February 23, 2011 2 Comments
I remember in the 2005 General Election campaign coming across a PDF collated by the Labour party in which something I had mentioned was supposedly an un-costed spending commitment. I had said that there would be free travel for pensioners in Nottinghamshire. In actual fact it wasn’t un-costed at all, it was the platform the party was taking for its campaign to try to win control of Nottinghamshire County Council.
Now last week a letter signed by Ed Balls and Ed Miliband urged colleagues not to make unfunded spending commitments:-
The letter says ahead of the next election Labour has to show its commitments on tax and spend are “clear, costed and affordable”.
“To that end, whilst we will continue rightly to oppose many of the decisions of the current Conservative-led Government, given the reckless gamble they are taking with the future of our economy, we cannot and should not at this stage make firm commitments to reverse each of those decisions unless and until we can say how those commitments will be paid for.”
Yet what has happened? Yesterdays Manchester Evening News told us that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have signed a petition opposing cuts to local authority budgets in Greater Manchester and committing to reversing budget reductions in ten council budgets.
This has not gone un-noticed by North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen who has written to the two Eds.
Putting forward fully-costed spending plans is a key test for any credible opposition party.
With this in mind, I am surprised to see that you and Ed Balls have both signed the Manchester Evening News “petition against the cuts” to local authority budgets in Greater Manchester. By signing it, you have committed to reversing the budget reductions to the ten council budgets concerned by 2012-13.
Does this mean that you would not make cuts to other council budgets across England too? Or is it only the reduction to Greater Manchester’s funding that you oppose?
You have both said that you back Alistair Darling’s policy to halve the deficit over four years. This front-loaded plan would require £14 billion of spending cuts from 1 April – only £2 billion less than the Coalition plans.
So what other spending would you cut or additional taxes would you raise in five weeks’ time to find the money to meet Alistair Darling’s plan?
Surely there is not a do as I say not as I do attitude in politics? A bit like all those Labour MPs who campaigned to save local post offices who then voted through taxpayer funded compensation to close post offices under the Urban Reinvention programme.