Why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts


9:11 am - November 9th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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A lot of people have been setting up campaigns and websites to oppose government cuts. I welcome this – we need to build the infrastructure and a long-term campaign to fight the Coalition’s agenda.

But the movement also needs to be coherent and broad based. Which is why the cry to ‘oppose all cuts’ is unsustainable for three reasons: tactically, economically and politically. I’ll take each in turn.

Keep in mind this key point: we can only win this long war by winning over people in the centre-ground. If we just preach to the converted then the Coalition won’t feel threatened. This doesn’t mean we junk our aims and plans, but we craft them carefully.

Tactically, we need to be for something, not against something; positive messages always work better than negative messages. We should be seen as being for well-run frontline services than being against all Coalition policy.

It also helps you to move the debate on why frontline services should be protected than why you wouldn’t cut anything.

Economically, there are two elements to the current deficit that are problematic.

The first is the minor deficit that Gordon Brown ran before the financial crash. The difference between spending and the revenue then, around £38bn (update: sorry, I was just looking at the montly figure, not yearly. Figure is £38bn not £8bn) a year, was temporarily sustainable because our national debt was historically low. It isn’t now.

The second problem is that a significant portion of tax revenues prior to the crash came from the banking sector. Those revenues are unlikely to recover to similar levels as the financial merry-go-round has stopped. Let’s assume the shortfall will be £10bn a year.

That means even if the economy recovers fully we have an £48bn (48, not 18 as previously stated) a year shortfall that needs to be plugged. Plus, we need a budget surplus if we want to reduce the national debt – which means perhaps another £5-7bn a year of cuts.

Lefties can’t wish these figures away.

Politically, a ‘no cuts’ stance is problematic too. For economic reasons there are lefties who would not join a hardline ‘no cuts at all’ movement. Me included. You could however persuade them to join a movement to defend frontline services at least.

My suggestion: go with something like ‘Defend our services’, ‘Save the front-line’, ‘Protect Durham’s communities’ or something more imaginative.

Polls show that a majority of Britons accept the need for cuts; we lost that public debate a while ago. It’s important now to consider where we are, not where we wish we were. If our argument starts from a diametrically opposed position then most people will simply turn off.

Our job should be to persuade them that even if some cuts are necessary – the Coalition is going about it the wrong way.

There is a simple message: that the cuts won’t work. Then you can point out five alternatives: cut later; cut less; cut different; tax better; invest in people – to win the argument.

Our movement has to be able to absorb a range of opinions. Any coalition that takes a puritanical stance, as many socialists are prone to do, will only end up talking to itself. That spells failure.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Fight the cuts

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Reader comments


1. Exasperated Reader

Another article riddled with false assertions, errors and rightwing economic analysis from Sunny. I always assumed the ‘Liiberal’ in the name of this website was supposed to be ironic but sadly it seems pretty near the mark.

Is anyone else sick and tired of this “where the left is going wrong” schtick from someone without a grasp of basic economics?

So you acknowledge that there is a structural deficit after all!

1

Wouldn’t it be more constructive (without hopefully providing the “cut and paste” War & Peace some people take as analysis) to point out what the “false assertions, errors and rightwing economic analysis” actually IS in the article?

Even if you are correct that Sunny’s grasp of the dismal science is less than complete, it hardly means that an op ed piece on the (continuing) failures of the Left is out of place, or something that our sense of ennui should render pointless.

I’m sure it’s possible to cavil at the economic minutiae of the OP, but surely there is a legitimate interest in discussing what approach the progressive left should take in response to plans for deficit reduction?

I think this isn’t necessarily about cuts. The problem is much of the political debate has been about the best way to restore the economy to as it was in 2005. Similarly a lot of people have fallen into the trap of arguing for or against the status quo when it comes to issues like welfare reform or free schools.

Well the status quo wasn’t brilliant to begin with.

So opposition that is just about defending the status quo isn’t going to get anywhere. We need alternatives and vision.

Exasperated Reader:

“Another article riddled with false assertions, errors and rightwing economic analysis from Sunny. I always assumed the ‘Liiberal’ in the name of this website was supposed to be ironic but sadly it seems pretty near the mark.

Is anyone else sick and tired of this “where the left is going wrong” schtick from someone without a grasp of basic economics?”

Do you have any counter-argument to make or are you just going to denounce Sunny? I agree with him that some cuts do need to be made. The argument should be where you cut, and the Tories are choosing cuts that hit the weakest in society.

What about arguing for cutting Trident or ministers’ salaries?

If the left plays to the centre ground doesn’t the centre move right?

Don’t compromise on left-wing principles, explain them. If they’re coherent and sensible they will stand by themselves.

By definition centrists are generally undecided and can be influenced by good arguments. The OP is correct in saying the left shouldn’t just oppose. Arguments about false economies in the Tory policies, how they are ideological not pragmatic and something to break the meme that we all pay too much tax for nothing need to be formulated.

7. John Meredith

Oh no, my head hurts! Weren’t you just telling us a few days ago that there was no deficit, Sunny? There were graphs and everything!

Well Sunny was on Iain Dale’s radio show last night…perhaps he has been nobbled?!

9. Luis Enrique

hear hear!

Although you face something that resembles an inverse free-rider problem. Assuming that people are more likely to become campaigners/activists because they are angry about particular cuts (to social care, to welfare etc.) – as distinct from people who sit on the sidelines – the voters whose opinions you are trying to change – then even if campaigners agree that some cuts are necessary, every individual campaigner is likely to want to continue to protest about the cuts they care about and leave the accepting some cuts to others. Few people are likely to say: “I joined this campaign because I’m angry about cuts to X but I’ll take one for the team and accept cuts to X are necessary”. So whilst central leadership may be able to articulate the message you recommend here, once you’ve picked off the cuts everybody can agree on (Trident, ID cards etc.) I suspect it’ll still be pretty difficult for a campaign that opposes government not to actually oppose all cuts in practice (meaning that every cut will be opposed by at least some people within the campaign).

But perhaps even if true, the above doesn’t matter too much – it might even help to keep publicizing the negative consequences of every cut just to build a sense that the cuts are doing loads of harm whilst at the same time acknowledging the need for some cuts – as a purely practical matter, I suspect consistency isn’t a particularly important part of politics. Perhaps you’ll just have to endure Con Dems saying “oh yeah? so which cuts don’t you oppose?”, keep hammering away at your main message. I don’t know, I don’t pretend to be a political strategist.

Of course there’s a chance the cuts will work – at least as far as the observable indicators go (GDP, employment, tax revenues, deficit). The future is not certain. (n.b. I agree with Sunny here because I think the chances are the cuts will do too much damage. If the odds were right, I’d bet that employment and tax revenues are going to be lower than OBR thinks)

10. Exasperated Reader

I wasn’t going to bother but seeing as not too busy so far this morning…

First up is Sunny’s persistent love of formulating policy around opinion polls. This is New Labour bullshit. If you think something is right and the opinion polls show a majority disagree, you spend (if necessary) years putting forward that idea and trying to convince people of its correctness. In the case of unpopular rightwing ideas such as rail privatisation, our class enemies don’t spend hours agonising about how to triangulate their awful policies, they just get on with implementing them. Sometimes that in itself has the effect of shifting public opinion. Where is doesn’t they don’t seem to care, but find other areas where the public does agree with them to concentrate on to win elections.

We can only win by not just appealing to the centre ground but by shifting what constitutes the centre ground, just as Attlee and Thatcher did.

The section entitled ‘Economically’ is just some wibbling around the edges of a failing economic model which tries to squeeze some extra NHS cash out of an economy based on banking and borrowing. The whole New Labour dream of riding two horses with one arse has gone bust. The choice is what comes next: a socialist response is to make the burden fall on the ruling class. a capitalist response is to make the burden fall on the working class. Sunny favours, in part, the latter.

This second spateful of horseshit about “a majority of Britons accept the need for cuts; we lost that public debate a while ago” is so woefully wrongheaded, even by the YouGov-chasing mentality of Sunny, as to be laughable. In every poll since the summer there has been decreasing support for the cuts. We’re not there yet but they’re moving our way, and this kind of defeatism instantly yields the centre ground to rightwing ideology.

Finally this nonsensical division between frontline services and backroom services. The author seems to have bought into the Taxpayers Alliance crap about there being millions of ‘diversity consultants’ and ‘heads of paperclips’ in the public sector. Here’s news for you: there aren’t. Any redundancy is a redundancy and an extra person on the unemployment benefit figures. And ask any frontline worker (nurse, doctor, teacher) what will happen if you remove their back office support (secretaries, IT staff, porters, clerks) – the frontline staff then have to spend more of their week doing administrative jobs, leaving them less time to provide a service to the public. Trade unions understand this, which is why most major ones have policy opposing public spending cuts. We should listen more to them and less to vanity bloggers who joined the Labour Party three minutes ago.

That means even if the economy recovers fully we have an £18bn a year shortfall that needs to be plugged.

As cjcjc says, it’s nice to see you acknowledging the existence of the structural deficit. However, I’m not sure that your analysis has been quite rigorous enough. The OBR estimates that this shortfall will peak at £120bn this year – that’s 8.8% of GDP. But then, I suspect this is partly due to your false recall of the budgets before the financial crisis.

The first is the minor deficit that Gordon Brown ran before the financial crash. The difference between spending and the revenue then, around £8bn a year, was temporarily sustainable because our national debt was historically low. It isn’t now.

Where on earth are you getting these figures from Sunny? In 2003 the budget deficit was £39bn, in 2004 it was £41bn, in 2005 it was £42bn, in 2006 it was £38bn (figures from Eurostat). In 2006, the budget deficit in May was £8bn.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/2-17082007-AP/EN/2-17082007-AP-EN.PDF

12. Luis Enrique

ER

I think you make some good points – opinions are there to be changed, and the front-line backroom division is rubbish. You don’t say so much about the unsustainable gap between tax revenues and government spending. You talk about a response that hits the ruling class. I don’t think there’s an available solution to the public finances problem that solely hits the ruling classes. Of course there was no need to go hitting the poorest as hard as the ConDem have done.

Couple of genuine questions on this:

1 – that £18 – £25ish billion figure seems to be your estimate of the structural deficit. What’s it based on, and why is it so much lower than the official estimate (which I think is three or four times higher, and as far as I know is accepted by all the main political parties & most commentators & economists)?

2 – if the structural deficit really IS as low as £25 billion, aren’t both Labour and the Coalition committed to roughly that level of tax rises? If so, isn’t it the case that we really *don’t* need to cut spending at all to eliminate the structural deficit?

3 – Given that the tax rises mentioned in 2 are already coming into effect, won’t that £25bn structural deficit be gone within a year or so, leaving behind a purely cyclical deficit?

I’ve always been slightly mystified by this idea that the left needs to be told not to “oppose all cuts”. I thought it was reasonably well understood that the left has long advocated tens of billions of pounds worth of cuts to military spending (not limited to Trident) as part of a substantive re-thinking of our role in the world. ID cards are another example of a cut to be supported.

(This is before we talk about the revenues that could be raised – why just talk about cuts? – from proper tax collection and a greater emphasis on a vibrant advanced industrial economy)

The question of left-purists opposing any and every possible cut is plainly not a question that arises.

The worry, when you hear this straw man raised for the umpteenth time, is that what is meant is not that we shouldn’t oppose all possible cuts – which we plainly don’t – but that we shouldn’t oppose all of the coalition’s cuts.

The question then arises: why should there be some quota of Osborne cuts that we must be seen to support so as to attain “credibility”?

This strikes me as a standard New Labour purity test, which leads us down the old, failed, road of letting the right dictate the terms of debate. And the danger is that this road’s destination is where the Labour right wants us to end up; i.e. tacit acceptance of their own slightly-less brutal austerity agenda, characterised by one Labour election candidate as “we will only cut your throat slowly, the others will cut your head off”.

The Liberal Left has been doing this for a quarter of a century and all its achieved is that the terms of debate and policy have shifted further and further to the right. How this is still seen as hard-headed pragmatism escapes me. It doesn’t work.

If we’re going to talk strategy and tactics, then lets do it sensibly. It is certainly not sensible to let your opponent choose the field of battle, or to let it frame the terms of debate. For example, if you’re going to say “the cuts don’t work” the question then is “work” to do what? As a method for destroying the last vestiges of social democracy and achieving Thatcherism’s final victory, they probably “work” very well.

Finally, as far as the polls are concerned, these are not set in stone. Public opinion can be moved. That’s what campaigning is for, no?

The first is the minor deficit that Gordon Brown ran before the financial crash. The difference between spending and the revenue then, around £8bn a year, was temporarily sustainable because our national debt was historically low. It isn’t now.

Debt and deficit data for OECD countries can be found here (back to the early 1960s).

New Labour could not explain the economic crisis, or form a coherent response to it because it did not have a narrative, it was fully signed up to neo-liberal economics.

The consensus now, succesfully formed by the Tories and their allies in the media is that the crisis is not a consequence of the banks and the financial sector, but of irresponsble public sector spending.

This post does nothing to alter that argument.

Sunny

Reading this post is like listening to a clock strike thirteen.

If your political and economic analyses over the past year or so have genuinely been predicated on the mistaken belief that Gordon Brown’s deficits since 2002 have been in the area of £8bn per year, then that sure explains a lot.

How you came to make that mistake, I cannot guess. It wasn’t as if there weren’t quita a few of us here who having been plugging away at precisely that fiscal irresponsibility point – and every time we have, you’ve been rubbishing what we say.

I hope you will take the eurostat figures Tim J has supplied, sit down in a quiet place and appreciate the enormity of Brown’s betrayal of the public finances. And revise your views while you’re at it.

Fat chance, I fear.

18. Exasperated Reader

12

There are plenty of possibilities: off the top of my head increased investment in HMRC to reduce tax evasion, corporation tax, rent capping, capital gains tax, higher-end income tax, reduced subsidies for rail company shareholders, public housing (which is a capital outlay but quickly repays that even at council rent levels), etc. All fairly mild traditional social democratic positions, hardly revolutionary Marxism. As well as the Keynesian position of investment creating wealth therefore greater tax take and lower welfare spending.

14 is spot on and much more eloquently phrased than I managed.

To me, the argument that should be made is one for better and fairer distribution – inside and outside the public sector. Lefties and centrists should all want to go for that.

There are people in the public sector who absolutely cream it and as a TU activist who represented low-paid people in the public sector, that used to drive me mad. People on SMG (senior management) grades got huge pay packets, pension pots and even bonuses – all in a sector that was supposed to be about providing services – health, education, housing, etc – to people who needed them. They were taking resources directly from the needy in my view. Seeing some fat-assed senior manager on an SMG grade cutting cleaner and homeworker salaries, and service standards by definition, in the name of ‘efficiencies’ was enough to do your head in.

The problem is that the capitalist structure of the public sector (a few at the top earning disproportionately high wages) has tainted the whole sector. When the centrists Sunny speaks of think of the public sector, they think of Sir Humphrey types living high on the hog. They have a view that the sector is full of ‘fat’ that could be trimmed and in the sense that the sector is top-heavy with SMG grades, they’re probably right. What they don’t realise is that the Sir Humphrey types are very, very good at protecting their interests, so when the time comes to cut, it’s invariably frontline staff who take the fall – the teaching assistants, librarians, housing officers and social workers, etc, whom not many people really mind having around when it comes down to it. Those people have very little means of protecting themselves or their jobs.

In my view, the challenge is to have a clear and constructive discussion about the realities of distribution in the public sector. To say – as I have here – that some in the public sector get a disproportionate amount of the money is to be thought a traitor to the whole service by some on the left. I think sense has to be talked if frontline services are to be preserved and developed, though, and fair distribution of resources within the sector ought to be at the forefront of that discussion. We just shouldn’t be seeing departments divided into two and two people on SMG assistant director grades being appointed where previously there was only one, for example. Nor should we be seeing highly-paid senior people contracting external companies to provide ‘change management’ services at costs like £200,0000. You could get six or seven housing officers and teaching assistants for that. Those are just two examples I can give from my time as a union officer and that was when Labour was in charge at both the council I worked at and nationally. Distribution in capitalist structures has been a major problem in the public and private sectors for a very long while.

20. Luis Enrique

ER

well, short unsatisfactory response is that while I agree with some of those ideas (I think higher taxes are part of the answer) I don’t think you’ve got enough there to repair the public finances without cuts and I certainly don’t think your suggestions would only hit the “ruling classes”.

Deficit spending 101:

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=332
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=352
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=381

Fiscal sustainability 101:

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=2905
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=2916
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=2943

What is fiscal sustainability?

http://neweconomicperspectives.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-is-responsible-fiscal-policy.html

I think Sunny should read and digest all of the above before he ever mentions deficits and national debt again. Otherwise he will simply remain part of the problem.

@1 Perhaps the ‘liberal’ in the title refers to the south American meaning of liberal, heh.

23. Marcus Warner

To be honest, @plainshift has the best idea I have seen in this thread.

The simple fact is not about what or how many cuts necessarily to support/oppose, it is about the left providing an alternative model for the economy post-crisis.

New Labour utterly failed in that – who can remember the ‘the crisis is a massive opportunity for the left’, the ‘end of neo-liberalism’ etc? All that was lost because of Brown’s timidity. Remember that the Tories got away with opposing any stimulus, any bailing out of Northern Rock (ie people’s savings/mortgages etc) and basically getting the major calls wrong.

The new economic model should be focused on not only living within our means, but not being ideological about cuts. Frankly as a Welsh nat, it is bullshit that defence (well the defence of the UK’s jumped up global ego) is such a high priority. Get out of our wars, reduce our armed forces, end our nukes and have a defence budget similar to Scandinavian countries.

There is nothing left or right wing about cutting something as it is not part of a new economic model. As a social democrat I can make all manner of cuts to the current budget based on providing a better ecomomy to deliver goals of equality and social justice.

Cutting trident, ending PFI, utilising our natural resources such as renewable energy to feed back into public not private coffers, making the tax system more progressive and generally taking back the power from the plutocracy Westminster has become.

In Wales we are seeing our tidal power resources being given away to private companies, including irony of all ironies – the stated owned Munich power company!

To focus on ‘the cuts’ ignores the wider objective – we need a new economic deal from the left, and the left need to become more plural and more willing to challenge the neo-liberal settlement. New Labour has failed in that task.

24. John Meredith

” I thought it was reasonably well understood that the left has long advocated tens of billions of pounds worth of cuts to military spending (not limited to Trident) as part of a substantive re-thinking of our role in the world. ID cards are another example of a cut to be supported.”

Which is precisely the problem. Those kinds of cuts – generally one-off schemes although (I realise that military spending is structural) – do not address a structural deficit.

“Remember that the Tories got away with opposing any stimulus, any bailing out of Northern Rock (ie people’s savings/mortgages etc) and basically getting the major calls wrong.”

Bailing out Northern Rock was not required to safeguard people’s savings and mortgages. Most of the savings were guaranteed anyway and it would have been relitively cheap to simply cover anyone over the limit. The mortgages would have been sold to other banks and continued.

Saving Northern Rock was simply throwing cash at a Labour supporting area, a political move not an economic one.

Kate belgrave posted @19: ” Those people have very little means of protecting themselves or their jobs.”

Decades of union bashing have had their desired effect! Yet again we can point out a failure of Labour to stand up for hard-won rights.

Let’s see, the plutocrats own the press and a significant proportion of other media, they have a majority in government most of the time, but all our troubles are caused by the uppity unions.

Time for a few scales to fall from some self-styled leftist eyes.

27. John Meredith

“Saving Northern Rock was simply throwing cash at a Labour supporting area, a political move not an economic one.”

Not so sure. Does anyone now think it made sense to let Lehmann’s go under?

A point that’s maybe worth making: whether or not cuts are needed to reduce the deficit, if there *is* wasteful spending going on – if there *are* genuine ‘efficiency savings’ that can be made without undermining services and preferrably without compulsory redundancies – then we should be making those savings anyway (even if only so that money can be spent on something worthwhile). You don’t have to believe the spin about Labour profligacy to believe that not every public sector organisation is spending every penny in the smartest way possible.

I suspect the way things will go is this: local authorities, police forces etc are going to come up with some clever ways to save money lefties will be able to support (e.g. sharing resources to avoid pointless duplication), as well making cuts to key services they’ll want to oppose. Hence, over time, we’ll be in a position to say ‘look – you could have cut £X billion without damaging services or sacking hundred of thousands of people; it’s this extra £Y billion you’ve cut that’s caused the problems’.

The more cuts we make to the ‘defence’ budget the better and if we can’t afford ID cards, the National database, prisons for half the population and CCTV on every corner – brilliant! Gordon Brown did something good.

There’s been some good, clear thinking done on alternative economic strategies by various parts of the centre-left in recent months. The Green New Deal strategy put forward by the New Economics foundation is one example. Another is the £100 Billion Gamble report produced by Compass.

These are well articulated, highly persuasive sets of ideas that demolish the false premises on which the austerity agenda is based, and advance attractive, positive solutions which have the potential to win a great many people over to our campaign.

It strikes me that we’d be much better off making every effort to publicise this sort of work than having non-debates about whether or not to “oppose all cuts”. Let the Labour leadership play that game if they want. The left can do, has done, and will continue to do much better.

Kate, that’s spot on.

Another argument that needs to be advanced is Chris Dillow’s argument about empowering public sector workers themselves. The people at the top are simply incapable of finding the efficiency savings because they cannot have perfect information. The people on the ground know where the savings can be made but have no power to make them. They are also minor things like not printing out docuements (saving paper), using Biro’s instead of fountain pens, staying at Travellodges rather than 4 star hotels etc.

23

UK military spending is 2.5% of GDP (£69bn in 2009). From a quick check, I make it that just 5 of the G20 spend more by proportion.

Another, and perhaps better comparison is against countries that are placed higher on the UN’s human development index, where Britain ranks a pathetic 26th.

Of the 25 countries that are placed higher, only the United States, South Korea, Israel and Greece spend a greater proportion of their GDP on what we continue to misdescribe as “defence”. The highest ranking country, Norway, spends 1.3% of its GDP, the second, Australia, spends 1.8%, and the third, New Zealand, spends 1.1%.

Somehow, all these countries manage to struggle along delivering far better lives for their populations, while spending far less than we do on their militaries. For some reason, their populations at least appear to accept it. Its almost as though such a thing is…..dare I say it….possible.

British foreign policy, specifically its military policy, is about to complete one of its most ignominious decades in living memory, including two disastrous and unpopular wars. This is frankly a great time to be making the case that at the very least 1% (but why not 1.5% or more?) of our GDP should be diverted, permanently, away from militarism and towards health, education and other investments in the general quality of life of the population.

Again, there is absolutely no question of the left “opposing all cuts”. The left has been saying this for a very long time, as I think everyone knows pretty well.

33. Luis Enrique

DW

centre left = NEF? say it ain’t so.

31 DW

Although I have some sympathy for the argument that we can and should decrease the % allocated to defence spending (particularly in the current climate), it is dangerous to simply look at the % spent by other countries, and extrapolate from there. None of the countries you mention are in the same strategic, geographical or diplomatic position as the UK.

I think there is a strong argument for a re-assessment of the UK’s geo-politcal stance, and a coherent defence review (rather than the bugger’s muddle recently carried out by the Coalition).

However welcome any savings that could be made from reducing our defence expenditure, we should also bear in mind that these amounts are simply dwarfed by the scale of savings that could be made in other areas like closing tax loopholes, increasing taxes on the rich, increasing the amount of tax paid by large companies etc., etc.

By all means let’s have a debate about what out defence spending aims to do, but lets not pretend we can spend next to nothing and still be secure, or carry out ill-judged and hasty reductions which reduce our security and impare our ability to act as a positive force in international relations.

“impare our ability to act as a positive force in international relations.”

Many would argue that we have in fact been a negative force in international relations, and thus impairing our ability to act is a good thing.

34

Whatever the faults in aspects of that policy (and I agree there are huge negatives), I think you’d be hard pressed to say it is uniformly negative! There are plenty of people in places around the world who are likely to have a rather different take on it than you seem to have, whether in Kossovo, Bosnia, the Falklands and many other areas where intervention can hardly be seen in the negative light of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s one thing to disagree with recent policy, and/or the decision to participate in the crazy war in Iraq, it’s another to try and maintain that there is NO rationale for intervention anywhere under any circumstances, and therefore no reason to maintain any force projection capability at all.

31 – If Labour want to advocate 50% cuts to defence spending, then by all means go ahead. Opposition can be great fun, and it’s understandable that you should want to remain in it for as long as possible.

35 – yeah sure. The action in Sierra Leone was one of Britain’s finest hours IMO. But generally speaking cuts shouldn’t effect the ability of britain to participate in the peacekeeping and humanitarian stuff. The Scandanavian countries do so on smaller budgets for example.

What reduced spending would effect is the cability for unilateral missions, but our capacity to do so is arguably already gone anyway. If Argentina invades the falklands again, we’ll lose unless we have allies. Its time we realised we are not a super-power and stopped spending as if we are.

@Galen10 – the fact that Britain has fought some wars that have led to positive outcomes doesn’t tell us as much as you would like it to. Britain’s defeating Nazi Germany in WWII, for example, could no more be used as an argument in defence of the British Empire than it could in defence of Stalin and the Soviet Union.

The purpose of Britain’s international posture over the last two centuries has been first to construct and then (after being demoted to Washington’s junior post-1945) to help maintain a global economic and political system designed primarily to serve the class, financial and corporate interests that dominate policymaking. That system has consistently subordinated the needs and rights of mere human beings to the needs of power.

Britain’s role, as such, had as little to do with security or humanitarian altruism during the Opium Wars as it did in the invasion of Iraq. Politician’s high-minded rhetoric about our enlightened values is an entirely predictable irrelevance. If Britain had a genuine interest in humanitarian outcomes, as it claimed over Kosovo, to take one example, why at the very same time was it backing to the hilt comparable human rights abuses against the Kurds by our ally Turkey? The difference was that Turkey, unlike the FRY, was an ally of Britain and America. And so, as in the case of Saddam in the 80s, or Suharto in the 60s and 70s, they could butcher to their heart’s content. With our support.

Quite apart from destroying the “security” of others, little of this aids our own security. The gift to alQaeda that is the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and our continuing, long-term support for Israel and various Middle Eastern tyrannies, makes us far less safe, not more. But that is the price successive governments have been willing to pay so that they can “punch above their weight” on the world stage, the better to serve the usual interests.

This country has helped to create and maintain a highly unjust and destructive global order over the past two hundred years. This is an international role that it is high time Britain repudiated. Instead, we could join the more civilised (or less uncivilised) nations of the developed world, in focusing more on delivering decent lives for our population than indulging in post-imperial delusions.

Stop launching wars, stop backing oppressive regimes, stop damaging global security, and save 1-1.5% of GDP into the bargain. Sounds like a very good deal to me.

36 – to be clear, I’ve never been a member of the Labour Party, and that’s unlikely to change

Cuts in defence spending mean either joblessness for members of the Armed Forces or job losses in the defence industries. Why are these more acceptable than layoffs of council staff etc.?

“I don’t think there’s an available solution to the public finances problem that solely hits the ruling classes”

Well we could always try Labour’s Alternative Economic Strategy from the 1980s but somehow I doubt a siege economy would be particularly beneficial to anyone.

“This country has helped to create and maintain a highly unjust and destructive global order over the past two hundred years.”

Good luck getting western consumers to vote for the overthrow of global capitalism.

40 – why shouldn’t the resources taken from these areas be deployed more productively, and in a way that provides good alternative employment opportunities? Why would it be difficult to conceive of better uses for these resources, and better ways to employ these people, than constructing weapons of death and launching aggressive wars? Most other developed nations seem to manage it.

@17

Quoting those eurostat/OECD figures as if they were a description of a required level of cuts seems to imply a baseline position of 0. In other words that the government simply shouldn’t borrow money at all, but live year by year (day-by-day?) on it’s income.

That’s pretty much the economics of the Gold Standard: is that really the Coalitions intellectual justification of it’s chosen level of cuts?

David Wearing @ 14

Yes I totally agree. In fact earlier I was thinking how odd it is that Sunny should post the Bill Maher video in agreement, and then write a post like this.

Maher argues that lefties should not attempt to meet the right ‘in the middle,’ but in this post Sunny seems to do just that and concedes too much (IMHO).

The most successful movements in history have always been the ones that do not make compromises. Take, for example, the Women’s Social and Political Union (or Suffragettes), which actually formed out of frustration that more diplomatic and conciliatory efforts had failed. I’m not advocating that we blow up buildings like they did; I’m just demonstrating that it was the most uncompromising form of protest that was the most successful in the end. Even Martin Luther King, who always advocated non-violent protest, had a set of quite aspiring demands (by the standard of the time) that he refused to give up, which is what led to success ultimately.

Moreover, I find the whole idea that the left is under some sort of obligation to come up with an alternative fiscal strategy a bit weird. You don’t see Tea Party loons in the US coming up with immigration policies on their rallies do you? They just make their demands and expect their politicians to accommodate them. I don’t know why those who are anti-cuts feel obliged to submit a thesis justifying their reasons. As you say, I see it as a sign of the right dictating the terms of the debate.

Essentially, the whole idea that we must reason our way out of cuts is damaging, and I totally agree with your point that it is about opposing *these* cuts. For me, the argument should not be ‘are cuts necessary, are they not necessary,’ it should be ‘deficit aside, we will not tolerate you evicting people from their homes, and taking away money for the disabled and the poor because it’s uncivilised and indecent.’ THAT’s the point. It’s not about arguing over a deficit, it’s about determining what actions we will and won’t tolerate as a society. In my heart of hearts, I just know those policies are intolerable, and no one in their right mind would argue that they’re necessary. For me, THOSE should be the terms of the debate.

I do agree with Sunny when he says the argument should be pro-public services, not anti-cuts, but I think it is extremely short-sighted to talk of protecting frontline services. It neglects the fact that a huge number of people in this country – both private and public sector – rely on the non-frontline services for employment. Even the CBI is worried about effects of cuts in infrastructure, because so many private companies are reliant on capital spending. If you agree to only defend frontline services, you’re basically throwing the livelihoods of thousands of people to the deficit hawks.

I agreed with all your other points too but my fingers are hurting from the typing! I would like to learn more from your big, foreign-policy-filled brain though.

Thanks for your responses – I’ve been a bit busy but not had much of a breather today.

First, my point relates specifically to campaigning against the cuts, but it doesn’t mean the broader narrative has to remain the same or that we argue to go back to the status quo.

planeshift says:The problem is much of the political debate has been about the best way to restore the economy to as it was in 2005.

Not for me. I’ve pointed out that our economy is in deep trouble because we haven’t invested much. I’m not for returning back to that, but that doesn’t exclude my main point, unless you can point out where extra money will come from.

Don’t compromise on left-wing principles, explain them. If they’re coherent and sensible they will stand by themselves.

Unfortunately, this is the line the left has taken for decades on the economy – and they keep failing. It’s time we broke out of the puritanical mentality.

I want to go to the same place as people to the left of me. I just want to speak to a borad range of moderates and the centre…. banging the same drum hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work now.

David #14: The question of left-purists opposing any and every possible cut is plainly not a question that arises.

Well, you can see from this thread that it is a position many take! And I’ve heard it loads of times at other places.

Apparently ‘exasperated reader’ was going to expose my ignorance of economics. I see that his/her response amounts to: BLAIRISM! EVIL! FUCK THE POLLS LOLZ!

thanks

David – I don’t actually disagree with much of what you say… but two points in my original editorial need to be stressed again.

If we want to shift the narrative, then campaigning ‘in defence of’, or for something is better than being ‘anti-cuts’ – because the discussion there is still just about the extent of the cuts. So you reinforce my point.

Secondly, I’m talking politically here too. There is a swathe of centrist opinion within Labour that also needs to be absorbed in this movement. Otherwise it’s the same old people marching to Westminster to hear Tony Benn speak. All I’m saying is – if you have a purity test on the cuts as part of this coalition (which happens by default if we position ourselves as anti-cuts) then the movement keeps getting split.

A broad coalition has to be truly broad… not just a bunch of people calling themselves a ‘coalition’ while including just everyone who agrees with a strict line.

I stand corrected on the actual yearly deficit figure (thanks Tim J) – and have changed it. I was just looking at the monthly figure.

45 & 46

Thanks for your response, Sunny.

Well, you can see from this thread that it is a position many take! And I’ve heard it loads of times at other places

Sorry, Sunny, but where? Can you give me some examples of serious people on the left who oppose all cuts, not just the coalitions cuts to welfare and services, but also any and all major cuts in military spending, the scrapping of ID cards, and every and anything else?

If you can’t then can we please drop this straw man? If you want to engage with people to the left of you then please do. But please argue with the ones that actually exist.

Those on the left who oppose more or less all the coalitions cuts to public services and welfare do not simply leave it at that. They also:

(a) support dramatic cuts to military spending (which could save us over 1% of GDP pa, as I point out above),
(b) support other measures to reduce the deficit, such as raising tax revenues (your point about the tax take from the financial industry doesn’t work, because the City wasn’t properly taxed to begin with. That was half the problem), and
(c) reject the claim that the deficit is the major issue for policymakers to focus on now in any event.

In that context, it is quite right to oppose more or less all the cuts to services and welfare – a position you appear to dismiss, yet which you do not place in context and so do not engage with properly.

Now unfortunately, and by contrast, the Labour right, and probably the new leadership as well, seems settled on:

(a) wrongheadedly making the deficit a major priority by advocating eliminating it in two Parliaments
(b) making public services and the welfare state bear the cost of the retrenchment (with less pain than the coalition would cause, but still inevitably a great deal of pain), and
(c) rejecting the alternatives that the left proposes

To buttress this, the leadership have coined the mantra that we must not “oppose all cuts”. This is the real purity test, and it appears to be the one you now challenge the left with.

Look, I personally would be delighted to work and campaign with any and everyone from whatever party or part of the political spectrum whenever and whereever possible. But fundamentally, it is going to be very hard to get unity between the Labour leadership/mainstream on the one hand, and the left outside of the party on the other, at the level of the broad strategic approach. This is unsurprising, because the Labour leadership has been nowhere near the left for the best part of two decades.

Unity with people as far away politically as old school Tories may well be possible on individual campaigns. But at the level of a general movement, there may well be a trade off between keeping the Labour higher-ups on board and keeping progressive civil society outside of the party on board. You will lose a bit of each depending on where and how you pitch the tent.

What if you did end with a broad progressive civil society movement coming from outside the major party leaderships? Well, you can disparage this as “the usual suspects”, “marching to hear Tony Benn speak” or whatever. But these are just caricatures, and they don’t tell us very much. As Ellie points out, the reality is that most of the really worthwhile social justice movements throughout history, including the broadest ones, have come from outside of the political class, be it civil rights, suffragism, the chartists, and so on.

By the way, all of those movements, I think its fair to say, would have been stillborn if they’d taken your attitude to public opinion as they’d found it.

Ellie – thanks. I’m not against compromise, necessarily. For example, there are those who support a “one state solution” on Israel Palestine, which if workable might well be a better option than two states where the Palestinians are left with only 22% of their former homeland. But one state isn’t workable, and two-states, while deeply inadequate in many ways, is also the best or least worst on offer.

But even that argument still requires us to go out on a limb and challenge received wisdom. As you rightly point out, the most important (the broadest, most powerful, and most successful) political movements have required people to do just that.

As Ellie points out, the reality is that most of the really worthwhile social justice movements throughout history, including the broadest ones, have come from outside of the political class, be it civil rights, suffragism, the chartists, and so on.

I agree – and no one is saying we need to coopt the Labour hierarchy before we move forward. In fact I’d be against that anyway.

I’m just saying that it’s easy for lefties to go around saying they can convince people by the strengths of their arguments and that they have the right narrative.

Except that the left has utterly failed over the last few decades to convince the public on big economic issues (which partly made Labour unelectable) and create a grassroots movement that could challenge the hegemony of the right-wing press and the economic elites. There is failure littered around. Which is why I’m not easily convinced by people who say that they can convince people with their absolutist stance – just as long as they shout loud enough.

In fact I got into heated debates twice: once at a Coalition of Resistance event, and another time at the Vodafone protests, when I said that just being anti-cuts was silly because we wanted to cut ID cards and defence. I think their head exploded with the confusion and they irritably told me that I was just a closet Tory.

It’s getting kinda tiresome when someone accuses you of being a closet Tory or a Blairite just because you don’t sing from the SWP handbook. So yes – there are lots of people who still don’t have a narrative set in their heads. They’re just spouting slogans mindlessly. I hear it all the time.

My point here is tactically, and no one has argued the points I’ve made: that tactically and politically a ‘defend our services’ message works better than ‘we are anti-cuts’.

Now – we may disagree over the economics. I think it’s going to be difficult in the short term to squeeze more money out of the financial system, though it needs to happen over the medium and long term. But we simply can’t sustain a deficit this big over the next 4 years. It is literally economic suicide. We will be in Greek territory then.

So my point is that I’m happy with the Labour plan as it is: a 50:50 split planned over 4 years.

Now you might argue that’s too much of a bitter pill for you to swallow and the socialists would work by themselves. Ok, but I don’t think that’s a broad coalition. Secondly, it would make it harder to campaign against the Tories.

Lastly – I do think that there are some good ideas being proposed by Ed in driving forward the Green New Deal, as well as increasing investment in our economy to provide proper jobs. That’s why I’m hopeful a lot of change can be driven from within Labour too.

There is some of the comments on this thread delusional beyond belief. Just lob £10 billion off the defence budget and we will be £10 billion better off. Well no. The tax take from defence contractors would also fall and the ten quickly becomes seven at best. Apparently all the left agree that we should slash defence spending apart from the left-wing union leaders in Govan, Scotstoun and Rosyth who would actually like it to be increased.

To be serious on credible ways to reduce the deficit actually means looking at the things we spend most on and it is not defence or I.D. cards. Seriously paying government ministers less is just pure tokenism as it is chickenfeed. Pensions, health care and welfare is half the budget. Scrapping I.D. cards will not reduce the deficit when we are not currently financing them. You can’t tax your way out of a deficit and you can’t cut your way to prosperity either. Raise the wrong taxes too much and NGDP will fall possibly resulting in the actual deficit remaining the same. The only credible way to close the deficit is to grow the economy and to control spending on the departments who spend the most.

Brown was not as much an overspender as the Tories allege. The Tories managed one balanced budget in their eighteen years in office and Mrs Thatcher none. However, he was a bad spender. His fatal error was relying on revenues from the City to finance increases in public spending that was soaked up in higher wages for public sector workers. A good GP earning £100k is not going to be a better one for earning £140k. Moreover, you will not turn a bad one into a good one with a pay rise. Tax revenue from the City dries up and you are left paying the wages and future pensions that have been leveraged from revenues that have disappeared. There was nothing wrong per se with spending the revenues but they should have gone on infrastructure. Better transport, social housing, new hospitals and schools. Yes I know they did some but not enough. The revenues would still have disappeared but we would not have had as high a deficit as it is one-off spending.

“It’s not about arguing over a deficit, it’s about determining what actions we will and won’t tolerate as a society. In my heart of hearts, I just know those policies are intolerable, and no one in their right mind would argue that they’re necessary. ”

Emotion won’t win you converts beyond the already converted. You have to make a rational economic case.

err Size of UK defecit..£157bn
net worth of the 1000 richest people in UK – 333bn

… no I won’t be signing up for any cuts.
Sunny is of course right that we should be campaigning for services , rather than against cuts..

Richard

The first half of that quote was to do with the terms of the debate on cuts. The second was my own viewpoint, which wasn’t emotional – just a demonstration of my personal conviction on the subject.

Determining markers for how we treat citizens; for the rights we do or don’t have; has got nothing to do with emotion. It’s a necessity for the construction of a civilised society. A universal set of human rights forms the basis of international law. The right to property, the right not to starve, the right to an education – these are prinicples upon which we run our society, and the preservation of them is what allows us to call ourselves civilised.

Your comment is a bit ill-thought out, probably because it is an attempt to dismiss my remark as that of an over-emotional silly woman who doesn’t understand the cut and thrust of real politics.

51

@Sunny – thanks for your response

the left has utterly failed over the last few decades to convince the public on big economic issues

This is untrue.

Take these figures compiled by Johann Hari earlier in the year:

> 85% say the gap between rich and poor should be “much smaller”
> a majority would get there by introducing a maximum wage set at £135k pa
> 58% support a dramatic increase in the minimum wage

This poll shows 99% of people believe that top executives are overpaid, and 64% believe that a chief executive should take home less than £500,000 a year.

Another recent poll, cited here, showed 73% saying that “large companies” have “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of influence over government, with just 31% saying that’s the level of influence they should have.

And finally, take the Times poll in mid-September which showed:
22% supporting government plans to deal with the bulk of the deficit in one Parliament
37% supporting Labour’s plan to half the deficit in one parliament and half it in the next; and
37% supporting the left and trade union position of prioritising the protection of the economically vulnerable and keeping unemployment low during the economic crisis, ahead of dealing with the budget deficit

While this doesn’t show an uncomplicatedly socialist/social-democrat majority, it does show left positions accepted by majorities on key economic issues.

The real question then is why the left and/or Labour has failed to translate this into an implemented political programme of genuine centre-left social democracy at the Parliamentary level. As far as New Labour is concerned, the reason is largely that it chose to take those progressive majorities for granted, and to pander instead to the right and the vested intersts. In policy terms, this led it to adopt a neoliberal economic model that delivered the biggest financial crash since 1929. In political terms, it saw Labour haemorrage disillusioned members and voters, leading to a historically bad defeat against the first plausible human-being the Tories could find to lead them.

Irrespective, the context plays a major role. The context now is the toughest austerity programme perhaps since the 1920s, with all the individual instances of human misery, and resulting political objection, that this will entail. We saw 50,000 on the streets today, and that will not be the end. This isn’t the 1990s. It is a very good time – more than that, an essential time – to get those progressive majorities politically mobilised.

Which is why I’m not easily convinced by people who say that they can convince people with their absolutist stance – just as long as they shout loud enough.

Well, that isn’t the person you’re debating with now, and it isn’t a position that I can see held by any serious person on the left, or by the left in general. It is a caricature of the left and, I’m sad to say, rather a lazy one. Constructing your arguments in this way is unlikely to persuade the people you’re trying to persuade.

I got into heated debates twice: once at a Coalition of Resistance event, and another time at the Vodafone protests

ok, so this is it? You’re allowing your critique of the left and your strategy going forward to be influenced by a couple of rows you’ve had with people on demos? Come on, Sunny. Lets be serious. We both know that the vast majority of people to the left of you would advocate slashing military spending in an instant. And they’d advocate that irrespective of the fact that it can also be part of a broader alternative economic policy.

You don’t need me to remind you of the inherent anti-militarism of the left as demonstrated repeatedly for decades; the consistent opposition to imperialism, to nuclear weapons, the mass marches under the CND banner in the 50s and 60s, against Vietnam, against Iraq, against Afghanistan, practically every position articulated by serious people on the left in respect of British militarism for as long as the left has been in existence. This is in the left’s intellectual and moral DNA. Everyone knows that.

So again I ask if we can drop this “oppose all cuts leftie” straw man. We both know he doesn’t exist at any substantive level.

tactically and politically a ‘defend our services’ message works better than ‘we are anti-cuts’.

At the level of slogans, I’m relaxed about it.

we simply can’t sustain a deficit this big over the next 4 years. It is literally economic suicide. We will be in Greek territory then

Here you’ve lost me. The comparison with Greece is self-evidently absurd, albeit not as absurd as the use of the word “literally”. You should read Ed Balls Bloomberg speech, or the Compass report I linked to above. This statement you’ve just made is flatly unsupported by the evidence (though it may sound good in the context of the debate that goes on between the party frontbenches and the corporate media).

I’m happy with the Labour plan as it is: a 50:50 split planned over 4 years.

As far as I’m aware, this is not the Labour position and never has been.

The Brown-Darling position was to eliminate the bulk of the deficit in two parliaments, half in the first four years. Miliband and Johnson have agreed to maintain that timetable, but rebalance the cuts:taxes ratio.

Advocating a four year timetable would place you to the right of everyone in the Labour party bar perhaps Tony Blair. I assume this is not what you meant. I hope it isn’t anyway.

If what you meant to say was that you support the Miliband-Johnson two-parliament timetable, that places you to the right not just of the Tony Benn socialists you take such a dim view of, but also to the right of the mild social democrats at Compass and the New Political Economy Network, and indeed to the right the centrist Keynesian (and erstwhile neoliberal) Ed Balls. I was actually under the impression you supported Balls’ economic position recently. Perhaps I misread that.

52

There is some of the comments on this thread delusional beyond belief. Just lob £10 billion off the defence budget and we will be £10 billion better off. Well no. The tax take from defence contractors would also fall and the ten quickly becomes seven at best.

As I pointed out earlier, 2.5% of UK GDP goes on military spending, while for most of the more developed economies, the number is 1.5%. Now by all means lets dispense with delusions, Richard. You know as well as I do that this difference is not down to our special need to keep Scottish engineers in the most worthwhile, productive and efficient use of their skills. The difference is that the UK – unlike more intelligently run countries – is trying to maintain a global military posture as spear-carrier for the pax americana, funding nuclear weapons whose use no-one can describe, and starting wars we can’t win which make the world and us less safe.

To the extent that we spend public money maintaining a system of corporate welfare for arms dealers, I see no reason why this – and the individual skills involved – can’t be diverted to more productive forms of high-tech industry, perhaps even activities that don’t frequently result or threaten the deaths of large numbers of people.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  2. James Brown

    RT @libcon: Why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  3. sunny hundal

    I explain why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  4. Elliot Page

    RT @libcon: Why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  5. mark wright

    i'm not sure i agree with this RT @libcon: Why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  6. Dan Hodges

    …The new right has kidnapped Sunny http://bit.ly/cKRp1c We are keeping him in a safe location. We shall issue our demands shortly…

  7. Lorraine Janectic

    RT @sunny_hundal: I explain why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  8. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal I explain why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  9. GORDON LYEW

    RT @HouseofTwits: RT @sunny_hundal I explain why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  10. Peter C Johnson

    Sunny Hundal has lost his mind. At last. Thankfully.

    http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  11. Labour Uncut

    RT @DPJHodges: …The new right has kidnapped Sunny http://bit.ly/cKRp1c We are keeping him in a safe location. We shall issue our d …

  12. Bobski

    It's one of those once in a blue moon times when @sunny_hundal makes a good point http://bit.ly/9Q0JTm @libcon

  13. Are Library Campaigns Doing It Right? « Walk You Home

    […] just read this post on the Liberal Conspiracy site, suggesting reasons that opposition to all cuts is unsustainable. A lot of it resonated with me, in […]

  14. Joanne Platt

    RT @DPJHodges: …The new right has kidnapped Sunny http://bit.ly/cKRp1c We are keeping him in a safe location. We shall issue our d …

  15. Steve Wins

    Sunny Hundal makes some excellent, balanced points here http://tinyurl.com/3y8samd so, naturally, my fellow lefties (sic) start arguing.

  16. David Wearing

    .@sunny_hundal argues that the left should not oppose all cuts http://bit.ly/bna38r My response http://bit.ly/9Gm8Iy

  17. safefromwolves

    RT @davidwearing: .@sunny_hundal argues that the left should not oppose all cuts http://bit.ly/bna38r My response http://bit.ly/9Gm8Iy

  18. Wendy Maddox

    Why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Z8iI3cU via @libcon

  19. Rachael

    RT @davidwearing: .@sunny_hundal argues that the left should not oppose all cuts http://bit.ly/bna38r My response http://bit.ly/9Gm8Iy

  20. Nick H.

    Why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://t.co/YFIoygW via @libcon – Cuts necessary, 'Slash 'n' Burn' – no.

  21. Bryonny G-H

    RT @libcon: Why the left cannot, and should not, oppose all government cuts http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  22. Do left wing men always sell out women in the end? | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] I have written about the ‘sellout’ accusation for years, on race and religion. I’ve been called it myself around race issues & religion; for not signing up to socialist-left aims; for calling tactics of some climate campaigners counter-productive; for even writing an article on deficit reduction. […]

  23. sunny hundal

    @casi_insurgente you seem to be echoing George Bush: 'you're either with us or against us' On cuts: http://bit.ly/cKRp1c

  24. Labour and ‘parking the deficit’ – counterproductive and a disaster | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] did. That makes opposition to the Tories even harder. Let me start with my position: I have always maintained that if Labour were in government now they would have had to lay out a credible plan to reduce the […]





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