Monday, 26 September 2011

Balls dismissed even before he speaks

Commentators have not waited for Ed Balls to deliver his widely-trailed Liverpool speech, but have condemned it already. Mary Ann Sieghart is especially destructive. She concludes "In order to be listened to again, [Labour] has to display a high degree of humility. Shadow ministers must admit that the last government wasn't always good at spending money wisely. They must accept that the public sector will now have to make do with much less, just like families all over the country. And they must acknowledge Brown's irresponsibility in assuming that his debt-fuelled boom would last for ever.

 "The question is: can Balls face doing all that? The man for whom the words 'dogmatism' and 'certainty' could have been coined? The man described by Anthony Seldon and Guy Lodge in their latest biography of Brown as a 'mafia politician' and 'Rottweiler' who bullied Treasury officials to massage their forecasts so that Labour wouldn't have to cut spending?"

Any claims to a new "golden rule" should be judged with that last sentence in mind.

[Later] In the event, Balls apologised for just two specific things: the 75p pension increase, and the abolition of the 10p income tax rate. He would have done well to have listened to former Labour general secretary, Peter Watt, interviewed on Sunday's "World at One". While Labour did not cause the economic crisis, Watt said, "we weren't in as good a position as we should have been when the recession hit." He reckoned that until Labour came to terms with that fact, they would not have credibility in the country at large. There was virtually no evidence of that in today's speeches from Liverpool.

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