I see the Labour leadership candidates have started to turn on each other already. It should be no surprise that it's the pugnacious Ed Balls that breaks ranks and starts blaming others for Labour's disastrous defeat at the election. How typical of anyone who models themselves on Gordon Brown to look for others to blame. Now the toady faced dissembler is calling for his party to be more robust in its opposition to the attempts by the Government to tackle Labour's debt mountain.
In his latest blog post, Ed "mini-Brown" Balls states...
Over 13 years, Labour made many big decisions on tax and spending: how to reduce the national debt in 1997, how to fund extra NHS investment in 2001, and last year how to reduce the deficit once the recovery was secured.Let's quickly challenge the misleading suggestion that Labour made any positive contribution to how Britain reduced the national debt from 1997. They didn't, they stuck to Conservative taxation and spending plans for most of their first parliament in power and rode the wave of economic recovery that started when we regained control of our own interest rates following our exit from the disastrous Exchange Rate Mechanism and that was maintained subsequently by Ken Clarke's chancellorship. It was after that period of sensible economic management, that Labour started putting its own stamp on taxation and spending, by increasing both, a lot. But spending even more than tax, hence our current predicament.
Following this fallacious claim, his blog post goes on to make the point that at no point in Labour's 13 years did they raise VAT and that they should oppose any such move by the Government as well as opposing changes to the Child Trust Fund and tax credits to reduce their availability to better off people (or lower and middle income earners as he, again, lies about the policy). It is this approach to opposition that is the becoming a trend amongst the shadow cabinet. They have chosen to oppose the measures necessary to address the debt crisis they got this country into, but at the same time, refuse to spell out how they would clear up the mess.
recently claimed that Cameron would owe him a "very big apology" if the state of the public finances wasn't as bad as had been predicted. This is another line they are deploying. They point to recent figures that show that the Government didn't borrow as much as expected last year and that growth was slightly higher than expected. Let's be clear exactly what the proportions are of these "improvements" - £7bn less borrowing last year. Well, whoopy shit! That still left us having to borrow £156bn in 2009. With the IFS predicting that, of all the advanced and emerging economies, only Ireland and Latvia will borrow more than the UK, you get some idea of the mess we're in. They also predict, that once the new, independent Office for Budget Responsibility reports, we could be looking at a more honest total accumulated national indebtedness of £1.8 Trillion, taking into account PFI and pension liabilities.That's one hell of an overdraft!
Until we eliminate our yearly national overspend we will only be adding to that astronomical overdraft figure. This year's £6bn spending reduction seems pathetically small, put into context. And, of course, the larger that total amount of debt gets, the more debt interest we have to pay and therefore even less money is available for public services.
So, the next time you hear a Labour spokesman asking for an apology because one economic figure is slightly less eye wateringly disastrous than expected, you know what the answer should be from the Government on behalf of the tax payer, it starts with an "F" and ends in "uck off". And the next time you hear a Labour shadow minister or supporter criticising a specific spending cut proposal, don't take them seriously unless they explain how they would make the same saving in a different area of public spending.
UPDATE: following OBR Report
The Office for Budget Responsibility has reported and, as expected, Alistair Darling's growth forecasts are found wanting. The OBR say 2011 will see 2.6% against Darling's 3.25%.
The OBR have decided to avoid using a conservative (note the small 'c'!) central growth forecast to base their figures on. This wa the norm previously and is partly responsible for a slight drop in the overall borrowing prediction. But the most worrying aspect of today's report is the estimated growth of the structural deficit.
Read Stephanie Flanders' blog for a more knowledgable view on the figures! I love some of the delusional comment left by Labour supporters - 'This is now the coalition's mess, they cannot blame the "previous government" anymore' (Disnaymatter at 11:12am). They are so desparate for their party to be exonerated from responsibility for the debt crisis they will say and believe anything.
Here's a telling graph (lifted from the Telegraph):