With the economy recovering and Labour floundering, it was a poor PMQs yesterday for Ed Miliband. And the source of his trouble was sitting right next to him – his own Shadow Chancellor.
After a disastrous response to the Autumn Statement, Ed Miliband is rumoured to have given Ed Balls nine months to sort out Labour’s economic policy. Clearly riled, Ed Balls has given an interview to the FT this morning, the raison d’etre explicitly being to try and regain some credibility on the economy.
And so, somewhat wearily, we have the re-announcement of a ‘zero-based spending review’, six months on from its first outing in June.
Try as Balls may, if we needed any reminding that Labour have nothing to say on the economy, this interview certainly does the job.
Ed Balls talks about a spending review, but can’t point to meaningful savings Labour would make. He calls for more infrastructure investment, but won’t admit how much more borrowing this would need. He mentions welfare, but refuses to set out any welfare savings Labour would be prepared to make. He touches on a surplus, but won’t say how or when.
There is no mention of the two zero-based spending reviews Labour undertook in government – and the structural deficit they proceeded to run from 2002. There is no mention of the fact that Labour took us into the financial crisis with the biggest structural deficit in the G7 – yet still say they didn’t spend and borrow too much. And no mention of the fact that, in the three months after he first announced this spending review, Labour made £29 billion in unfunded spending commitments.