So according to the Guardian the reaction to the Student Fees issue is the defining one for British politics. According to Richard Grayson Ed Milliband is a decent left wing chap and we should be considering working with him.
Total Bollocks I am afraid – both thoughts.
The defining issue facing serious politicians at the moment is still the aftermath to the implosion of international credit following the 2008 banking crisis. Yes student fees are important but not as important as coming up with credible ways of paying back the £200 billion the country borrowed to stop us going into a recession.
Before I could work with Milliband he needs to do two things:
- Acknowledge the role of Labour in creating the problem in the first place. Yes it was an international problem but much of it was cooked up in the de regulated hot houses of Wall Street and Canary Wharf. Labour could have acted and chose not to. What makes it a peculiarly UK problem is the depth of personal indebtedness. Yes the UK is as bad as but no worse than Greece, Ireland Spain and Portugal but in those countries it is only the public sector who borrowed recklessly. In the UK it is also the individual who maxed out on the credit card and put themselves in massive debt.
- Tell us what he would have done about it. Last November the then Labour chancellor Alistair Darling inserted into the Pre Budget Report £72 billion of cuts including a 50% decrease in capital spend. The coalition government have made £83 billion including a 50% decrease in capital spend. So a difference in quantity but not much. The difference is that the Government have said how it will make those cuts. Labour haven’t had the Balls (or the Milliband or Denham either come to think of it!) to come clean. They talk about not opposing every cut and finding fairer ones but as we don’t know what they would have done the talk is just that.
I don’t like everything that the coalition has done financially although I welcome some of the things. Safeguarding pensions, taking 1,000,000 out of tax and the pupil premium are just three of the things that I happily endorse. I do not doubt however that the cuts would have been at least as severe to local government in tomorrow’s settlement under Labour.
I have however bought into the need for urgent action. Currently we are spending enough on interest every day of the Year to build three new secondary schools. For every £4 the government is spending we are raising only £3 in taxes and charges and borrowing £1. It makes no difference whether it is a person, family, council or country with that 3/1 ratio it is entirely unsupportable. I want to get to the situation quickly where interest spending is under control and we are spending our money on schools and other much needed social facilities.
The defining moment will come in two or three year’s time. Then the government will have to decide whether, as I believe the 41% of GDP being spent on public spending which will be achieved by the end of the CSR is the right figure. This is the same level as the Labour government achieved in 2006/07 and is higher than almost every other Western democracy.
Then my full left wing credentials will kick in. Then I will draw a line in the sand and say no further. I will have a right to participate in that debate because I have been part of the process for getting us to a point where real decisions can be made.
Labour is unlikely to have a right to take part in that decision. Like the harlots of history the Labour front bench are promising a good time to everyone for little cash and with no regrets. Their position is dishonest and unsustainable – Oh – No change there then!