• Development Intelligence

Labour turnaround in fortunes

Literally all dreary dull Keir needs to do right now is to stand back and watch the Tories’ circular firing squad do its stuff. And as the commentariat/media focus is on writing the Tories’ painful obituary, for now they can get away with not saying anything very useful or very interesting, just throwing fuel on the self-ignited Tory fire.

But here’s the thing: that will work for a while, but they are going to need a plan and some policies quite soon. And the signs are not hugely encouraging. Let’s dissect the Labour response to the Tory ‘mini budget’.

Labour are firmly against it of course, variously calling for its cancellation and Parliament to be recalled so they could jeer at the Tories in the set piece of the House of Commons. But what is their actual plan?

And that’s where the wheels come off a bit.

  • On energy, the Labour plan announced with serious faces and breathless media hype was exactly 25% of what the Tories then announced and for only six months, not the two years of the Tories’ solution. So too little and too short.

  • On the corporation tax cut, Labour were against putting it up in April and are now against cutting it back down in October. So just transparent political opportunism.

  • On the basic rate income tax cut, Labour say they would keep the 1% cut. So no difference there.

  • On the 45% tax rate cut, Labour were against it but it’s now been reversed anyway. So now a moot point.

QED, their current solutions are much less than the Tory Government has proposed and they will inevitably campaign against (m)any of the Government’s forthcoming deregulation drive and spending cuts.

And therein lies the problem. It’s all well and good being against any and all government initiatives in opposition. But they are staring down the barrel of being in government, potentially quite soon, and yet seemingly have no viable solutions or proposals for dealing with the issue de jour.

This is not where New Labour were in 1995, two years out from government. Blair and Brown at this stage were laying out with clarity what they would do and were briefing the City and journalists on their ‘agenda for government’. They were through their announcements actually shaping the political environment long before office, not opportunistically opposing for opposition’s sake two years out.

Sir Dreary needs to get on with it. He is miles behind where he needs to be.