On Saturday, the Shadow Chancellor admitted that if the Labour Party were in government, they would not deviate from the tough decisions that George Osborne and David Cameron are making in an effort to cut the deficit.
In his speech to the Fabien Society, Ed Balls said that he would make cuts to education, policing, defence and the NHS and importantly said that he would support the public sector pay freeze that the current government is proposing.
It is, at last, some atonement from the Labour party; whose reckless spending during the boom period left Britain highly vulnerable to the subsequent banking crisis of 2007, a crisis which the Labour government dealt with so poorly that even the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has admitted in his memoirs: "[Labour] failed to win the 2010 election because the public did not think we had dealt with the resultant economic crisis as well as we should have done."
Such admissions merely weaken the Labour Party's claims that they have a credible alternative plan to that which the current coalition government is undertaking. It is clear that the opposition are confused over the direction to take given that, on the one hand, they accuse the Chancellor of making mistakes, but on the other support the government's policy in order to reduce the deficit.
The facts show that the coalition's economic strategy although tough, is starting to work. Since the general election we have seen over half a million new private sector jobs, our cost of borrowing has fallen to record lows and businesses have invested £119 billion across the economy over the last year. Confidence from the markets proves that that government's economic plan is working. It is therefore not surprising that the opposition are left with no other alternative but to, begrudgingly, support the coalition.
The result of Ed Balls' speech demonstrates at least some element of responsibility, recognising the seriousness of the deficit crisis. Time will tell as to whether this is a genuine attempt by Balls and Miliband to be 'responsible' in opposition. Given the backlash from trade unions in the aftermath of the speech and further backtracking on Balls' part, I am not filled with much hope.
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