Coffee House

Labour sticks to cost-of-living attack as Budget debate rumbles on

20 March 2014

5:45 PM

20 March 2014

5:45 PM

If Ed Balls thought he could have done a better job than Ed Miliband at responding to the Budget, today he got his chance. The debate on the measures announced by George Osborne rumbles on in the House of Commons, and Ed Balls gave his speech on it this afternoon. He started by telling the Chamber that this was ‘the Chancellor’s last chance to make decisions and announce measures that will make a real difference before the general election’. Balls claimed that ‘for all [Osborne’s] boasts and complacency, the Budget did nothing to address the central reality that will define his time in office – the fact that for most people in our country, living standards are not rising but are falling year on year’. He quickly moved on to that poster/infographic/mistake, and produced a printout of it, which he waved jubilantly at Osborne, saying:

‘How patronising, embarrassing and out of touch that is. The Tory party calls working people “them”—them and us. Do the Tories really think that they live in a different world to everyone else? Does that not reveal just how out of touch this Tory Government are? It is no wonder that they do not understand the cost of living crisis and no wonder that the Chancellor did nothing in the Budget to tackle it.

‘We are told by the Chancellor that he did not know that the poster was coming out. The Tories’ chief election strategist did not know about the ad campaign that came out straight after his Budget—pull the other one! It gets worse. I hear that the Prime Minister did not properly understand what the Chancellor was saying. Apparently, when he told the Prime Minister that he wanted to cut taxes for Bingo, the Prime Minister thought he was referring to an old school chum: “Hurrah, another tax break for millionaires. Bingo, Bingo!”’

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 15.52.19

[Alt-Text]


Osborne flung Ed Balls the sort of look of disdain that a cat gives a saucer of gone-off milk:

Labour hasn’t had the most impressive Budget, and its MPs seem privately a bit agitated by that. But party sources argue that continuing to complain about the cost of living rather than engaging with what the Tories did announce means Labour can keep preparing the ground for its own policy announcements over the next few months which answer the questions it is setting now. One says:

‘Yesterday we were disciplined about our framing of the economic challenge Britain faces. That has been our frame for a while and is going to continue over the next year. We think that there is something wrong with the way our economy is working and we wanted to put that front and centre.  We have no reason to be apologetic about that. The Tories haven’t responded to the cost of living, and we think they don’t have the policies to do it, whereas we do & we have further policies in development through our Policy Review that address that challenge.’

Will those policy processes solve the problem Labour has highlighted in time, though? The policy review was originally intended to report in 2012, but that deadline was far too early and in any case, the panoply of reviews that the first policy review chief Liam Byrne set up meant it would have never concluded in time. But it will now be drafted in July ahead of this year’s party conference, and there are some concerns that there isn’t enough time to then sell those policies to the electorate, especially if they are initially characterised by the media as ‘socialist’ but turn out to have purchase with voters in the way that the energy price freeze did.


More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.



Show comments
  • Chris Hobson

    Of course there is a cost of living crisis, through doubling council tax, devaluing the pound, green taxes and mass immigration forcing down wages.

  • Gary Smith

    Taken further advice and all lesbians have the right to be lesbiens

  • Gary Smith

    Having further advice I have to say that all lesbians have the right to be ugly

  • Gary Smith

    On advice from my legal team I wasn’t referring to the ugly one

    • Fergus Pickering

      Everybody has a right to be ugly. The ugliest women I see around theplace are all lower class heterosexuals with an abundance of children. There husbands are pretty ugly too. The children less so, which shows they sort of growinto it. But they have that right.

      • Kitty MLB

        They also have ugly dogs like pit bull terriers. Children who are feed a
        diet of hatred will eventually become poisoned and that will physically
        show. I recommend the government start anti- socialist school
        dinners to help them. The angry socialist colour red should be banned…
        No more tomato ketchup, boys and girls. conservative foods from
        now on.

  • balance_and_reason

    This crass clown was Browns gimp. Can someone tell him he is paid to be an MP not some low grade concert hall barker. Truly the monkey climbs and exposes its colours. Time to pack labour away, the people deserve so much better, what a bunch of cackling morons.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …then why is it your socialist Camerluvvie buddy photocopied Darling’s original budget, lad?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …maybe it’s time for you to accept that your Camerluvvie buds are cackling morons as well, like all of the LibLabCon clones.

        • balance_and_reason

          Actually, both budgets were written for the same set of conditions using the same levers and under, obviously, the same constraints. The differences have played out steadily over the last few years. The prime example being the mass reduction of public sector non jobs, the slow attempt to reduce red tape, the reduction of tax for companies and focus on boosting this sector which has resulted in an astonishing, truly (to the utter grief of the left) two new proper jobs for every lost public sector position. Clearly there is a lot further to go but this demonstrates the utter feckless shambles the left made of the job…again. Really, this country deserves boring consistent , competent management and i am beginning to believe that Mr Osborne may be delivering. Remember the three great betrayals by the last labour government ….1/education, the final moronification of our youth 2/ spending 40% more than income for each and every year they were in power (on average) 3/ unleashing the largest immigration surge , in the shortest time, this country has ever recieved (not in the manifesto, not announced, not explained…just done and with no preparation or planning for the handling of these immigrants. ( my suspicion is that this was the largest gerrymandering crime in the history of British politics.) The conservatives are battling on all three fronts, none are simple issues and there are no clear right and wrongs on all three above points.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            So basically, you’re agreeing that the Camerluvvies photocopied Darling’s budget, implemented it, until their IMF masters ordered them to spend more that is, which they scuttled off and did, good socialists that they are.

            You’ll need to understand that income per capita and cost of living is all. Your bleating and cheerleading for the Camerluvvies is for nothing, if those numbers are bad, and they are .

            The Camerluvvies love unfettered immigration. They love it. They sat and watched previously, and they are doing little now about it, and what little they do is at threat of UKIP, much as with the EUSSR.

            The 1st part of your last sentence is flat false, and the 2nd part is exactly the reason why the Camerluvvies are history in 13.5 months time. They have no plan other than more socialism, and don’t even want to submit one, unless it’s a mirror image of the Millipedes’ socialism.

            • balance_and_reason

              Actually the IMF strongly criticised Osborne for his policy and had to eat craw when the economy started growing and jobs continued to be created. It was good to watch.

              No I didn’t say they photocopied his budget. read again.

              Income per capita and cost of living is not all….A total car wreck had to be recovered from…its going to take ten years. People who voted a socialist government in three times must be made aware that there are consequences.

              Ukip will hand the keys to number 10 to Labour or a LABLIB coalition.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Yes, the IMF strongly criticized it, his budget that he photocopied from Darling, and he proceeded to spend more, just as his IMF masters ordered him to. You agree with my point, which is smart. That’s precisely what happened. That is historical reality, lad.

                Yes, income per capita and cost of living is all. You’ll find that out come election time. Funny thing, electorates, they don’t buy into careerist political hacks, when their economic well being is being eroded by a socialist government like the Camerluvvies. At minimum, they’ll choose a different brand of socialism, simply because they can’t be any worse than the current muppets. It’s a simple calculus, which you’ll find out soon, as I say.

                The Camerluvvies didn’t make a peep when Lab were in power. In fact, the H2B decided he agreed with them, and set about destroying conservatives. The Camerluvvies agree with them, as does all of the LibLabCon clones.

                You Camerluvvies are handing the keys to the socialist LibLabCon clones, lad. If you don’t like that, then don’t split the UKIP vote.

                • balance_and_reason

                  Actually I didn’t agree with your point.
                  I do agree that a balanced budget is important and printing money to spend is bad. In fact the Tories did make quite a lot of ‘peeps’ when the two scottish amigo’s were in power but the BBC axis were bought and paid for by the left, with what for how much i really couldn’t say, it is a mystery why so many apparently educated people could be so dangerously naive.
                  Seriously….how do you see the result in a tory marginal with UKip taking colonel Buftons vote?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Yes, you did agree with my point, but your socialist Camerluvvieness doesn’t want you to admit you did. You types want to have your cake and eat it, too.

                  No, you don’t care about balanced budgets and money printing, as you’re a Camerluvvie and agree with Darling, as proven. You’re skyrocketing the debt accordingly, as the data proves.

                  You Camerluvvies are in full agreement with the BBC, lad. You hate conservatives, and the H2B hates them most of all.

                  The only certain result in the election 13.5 months from now is that Call Me Dave’s head is going to be mounted on a spike, lad .

                • Kitty MLB

                  I would not bother with him if I were you..
                  a spot further right then UKIP if you catch my drift,
                  totally bonkers and spouts the same repetitive words,
                  like that parrot in the brave new world !
                  It was an excellent and progressive budget from a
                  conservative chancellor who has grown into his job.
                  Labour have nothing to offer. And I would most certainly
                  trust the Tories with our money then those other wastrels.
                  Also the closer we get to an election the more serious people become. UKIP have potential but at the end of the day
                  they are a growing party and cannot form a government next year and we most certainly do not want Labour resuming
                  their destruction.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  You are repetitive and tedious. You made one joke and you just make it again and again.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Sounds like you should skip over my posts then, lad. I’ll be heartbroken, of course.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Oh, but I do, dear heart, I do. I’m sure your heart is in the right place. We can’t all shine..

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You do what? Enjoy some cheese with your socialist whine?

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Not one of your best.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …well, keep reading and whining, lad.

  • davidhill

    Standards of living are totally reliant upon economic dynamism and the UK just hasn’t any and with the current political thinking it never will.

    Even at full capacity if that is actually possible, the UK economy will never become dynamic as it has two Achilles heels.

    1. With total debt of the UK projected by PwC to be up to £11.5 Trillion by 2015 and the UK not even turning over £2 trillion annually, Britain will never pay off this upward spiralling debt – http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/uks-debt-id-far-more-than-what-people.html

    2. As the Business-University R&D model is totally flawed, no new and significant industries will emerge for the UK – http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/research-development-in-uk-and-western.html

    Therefore we are dealing with smoke and mirrors as usual and where government has to get to grips with the inherent problems that is holding the country back.

    Dr David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation

    • balance_and_reason

      go get a proper job.

      • davidhill

        What like yours? No thank you !

        • balance_and_reason

          Didn’t think so

  • Tony_E

    The sad truth is that recessions always hit the standard of living for the majority of the population.

    The standard of living fall here has been exacerbated by the fact that what we had between 2000 and 2008 was illusionary to start with, predicated on a high borrowing against unrealistic asset prices and a spectacularly stupid rate of monetary expansion (led by the Greenspan fed).

    Policy changes now, whatever Labour says, cannot undo that. The debt is being unwound and the only way to achieve higher prosperity is through higher productivity.

    Labour cannot make people’s lives better without throwing money at them – which creates all sorts of problems, not least of all the effects of raising that significant sum and the moral hazard already exhibited in an over extended and unbalanced welfare system.

  • southerner

    None of the 3 parties that make up the liblabcon are prepared to take the difficult decisions necessary to restore our economy. Have a look at the IFS analysis – Osborne has engaged in some sleight of hand that would make Broon (the worst Chancellor and PM ever) proud.
    Like every other area that matters, the liblabcon sing off the same hymn sheet but pretend to be different. Instead of repeating the usual tribal tripe how about stopping and thinking first?

    • Kitty MLB

      Well you can help to have a real Labour government back next year..
      and I can assure you, everyone will see the difference and will live to regret it. And we will never get the EU vote either. Also lest I forget Balls as chancellor, clearly you would prefer him. The bloody mindedness of
      Conservatives will not bode too well for the country. Cameron can be managed, Labour can’t.

  • McRobbie

    I’m getting really fed up with the boring “cost of living ” sound bite that milie and co are desperately throwing around. Of course the cost of living has increased…its the economy stupid and that was destroyed by labour when they last got their hands on our money. The only policy milie and that hand waving idiot balls have is to use the bankers bonus for their economy saving initiatives..they will tax the bankers bonuses and use the money again, and again , and again ad infinitum. What will they tax after they’ve spent the bankers bonus which will certainly be well before the 3rd “again”.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      You may be bored with the “cost of living sound bite” but I can assure you that the electorate won’t be. That’s why the Millipedes will stay on that tack, as they know cost of living and the massive debt increase clearly demonstrate the Camerluvvies are economic failures. Unless that metric improves or at least stabilizes, the Camerluvvies are absolutely doomed.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Yes, we always knew you had socialism in you.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …you mean like you and all your multiple screen names?

      • McRobbie

        I think you have missed the point..the cost of living is the economy stupid and the economy IS improving despite labour’s destruction..I know it’s a deliberate miss as you’re obviously a labour apologist but I have more respect for the electorates appreciation of the facts than you clearly do…labour spend and tories mend.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          No, the cost of living is the cost of living, lad. The trends are negative there, as all but you seem to understand, and that’s why the Millipedes intend to hammer on that as a first principle, as they know the electorate will look there first.

          As mentioned, that metric dooms the Camerluvvies, all on its own.

          You being a tribalist Camerluvvie probably are incapable of comprehending that reality .

    • statechaos

      What about the ‘Cost of Labour’ crisis that the current government inherited? We don’t want a repeat of that in 2015 do we?

      • Kitty MLB

        Its also so patronising, only the working classes
        are decent and hardworking. There are also
        hardworking and decent middle class people,
        best not mention them though.

    • Shinsei1967

      Of course there’s a cost of living crisis. People have been kept in jobs (good) but at the same time have had to take pay freezes to do so. Public sector workers have also been given pay freezes (dealing with the deficit).

      On the other hand inflation has been strong. Because the oil price has gone up (nothing anyone can do about that). The delayed effects of a weaker sterling (happened on Labour’s watch though an inevitable result of the financial crisis). But basically not much that anyone could do about it.

      And yet every time Labour says the Tories are doing nothing we never hear Tory MPs saying “we’ve kept petrol/diesel prices down”. That effects the costs of everyone and pretty much everything. Why are they so hopeless at crafting a decent public message ?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …the Camerluvvies have put up greenie madness costs, so they can’t really say much there, because the instantaneous response will be that cost increase has raised cost of living.

        And it doesn’t matter if it’s hypocritical or not, to the electorate. It doesn’t matter that the Millipedes love the global warming madness every bit as much as the Camerluvvies. The Camerluvvies will take the fall for their stupidity. That’s always the way.

  • BigAl

    Don’t let the fools back in.

  • roger

    For the most part the Labour front bench looked embarrassed during the Balls rant.
    So they should have been, he even made Millibands contribution yesterday reasonable by comparison.
    We mustn’t let these fools back into government ever again.

  • swatnan

    Lets hope that, by the time of the GE and we open that Policy Cupboard, its not bare, like Old Mrs Hubbard’s. I say, better now than later.

    • Alexsandr

      well their policy so far is to tax bankers bonuses 11 times. That will work well, then.

      Labour – opportunist lying economically illiterate buffoons.

      There again the tories and limp dumps are not much better.

      • swatnan

        Its a well known fact that Bankers have bottomless pockets.

        • First L

          Which will very soon be spending Dollars in New York rather than Pounds in London if Miliband gets anywhere close to even a sniff of power.

  • anyfool

    So the reason why Labour did not reply to the actual budget was ( Yesterday we were disciplined about our framing of the economic challenge Britain faces ) this will involve framing the Tories for all the damage done to the economy while they were in power, they will be assisted by the BBC and Sky in this process.
    They will not produce policies of any substance before the next election, they do not have to, consider the whipped up storm over that Tory pamphlet and the word “they”, it is only out of context if that is all you are looking for, but you can bet your last penny there will be more faux outrage than real policy.
    This is dumbing down to the bottom of the barrel, even Andrew Neil gets in on the act, so much for his even handed rigour.

  • GUBU

    As ever, Balls.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Shouldn’t that be ‘Cotht of living cwithith’?

  • saffrin

    Just take it as evidence of Labour’s overspending Ed. If your lot hadn’t blown all the money, dumped the country with a £1 Trillion debt with a £159 billion annual deficit, the quantitative easing that has brought inflation to our doors wouldn’t be happening.

  • Makroon

    The picture at the top says it all – the Labour benches not amused and rather embarrassed at the futile antics of their two stunt-meisters general. They must be wondering how they lumbered themselves with these two chumps.
    Chuka the prodigy, looks desperate.

    • HookesLaw

      Are labour for real? Are they really basing their attack on the budget on some little bit of internet propaganda? The budget cut beer and bingo taxes – its no secret.

      Is Balls saying he will put these taxes up again?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …you mean, like your socialist Camerluvvie heroes put taxes up when they got in?

  • HookesLaw

    The central defining feature of Osborne’s time in office is the deficit he inherited.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      How can that be? The muppet is racking up more debt in his short years than all of the previous government’s time, and this after copying Darling’s socialist budget, too.

      Boy George is a clueless poshboy, who has never held a real job and knows nothing.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Oh look, someone wants Chuka to take over.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …is he another one of you socialist nutters?

    • Kitty MLB

      I agree with that , blame Cameron for his own
      many misjudgments. But not for the wretched bad
      hand he had been dealt with. We are still living
      with the consequences and policies of a destructive
      socialist goverment, who had 13 years to bring this
      country to its knees.

  • Martha

    Oh God, you over-privileged types really don’t have a clue do you? I almost feel sorry for you.

    • manonthebus

      To whom are you referring?

      • Martha

        Isabel Hardman and her rich pals.

        • alabenn

          Shooting the messenger, its all you lot have left, your spite and bile is not a policy that will yield results, it might make you and your kind feel better as without envy and spite Labour would never be elected.

    • anyfool

      So tell the clueless how none of the disasters that befell the country before 2010 were the fault of the two witless fools sitting at the top of your party.
      I say witless fools because they seem to be unaware of the damage done to the country while they were part of the government that oversaw the unfolding destruction in real time.

      • Martha

        So you think the global crash was caused by Labour trying to fix the essential public services that had been seriously depleted during 18 years of Tory rule? Not by the deregulation and selling off of public assets that Thatcher started? You think Tories would have regulated the finance sector had they been in power? Not that they were calling repeatedly for LESS regulation of their pals, the bankers? You are deluded and a fool to yourself and everybody else.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          The Tories were in favour of light regulation they were not in favour of no regulation which is effectively what we got from Balls and Brown. That is why the vast majority of failed securitisation structure were booked out of London with its ineffective banking regulation. The rest is History. Also, Labour were running deficits at the top of the economic cycle when we should have been running large surpluses. Such surpluses might have been used to ameliorate the effects of recession. Instead, that lunatic, yes lunatic, Brown bequeathed. £167 billion structural deficit and a 7.4% contraction of the UK economy. Margaret Thatcher did not leave debts that our children’s, children’s, children will have to repay. Brown also destroyed, deliberately, private sector pension funding but that is another story. The suggestion that he spent money to revive public services is a risible lie. Most of that money went in salary increases for the public sector and ludicrously overpriced PFI contracts. By the way, when are you socialist nutters going to stop blaming Thatcher for your own economic incompetence and utter irresponsibility.

        • alabenn

          Under Labour the rules were changed, the main damage to the worlds financial system originated in London, no one made Brown destroy the system of oversight that had worked for the UK for hundreds of years.
          And anyone who thinks that the public services were better after the last Labour government has serious reality issues.

        • McRobbie

          I’d like to know how you think the public services improved under labours governance? Bliar’s call for education education education resulted in our children now achieving 3rd world education standards..while teachers are among the top earners for less performance.. our caring NHS service has been proven to be uncaring..whilst doctors now receive massive salaries for less work…all thanks to labours method of “improving” services. For improve just read spend more on. The reduction in standards is largely because the mad man brown introduced left wing jobs worth saboteurs into senior positions in public service wherever he could…left wing means mediocrity and thats what we have now. Thanks labour….again.

        • MikeBrighton

          Labour presided over the biggest economic disaster in seven decades, which hit Britain particularly hard because of calamitous mismanagement based on the insane idea that boom would never turn to bust.
          That fatal, hubristic miscalculation meant that it was regarded as somehow fine for Britain to build an epic pile of private and government debt and expand the banking system from 143 per cent of UK GDP in 2000 to 450 per cent of GDP by the time of the crash. It was also regarded as fine to bequeath a primary deficit of £167.4Bn and an unfortunate economic contraction of 7.4% of GDP.
          It left the UK especially badly exposed when the inevitable downturn came. From the ashes of all that, the country may well re-elect Labour. Are they and you mad?

          • McRobbie

            Absolutely..the end of boom but not of bust should have been the mad man browns statement.

    • First L

      I’m hardly overprivileged. I do however understand economics. Which gives me a little bit more of a clue than you.

    • balance_and_reason

      Over privileged types…..nice assumption. You don’t know anyone you have written back at…so I assume this is standard envy politics…Labours bedrock. How can you make that comment? Are you judging on the anger that people feel about the car wreck labour supervised? Are you suggesting anyone who is negative on Labours record is over privileged? seriously?
      Speaking of privilege, where are you critical? Is the fact that parents might invest to educate their kids a bad thing? ( not just talking UK but worldwide here)….is the fact that all children who grow up in the UK with subsidies on housing, free education, health, legal back up are over privileged compared to 97% of the globes children? Is this something we should be ashamed of?
      Give me a clue….or are you a’useful idiot’ spawn daughter of the USSR’s astonishingly successful seeding of the socialist movement in this country in the 1920’s…..still festering to our detriment today despite overwhelming global evidence of its utter bankruptcy as an ideology.

  • wycombewanderer

    Perhaps the shadow chancellor and the rest of the twatterati who are trying to deflect attention away from Milibands dire performance can explain the correct term for a group of people who enjoy a common pursuit such a drinking beer or playing bingo.

    Is it He, it We or They?

    I’m sure there will be an educated English teacher along soon to tell us which is the correct form of address!

    • andagain

      If you are a member of that group you say “we”. By saying “they”, the
      Conservative Party distanced itself from the very group it was meant to
      be trying to appeal to.

      It is not a good way to phrase a populist gesture.

      • JonBW

        How many members of the Shadow Cabinet have ever been into a Bingo Hall, do you suppose?

        • andagain

          I neither know nor care. It does not matter. The point is that this picture reinforces the very perception that it was meant to challenge, entirely due to the choice of wording.

          If Grant Shapps had thought of himself as a being a member of the same group of people he was trying to appeal to, he would not have used the word “they”. So everyone will reasonably conclude that he saw himself as talking down to his audience.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Isn’tths twitter-twattering about nothing much. No MP plays Bingo They are of the wrong class to do so i.e. they are rich.

            • andagain

              How does being “rich” stop someone from playing Bingo?

              • Fergus Pickering

                The same way its stops them from going to a launderette. And why ‘rich’. I said rich. You knew, as opposed to poor..

                • andagain

                  So being rich makes you unable to engage in a cheap form of recreation? If you are rich you are unable to go for a walk because that is not expensive enough?

                • Fergus Pickering

                  You are being wifully obtuse. It is a matter of class, as you well know.

                • andagain

                  No, I don’t know.

                  Do you mean that MP’s are too upper class to play Bingo? Or too middle class?

                  Neither term really means “rich”.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Listen carefullly. Upper-middle-class people like MPs are rich. Upper class people like Kate Middleton, are very rich. Got it?

                • andagain

                  Traditionally, wealth and class are considered to be different things. Richard Branson, for example, is very rich, but perhaps not upper class.

                  And by your own assertion, class is the reason MPs are unlikely to play Bingo. Not wealth.

Close
Can't find your Web ID? Click here