One of Ed Miliband’s biggest problems was he constantly danced to the Tory and mainstream media’s tune, repeatedly making the mistake that the media mattered more than the public. He tried to send one message through nuance and a different message to the media through bold written-in-stone statements.
The new Labour leadership need to quickly learn to avoid making these mistakes, such as the shadow chancellor’s position on Osborne’s fiscal charter. Arguably, John McDonnell has not done a U-turn – what he has done is correct a mistake he made, under media pressure, saying he would sign up to Osborne’s “fiscal responsibility” “living with our means” trap. It was a stupid mistake and one to learn from.
But if anyone believed that McDonnell believes in the Tory austerity plan, they must have been living on a different planet for the last few months. The lesson I hope McDonnell has learnt is that he needs to stick to his own plan, based on “investing to earn” as a pragmatic response to the economy, and the needs of the Country and people.
On public housing he knows, and has said, that investing in affordable public housing is not just a social need but an economic necessity, helping to reduce debt while providing jobs and homes. There is a strong business case for investment now in housing, one being ignored by Osborne.
Osborne is a one trick pony and a blinkered one at that. Slash and let bleed is his response to a faltering economy, learning nothing from the last five years and, as the figures show, our debt is as bad now as it was five years ago. He trumpets the claim that Labour are deficit deniers, yet he is an opportunity denier, missing the opportunity to invest to earn. Here in Liverpool we have shown how investment through borrowing gives you multiple returns, on housing we have built in five years over five thousand houses using our land and borrowing to build homes to rent and buy, creating jobs/apprentices, much needed housing, improved neighbourhoods and a revenue increase that helps mitigate the draconian cuts imposed by Osbourne. We have done similar with businesses using our borrowing strength to invest in them, helping them grow, creating jobs and once again new revenue and helping reduce the cost to Government.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell need to remind people of the huge mistake it is to stick with a plan that stifles growth, punishes and attacks those trying to support their families. People in this Country do know there is another way, we need to show them how.
I urge Labour MPs not to make the mistake of voting for or abstaining on Osborne’s game plan as they did on Welfare cuts. They must vote NO! We must articulate the case for change and show, like in Liverpool, how it can be done differently. Let’s dance to our own tune.