Monday, 28 March 2011

Is there REALLY a consensus on Austerity?

With a news schedule this busy, it's easy to miss the wider picture. With our screens full of conflict in the Middle East, disaster in Japan, marches in London and cuts that need to be opposed, it's easy to forget that the world must still turn and that we need a coherent strategy to ensure that it does.

During the credit crunch there was a broad consensus. The only way out of the financial meltdown, the only way to avoid a worldwide depression was through stimulus. Across Europe and America, governments stepped in to support ailing industries, protect home owners from repossession, bail out the banks and keep interest rates low.

With the formation of the UK coalition and the debt crisis raging, Europe largely abandoned this Keynesian approach and raced to announce austerity packages. Anglea Merkel and Geroge Osborne took the lead and first Greece, then Ireland, then Spain and Portugal, started cutting their way out of debt.

Since then, growth projections have fallen, unemployment has risen and both Ireland and now Portugal have been forced into taking bailouts from the European bank. Bonds have soared - exactly the effect austerity measures are supposed to avoid.

Over the last few days however, there are signs that this consensus of austerity is falling apart. The Portuguese Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, resigned on 23rd March stating that

“I know what this (EU bail out) meant for Ireland and Greece, and I don’t wish it on my country,” he said. “Portugal must demonstrate that it is a country that can resolve its own problems.”

Mr Sarkozy just faced a damning vote in local elections, receiving just 20% of the vote with the opposition Socialist Party receiving 36% on the lowest turnout ever in this kind of vote.

Angela Merkel, the Queen of austerity, suffered an historic defeat in state elections, beat by the Green Party over a debate raging on nuclear power.

Finally, in perhaps the most damning blow to right wing economics of all, the Canadian government, held up by our own coalition as a blueprint for austerity measures and deficit reduction, were toppled over the weekend in a vote of no confidence. The charge?

"failing to disclose the full financial details of its tougher crime legislation, corporate tax cuts and plans to buy stealth fighter jets."

So effectively taking the route our own coalition are so fond of - saying one thing but doing entirely another.

Worryingly, these defeats saw the National Front (under the charismatic Le Pen) surge in popularity in France, winning 11% of the vote, while our own BNP and EDL also claim a foothold in the public psyche.

So, a series of news stories, add up to a narrative which must make very uncomfortable reading for centre-right governments around the world : You can cut all you like, you can sit back as unemployment rises, as growth falls, as inflation soars, but you need the people with you. In democracies, the people have the final say, even if it doesn't always feel that way.

With local elections looming here in the UK in May, it is likely that the Lib Dems will face collapse. But what of Gloucester and Surrey and Berkshire? Will they reject the Conservatives as soundly as Merkel was rejected in a state her party had held for almost 6 decades?

People may say that local elections don't matter. That by-elections don't matter. That up to half a million people marching peacefully in London don't matter, but Cameron and Clegg know very well that in the end,
they start to matter very much. 

33 comments:

  1. I have noticed on TV that when they mention the march last Saturday they never once have mentioned disability etc as being part of the cuts - Just local councils etc - And that disheartens me as to whether I am not just as doomed as I was before the march as the cuts are only seen as to public services etc and DLA and unfair ESA etc seem to have been forgotton within it.

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  2. Hi Sue, this is frightening I came across it on Tax research UK and Sturdyblog and it really needs circulating, it is a clear insight into what this government are up to! they are actually increasing our debt to pay for the bankers greed and George Osborne's insane plans and at the same time risking another banking credit crisis!
    http://cameron-cloggysmoralcompass.blogspot.com/2011/03/we-are-paying-for-mad-george-osbornes.html

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  3. Excellent article Sue and as you say this Tory-led government holds up the Canadian government's "Star Chamber" as a shining example of how austerity measures work, however what they conveniently fail to mention is that when the Canadian government implemented their swingeing austerity measures, Canada's economy was growing strongly and of course Canada has a very strong manufacturing base. Of course thanks to the Tories we do not have this last quarter our economy actually contracted by 0.6% and although our manufacturing base is growing and exports are rising, it is nowhere near where it needs to be to underpin Osborne's insane policies and for it to get there it would have to see a sudden surge of growth to the British export market which we have never seen before. Also there is always the worry that when the pound gets strong exports will begin to taper off. Despite a narrowing a couple of weeks ago, our trade deficit remains stubbornly high. Osborne's measures are certifiably insane and he is taking a huge gamble with our prosperity and children's futures and the very fabric of our society and there is no other way, he *must* be stopped.

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  4. E'd milliband as far as i know in his speech at the march never mentioned us once which is disgraceful no wonder he was criticized bringing in martin Luther king into it would have been great but to be effective you would have had to sound like him and have acted like him not like he come out as a very weak conservative


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ed-miliband/8409729/Ed-Miliband-under-fire-for-protest-appearance.html

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  5. Private sector worker

    Yet more naive blatherings.

    'Greece, then Ireland, then Spain and Portugal, started cutting their way out of debt.'

    Well they had little choice, because they no longer had anyone willing to lend them money at viable interest rates. That's what happens when you spend beyond your capacity to earn, or when you allow your banks to operate without regulation. What would you have suggested they do instead?

    The Portugese Prime Minister says “Portugal must demonstrate that it is a country that can resolve its own problems.”

    Which is precisely what the Coalition is doing, to avoid having austerity measures forced upon us by outside bodies.

    America is struggling to get any results from its vast QE programme. The US is currently having its debt financed by its greatest competitor, China. You'll see the negative results of that within the decade.

    Gracie says we don't have manufacturing `thanks to the Tories'. Manufacturing contracted fastest during the 13 years of Labour control. It contracted because the Labour government had its nose so far up the rear end of the financial sector for easy quick revenue, that it felt it could ignore other industries within the economy.

    Then Gracie posts a link to an article saying that non doms won't pay tax on money invested in British business. So someone is complaining about a tax loophole that allows a non dom to invest in UK business, rather than seeing that as a `rather good idea'.

    I've yet to see one decent suggestion on encouraging growth here. Lots of complaining, no entrepreneurial ideas or spirit. No wonder we're falling down virtually every league table that exists!

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  6. I will repeat, O Private Sector One:

    Excuse me, but why is it that WE have to be the ones to come up with alternatives? Why is that argument always tossed out there? Didn't we vote people into office to be able to do that work for us? Don't they tell us they're more than capable on a regular basis (usually before elections) to make sure that the Common Man will be all right and go after the Powers That Be who have the money since, quite honestly, none of the disabled/ill/pensioners/single families have it? That's what the government is supposedly FOR - to handle that sort of thing, find those alternatives and find ways to keep people from getting crushed.

    The "alternative" was to vote people into office. Those people are not doing that, and going back on every promise they ever made. So, this is what you get. End Of.

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  7. Private sector worker:

    You have to come up with alternatives, because you do not accept the alternatives put before you by the Coalition government.

    If you refuse to accept cuts in public spending, then you have to say how you except to fund a growing structural deficit, a massive debt interest payment, and because of the two former items, an increasing national debt. You would also have to explain how you would cope with an onslaught from the bond market setting higher interest rates for our debts.

    They are not `going back on every promise they ever made'. That is a sweeping generalisation. The Conservatives said they would tackle the debt and so did the Lib Dems. So as a matter of fact, did Labour!

    The common man - the working class people employed in the business I work for - were not at that march on Saturday. Not a single one of them. They were working to turn out a £6,500,000 order to send to Italy on Thursday.

    We live in the real world, and we know that ultimately a high spending reckless government will be looking to save its neck by taxing standard rate taxpayers. That's ordinary working people.

    I'm not averse to public spending. But we've had public spending at a reckless level, without a payoff in terms of real growth or infrstructure that delivers for business. We've fallen down the league tables for GDP, education, health, and have the highest level of disability benefit of any competitors. When PFI is added into our debt, it takes us into debt levels higher than virtually any in Europe.

    Something's got to give, you don't like the solution, but you can't give any alternatives.

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  8. Anonymous,

    You say:

    "The common man - the working class people employed in the business I work for - were not at that march on Saturday. Not a single one of them. They were working to turn out a £6,500,000 order to send to Italy on Thursday."

    "We live in the real world, and we know that ultimately a high spending reckless government will be looking to save its neck by taxing standard rate taxpayers. That's ordinary working people."

    Given what you said, what would you say contributes to growth, the new orders like the one you worked on to produce or cuts? The Tory led coalition has focused on the latter which virtually all analysts have agreed will cut jobs and decrease consumer spending. When you take that much of potential buying out of the economy, who, then is going to buy in order to create the new business orders? In would say that is equally a “real world” question. Tax cuts reward shareholders, not productivity.

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  9. Private sector worker

    What encourages business is having a business friendly tax regime - the corporation tax cut is very very welcome. Funding for apprenticeships, keeping employer's NI at a level which allows us to take on new staff and having government policies which allow us to plan for the future. Good infrastructure - good transport by road and rail for freight, and good infrastructure for allowing employers to get to and from work, morning, evening and overnight - bus, rail, cycle lanes. Such infrastructure under Labour has become worse and worse and has not been properly funded.

    We want to be able to employ staff having confidence that they have basic numeracy and literacy skills. We can give them good technical skills but we're not an educational institution, nor can afford to be so. We've found basic education skills to be getting worse and worse over the past ten years. Applicants come with weird and wonderful qualifications like GCSE `tourism', but they can't write a basic letter, or read and understand simple technical instruction.

    We want less red tape and bureaucracy - the merging of NI and Income tax would lift a nightmare of admin from us, and free money for more employees focussed on manufacturing.

    We have not found Labour to be business friendly over the past 13 years - although they were very friendly with the banks and financial institutions which meant they failed to regulate the banks sufficiently, whilst over regulating industry.

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  10. OK i just read this...
    https://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.totallymoney.com%2Fnews%2Findex.php%2F2011%2F03%2Fdisability-benefits-paid-to-drug-addicts-and-alcoholics%2F&h=29c64

    This says to me that one of the reasons DLA has more people claiming it in recent years is because they are saying people with self inflicted maladies like alcoholism and drug taking being the two I am looking at - The reason claiming has risen is these kind of ''disabilities''

    Now i am sorry but I find it hard to accept that people who have drug-taken themselves into god knows where and people who have drunk themselves into a buggered up liver, and yes I feek the same about people who have smoked and smoked even thoguh every packets says how lethal that is but they are ok they say... I feel these people (whom continue in alot of cases especially smokers with COPD who moke until they die and yes I know a man on 24hr a day oxygen who has COPD who still smokes as does his wife.

    These kinds of people are not in my eyes disabled in the same way as someone whose body has got a malady they did nothing to get like ME / MS / MD etc etc And if the Govt consider an alcoholic or drug addict etc disabled then that is what/ who they need to target not the people who lived and worked and did everything they could to get past their disability

    I am sorry - that is just how i feel

    And i feel nasty but i would also not waste NHS money 'fixing' them and giving them new lungs etc or whatever for them to continue and do it all over again. Yes I know food addiction is also an 'addiction' I myself have had it but I didnt get a gastric band no - I did it myself and lost half of my bodyweight with no help from anyone and after a gastric band i was told you get 2 plastic surgeries on NHS to fix the skin but as I didnt have one - I get no help at all

    Seems fair

    Hate me if you like I hate myself anyways

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  11. The problem with putting forth alternatives - which has been done time and time again by many people more capable of doing all that number crunching than i am - is that of course if it isn't in the best interests of the Powers That Be, they aren't going to do them.

    I also live in the real world; where I am disabled and my disabled son scrape by with no respite care, where he is jammed into a mainstream school even though it's the last place he should be, where we live in a house in which the wiring is obviously only-just-this-side-of-safe and the floor is going in the bathroom. I have been given a year's prognosis unless I cut down on the "stress" but of course there's no way to do that.

    In order for any "alternative" to be heard, it does rather seem to me that there also must be some form of acceptance that someone else's experience of the "real world" maybe isn't so rosy, and that these cuts which are happening are doing more than just inconveniencing a few people - they are killing people.

    Now...I'm tired of debating as it's utterly pointless in the end, so that's me done. There gets a point where arguing in pixels is just plain useless; one has to either DO or just stop whinging. So off to do a few more letters.

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  12. Anonymous,

    You say:

    "What encourages business is having a business friendly tax regime - the corporation tax cut is very very welcome"

    There is no demonstrated empirical relation between where profits are declared and where production is undertaken. The US, Japan and Germany all have higher corporate tax rates and better performing economies. Ireland, for example has much lower corporation tax, but not higher performance. As well, I have yet to see any examples were funds saved through tax reductions were held in reserve to facilitate the hiring of new staff. The more general experience from the private sector has been year on year cost reductions, whether described by euphemisms such as efficiency savings, process improvement, consolidation, etc., which have largely contributed more to staff reduction. I do not think I need to raise the issue of outsourcing to bolster this point. Your position is pure ideology.
    You also say:
    "Funding for apprenticeships, keeping employer's NI at a level which allows us to take on new staff and having government policies which allow us to plan for the future."

    Within the context of your other statements on educated the young, your expectation is the State should provide for business, workforce education and infrastructure, but that businesses should be exempted from providing their contribution to these costs to boost their margins. Again, the main beneficiaries are the shareholders.

    It seems to me that business takes on additional staff where deficiencies in delivery occur, or are projected, not because they are subsidised by the state. This is particularly true with regard to apprenticeships unless you are advocating them as a lower cost substitution for permanent staff.

    You blame the Labour government for its indifference to business, and seem to have no limit to your adulation of the Tory coalition. This so called business miracle that will lead us all to the land of milk and honey under the Osborne budget is dubious. If this growth will so predominantly appear, the question is, why has business been so impotent to date? Why has the GDP gone from positive growth to stagnation under the coalition?

    I have yet to see a business plan offered by the Coalition government that will foster growth, and the creation of local fiefdoms, for me at least, does nothing to solve such problems as the balance of trade deficiencies, inflation, etc. I also believe that you would be among the first to complain if the BoE were to raise the rate of interest. Business has won a great many concessions from the Tories, but has been very poor in any sort of positive delivery of growth.

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  13. Private sector worker.

    I have no adulation for the Coalition, but Labour offers No Alternatives, No Strategy, and No Plan.

    You conveniently forget, that when a business grows it takes on more workers. Growth means more profit of course, but it also means a bigger private sector workforce, higher contribution of company tax and higher contribution of employee tax.

    I said clearly that as a business we expect to play our full part in educating our apprentices. We do not however expect to have to educate in the basics of numeracy and literacy. Are you expecting us to run remedial lessons?

    I blame the Labour government for fawning over the Fred Goodwins of this country in the expectation of a quick buck on revenue, whilst cold shouldering manufacturing. The alienation of working class workers from Labour was in some part due to the fact that they could more reasonably expect to find work in that sector, but found it cold shouldered in favour of the elite banking world, by the party they might have expected to favour their working world. LABOUR - get it?

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  14. The anonymous guest brings this up:

    "This says to me that one of the reasons DLA has more people claiming it in recent years is because they are saying people with self inflicted maladies like alcoholism and drug taking being the two I am looking at - The reason claiming has risen is these kind of 'disabilities' "

    I can tell the anonymous guest that he is being sold a crock of shit here and I was on the case as of yesterday evening when the Mail website put a heavily slanted and dishonest article about this up. It is now the subject of my next blog post which I hope to crank out tonight. The Daily Express today was saying the exact same thing ad verbatim, meaning these newspapers have been briefed and the minister responsible appears to be Maria Miller, minister for disabled people.

    Fifth shameless plug on Sue's blog because I'm such a whore: I wrote about my encounter with Maria Miller here- http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com/2011/03/case-1-these-arent-voids-youre-looking.html

    I wrote about a false claim she intentionally made to the National Autistic Society and invited guests at Portcullis House here- http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com/2011/03/case-4-well-known-back-problem-called.html

    So I reported these figures a week before the tabloids have, although my blog has a microscopic viewership, which is why I'm always sponging from other bloggers. However the source material as far as I know is not available to the public; the figures published on the DWP website are massaged and pre-compiled. The newspapers were given far more detailed data, which is how I'm sure they have been briefed.

    I am sure Maria Miller is responsible because in both the Mail and Express articles she is quoted word for word using exactly what she said at the National Autistic Society lobby session. If she wanted to stay anonymous, she should have made sure she hadn't used the soundbite in other places first.

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  15. Private Sector Worker - I can't deny that some of your points are valid. Labour DID allow too much laxity of regulation in financial services. Why? Because to stay in power they needed a broad coalition of voters like yourself who were violently against interference in the free market.

    They DID let manufacturing slip and that is something no Labour voter should be proud of.

    The staff you employ are not yet typical of those educated under Labour (though soon will be) they are the product of the 90s.

    Apprenticeships doubled under Labour, so that criticism fails.

    Regulation on business did increase and as you say, it led to strangulation for people like you, but it also led to better maternity and paternity rights, paid holidays and sick pay and holidays for temporary workers, and anti-discriminatory policies.

    However, to ignore the fact that for 11 years out of 13 Labour fostered growth, low inflation and low interest rates is to ignore a great achievement. You can't make a credible argument by starting history from the credit crunch.

    Labour ran lower deficits and higher surpluses than the Conservatives while they were in power. Yes, it was a benign economic period, but did you ever ask whether Labour policies contributed to that? It would be ridiculous to suggest they just "happened".

    Japan runs a much higher deficit than us but there ARE people willing to lend them money because they have something to offer.

    It is also a silly myth to say that Labour have no alternative. It might not be YOUR alternative or even MINE, but it is an alternative. Halving the deficit over a longer period is an alternative and is one that might foster growth alongside deficit reduction.

    Nothing you say - NOTHING - changes the fact that since the credit crunch Labour reduced the deficit by 25 Billion through stimulus measures. Since Osborne came to power growth has fallen steadily, unemployment has risen and inflation has soared. As others have pointed out, if no-one has any money to spend, in the end your orders will dry up. If all of Europe and others rush to cut, no-one will buy your product.

    What amazes me most is that this has all been done before. We have the 30s as a warning why austerity just won't work. We even had a Con Lib coalition to complete the mirror image. I have never heard a single argument to explain why austerity won't be just as disastrous today as it was then.

    My suggestions also may not be Labour's but building 100,000 new homes is certainly a start in the right direction IMO. If we don't build and grow, you will suffer just as surely as we all will.

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  16. @Mason

    Thankyou for putting me right

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  17. FullFact.org has more details on what happened here- http://fullfact.org/factchecks/disability_living_allowance_mobility_sun_mail_express_DWP_alcohol_drugs-2602

    Having to reconsider my blog post because they've beaten me to the pinch, except that they do not investigate exactly why three separate newspapers used the same distortion method, which I believe is because they share the same source who pointed them to the figures, briefed them and then was quoted as 'a source close to the reforms'. I strongly think it was Maria Miller for the reasons I gave earlier but this falls out of the remit of FullFact.org.

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  18. 5.4 MILLION people in the UK have asthma. My nephew died of asthma earlier this year. He was 11

    The Daily Mail article says that just 30,600 claim DLA which only goes to prove how very hard DLA is to claim, how only the most serious of all sufferers make successful claims and that very, very, few (less than 1%) feel the need to claim it.

    Surely that TOTALLY debunks the idea that DLA is taken advantage of?

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  19. Or perhaps all 5.4 Million should start claiming in solidarity of the 30,600? Now THAT would really give the government something to worry about.

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  20. Anonymous you may like to look at this graph too.

    http://www.economicshelp.org/uploaded_images/uk_budg_deficit_466gr-767142.gif

    Source is HM Treasury

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  21. maria miller hasn't a clue about anything that concerns us maybe in a few years time she will lets hope so the penny might drop then when she herself has to struggle

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  22. Anonymous, you need to read the article, the way that Osborne intends to give tax breaks to non doms actually opens up opportunities to money launder. Also I note you have nothing to say about how this chancellor is going to force everyone in this country to increase their debt by 14% just to stay alive! You surely cannot argue with those figures they come from Osborne's supposedly "independent" Office Budget Responsibility.
    As for you staff working on their order, so what? Does that mean they do not support what the marchers were doing or does that just mean they were too scared of losing their job?

    Why should we post suggestions for growth? We elect government to do that and so far they have failed badly! I can't really be bothered with you because it matters not what people say to you, you are here with one mission only and that is to defend the Tory government, that is fine, but at least be honest about what you are doing and put your name to your post, or we may start thinking you have something to hide.

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  23. The problem with the voting system in this country is - what is the alternative? Do you really want Labour back? The guys that got us into this mess, destroyed childhood and society and wants everyone in this country monitored and supervised to make sure that they only think clean thoughts? Unless someone finally introduces proportional voting, the guys at the top will always be the same, just under a different name.

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  24. You should post alternatives because in the real world choices have to be made. If someone else is making hard decisions and you disagree, then you have to be able to suggest better decisions. Otherwise everyone will correctly recognise your contribution for what it is, an irrelevance. That's hard but unfortunately that's the real world.

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  25. Fourbanks, having encountered Miller I'd say she is in fact very well informed. Any impression she gives to the contrary is a ruse, do not fall for it. She's very Blair-like and I had to put on my best Mason Dixon act to get her to slip up.

    It's said that you shouldn't blame malice for what can adequately be blamed on stupidity or ignorance. The opposite is the case with Maria Miller and possibly Iain Duncan-Smith; they are extremely aware of what they are doing.

    Of course, this excludes Chris Grayling. Dumb as a plank.

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  26. Stephen - I really don't know how many more times I can say it. Cutting half as much half as quickly is an alternative.

    Combined with much more large scale capital support (ie building 100,000 new homes)there is every chance that the deficit will shrink through growth too - exactly as it did under Darling.

    It's just a silly knee jerk party line to say "Labour have no alternative"
    Cutting half as much more slowly would hopefully lead to much lower cuts and higher growth over all. Labour don't NEED to list an endless slash and burn scorched earth policy - it's not necessary, that's not how their deficit reduction plan would work.

    Darling laid out the areas we would cut long before the election. It's no mystery, much as the Daily Mail would have it so.

    I use a site called The Green Benches. Last week we had a thread where people like ME posted OUR alternatives, but that is a different matter entirely. (They were very good by the way - I think the thread was "Your turn as Chancellor" or something)

    We can't really forget that Cameron didn't bother sharing his policies with us until AFTER the election. This is not a rose tinted view - it was strategic. He was very clever to say just enough to sound "compassionate" but he didn't let any of the cats out of the bag. It was a constant criticism right up until May.

    I DON'T want Ed to do the same - I believe principles matter - but he'd be a rolling great fool to list every policy and cut now. That's the beauty of opposition you see - that's how it worked. To snipe at Ed now is to completely forget Dave and George before the election. I expect all that from Mail readers, but we're all a bit more nuanced than that - aren't we?

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  27. I was referring to Gracie's comment just above. Which explicitly rejected the need to suggest alternatives.

    More generally, yes, Labour under Darling did suggest an alternative. And Darling was one of the few Labour politicians I trusted and respected. I may have disagreed with him, but I knew he would say it straight and not act for political convenience.

    That really is an important point, because Labour have since then made no steps towards honouring that plan (as far as one can in opposition). Labour suggested 60% of the cuts the Coaliton are planning. Have they supported 60% of the Coalition's cuts? Have they suggested alternative cuts to the one's they oppose below that figure? No. They in fact have supported no cuts. What Labour did say was that they would cut capital spending by the same amount as the Coalition, cut 'unprotected' departmental spending by 20% (to the Coalition's 19%) and not cut welfare. Where is the Labour support for the Coalition's departmental cuts? Where are the explanations about where they would actually go further? They're just not there.

    Cameron did hide the truth before the election, as did Clegg and Brown. And I wish he would have had the courage to be more honest. But at least he and Clegg are being honest now. Whereas Labour are still in never, never land, supporting cuts in theory while righteously opposing all cuts in practice, apart from oddly the disability cuts, undoubtedly the least worthy cuts of all.

    Now I certainly don't claim Cameron or Clegg have been entirely honest or consistent. But Labour have been no better and are arguably proving much less honest and consistent.

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  28. See now this bit DOES take some adjusting to - Cameron struggles with it all the time at PMQs.

    You're in government. Not opposition.
    It's all up to you. You get to cut, or not, you get to make policy, we have no obligation to do a single bit of your job for you until about a month before May 2015.

    Labour have no "obligation" to honour anything at all - they lost.

    Very soon, the public won't give two hoots what Labour did any more - they'll blame you for everything - justly or not.

    This "But what would Labour do" is not what the public want to hear, they want to know what YOU will do. We lost.

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  29. As for sniping from the sidelines, please, please think back.

    Can you think of a single thing Cameron supported that Gordon Brown did? Just one?

    We survived 13 years of it. You'll get used to it ;)

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  30. Considering that the Conservatives have signed up to a dramatic proportion of what Labour did post-97, I think this point is unfair. I can't think of anything Brown did that Cameron actively supported off the top of my head. But I can think of several things Blair did the Conservatives supported. And a whole list of things they came to support some time later.

    The point is that while the Conservatives were just opposing with no thought of offering an alternative post-97 they lost, repeatedly. It's only when with Cameron they came to accept large amounts of what Labour had achieved, and actually proposed genuinely different policies in other areas like welfare reform, schools reform, localism, policing reform, etc that they began to win again. Partly because they actually started to look like an alternate government, and seemed to be taking their job seriously.

    The idea that opposition frees you from all responsibility apart from going boo, hiss is just silly. Especially if a party actually wants to win the next election. Surely a duty to the country, as well as the standards of intellectual honesty and debate demand slightly more. The fact that the Conservatives have acted badly in the past is surely no argument that Labour should act badly in the future.

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  31. Mr Wigmore, whilst I loath party politics I should point out that you don't answer the question.

    David Cameron accepted Labour's domestic policies in retrospect, but not a single one to my mind that came after he was elected party leader. Exactly how is Labour supposed to repeat this action after less than a year? At least Cameron got to see the results of Labour's most significant policies first before making his decision.

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  32. Not true, technically. One of the first thing David Cameron did as leader was support Blair's school reforms. The fact he didn't support G Brown as leader was partially because Brown was so useless.

    And I'm not asking Labour to accept Coalition policies. They can still vote down the budget, as it suggests much deeper cuts than they support. But in rejecting all cuts that come along they are failing to be honest to their own policies. That's the failing. The Conservatives would often oppose Labour policies on the grounds they did not go far enough, thus saying they supported that much and more. Rather than fidning excuses to reject every single thing that came along.

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