These days a government minister cannot open his or her mouth without at least mentioning how Labour left this country in a dire economic state. That is a factual statement because Labour was in power for 13 years and the buck stopped with it.
However, it is not unknown that whilst in Opposition, the Tories agreed with a large swathe of the last government’s spending plans, right up until late 2008 when the worldwide financial crisis had hit these shores.
Yes one can argue about whether the deficit ( and the national debt) would have been so high had the last government not spent so much during a period of unprecedented economic growth, whether Gordon Brown’s “light touch” regulation of the City & banks had at least partly contributed to the depth of the banking crisis in this country, whether it was wise to throw money at public services without reforms…blah blah, but one cannot get away from the fact that until late 2008, the Tories & Labour were at least in the same church if not in the same pew singing from the same hymn sheet about public spending plans.
I am a professional cynic and can’t help but wonder why? It may be the Tories were giving Labour “more rope to hang itself by”, letting the country get further into debt, the State even more expensive, bloated and inefficient until General Election day? Or may be it was trying to persuade the electorate that it was not the “nasty party” of old. Either way, it was a political game which facilitated Labour’s electoral defeat in May. I call it an assisted suicide.
But two can play that game. Ed Miliband just announced a Policy Review to look at the party’s policies and which could take up to 2 years to complete! I do not believe for one lawyer’s minute (which is equivalent to 6 of a client’s minutes) that it could take the Labour Party that long to do a policy review when the CSR and Defence Review took just over 4 months. Stop treating us like idiots as you are prone to.
Cynically, I believe Labour is playing the same political game as the Tories did — giving the Coalition more rope. The Coalition’s popularity will continue to fall as the spending cuts bite and unless the private sector can grow as much as the Coalition hopes, the electoral prospect for the Coalition partners in 2015 will be as good as that of a hairdryer appearing on a Tibetan monk’s Chirstmas shopping list. [Yes I do know they don’t celebrate Christmas]
By standing on the sidelines, Labour can sit back and hopefully watch a train crash in slow motion and then pick up the pieces in 2015. It gains little electoral capital by setting out in detail any alternative policies right now. In any event, Ed Miliband has more or less torn up the last Labour Election Manifesto even though he wrote most of it [NUS your cue here…].
However, this “My Fair Lady” strategy, as in Doolittle, can have a nasty sting in its tail, Labour may lose credibility with the electorate, businesses and bond markets if it appears uninterested, befuddled and engaged in opposition for opposition’s sake from its own policy vacuum. In that case, it will do even worse than 29% of votes in May.
It is a high-risk strategy, but is Ed Doolittle deploying it? I might very well think so, but Ed couldn’t possibly comment… nudge nudge wink wink… Ooo er Ed, you are naughty!