Nick Cohen

See? Simple. Next!

See? Simple. Next!
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Ed Miliband is in the happiest position he has been for months. Both left and right are attacking him for stating the obvious. The unions or at least their leaders hate him for accepting effective public sector pay cuts. Unions are meant to represent their members, but they are making a debased utilitarian calculation in this instance. Pay cuts hurt all members a little, but job cuts hurt a few members a lot. The temptation for a union leader is to put the small interest of the many in maintaining their income above the urgent interest of the few in holding on to their jobs. It is an understandable seduction to fall for, but not an honourable one.

Nor is it likely to increase public support. The public will only rally to the public sector when it is defending services, not pay and pensions – and that means the unions must put jobs first.  For it is one thing to go to a hospital and find that the staff are disgruntled because the government has cut their living standards, quite another to go to hospital and find that there are not enough staff to treat you.

Meanwhile the right is claiming that Miliband is in an impossible position. Here is Mary Ann Sieghart of the Independent:

‘Now voters are going to be faced with a head-spinningly confusing message. Labour will still say that the Government is cutting too far, too fast, but it will also say that it won’t reverse those cuts. So is it in favour of the cuts or against them? The only answer is incredibly convoluted, and it goes like this. Feel free to skip the paragraph if it makes your eyes blur.

“If we were in government, we wouldn’t be cutting this fast or this much. But because the Government’s cuts are damaging economic growth, there will be fewer tax revenues and more spending on unemployment benefits, so even with their cuts, the deficit won’t shrink as fast as the Coalition wants. That means, by the time of the next election, the deficit won’t have been eliminated, which means, if we win, that we’ll have to make even more cuts. So we won’t be able to reverse the ones that have already been made.” Still with me?

If you were a Labour canvasser, I suspect the front door would have been politely shut in your face long before you had time to get to the end of that explanation.’

1. The coalition is pushing Britain into recession by reducing demand when the economy is stagnant and the EU is in crisis.

2. As a sensible opposition, Labour will do all it can to stop the destruction of national wealth.

3. But because the coalition is destroying the nation’s wealth, Labour will have less money to spend when it is in power.

See? Simple. Next!

Written byNick Cohen

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and author of What's Left and You Can't Read This Book.

Topics in this articlePolitics