From James Purnell, on why Labour may have become unpopular:

In government, you always annoy some of the people some of the time, and without a compelling vision, “time for a change” will do for you.

I love the idea that some of what has turned people off Labour this last 10 years has been ‘annoying’: the Iraq War, a massive asset bubble, huge recession, the prospect of a lot of debt to pay back, the statism . . .  how very annoying.

In other news, Nick is walking that tightrope again over tuition fees.

Postponing for 6 years surely IS scraping it.  Because, by then, every other part of the fiscal universe will have been under such pressure for ages, and every student for a decade will be used to paying the fees.  So what the LibDems will be proposing will be a new subsidy to what is already a quite privileged group of young people. Is that really going to head of the queue when fiscal pressures finally lessen?

By then, ditching the pledge for good will make solid political sense (we think it already does: see ‘Time’s Up’).


4 thoughts on “Biggest understatement of the day so far

    1. Good point. I should modify the post.

      But I still the think the political-fiscal logic will cause this to be shelved. At every eye-watering juncture, the choice between doing this and the other incredibly pressing calls on money will make the choice fairly clear. The moment there is an NHS crisis/public sector strike/etc the idea of throwing precious resources this way – particularly in a hung-negotiating situation – will surely come out as barmy.

      What doyou think?

      1. I’m wondering why the BBC is heralding this as news? He announced the phased abolishment of tuition fees over 6 years a little while ago.

        Anyway, as to your point in the comments, my view is that when the deficit has to be cut back (as a Keynesian I would wait until next year), there still should be parts of the budget which are protected. Not for political reasons, like David Cameron over the NHS, but for moral and economic reasons. I would protect two areas: education and R&D spending:

        * The moral reason to protect education spending is that morally, I don’t think it’s right that the mistakes of our generation should fall on the soldiers of the next generation.

        *And I think that there are economic reasons for protecting these two areas. They are major sources of growth, and making sure spending isn’t cut on science and on education for soon-to-be workers will help long term growth, and make sure the short term growth doesn’t shudder to halt.

        Of course, that I want to protect education doesn’t mean that scrapping tuition fees is the right way to go along with this.

        (Obviously NHS spending means healthy workers which means higher growth too, but I think the nation’s health can survive better with lower spending than the next generation’s education can)

      2. That should of course be “shoulders” not “soldiers”.

        Although calling for less taxes on “Our boys” might be politically popular with the Sun!

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