On 29 November an updated report by the OBR will be published and George Osborne will give his reaction to it in the House of Commons. In July, when the OBR last reported, Alan Budd was at pains to underline that his forecast was subject to massive uncertainy and that the Government’s policies to reduce the deficit had only a 40 percent chance of success. Despite these uncertainties commentators in millions of miles of typescript have confidently forecast the future whether they were predicting runaway success for the Coalition or double dip recession. Arguably, anything that has happened over the last six months should be written down to the Labour Government, credits and failures alike, but anything that happens from this point is down to the Coalition whose plans have been solidified. What will the OBR forecast reveal?
1. Uncertainty. Levels of uncertainty will be as great for our economic future is in the main determined outside the UK by happennings largely outside our control. World economic growth has slowed, currencies are in turmoil and British export growth is more precarious.
2. Growth and Employment. Alan Budd’s confident 2011 forecast of growth in the economy and high employment will be scaled back. In 2011 there will be no double dip but a churning along in bottom gear. Unemployment will rise in the immediate future before falling in later years.
3 As a consequence tax revenue will be scaled back and progress on deficit reduction will be slower.
Here is a point then of realism.This is how the pigeons will , most likely, come to roost. And what is to be done now after the gloss is worn thin? George Osborne will bluster it out. What else can he do? But this call to reckoning is not for the Coalition alone, for eyes an ears will point at Labour. The electorate will wish to know what Labour would do if the Government. If Labour wishes to be pragmatic and oppositional and take things year by it must at least come up with a clear statement of what it would cut in 2011/2 and what changes in taxation it now supports. Labour is in danger of losing public respect by obfuscation. It is time for Labour to be transparent and convincing behind a coherent policy agenda.
If Labour does this the electorate can choose. The lists will be drawn and the true battle begin. The economic future will remain murky but the issues will be rendered clearer. For Labour it is a call for Leadership.
Filed under Alan Budd, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Darling, Deficit, Economics, Ed Milliband, Financial Times, George Osborne, IFS, Labour leadership, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, OBR, Spending Review, Treasury
Being right is difficult and not much admired. Our hearts go out to those who are wrong and who had good intentions and we do not need to heed those who have none. But tolerating those who did well but lost strains all sense of humanity. Alistair Darling was right about the actions needed to sustain the British economy and to drag it out of the recession and there he was on television telling us so and explaining that the British economy was growing again thanks to the barely remembered Labour government. Alas, he is Mr Yesterday. Soon there was Boy George on the box smiling through his teeth and telling us of misery to come. God, how I long for the unregenerated Gordon thumping on about things the rest of us barely comprehend. He was right too but most people hate him for it. And what do these Labour leadership candidates have to say about it all? I fear they are on beaches somewhere making notes about what they might say if anyone asked them about something – anything really. Only Ed Balls knows what he is talking about and who is going to vote for him! There is a candidate, and I shall not name her for fear she may became better known, who seems to be telling us that Marx was right and that we are experiencing the difficulties of capitalism that he forecast. She could be right, it is just possible that she is, but no one is warming to her because of it. I used to argue, that of course Marx was right but then a load of capitalist inclined people insisted on changes that made his predictions less likely. I am sure that I am right but no one I addressed on this matter liked it. Smart arse, was the response. It is not appreciated by these Labour candidates that although the Great British Public dislike people who are right, they hate more all those people who recant and say that they got it all wrong. I put it to you. Did Uriah Heap get many votes? There you are then! I’m right, aren’t I? Smart arse. In these situations of considerable personal difficulty what is the best advice we can give to our comrades? I draw upon military training and the experience of waging war in difficult circumstances. There is the apocryphal advice of the Austrian commander reporting back to his headquarters andI paraphase. The situation is difficult. My right flank is under considerable pressure and on the left we are retreating. The centre has come under unbearable and frequent assault. All is well. We are counter attacking. That is what the left, and hence the country, needs: an hurrah, the sound of a bugle and a counter attack. Hey ho, the boys. You know the sort of thing I mean. Soon we shall hear it on the terraces. That’s what we all need, hey hoh, the boys. Are you listening to us?
Filed under Cameron, Coalition Government, Darling, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour Home, Labour leadership, Liberal News, Liberal Vision, Parliament, Treasury