For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts?


by Leo Barasi    
1:45 pm - November 14th 2011

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In the film Traffic, Michael Douglas is given advice about surviving in politics:

When they forced Khruschev out, he sat down and wrote two letters to his successor. He said, “When you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, open the first letter, and you’ll be safe. When you get yourself into another situation you can’t get out of, open the second letter”.

Well, soon enough, this guy found himself into a tight place, so he opened the first letter. Which said, “Blame everything on me”. So he blames the old man, it worked like a charm. He got himself into a second situation he couldn’t get out of, he opened the second letter. It said, “Sit down, and write two letters”.

The current government took the advice of the first letter even before coming to power.

The day David Laws published a very different letter (“Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money… good luck!”) further reflected their reliance on Khruschev’s advice.

But that line may now be losing credibility.

Since the election, YouGov have been asking respondents who they blame most for the spending cuts. In June last year, Labour were seen as to blame by 31pts more than the coalition.

Now that lead is just 14pts:

Labour’s position is still not good. Their argument, that the crisis was international and the UK’s debt was a necessary investment to avoid a worse recession, has apparently still not won through.

They haven’t gained much ground on this question the last few months.

But half the country now blames the coalition for the cuts, at least in part. The present switch in the government’s line from “we’re clearing up Labour’s mess” to “we’re facing a European crisis” perhaps reflects a recognition that the first letter has had its day.

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About the author
Leo is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He manages communications for a small policy organisation, and writes about polling and info from public opinion surveys at Noise of the Crowd
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy


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Reader comments


Hmm. The title of this article suggested that it might actually look at the part Labour played in the current crisis, but actually it just flashed up a meaningless opinion poll. Zeitgeist chasing disguised as insight.

Masterful.

It’s all in the question.

Of course the Coalition is ‘to blame’ for the cuts.
They have explained their necessity and are implementing them.

This is quite different from having created the need for them in the first place.
That question would be along the lines of ‘Which Government had policies in place that made the cuts inevitable…’

Let me know when the left stops blaming Thatcher and I’ll get back to you.

But Falco – Thatch is very much to blame. As is general Tory economic uselessness, idiotic Brownian hubris and coalition blinkeredness.

A mid-term government is no longer as popular at it once was. Any surprises there?

18 months after the Labour government fell Leo Barasi is asking a question that has only one answer: For ever and ever.

In defeat Labour decided to deny there had been a problem, therefore they would not have not needed to make any cuts whatsoever. The rest is ‘Boo-Hiss Tory cutters!’ from cheerleader on the left.

Had Liam Byrne not have been so honest they would be in a far better position to argue this. But all know it for what it is.

Who does the author blame for the cuts?

Lets remember who run up spending on the back of unsustainable casino banking.

Lets remember who ran a deficit in the good years, despite their golden rule that said that they should not have done so.

Lets remember who let the banks fail by creating a weak financial regulator.

Lets remember who created the deficit.

Lets remember that Labour actually promised very similar cuts in their last budget but still haven’t told us what they would cut. Quiet the opposite – they have told us they would increase spending and cut taxes. That won’t cut the deficit that Labour created.

Lets remember that the reason we have slow growth now is that the temporary stimulus has run out. Labour moved forward spending to get out of recession and when you do that you reduce spending in the future. We are living the future that Labour created in 2009.

Lets remember that without a believable program of cuts then interest rates would be higher and growth lower.

Lets remember that Labour wanted to put up NI – a tax on jobs which would have created unemployment.

Lets remember that many in Labour want us to join the Euro and they refuse to rule it out.

Lets remember that Labour could not change what is happening in Greece, but they could make it happen here.

I know who I blame for the mess that we are in.

Falco demonstrates again the inability of the right to accept any responsibility for their own actions. Pass the buck, shift the blame, “nothing to do with me, guv”.

One simple fact for Falco. The countries which have prospered in recent times are ones with large manufacturing bases. These same bases which Thatcher destroyed in the UK in the 1980s. Simple logic.

The bankers are to blame for the cuts. It’s a simple truth. Why do are so many journalists complicit in the cover up?

Their argument, that the crisis was international and the UK’s debt was a necessary investment to avoid a worse recession, has apparently still not won through.

Ha ha … the deficit happened in the same way flying through the windscreen happens if you hit a wall. This means ” Look we were worried about a slow down so we built up massive spending commitments so we would immediately get hit by a wild stabiliser swing and acquire a 10 to 12% deficit”

My only wish is that they had got it wrong even more so we could have more investment ..desperate stuff , really desperate .

10. Churm Rincewind

[7] Well, no, the facts tell us otherwise. The longterm decline in the UK’s manufacturing base started years before Mrs T, and continued at a broadly consistent rate under both her premiership and Labour’s recent long years in office.

@briar

… Because our defecit ( the difference between gdp and spending, crudely) is approx 10x the one-off cost of the bank bailouts. Check the numbers from any official source.

The whole of the Western World is screwed. We have been living beyond our means for 15 years. Ask yourself the question, “what did we do in the 90s and 2000s that was so clever that the wealth of the whole World could grow so quickly”. The answer is nothing, we just ‘printed’ money, and now it’s payback time.

Today’s Party politics are not about whose fault it is. It is all of ours. Contemporary politics will be about who will be strong enough to lead us to survival without meltdown…

@ Chris – The helpful Mr Rincewind has rather beaten me to it but thank you so much for proving my point.

Chris re comment 7:

How amusing to see someone who still blames Margaret Thatcher for everything.
In case you weren’t born then the UK was the deserved holder of the title “Sick man of Europe”. It wasn’t the halcyon days of Brunel and the workshop of the world. Instead we had Red Robbo, Degsie Hatton and Arthur Scargill – each one intent on driving their industry or community to the wall. It was the start of outsourcing to the Far East (shipbuilding and cars) the status quo of today. Uk manufacturing was a write off, too slow, strike ridden, old fashioned and underfunded.

That we got through it to the 90′s was little short of a miracle.

14. Leon Wolfson

@6 –

“Lets remember who run up spending on the back of unsustainable casino banking.”

The Tories wanted less regulation

“Lets remember who created the deficit.”

Lower deficit than the Tories left us with

“Lets remember that the reason we have slow growth now is that the temporary stimulus has run out.”

Lies and revisionism. We have slow growth because of austerity.

“Lets remember that without a believable program of cuts then interest rates would be higher and growth lower.”

Cuts. Not austerity. Even Belgium, without a government, has grown faster on us.

“Lets remember that Labour wanted to put up NI – a tax on jobs which would have created unemployment.”

Instead, the Tories have put up VAT, which has killed consumer spending and caused far more unemployment.

“Lets remember that Labour could not change what is happening in Greece, but they could make it happen here.”

We’re nothing at all like Greece, for all your attempts to talk us into that position. What will make it happen here is rising borrowing, a weak economy and tax evasion. The first is happening due to the tories, the second is happening due to the tories and the third? The tories have fired many of the people who investigated this, and put others onto other duties.

“I know who I blame for the mess that we are in.”

You and people like you who hate this country, and are determined to see it go down in flames.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. malcolm

    For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts? http://t.co/Zp1cgBGx

  2. Matt Jeffs

    'For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts?' http://t.co/YH1Lxroj << Not long, going by the polls

  3. Owen Blacker

    'For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts?' http://t.co/YH1Lxroj << Not long, going by the polls

  4. malcolm

    'For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts?' http://t.co/YH1Lxroj << Not long, going by the polls

  5. Roger Thornhill

    RT @sunny_hundal: 'For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts?' http://t.co/XtnOMwUi << Not long, going by the polls // 13years!

  6. Janet Graham

    For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts? http://t.co/Zp1cgBGx

  7. Janet Graham

    'For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts?' http://t.co/YH1Lxroj << Not long, going by the polls

  8. Kamaljeet Jandu

    “@libcon: For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts? http://t.co/GX8dbNrg” Not long!

  9. sonia johal

    'For how much longer can Labour be blamed for the cuts?' http://t.co/YH1Lxroj << Not long, going by the polls

  10. sunny hundal

    @kevinbakhurst they've read the 'first letter' (as told by Khruschev) http://t.co/YH1Lxroj

  11. sunny hundal

    Will Labour continue to be blamed for cuts? Perhaps @MikeSmithsonOGH shld look at trends than just two points http://t.co/YH1Lxroj





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