George Osborne has been quiet these past few weeks, tussling with ministers desperate to
preserve some of their budget from his spending review. Today though, Osborne will emerge
from the Treasury's recesses to launch a
political attack on the ‘deficit denying’ opposition. Come on, Osborne will ask Darling et al
, where are these £44bn of cuts you planned?
And answer comes there none, not even an incredible one. Labour’s refusal to countenance a spending review in government means it has very little to offer the spending debate in opposition.
There is also a suggestion that ‘investment versus cuts’ dividing line that paralysed the Brown premiership has yet to be resolved: Ed Balls has descended into self-caricature
and Alistair Darling is still urging his party
to address deficit reduction.
Labour’s recalcitrance is utterly reckless. Spending has to be cut across the globe, but that does not mean that governments can neglect a strategy for growth. George Osborne recognises this,
but he has very little room for manoeuvre – other than to manipulate monetary policy and give tiny cuts in corporation tax and national insurance. Reasoned debate on how to address these
problems should include a credible and electable Labour party, but it is too busy playing comfort-zone opposition.