Peter Hoskin

Miliband and the past

Labour’s simmering resentments and self-doubts have been boiling over recently — and today is no different. Compare and contrast The Sun’s interview with Tony Blair with Andrew Grice’s article on Ed Balls in the Independent. For Blair, Labour ought to be claiming more credit for their preparatory role in some of the coalition’s reforms, such as the Academies programme. For Balls, they ought instead to be dodging blame for the state of the public finances. As Grice reports, “Ed Balls has rejected demands from allies of Ed Miliband that he admit Labour spent too much when they were in power.” From the rest of the piece, the shadow chancellor’s position sounds rather like that of John Wayne’s Captain Nathan Brittles: “Never apologise. It’s a sign of weakness…”

That Blair and Balls place different emphases on Labour’s recent past is no surprise. But the question remains as to what emphasis Miliband will choose. So far, he has sailed closely to the Balls position: apologising for almost everything that Labour did in government, apart from overspending. And he has rejected the Blairite position by surrendering almost every aspect of the reform agenda to the coalition. Yet if it’s true that his “allies” are pushing for a fiscal apology from Balls, then perhaps we are in for a change from the Labour leader. It certainly wouldn’t be his first this week. 

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