Insights from the UK and beyond
Labour strategy chief Peter Mandelson berated the media at a press conference this morning for failing to focus on policy. Then he repeatedly side-stepped questions on the most important policy challenge of all: where are the tens of billions of pounds of spending cuts needed to halve the deficit going to come from?
Of course Labour are not alone in dodging that thorniest of questions. David Cameron keeps repeating that his Conservatives have gone “further than any opposition in history” in spelling out proposed spending cuts, starting with 6 billion pounds in unspecified “efficiency savings” this year. But his insistence cannot mask the fact that the Tories’ planned cuts, like Labour’s and indeed the Liberal Democrats’, add up to only a fraction of what is required.
Still, this was Labour’s press conference and it was a chance for them to be more specific. But they didn’t take it. Instead we got multiple promises to protect or even increase certain family-friendly benefits and services .
There was also a new and sinister campaign broadcast depicting heartless bureaucrats in suits and ties marching into happy families’ homes to tell them that the Tory government was taking away their child tax credit, child trust fund and guaranteed speedy appointment with a cancer specialist. So much for positive campaigning and taking Labour’sÂ hopeful message out to the country. (Again, the Tories have their own scare tactics. Their latest campaign broadcast was not on their policies but on the perils of a hung parliament.)