One of the few arguments Peter Mandelson is reported to have lost since returning to British politics, is how to present the argument about cuts. Mandelson was, apparently, in favour of making cuts and then claiming that any further cuts would endanger front-line services. This would have gone some way to acknowledging the fiscal reality but still enabled Labour to claim that public services are only safe in its hands.
According to Politics Home’s Insiders survey—a politically balanced panel split between MPs, journalists and wonks—nearly everyone in Westminster seems to agree with Mandelson’s analysis not Balls and Brown’s.
Now of course, the Westminster Village can often get it very wrong. But it does seem that Brown and Balls have drawn a dividing line that places them on the wrong side of the truth, public opinion and the expert consensus. Quite an achievement.