George Osborne has stated that Alistair Darling’s Labour plan before the election was for spending cuts only £2bn smaller than the £16bn he was proposing for 2011-12. Furthermore, as John Rentoul of the Independent pointed out, ‘the Tories want to cut the deficit by 69 per cent in five years; Labour wanted to cut by 50 per cent in four.’ Since the parties have moved politically closer to battle for Britain’s more central, ‘swing’ voters, it could easily be argued that there is actually very little difference between the parties and their plans, and the “too far, too fast” slogan is little more than a political stunt to gain cheap, opportunistic votes.
There has been, during Ed Miliband’s reign over Labour, mounting calls for him to state his own economic plan. So far, his leadership seems to be characterised by general statements aimed at opposing every government proposal for political points, with little idea of how to tackle the potentially catastrophic issues that face our country in the future. We do, however, now have the ‘5 Point Plan’ for ‘jobs and growth’ (and more debt), a rather pragmatically named phrase that does sound attractive to a country trying to cope with the burden caused by Labour’s years of over-spending. Cutting VAT; taxing banks; a National Insurance Tax break: these all sound rather attractive on the face of it, but they are simply not feasible in the current situation.
The facts are simple: anyone knows that a person, much like a government, cannot indefinitely spend money they do not have. As unpleasant as it sounds, we need to acknowledge that we need to tighten our belts and spend less. It is not ideal, but it is necessary. Labour’s leaders, students that went to Oxford and are undeniably clever, seem naïve and illogical when they suggest spending even more, which will inevitably make the long-term consequences even worse. It is simple logic that spending more, when in debt, will make the situation even worse. The short-term, introspective policies of Ed Miliband’s party seem, to many, to be nothing more that insubstantial, pragmatic and opportunistic ways to conjure support for an unsupportable leader.