Sunny Hundal writes:
You don’t hear that phrase being bandied about much any more. I’m almost starting to miss being called a ‘deficit denier’. Sometimes I was a ‘flat earther’ – which was funny too. The UK’s AAA downgrade wasn’t just a nail in the coffin of Osbonomics, it was also a much-needed kick in the groin to those on the right of the Labour party who thought opposing austerity was political and economic madness.
The fearless Dan Hodges, the man willing to tell the truth to the Left (a truth usually also echoed by the Conservatives), was a vigorous soldier within the pack. He was scathing – ‘Time for Labour’s flat earthers to get real‘! He was unrelenting – calling Polly Toynbee “High Priestess of Flat-Earthism” and me “editor of Flat Earth Times“! How we laughed. You know, those were fun days. All this shouldn’t come as a surprise – Dan Hodges knows less about economics than Lib Dems do about managing allegations of sexual harassment. Nowadays he’s reduced to poking a stick at Nick Clegg.
There were others too. Rob Marchant similarly criticised me on the grounds that the most likely outcome of Osbornomics would be a bit of pain and then back to normality. Someone else also needs to pick up an economics text-book I think. But those two strategy geniuses weren’t alone of course – others who should know better also joined in. Let’s not forget Black Labour – who published a pamphlet in 2011 saying Labour should ‘place fiscal conservatism at the heart of its message‘. How’s that working out for you guys?
Since Osbornomics has comprehensively blown up, Black Labour have avoided answering two key questions:
1) why should Labour sign up to the kind of austerity now shown to be choking off our economic recovery, and keeping millions of people jobless?
2) if you think deficit reduction is important when times are good (agreed, with caveats), why were you promoting that message at a time when the focus should have been on growing the economy, not more cuts?
I’ve not seen an answer to either of those questions. That Osborne’s economic plans have blown up isn’t just a tragedy for this country, it also undermines George Osborne and those in the Labour party who endorsed his strategy. I admit, I’ll miss their childish jibes though.
Update: Both Anthony Painter and Hopi Sen now claim they haven’t actually called for cuts. Which is bizarre given Painter’s own words earlier: “Hard realism is essentially the position outlined in the In The Black Labour paper and variants. You have to be clear about your fiscal approach in 2015 with rules attached, specify the cuts you would make in the meantime and beyond as clearly as possible, and be clear about your priorities in a constrained fiscal environment.”
One of these days I want to write a short pamphlet and make it so vague that I can keep claiming others haven’t read it when they point out inconsistencies.