Peter Hoskin

What will the Labour attack be in a year’s time?

What will the Labour attack be in a year's time?
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It's days like this when you realise just how stuck Labour are in a Brownite groove.  Everywhere you turn, there's some leadership candidate or other attacking the government for choosing to cut public spending this year.  Ed Miliband claims that the Lib Dems have been "completely macho … completely cavalier" about cuts.  Andy Burnham says that this year could "damage us in the long run".  And even those who aren't chasing the leadership are getting in on the act: Alistair Darling writes that the coalition has "a fiscal policy that undermines fragile growth".

So we already know what Labour's broad response to this week's Budget will look like.  But it got me a-wondering: what will their response to next year's Budget be?  This may sound like idle speculation for a Sunday evening, but the potential is certainly there for Labour to struggle in twelve month's time.  By then, of course, the delay between those nasty Tory cuts and Labour's planned cuts will have expired, so the "too early" argument will have to be jettisoned.  And if the recovery hasn't been reversed, then the "too severe" argument will lose much of its power too.  Which really only leaves attacks on the type of cuts  – but Labour could struggle to make even those if they have made all the wrong calls on the public finances previously.  Hm, a tricky one for them.

Of course, this isn't to say that the next year will play out like this.  I suppose the economy could slip back into recession, and Labour could well benefit from general public disgruntlement to the cuts.  But I doubt it's going to be straightforward for whoever wins the leadership vote in September.