For some weeks now, Labour have struggled to project a clear voice on the economy. You
can see what they've been trying to do: pitch themselves as an alternative to immediate, deeper cuts, whilst also accepting the requirement to deal with the deficit. But, as I've said before
, this all too often comes across as nervous equivocation; a kind of
"on the one hand, on the other hand" stuttering that won't persuade many observers either way. You sense that Team Miliband have tried to correct this in recent weeks, with a few punchier
performances, but, even then, mistakes and deceptions
have greased into their offering.
Anyway, I mention this because Alan Johnson's interview with the Times (£) today only adds to the confusion. The
New Statesman's Mehdi Hasan has already highlighted the two key passages, but they're worth repeating
here. First up:
"The former cabinet minister insists he is actually an instinctive cutter."
"I am only backing 50p [top rate of tax] for the times we are in. It is not ideal; five years ago (we) wouldn't have done it. Our policy has to be based on fairness and what encourages
people to do well."
Ed Miliband's claim