THE BLOG

On the Economy, Ed Miliband Is Whistling in the Dark

17/01/2014 15:33 GMT | Updated 19/03/2014 09:59 GMT

When Conservatives and Lib Democrats laid down their arms in 2010 to form the coalition there was one thing that unified us into action: the disastrous damage Labour has done to the economy.

With stagnant growth, a stifling lack of productivity and falling incomes masked with complicated layers of tax credits, not to mention the recession - it's hard to over-exaggerate the harm Labour had done.

After four years of difficult decisions the signs are beginning to showing signs of improvement. Growth is returning, the deficit has been cut by a third and more than a million jobs have been created in the private sector. Families up and down the country have had that little bit more in their wage packet each month because we've been able to cut income tax for 25 million people.

This week we had the immensely encouraging news that inflation has fallen again. The CPI measure has hit the 2% target for the first time in over four years.

Today, ONS figures showed that in December last year Britain's shops took 6.1% more than the year before. That's more presents, bigger turkeys and even more festive cheer - so if you thought you had a good Christmas, that's because you probably did.

There is much to be done, but the signs are encouraging.

But while the Conservatives can offer a long term plan at the next election, after four years of opposition Labour can offer only fear-mongering and petty politics.

If you read the pattern, it's become clear that Ed Miliband is losing the economic argument.

First he said we wouldn't cut the deficit or grow the economy without borrowing more. But the deficit is down by a third and the economy is growing.

Then he said that our plan would "clearly lead to the disappearance of a million jobs". But there are 1.2million more jobs than there were before.

Once it became clear he was wrong, he then said that growing the economy alone would not improve the cost of living. But as this week's figures show, inflation has fallen back to target. Average wages are also going up as the economy begins to recover and take on more jobs.

So now he is changing his argument once more by saying today "we would earn and grow our way to higher living standards". But that's what David Cameron has been saying all along. Because the only way to raise living standard sustainably is to have a long-term economic plan.

Good leaders are people who can find a route out of trouble and guide people along the way. But on the economy, the single biggest issue we face as a nation, Ed Miliband doesn't have a clue.

This week, in apparent desperation, he has returned to whack-a-banker territory to divert attention away from his failings. His proposals to cap bonuses has been rubbished by pretty well every intelligent commentator from the Bank of England governor downwards (including the cross party Banking Commission).

He proposes forcing banks to sell branches, but seems to have forgotten that two state owned banks are halfway through selling 1,000 branches between them to create not one but two challenger banks.

He goes on to propose a market share cap that will inevitably hit hard the weakest in society with simplified bank accounts and the as yet unbanked. Meanwhile, his business spokesman says it is fine that savers have their pension pools hit as bank share prices react negatively to his anti enterprise ramblings.

He is already against power companies and property developers. This week he lashed out at high street banks. Which other part of the private sector will he attack next? This is not a plan. It's just whistling in the dark.

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