David Blackburn

McFadden talks sense

McFadden talks sense
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Pat McFadden, the sullen-looking Shadow Business Secretary, has given an important speech to the Fabian Society. He said:

‘Fight the cuts is a tempting slogan in opposition, and there are indeed some that must be fought. But if that is all we are saying the conclusion will be drawn that we are wishing the problem away.'

He is the first shadow minister to recognise that Labour’s current approach is counter-productive, and Ed Balls’ philosophy is suicidal. He notes:

‘In fact, that is the position the Tories and the Lib Dems would prefer us to adopt. They want Labour to retreat to its comfort zone and allow them to say that they alone are capable of facing up to Britain's problems.’

But there’s the rub: Labour has adopted this position, and it simply isn’t credible. The party is caught in a Catch 22. Realistically, former ministers cannot concede that Gordon Brown’s economic policy was catastrophic. Criticism of Brown is therefore limited to admonishing his pernicious style of politics and the stagnation of reform. But shirking candour about the party’s economic performance in government, which Lord Mandelson castigates in his memoir, suggests a lack of seriousness or, worse, mass incompetence. McFadden’s speech is a start, but it does not go far enough. A more senior Labour figure needs to take his lead.