Ed Milliband risks being linked with deficit deniers
The Economist has a blog post about the timing of Ed Milliband’s speech to the March 26 rally. Whilst there is an interesting analysis of why Mr Milliband spoke so early, far more interesting is 3 paragraphs that neatly sum up the range of opinion about how and when to get the public finances back under control:
I think Mr Miliband’s problem boils down to this. Most people in this country, including a lot of people I met on the march today, think that Britain faces a period of painful decisions and choices, because the country has been spending too much. Within that majority, there are people who are (for variously selfless and selfish reasons) attracted to a Keynesian argument that deep, front-loaded cuts are counter-productive, and so some painful decisions should be postponed. That is an intellectually respectable argument: this newspaper does not agree with it, but there are people of goodwill on both sides of the debate.
Then there is a hard core of people who simply do not accept that the money has run out. These flat-earthers think that there need not be any cuts, because if you only taxed the banks/bankers/multinationals/tax avoiders/the rich a lot more, you would unearth a hidden money pot filled with so many billions that we could keep spending as before. I don’t think Mr Miliband agrees with them. I don’t think most voters in Britain agree with them. I don’t think even most of the marchers in Hyde Park agree with that hard core.
But that hard core has a firm grip on Labour’s base, as could be seen on Friday in Nottingham. And Mr Miliband, by endorsing the wider anti-cuts movement, risks becoming associated with that hard core and their breathtaking lack of realism. He said again in Hyde Park that he was proud to be addressing the “mainstream majority”. But he did not look proud: his nerves gave him away. “It is so important that this be a peaceful protest,” he said at one point, almost pleadingly. The crowd seemed pretty indifferent to his presence, in return.