I’ve had Ed Miliband, Ed Balls sitting in the same seat. He wouldn’t say it.”

HARRIET HARMAN: “No well we’ve said over four years. We would.”

Interviewer: “Where? Where?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “We’ve said that we would consolidate backroom functions. That we would hold back on, erm, investment in capital that we’ve been doing so much over the last thirteen years of. So we’ve said it would.”

Interviewer: “Some of the people on that march. Some of those people listening to Ed Miliband would have lost their jobs under a Labour Government. Yes or no?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “Well I think that basically we would see, er yes fewer people employed  in the public sector. We wouldn’t see the increase in public sector employment that we’d presided over. But I think to assert.”

Interviewer: “But that’s interesting so absolutely categorically some of those people who were there cheering for Ed Miliband would have lost their jobs because you would have cut their jobs had you been in Government?”

HARRIET HARMAN: “I think people were actually saying that the cuts are too far and too fast and the idea that the private sector.”

Interviewer: “The answer to that question is yes isn’t it. They answer is yes. Some of the people there would have lost their jobs because you’d have had to have made cuts in Government.”

These are very weak arguments to be barking at people looking to support the Labour Party in opposition especially when viewed against the published spending plans that Balls, Miliband, and Harman had put their metaphoric signatures to when in government only twelve months ago.

Official Treasury figures from the Budget show that Labour would cut just £2 billion less than the Government in 2011-12:

‘Under the plans that this Government inherited, £14 billion of spending cuts were planned in 2011-12, compared with 2010-11. This Government’s spending cuts amount to £16 billion over the same period’ (HM Treasury, Budget 2011, p. 10)

And so we are left with the rather distasteful images of a Labour leadership lacking in honour and candour as they continue to hide the truth about their own planned cuts, whilst standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands who were deceived into believing that things would have been so much different, the anarchists and the perpetrators of violence may well NOT be part of the trades union movement but we can almost guarantee that at every rally and protest planned over the next couple of years they’ll be there. Conveniently, Labour’s spending cuts will not!

Video courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

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23 Responses

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  1. I’m not sure if there is much ,mileage in your article, if there wasn’t to be much difference in the cuts, only £2b, and if Gordon Brown et al are now all forgotten about, then surely it is time to move on! Likewise, the only thing we seem to hear from the government at question time isn repeatedly “the last government left us in a financial mess”. Thus all the good things that occurred in the 1990s and 2000s are forgotten. There is one simple message that seems to be historic and unchanging Conservative for the capitalist and Labour for society, come back clause 4. I would have thought a more interesting blog would have been on the future of our electoral system for which we will pay £250m or 1/4 of the difference in the cuts between the two main parties. My concern is that the masses will equate Millibands support for AV with a vote agianst the government. I’m not sure that the official Labour line supports AV, I think not, according to material posted to me. Also, I do feel in these times of austerity, war, natural disaster, etc something more positive needs to emerge. Perhaps with a Condem government that is nearly a year in we can start hearing about what they intend to achieve other than cuts to services, increases in redundancies etc. Where is the positive spin?


    March 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

  2. Curly thank the Lord your last commenter isn’t part of Labour’s team, even if he is making a pass at them.
    His maths leaves a bit to be desired, perhaps he should go back to school.
    By the way your MP Miliband, his brother, and most of Labour’s front bench are all in favour of AV, most of them are in safe seats so the results won’t bother them much.
    I wonder what positive spin Kevin could put on the trillion pound debt mountain that Labour left us to cope with?

    Sandra D

    March 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

  3. Kevin, does this mean you are about to “move on” from complaining about the coalition’s cuts seeing as the difference would only have been £2bn?


    March 29, 2011 at 11:31 am

    • I apologise for the maths comments should have read 1/8. What cuts? You keep telling the public sector, who are now redundant, that there are no cuts, the police officers and police staff who are losing their jobs, no cuts. Because of cuts (that you say don’t exist students are having to pay far more. I don’t want to go down that road again, it really annoys me as a person whose family have been directly affected that anyone can take such a viewpoint. I do not defend the deficit that was inherited by this government but I feel that ‘some’ who have been assisted by the benefits of a Labour government and welfare state have been more than a little hypocritical. I still feel that £250m is a lot to spend just to keep the Conservative bedfellows happy. Shame that the blog has again taken a swift nosedive after showing some promise!


      March 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm

      • You talk about positive spin then throw a moody hissyfit ha ha.
        I think Curly is right in that most of the things that have been proposed have not been actioned yet kevin and most of us have been affected in just about every family but we knew it was coming no matter who won.
        Just keep positive i say

        Sandra D

        March 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm

  4. Economies in local government were being made long before Eric Pickles rode into town, something that seems to be forgotten. Newcastle City Council’s transformation programme identified a lot of savings in the areas of management and administration; one vital statutory frontline regulatory service team that I know of saw their staffing level halved. As regards recruitment; noone seems to wish to highlight that a failure to recruit young trainees means that the public sector will have a paucity of managerial and professional talent and experience in say 10-15 years time, remember the saying “every young police constable has a Chief Constables baton in his/her locker”.UNISON and other public sector unions should high light this along with such interesting facts as the cost of carrying such free services, such an evaluation/inspection of a restaurant that leads to the award of a “Stars on the doors” certificate; library service should publish costings for assisting with a reference inquiry eg providing information about the local lifeboat. Once CamClegg have fulfilled their agenda and people are, for example, having to take out insurance policies to pay the cost of having a house fire extinguished, or living in a house that has never been inspected by a Building I nspector, which is starting to prematurely fall apart, the message may dawn. At a recent CAF an ENV HEALTH OFFICER who worked in the field of noise ant anti social behaviour was asked how the cuts would effect his work to which he replied that it will take far longer to investigate a serious noise complaint and take action on behalf of the individual(s) complaining. Recently a well respected figure in the trading standards profession said that the cuts would mean that vulnerable people would fall victim to rogue traders and scamsters without any redress. Meanwhile, whilst anyone earning a half decent salary in the public sector is scrutinised and criticised, no one seems able to offer an explanation as to how the CEO of a loss making, publicly bailed out bank, spends his/her working day and justifies a bonus of millions on top of a salary ten times that paid to the CEO of a large city local authority.


    March 30, 2011 at 7:09 am

    • In relation to your last point LLb this is indicative of captalism at its hypocritical best. However, where do you get these cuts from? Curly reckons there aren’t any, he’s adamant about that. No cuts at all. Oh but I forgot that’s because the government needs more money to put them in place. The cost of these reforms is huge and the main point I have always made is yes lets be more efficient, but I suspect that those in the know, I suspect this includes LLb, realise that many services that were valid, profitable and regenerating our area have been destroyed. Baby out with the bath water. Yes there is a deficeit to be managed the argument surely is how it is best managed to allow for sustainable growth, and in our area to protect jobs and families, surely we have enough long term unemployed who are reliant on the welfare state! All I can say is thank God for Beveridge.
      You make some very valid points LLb but I fear neither the Condems nor their blog supporters care a jot. I wonder haw this will translate in may particularly for the Libdems?


      March 30, 2011 at 9:14 am

  5. In my experience there is noone like a Tory supporter, who suddenly discovers that a freely provided public service is no longer available, particularly when it is a councillor trying to get something done for a voter and constituent. They blithely and naively vote to cut or abolish services, then 12 months later, oblivious of what they have done, gripe about the fact that they cannot wave a wand and resolve a constituent’s problem or get them a free service from the LA.


    March 30, 2011 at 11:04 am

  6. UK public debt and public spending figures – as you see both national debt and public spending are planned to rise inexorably for a number of years ahead, I predict that this coalition government, despite its efforts will not succeed in cutting either figure by the end of its term.
    This is NOT similar to the pain of the 1980s, the rigidity of control just isn’t there.
    What is more worrying is the inflation spiral we are getting into and what this will do for the value of the pound and export growth capability.


    March 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm

  7. This does not alter the reality of recruitment freezes, salary freezes, training and recruitment freezes, and the diminishing appeal to young, capable people of worthwhile, professional, frontline jobs in the public sector; and the fact that they ignore the rational voices of those who work in the public sector about the debilitating effect of the cuts, HM Inspector of Constabulary being the latest.


    March 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    • There is also the forgotten issue of the north-south divide in this debate. The policies of the current government do favour the south east. Many of the public services have, in effect been centralised this means strength for London. I also fear that the amount of work that was generated for the private sector via the public sector in our area has been forgotten. As forecast in a previous blog I can confirm that visitor numbers are down in our region (are we allowed to say region anymore?). Yet they are up in Scotland and Yorkshire, areas that were allowed to spend a budget on their tourist marketing, whilst One North East was not, even though they had the finances! Politics at play. So, I’m arguing that many of the cuts (that we don’t have – these redundancies must be a figment of the imagination) have been in the wrong areas, on the wrong things, as a result economic stability and growth in the private sector will be, and is being, hit. Simply because of rash ideological decisions (enter Pickles). If you need to make cuts you divest yourself of the unnecessary, the unproductive and those where services can be obtained better, cheaper, elsewhere. That,alas is not what has been happening in the north-east. My question is, to those who have their feet on the ground, can you really say that there have not been cuts to public services and that they will not impact on delivery to our community? A community that suffers more than most. I know that many in the private sector are very uncomfortable here in the north east, with what is happening. We have low income from council tax, many long term unemployed, some of whom are unemployable, or unable to hold jobs down, no natural industrial infrastructure, no financially unassisted large entrepreneurs. So whilst Curly places his hyperbole on the Condems, he provides little to support his arguments, other than relying on reports and articles from other blogs, newspapers and websites. I can’t support the actions of the anarchists, who hijacked the demonstrations last weekend, but I for one can fully understand why we have had a return to mass demonstrations, and I fear the possibility of a return to the riots of the 1980s, because of the damage being done. We are moving towards a hopeless society, where the youth, and those seeking work, and those skilled people who are being made redundant, will feel depressed, unwanted and repressed. I fear that Curly holds no answers to this situation other than clinging to the Thatcherism of his youth – yet, academics and political scientists have always been very cautious of attributing benefit to British society from that era. It would be great to see Curly showing some compassion and placing ‘sensible’ suggestions as to how here in South Tyneside we can begin to sow some seeds of prosperity.


      March 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm

  8. Pickles has an image, which to say the least is unfortunate, more than one Labour supporter has likened Flint v Pickles to Beauty v Beast. There is scope for imaginative and innovative economies and waste cutting in the public sector, but it would have helped if the government had given the public sector a year of grace with no extra funding to plan how to make these economies eg shared services, more transparent accounting and accountability eg no more expensive biros,business plans, staff union reps, managers and the more businesslike councillors setting up working parties to discuss and explore innovative cost saving or revenue generating service delivery, councillors and selected staff at all levels to post weekly online diairies detailing, subject to confidentiality, how they spent their time in respect of council related business. Expose the virtual reality councillors, but make stakeholders aware of the wide and diverse range of staff skills available to them


    March 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm

  9. Supreme irony and hypocrisy; Northumberland CC’s Conservative opposition call the ruling Lib Dem imposed increases in cremation fees “cruel and heartless”.This is a classic micro example of what a mismatch this coalition government really is.


    April 2, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    • As I recover from an operation to remove a tumor from my back on Thursday I ponder on what will also happen to the NHS. An institution that I’m sure can save money and become more efficient but is always there for you when you need it. If we are not to have cuts then we may have to pay for some of our services such as more for funerals. Again this will only affect those who have saved and insured themselves for the inevitable event, who foots the bill for those who are unable, They may take the view that it matters not a jot, if you are dead! But LLB, a well spotted issue that I feel will set the fighting ground for the forthcoming elections in many boroughs. Even though Clegg feels that they may have nothing to debate with the Conservatives at this rate!


      April 3, 2011 at 10:18 am

  10. The costly reorganisation, or should one say unnecessary disorganisation, of the NHS; the pointless ideologically driven expense of electing and appointing police commissioners who will no doubt require increasing non elected and costly bureaucratic support teams… all this expenditure which could be better spent supporting frontline services. What will be the turnout in the AV referendum, the proposed elections of police commissioner? Calculate the cost per vote cast and weep!


    April 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    • This is in prt the cost of having a Condem alliance however you make good points expensive new playthings with democratic systems turned non democratic in particular a police commissioner when we already have a more representative police authority. What we need is to have an approach that cuts out such expendature we need a government that seeks out and eliminates such waste – seems odd when that is the platform being given to the electorate by the Condems.


      April 3, 2011 at 2:07 pm

  11. Regrettably, through no lack of effort on the part of the Police, some PACT Meetings are very poorly attended, as are CAFs,both of which are forums for Police and Stakeholder interaction, so what interest would there be in a PC andhis/her attendant bureaucracy,and who would be qualifiedor presume themselves qualified to do the job?


    April 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    • PACT meetings tend to attract a specific repeat attender, thus whilst many try to portray this as community engagement, or working democracy it is in fact an opportunity for the very small minority to have a loud voice. I say lets keep a PA with elected members, magistrates and others who are more representative of the community. The main point being who ends up paying for these referendum and newly created quasi governmental posts?


      April 3, 2011 at 8:05 pm

  12. PACT meetings attract a well meaning minority who have an interest in the work of the Police and local crime and disorder issues; the attendees also disseminate useful and valuable information to their community. If they did not attend these useful two way meetings 2 or 3 police officers would waste an hour sitting in an empty room.


    April 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    • I don’t disagree and such meetings tend to keep the area commander on his / her toes. My main point being the concern of moving towards an elected commissioner, and expensive and dangerous move.


      April 4, 2011 at 6:59 am

  13. I agree and at a time when cuts are being made in local police budgets. My other concern is that whatever one thinks about committees and boards you tend to get a balance of personalities, abilities and views, but what if some ideological martinet became PC for this area, or an intelligent Machiavellian “virtual reality” operator, who picked up the salary and perks, but did little or nothing, how quickly or easily could you be rid of him/her, if they were elected? You don’t have to look very far to find examples of that situation in local politics.


    April 4, 2011 at 8:07 am

  14. Whenever I think of committees I think of time wasting busybodies circumlocuters and bureaucratic pen pushers, never see a company run by committee at local level?

    Sandra D

    April 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  15. “Pen pusher” “timewaster” and “busy body” are meaningless,invalid and unfair characterisations of tens of thousands who give up hours of their spare time to the “Big Society” ideal . Local WI’S, rugby clubs, amatuer musical societies etc are all run successfully by committees. Businesses incorporated, sole traders or, partnerships are different legal entities entirely, some run by individuals whose personal characteristics and managerial skills leave much to be desired.


    April 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm

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