A Question to Which the Answer was No

John Rentoul

miliband 1804348c 300x187 A Question to Which the Answer was NoI saw only a small part of Ed Miliband’s interview with Andrew Marr this morning. Enough to know that he looked and sounded more confident than he did in yesterday’s disappointing speech.

Now I have had time to read the transcript, and can confirm my assumption in the previous post that, while the style might have been better, the substance was dire as ever. Indeed, you do not need to read further than the opening exchange:

Do you accept that before the crisis happened, actually Labour was spending too much?

ED MILIBAND: No, I don’t.

Miliband then went on to explain that, under Gordon Brown, the government was borrowing 2 per cent of national income, to make the point that the increase to 10 per cent borrowing now was not “caused” by Labour’s spending. No one says it was. But what is obvious is that it made the public finances worse. If the Brown government had been 2 per cent in surplus, as it should have been under Brown’s own “golden rule”, then borrowing would now be 6 per cent of national income and the deficit, though serious, would be of a different order.

Of course, as Miliband has pointed out at other times (but not, curiously, for it is one of his stronger defences, today), David Cameron and George Osborne supported this irresponsible borrowing. But that should not prevent his saying now that, looking back, it was a mistake, and that he supports the idea of the Office for Budget Responsibility to ensure that it cannot be repeated.

The rest of the interview contained some tell-tale statist language. Miliband twice said “we” have to “make the economy grow” – rather than setting out his ambition to create the conditions in which entrepreneurs and wealth creators can thrive.

And if anyone can resolve his pay-off line, I would like to see the illustration:

We were both too if you like open to the market dictating things in a local area – the local high street which ends up being a betting shop and a nightclub and so on – and we were also sometimes a bit too remote in the way we used state power.

Photograph: PA

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  • JohnJustice

    @ Mr Giles@ comment below

    You may not have noticed it, Mr Giles, but I take a different view to JR on this issue.

    Let me give you and other online commenters a lesson in this respect.. It is possible to disagree with someone in a civilised manner. It is also possible to disagree with someone on one issue but agree with them on another.

    I know that this is anathema to those who see politics purely in tribal terms (you either accept the whole package of the left or accept the whole package of the right) but it doesn’t have to be like that.

    I even agree with you, Mr Giles, about red/green politics, even though we have differences about how the ends can be achieved.

  • petersimplex

    Doubt it very much if anything will change as long as the Privy Council system is in place. Millibean has been in it since 2007, so will want to keep it all under wraps, plus David Kelly, Gareth Williams and so on.

  • OnTheWayOut

    His pay-off line? Their mistake was allowing the provision of retailers to be determined by what people actually want to spend money on.

    Somehow I don’t think a future Miliband administration will make that mistake.

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