Category: Labour Party
16 October 2010
Writing in The Guardian Gavin Kelly and Nick Pearce argue that Alan Johnson will have to make tough and unpopular decisions if Labour is to assert itself as a credible opposition.
The announcement next week of the coalition's spending review will rank as one of the most important political events of this parliament. It will set the spending totals for government departments and social security expenditure for the rest of the coalition's mandate, framing the terms of British politics and public life for years to come. How Labour responds to the spending review will be a critical test – not just of its political acumen, but of its economic credibility, seriousness of purpose and straight-dealing with the electorate.
The new shadow chancellor, Alan Johnson, has a strong reputation for calming troubled waters, but if he is to put Labour on the road to recovery he will need to make some very tough and unpopular decisions, and set out a credible plan for economic growth, tax rises and spending cuts. The easiest thing for the short term would be to let the coalition take all the heat for cuts and remain broadly vague, other than reasserting a loose commitment to Alistair Darling's plan on deficit reduction. But that would be a strategic mistake. Labour needs to show the electorate now that it is serious about both the deficit and restarting economic growth.
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