Labour’s Wriggling Worms

All over the country Labour Councillors are in full denunciation mode attacking the coalition government for everything from a policy of the murder of the first born to a return to slavery for the masses.

Nationally Labour is a lot quieter. Just remember the silence of the Labour MPs as they listened to the CSR. What was going through the minds of most of them was not, ‘how bad these cuts are’, but, ‘thank goodness we didn’t have to make them!”

Let’s be quite clear there are two major problems with borrowing both created by Labour.

Even before the financial crisis hit the Government had moved the goal posts about the golden rule. The rule that controls the extent of borrowing over an economic cycle. Why did they do that? Because they had already broken their own rules! Public borrowing was already getting out of control – they were borrowing more and more so that there was a structural financial deficit building up which would one day need addressing.

Then the financial crisis hit. “Ah”, says Labour, “that is not our fault – it was an international crisis”. Yes that’s true but much of the crisis was manufactured by the creatures of the dark arts – the bankers- in the cities of London and New York. Both Bush and Brown chose not to provide proper regulation and oversight for the Banks. As long as the dosh flowed alongside the champers Gordon Prudence Brown’ was happy to see it happen. His even dodgier companion – Mandelson – delighted in the concept of people being filthy rich.

The upward spiral stopped and went into reverse so what did Labour do? They borrowed more and more. That borrowing at that time was supported to some extent by both the other Parties but all three Parties knew – just as all of us really know – that if you borrow money you have to pay it back.

Labour proposed to do that by reducing public spending by £72 billion from April 2010 in the Pre Budget Report issued by Alistair Darling in November 2009. The coalition government last week introduced cuts of £83 billion. So the direction is the same from all 3 parties and the quantity isn’t that much different.

So everywhere the Labour Party oppose every cut made by the Government and say that their cuts would either have been none-existent or fairer. But not one member of the Labour Party at any level has yet said how they would have dealt with this massive financial problem.

I don’t like everything that the Government is doing. Left alone the Lib Dems would not have done exactly the same things as the coalition government but the direction was right and there was some good news in the pain that we should welcome. More targeted at the lowest paid, highest tax increases on top 2% who control so much of our wealth – a first levy on the Banks – £2 billion for enhanced social care for the elderly – pensions linked at wage inflation and much, much more. The school building programme largely reinstated but without much of the bureaucratic costs in the BSF programme.

As Andrew Rawnsley confirms in today’s Observer even when all the cuts are made we will still be spending money at the same level of GDP, 41%, that pertained in the last year before the crisis 2006/2007. That 41% is higher than most times in this Country since the war and is one of the highest rates of public spending in Western Europe

Locally or nationally Labour has no credibility until it comes up with a comprehensive and deliverable plan to implement its own spending cuts figure. It then needs to explain why they are content that their figure will continue to grow the amount of interest the country will need to pay off. They will then need to say why it is right that we should pay more interest to foreign bankers rather than to provide services in the UK. Lastly they have to say why it is right that we already pay more in interest than we do for education or defence. Left to them by the end of this Parliament we would have been paying more in interest than education and defence.

One day the worms will stop turning and will stop spinning. But don’t count on it being too soon!

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. UK representative on UCLG Finance Committee, Executive Bureau and World Council. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperon on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and three grandchildren.
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3 Responses to Labour’s Wriggling Worms

  1. Warren Bradley says:

    Whilst I welcome the tax on the bank, we are all under the illusion that it won’t directly affect us, unfortunately it will. Those who are unfortunate enough to have to pay charges will have (probably the vast majority of readers) they can’t failed to have noticed how keen our nationalised banking institutions are to grab at every last penny they can from the poor unprotected punter. The banks are still unregulated to the poorest in the country, as all they do is draw in additiobnal charges causing ordinary people to slide further into the mire. We are all celebrating that the banks are being held to account, but once again its the tax payers who are filling the gap, not those who took massive bonus’s and got us into this mess. Let’s not be under any illusion!

  2. shodanalexm says:

    Strangely enough, just before I read your piece I read the following:

    “It would be wrong to pretend that Britain is not suffering, in part, as a consequence of this global recession. However much political opponents may like to blame problems on the government of the day, it is only fair to acknowledge that Britain’s problems are not all home-grown.”

    This seems like a sensible and balanced position to take. The source? The Liberal Moment (p35) by one N Clegg MP – the 2009 version, rather than the rather less balanced 2010 post-coalition version.

    There is way too much tribalism in much of the current debate. Surely the coalition’s proposals can and should be evaluated in their own terms as fair and desirable from a LibDem perspective regardless of whether Labour has a better plan (or any plan at all).

  3. john says:

    @shodanalexm – surely though we can look at things from two different perspectives at the same time?

    Sure, the Lib Dems should do as you say yet we live in the political paradigm that we have – ie a confrontational democracy between the Government and Opposition. Let’s not forget that the Opposition, as well as being able to draw from union funds, also receive `short money` for research. What are they doing with it? They were in Government until six months ago so must know how to produce a budget. If they aren’t getting the information I’d hope that Ed M would be beating down the doors of HMT demanding it. After all, if they can’t stand up for themselves, who else can they stand up for?

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