With the economy recovering and Labour floundering, it was a poor PMQs yesterday for Ed Miliband. And the source of his trouble was sitting right next to him – his own Shadow Chancellor.
After a disastrous response to the Autumn Statement, Ed Miliband is rumoured to have given Ed Balls nine months to sort out Labour’s economic policy. Clearly riled, Ed Balls has given an interview to the FT this morning, the raison d’etre explicitly being to try and regain some credibility on the economy.
And so, somewhat wearily, we have the re-announcement of a ‘zero-based spending review’, six months on from its first outing in June.
Try as Balls may, if we needed any reminding that Labour have nothing to say on the economy, this interview certainly does the job.
Ed Balls talks about a spending review, but can’t point to meaningful savings Labour would make. He calls for more infrastructure investment, but won’t admit how much more borrowing this would need. He mentions welfare, but refuses to set out any welfare savings Labour would be prepared to make. He touches on a surplus, but won’t say how or when.
There is no mention of the two zero-based spending reviews Labour undertook in government – and the structural deficit they proceeded to run from 2002. There is no mention of the fact that Labour took us into the financial crisis with the biggest structural deficit in the G7 – yet still say they didn’t spend and borrow too much. And no mention of the fact that, in the three months after he first announced this spending review, Labour made £29 billion in unfunded spending commitments.
The real lessons of this interview – and of the year as a whole – are simple.
Labour know they have lost the argument on the economy. They have nothing to say because they don’t have an economic plan. And as a result, they are only offering short term gimmicks and more spending, more borrowing, and more debt.
With a clear long-term plan for the future of our country, this Government is reducing the deficit and securing an economic recovery for all. The one thing that would put this all at risk would be the short-term gimmicks and more borrowing that Labour still call for.
After three and a half years, the choice facing Britain is clear. We saw this at the Autumn Statement, we saw it at yesterday’s PMQs, and we see it again in today’s interview.
It is a choice between the Labour Party offering more of the same recipe that got us into a mess in the first place – because they have no economic plan – or the Conservatives who have a long-term economic plan that is delivering a sustainable recovery for all and a more secure and better future for hardworking people and their families.
When you look at it like this, nine months seems generous.Tags: Ed Balls, PMQs