Labour has a problem. Whenever it launches a premeditated attack on David Cameron it never quite seems to work. Remember the Chameleon, or the Toff attack? They both backfired. Today Yvette Cooper launched a new attack on "Cameronomics". She wrote a piece in The Guardian, which the paper then puffed in its news pages. I always enjoy Yvette Cooper's TV appearances as I can feel the extra Conservative votes going Cameron's way with every word she utters. Anyway, back to her article. I thought it was worthy of a light Fisk. My comments are in blue italics
'It's the economy, stupid." That 1992 Clinton election campaign slogan still resonates and will define the general election debate whenever it comes.
That's one thing we can both agree on. The only question is, will we still have much of an economy left by June 2010.
Our economy faces a difficult time and families are worried about rising bills and job prospects. Labour's economic policy is rightly under scrutiny in response to world economic pressures. The prime minister and chancellor have said we must do more to help families and businesses, building on the financial stability measures and £4bn tax cuts this year, and we will.
So Tax cuts are good then, Yvette? We will return to this in a moment.
But who is asking questions about the Conservatives? Their leader hopes to distract us with frisbees and photo ops. But a serious look at his policies reveals an approach that would be deeply damaging for our economy. Over the next few months, we in the Labour party must expose the risks and contradictions at the heart of Cameronomics.
If I were you, I'd spend more time working out your own vision and your own strategy, because frankly no one knows what they are at the moment.
Wherever possible, David Cameron has ducked difficult questions - be it on global commodity prices, the collapse of Northern Rock, the 10p tax rate, or the future of nuclear power. He has tried to confine policies to vague populist promises, from tax cuts to more prisons, to solving family breakdown.
Er, hang on a cotton pickin' moment. You seemed to approve of tax cuts a minute ago. Except of course when you do tax cuts they're not really tax cuts are they? Ducking difficult questions is actually the preserve of your boss, as you well know. Do I need to list all the times he has ducked a decision in the last year? Two can play at that game.
But dig deeper, and what you see is not quite what you get. He campaigns against a new runway for Heathrow in London's mayoral election, while promising the City to do more on infrastructure.
What's the contradiction there? Infrastructure isn't just about runways.
He promises green tax increases to the green movement, and tells everyone else they won't make anyone worse off.
No, because he has said that any increase in green taxation will be counteracted by a reduction in other taxes, so the overall tax burden will remain the same. Got that? Because we wouldn;t want you contantly repeating lies, would we?
The greatest inconsistencies are in fiscal policy, where Cameron is promising lower taxes, more spending and lower borrowing all at the same time. He pledges billions in tax cuts on marriage, inheritance tax and stamp duty. Savings to pay for proposals often prove illusory. The spending promises continue too - a bigger army, more prison places, and more for the NHS.
Hmmm. He has costed every tax cut he has promised - the first two you mention. He hasn't promised "billions in tax cuts on marriage". Extra prison places will be provided by the savings made elsewhere in the budget - scrapping ID cards being on example. Any spending pledge has been costed. They're sticking to your own spending programmes until 2011 anyhow. The things you regard as promises, I regard as aspirations.
Faced with calls to make the sums stack up, Cameron reverts to slogans - "sharing the proceeds of growth", or "living within our means". When pressed, he concedes this means sticking with Labour's spending plans.
Yes, if only you had understood the meaning of 'living within our means', eh? We might not be in this mess. Have to agree with you though on Sharing the Proceeds of Growth. Hate it.
By my tally, the Tories have commitments of an extra £11bn of unfunded promises, while saying borrowing is too high. This inconsistent approach to fiscal policy would be extremely bad for the economy - creating additional risks and instability at a difficult time.
Well that's a lower figure than the £20 billion Gordon Brown keeps quoting. Make up your minds. Of course, both figures are rubbish. Yes, borrowing is too high. Your government sent it skyrocketing by failing to keep some by for a rainy day. And boy must you regret it now. Not sure how you can keep a straight face when you accuse the Tories of creating additional risk and instability. That's exactly what you have done.
The generous interpretation of these contradictions is that Cameron is confused.
I'm not surprised if he tries to follow your logic. Anyone would be.
I don't think he's confused, I think this is a deliberate strategy to distract.
Talking of deliberate strategies to distract...
He knows that his party - and in particular his shadow chancellor - are keen for some traditional Tory red meat, especially on tax cuts. So they remain ideologically opposed to Europe at a time when world economic problems mean European and international co-operation matter more than ever.
The only thing the Tory Party is ideologically opposed to is tax and spend Labour economic policies.
They remain hostile to government action - for example opposing nationalisation of Northern Rock even at the risk of serious financial instability - at a time when the role of government is critical to stability and prosperity. And as Cameron admitted recently, they are opposed in principle to government involvement in redistribution, even when those on lowest incomes face the greatest squeeze from world pressures.
Go, girl. Polish your left wing credentials. You never know when you might need them. It wasn't Cameron who made the poor poorer by abolishing the 10p tax rate. Your government did that, and the people affected remember it well.
However, after his own experience of Black Wednesday, Cameron knows the damage to his party from inept and unpopular economic policies. Hence the emergence of Cameronomics, where photo ops and warm words attempt to distract from risky, destructive ideology.
Hilarious. You can't say Cameron believes in nothing, and then that he is ideological. Be consistent. It's one or the other. Which is it?
The challenges facing the world economy are, in the words of the IMF, the most serious since the great depression. Cameron would prefer to duck the serious issues. For the sake of long-term economic prosperity, Labour must ensure he doesn't get away with it.
A bit of a weak ending to a very weak article. Get yourself a new Special Advisor if this is the best they can come up with. It's very dangerous to keep on about Cameron ducking serious issues when the electorate believe that it is your government and your Prime Minister which is doing exactly that.