Gale`s View – Wednesday, 30th November.
Speaking on BBC Radio recently the Shadow Business Secretary, Mr Chuka Umunna MP, told the nation that the country`s finances are in a terrible state as a result of the policies of the Government over the past year”.
I do not know upon what planet Mr Umunna was living between 1997 and 2010 but the activities of the administration – I use the term loosely – presided over by the party of which he is now a parliamentary member have clearly passed him by.
It was Gordon Brown, as Chancellor, was it not, who as an opening shot ransacked the best pension schemes in Europe and left them in wreckage before moving seamlessly on to flog off the family gold at rock-bottom prices and then to pawn the nation`s family silver.
We are now told by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Miliband, and by acolytes like Mr Umunna, that as the coalition government has now been in office for more than a year it is no longer proper to blame the country`s parlous economic position upon the previous government and that such woes as were visited upon us in the dying days of Brown`s paralysed attempt to run the country were the fault of international recession and had nothing to do with the errors of New Labour”. Set aside, for the moment, that the Blair/Brown spin doctors spent the best part of thirteen years in Downing Street pinning every failure upon the mistakes of Thatcher and Major and consider the truth.
The truth is that for some four years before the bubble burst and having spent like children in a sweet shop throughout the fallow, years the Blair/Brown entourage was spending money that the country was not earning and simultaneously encouraging the ramping up of personal household debt on credit cards against house prices that were, inevitably, going to peak and then fall.
When Labour`s Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, left a note for his coalition government successor saying There is no money left” it was assumed to be a joke. It was, in fact, a succinct appraisal of the actual position that the government is now having to face – and will continue to have to face – and the reason for the very harsh measures that The Chancellor has again had to address in his Autumn Statement. It gives nobody sitting on the government benches any pleasure, particularly in the run-up to Christmas and the onset of the cold of winter, to know that every household that we represent is feeling the economic chill. I have yet to hear any alternative, however, that would not leave UK limited in the same basket-case circumstances as the failing Eurozone countries.
Mr Miliband and Mr Balls, his Shadow Chancellor, and Mr Umunna would have us believe that there is a softer option. Their problem is that every single less painful” measure that any one of them has suggested would both have to be paid for – and they have yet to explain how – and would prolong the agony.
Democracies benefit from strong oppositions that continually challenge governments by confronting them with powerful arguments and good ideas. Unfortunately there is, at present, no sign that Her Majesty`s Opposition is in any position to offer viable alternative suggestions and for so long as they remain in denial and seek to airbrush out of the picture the failings of the Blair/Brown years I fear that that will remain the case