The first big speech by Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds was highly significant for what it did not do — in that it was all about competence rather than ideology. Her speech had four main elements:
- a need for government to subsidise those hundreds of thousands of people forced into part-time working by the virus;
- a need to mount a massive national retraining programme for those whose industries are in irreversible decline;
- the imperative of avoiding debt delinquency and a default cliff edge for companies next March when their emergency Covid-19 loans from the Treasury become repayable;
- and an urgent need to avoid waste in contracts awarded by the government.
Many Tory MPs would say this is eminently sensible. In other words, Dodds — like Sir Keir Starmer — is hoping to court voters from a platform of competence rather than socialism. At least for now.
It was sort of inevitable given that — from necessity rather than choice — Johnson and Rishi Sunak have spent more public money more rapidly in the past six months than any Labour government ever. And their splurge won’t be over until the virus is history.