Monday, July 21, 2014

A Labour government would cut spending as much as the Coalition

Yesterday Labour's national policy forum confirmed that an incoming Labour government would keep to the Coalition's spending plans for 2015-16. An attempt to commit Labour to abandoning those plans was defeated by 125 to 14.

So next time you see a Labour politician, blogger or tweeter demanding more spending on something, you can ask them what taxes they would raise or cuts they would make elsewhere to fund it.

I certainly would not defend all the Coalition's spending decisions. I think the cuts to local government have been too severe - in fact, given that the worse is still to come, I wonder if it will be politically possible for those cuts to be made in full.

But what this vote does mean is that Labour wants to have any intellectual credibility then it is going to have to curb its reflex reaction of promising more spending on every issue that comes up. That will not come easy to most Labour activists.

The Guardian reports Ed Balls as saying after the vote:
"We will balance the books, deliver a surplus on the current budget and get the national debt falling as soon as possible in the next parliament."
That is pretty much what Tim Farron said when we bloggers interviewed him on Saturday. I wondered if it was not too fiscally constrictive, but his position is fast emerging as the new orthodoxy.

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