Peter Hoskin

Mandelson struggles to pull the media strings

Mandelson struggles to pull the media strings
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There's an air of desperation about Peter Mandelson's article in the Wall Street Journal today.  The notion that the UK's uniquely well-placed to deal with the downturn seems to have been jettisoned - Mandy gives the excuse that "the U.K. has taken an early hit from a credit crunch that began with a serious failure in financial markets - perhaps even more than most because of its large financial-services sector." - but the essential message is still the same: creditors, please don't worry, the UK will remain solvent.  This paragraph contains it in a nutshell:

"Just as importantly, when the government announced its borrowing plans last year, it made clear commitments to specified tax increases and a slowed rate of public-spending growth from 2011 onwards. This is a commitment that markets, in setting the cost of long-term British debt, have rightly taken very seriously. The pound has weakened, but there has been no sustained flight from sterling."

It's a glaring demonstration of just how confused Labour's message has become.  On the one hand, they're boasting of their fiscal responsibility and the fact the they're going to introduce a "slowed rate of public-spending growth" from 2011.  And, on the other, they're lambasting the Tories for the "slowed rate of public-spending growth" [aka, in Labour's lingo: cuts] that they'd introduce from 2010.  As it happens, both parties will have to commit to much more severe fiscal tightening.  But in the meantime, for a seasoned spinmaster such as Mandelson, it must be hell.