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The Labour leader and shadow Chancellor face an arduous mission because they are losing the argument on the economy – and their constant attacks about the coalition cutting too fast and too far.
At the moment, they are isolated when it comes to their view on deficit reduction, when it comes to the experts. Although polling generally shows people think the cuts are indeed too deep, and too fast, they do actually think the cuts are necessary. In other words, the people understand the coalition need to do them. So people are not thick then?
Labour are only one point ahead at 38% in an ICM poll revealed by The Guardian, with the Tories on 37% - the Libs are on 14%. With people losing their jobs, high inflation, Miliband needs to find something that will stick and is original. Bashing the bankers is not original. Everyone is doing it.
Since the IMF chief Christine Lagarde and Labour’s former Chancellor Alistair Darling have toured the news channels saying that struggling EU countries need to get their finances in order, Ed Miliband must now reveal to the country next week in his speech what alternative Labour can offer when it comes to tackling Britain’s huge deficit. For now, the coalition have been somewhat vindicated by Lagarde and Darling.
Having half of the answer, is better than having no answer at all. Labour need to provide some kind of second half of the answer to the tough question on how to provide growth, which has at present alluded most. They at least need to provide a direction for this. Cutting the deficit within four years was a Darling proposal that has been blown out of the window now. To be fair, Miliband has been bold with the Unions. They didn’t get their man, or, indeed, get their Party back?
Although the coalition appears solid as a rock for now, there’s always a chance at some point in the future that the iron bars could bend, and that the coalition could fall. It is unlikely, but not impossible.
But for Ed Miliband, and Ed Balls, this is not a time to sit on their laurels, waiting for the coalition to split. They need to unveil a serious alternative, and a serious, logical set of policies. Not just directions. They need to reveal that they are indeed back in British politics and on top. His poll ratings have been poor. He’s been weak on the economy. Although he was strong on phone hacking, he needs to rebuild the Party’s credibility on the economy.
Nick Clegg said at the Lib Dem conference that people should never trust Labour on the economy ever again – that wasn’t a Tory line. It is a tough one for Ed Miliband. With his brother, David Miliband, still behind him possibly ready to twist the knife at some point, still a potential future Labour leader, this really is judgement week for Miliband junior, and, to some extent, Ed Balls as well.
Ed Balls has proposed a VAT cut. On its own, it’s a good policy, but it could be even better in a package of measures. If the two geeky Eds of socialist politics are really as bright as they have been made out to be, then this should be as simple as cooking Apple Pie, for them, don’t you think?
And of course, Balls is always plotting?