Peter Hoskin

Who will be Labour’s cuts candidate?

Who will be Labour's cuts candidate?
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As Guido and Jim Pickard have pointed out, Liam Byrne's article in the Guardian today reads like the launch of a leadership bid.  But if it is, then it's not a well-judged one.  Amid some sensible points about Labour's demise, there's too much "if we'd have done what I said" bravado which, I imagine, won't go down well with the party faithful right now.  A bit like pouring vinegar on an open wound.

But it's worth considering another angle to a Byrne leadership bid.  A couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether Brown's departure would also take Labour away from the "investment vs cuts" dividing line of the past decade, towards a more responsible contribution to the fiscal debate.  In which case, it's noteworthy that Byrne did a lot of backroom work in government to pave the way for cuts.  And, despite the occasional lapse, his rhetoric was relatively upfront on the issue.

This is why I think the Labour leadership contest has rammifications for all of us.  A mature approach to our public finances will require mature politicians on all sides.  And while I'm not sure Byrne is the best man for the job, he's cetainly better than Ed Balls.