Up until this week, it had seemed like the word “cuts” was a whisper Labour politicians dare not even speak.
And now it seems we can’t get away from it.
At the beginning of the week Lord Mandelson made an impressive speech in which he said that Labour would be the “wise spenders” while the Conservatives would impose “savage cuts”.
At the TUC conference, Gordon Brown said he would “cut costs, cut inefficiencies, cut unnecessary programmes and cut lower priority budgets”. He talked of “tough choices” ahead.
And only this morning, the Sunday Times reports an interview with the Education Secretary, Ed Balls, in which he details more than £2bn worth of cuts across the schools budget.
Every adult with half a brain knows that public spending cuts are inevitable. This message seems to have finally gotten through.
I would not have started by going after the schools budget though. I thought we were meant to be the party of ‘education, education, education’. Instead, why shouldn’t we be bolder and immediately scrap Trident and ID cards? These policies are not bread and butter Labour stuff.
At least now we are being honest though.
Labour has laid down the battle lines for the next election. We are the party which will make sensible, wise choices while the Tories are the party practically salivating or “foaming at the mouth” (as Mandelson said) at the prospect of being able to cut spending. This is a wiser strategy for Labour.
It even hints at the ‘nasty’ label which the Conservatives have unsuccessfully tried to shake off.
On balance, the Government had a good week and now that a strategy is settled on, we can go to conference feeling a little less gloomy.
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