One of the things that I keep coming back to when I hear Labour politicians talking about cuts is the fact that Labour very deliberately did not have a public spending review earlier this year. This meant that they did not have to spell out exactly what spending cuts they would implement over the next few years.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Whilst this may have been good for short term political reasons it is surely bad in the longer term. It means that a party that until 6 weeks ago was in government now already looks like an opportunistic opposition howling about the cuts being implemented by the government whilst simultaneously not offering a credible alternative to what they would have done. They can claim that they would not have cut at all at first but that only applies for the next few months. Beyond that time-frame they need to have a coherent message and I am not seeing it at the moment. Meanwhile the government is making all the running.
Of course they are hobbled by the fact that they are in the middle of an increasingly bitter (but absolutely necessary) leadership contest and hence there is not one clear line that they should be pursuing. But if they had had the public spending review that they should have had earlier this year then at least they would be able to say with some authority what they would (and wouldn't) have done. Even some of the leadership candidates are now saying they should have had the review. Too late now I'm afraid.
As it is it is starting to look like the coalition is taking the necessary decisions to get things back on track whilst Labour politicians carp from the sidelines.
Yet again, short term political tactics from Gordon Brown have had longer term consequences that are very damaging for his party.