Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Mandelson's Repositioning Won't Work

Peter Mandelson's speech this afternoon represents a defining moment. He is clearly trying to reposition his party in the ongoing debate on public spending. His mantra of "wise spending not big spending" is New Labour to its core. It is of course a mantra that anyone could utter, Conservative or Labour. Although he is trying to lead his party to a new position, his interview on Today showed him unwilling to confront the word 'cuts', and cuts there will have to be. Until he and his party face up to that, they won't get anywhere. So he can try to reposition all he wants, but it won't work until he and his colleagues can face the inevitable.

Yesterday's Sunday Times poll showed the public have an adult attitude to this whole issue. 60% believe that spending needs to be cut in preference to tax rises. They recognise that borrowing and levels of public debt are out of control. They take the view that if they are having to cut their own budgets, there is no reason for the government to except itself from this process.

Labour also needs to sing from the same hymn sheet. Gordon Brown will tell the TUC Conference tomorrow that we are coming out of recession, yet Peter Mandelson keeps saying we may have a 'double dip'. Well, which is it? Mandelson talks about the need for spending restraint and budget reconfigurations, yet Ed Miliband said on Andrew Marr yesterday that reducing spending would be the wrong thing to do. Well, which is it?

UPDATE: Andrew Sparrow demonstrates that Mr Mandelson speaketh with forked tongue...


Matthew Dear said...

"Gordon Brown will tell the TUC Conference tomorrow that we are coming out of recession, yet Peter Mandelson keeps saying we may have a 'double dip'. Well, which is it?"

You shouldn't expose their contradictions and idiosyncracies so early in the "cycle" Iain, they might cotton on and correct them!

Delusions of Grandeur said...

His speech is at 11:30 this morning...

Margaret said...

I heard it live, got decidedly rattled didn't he? Clearly just wanted to say his carefully crafted piece and not be questioned.

Word verifcation is sivill. I do hope it isn't trying to tell me to mind my manners!

Anonymous said...

Good post Ian. Labour's policies are just as murky as Cameron's.

golfwidow said...

Where is Evan Davis when we need him? Mandelson treated Jim Naughtie in the same supercilious manner in which he humiliated Andrew Marr the other week. No matter. With every utterance he digs a bigger hole in which Labour will be buried and turns off a few more thousand people from ever voting Labour again.

john miller said...

The Labour Party is now a small silver ball being bashed this way and that to the accompaniment of random noises and flashing lights.

Unfortunately the Wizard was found out and ran away long ago.

Jon Harvey said...

But we need to know the principles that will define how each party will cut. Where do you start? Who will get hurt? Which taxes will you raise or lower? Which budget will be cut? Until we have that level of detail - there is but a cigarette paper between NL and NT.

Chris said...

Mandy is synched with Brendan Barber on this one. Last night Barber was all about the double-dip recession - that is, if anyone dares to cut public spending.

Barber's little announcement had all the hallmarks of a TUC attack on the Tories facing up to reality.

The difference in the output has all the hallmarks of a New Labour lack of coordination because the man at the top is chasing his own shadow.

Anonymous said...

Equally importantly, who the hell would trust Labour with 'wise spending' when it is their spending decisions that have delivered us to a point where we have no option but to make massive cuts in public spending? It is quite clear that the vast majority of extra spending in recent years has been completely wasted.

Anonymous said...

More taxes = Less demand

Less demand = Less jobs and tax revenue

Less tax revenue and less jobs = Even less tax revenue

And so the vicious downward spiral continues.

strapworld said...

I get sick and tired of the BBC and SKY telling us just what politicians are going to say ina speech this week, today, whenever.

The script is given out almost word for word! WHY?
The news, surely, is that, whoever, is going to make a speech later which will be seen live on Sky/BBC etc.The speech never meets expectations,indeed it is delivered far more eloquently by news presenters than these politicians can do!!,)

Then we have Adam err err err Boulton putting his oar in and of course that impartial BBC observer.

I am amazed that only ten thousand people support the three leaders debate being peddled by SKY!

Perhaps people in the real world have made their minds up and this is only attractive to Westminster Bubble residents!!

TonyHendo said...

Mandleson has just made a speech which is his pitch to lead the Labour party. It had the tone and breadth of the speech you would expect a party leader to give at the end of his party conference. It will be compared and contrasted with Brown's speech to the TUC. Mandleson is using the speech to try and bring down Brown, in the guise of attacking the Tories.
It was the usual nonsense from Mandy, but the policy content, such as it was, is not the issue. The rest of this week should be interesting

Old Holborn said...

Old Holborn is going for a walk on November 5th

Weygand said...

I'm afraid Mandy has been so well rumbled that even Radio 5 has no difficulty in ridiculing his blathering about 'switch-spend', and inability to say 'cuts'.

Throughout the BBC sceptical politeness has replaced the previous deference. Generally, nobody cares much what Mandy has to say any more. People either don't believe him or don't think what he says matters, as his government will soon have passed into oblivion.

And I'm loving it.

Cinna said...

Labour's are murkier. They've more to hide.

John Moss said...

"Wise spendning, not big spending"

Wasn't Mandelson in charge of The Dome?

Anonymous said...

His interview this morning was absolutely 'priceless'..

As indeed are their spending 'plans'..

Anonymous said...

More lies and lying from the liar in chief

Anonymous said...

having just listened very carefully to Mandy's speech. I detected him fessing up to evry Labour failure. Of course they were all spun as Labour virtues. It would be illuminating to go through a written copy of the speech and show all the labour failings.


Martin said...

Where is the McGoon? Is he still trying to get the lid open on his pep pills?

Anyway no matter what Mandy says at the first PMQ's all Cameron has to do is ask Brown about Labour cuts and Brown won't be able to resist coming out with the old "Labour investment v Tory cuts"

I can even see old mad one eye losing his temper.

Newmania said...

Good post Iain , that Poll on spending /cuts , follows quite a few more showing a disillsison with the Sate Sector which predates the economic crisis .

Eddie said...

The Labour suggestion that they aim to halve the deficit by sensible spending, whilst clearly ridiculous without cuts, is an admittance that they have been frivolous to the extreme with taxpayers money to date.
They claim to have been spending all of this taxpayer money on non priority schemes!
There previous largesse with hard working families money clearly knew no bounds.

AP said...

Why is Mandelson announcing this? Where is our elected MP Gordon Brown, supposed PM??

The elephant in the room is WHO IS IN CHARGE?

The conspiracy of silence in the news media on Gordon Brown's mental state has go to stop. The country is deep in crisis and power has ben handed to an unelected man who has twice been thrown out of Government before.

Eddie said...

The idea of coming out of recession v's the potential double dip is easy to square.

Throwing taxpayer money at a recession is easy, and throw enough of it and there cannot be a recession. But that is really only delaying the inevitable. You do not prevent pain, you simply delay it. Once VAT goes back up, Stamp Duty holidays are cancelled, interest rates revert to realistic levels, taxes go up to pay for all the spending and the Governemnet spending has to revert to a realistic and affordable level - that is when the inevitable pain comes back.
If it isn't hurting, it isn't working. Labour have not solved the recession - just like the last 8 years of Brown overspending as chancellor - giving a boom that he did not recognise, and holding off a bust, the last year or so has been no different, although things were so bad we still had a bit of a recession.
The pain is still to be fully felt - Labour have just managed to make sure it doesn't happen under their governance.

Frugal Dougal said...

Mandelson's got one eye on Labour's union funding. Already at the TUC Tory plans for public spending cuts are ebing attacked because of the fear that it will create mass unemployment. We already have mass unemployment, and that's before we come to those who have had their futures stolen by being shunted onto incapacity benefit.

Incidentally, the reason why I'm not in a union is that I give the Government enough money as it is.

Anonymous said...

The only thing i agree on with Manelson and the TUC are the riots in the next 2-3 years if Dave gets in.

Unsworth said...

Meanwhile the Union bosses talk about not reducing public expenditure or increasing taxes until some unknown date in the future, when the natonal economy has 'recovered'.

In other words ensuring that generations to come will be saddled with huge public debt for the short-term expedient of keeping their membership (and themselves!) in the manner to which they have become accustomed. But those who are not union members (the vast majority of the working population) will be picking up the tab, making ends meet, scrimping and saving as best they can.

Pigs and troughs.

jojoko said...

They are trying to have their cake and eat it as usual. Nothing new there. But maybe this time the electorate will realise they are being treated like idiots.

Uncle Bob said...

Mandelson's trying to stage a comeback in a fight his team lost ages ago. Labour cannot take on the Tories over spending because the public has caught them lying already and know they will now say anything in the hope of a favourable headline.

And why is he talking about public spending? Surely that is Darlings task.

Man in a Shed said...

How many relaunches and revisions of history can Labour manage before they are forced to go to the polls ?

Just wondering.

In some ways you have to admire Peter Mandelson - well speicifcally in the same way we used to admire the Iraqi minister for information.

No one believes or trust a word he says- but you have to admire his guts in being able to fly in the face of events as he does.

PS Note to central office - how about Peter Mandelson cut outs for this years do ?

MikeyP said...

Anon: 1.03

And what makes you think there will not be riots if Mandybum manages to Mugabeise the election?

Another day Another Spin Operation by Labour said...

Derek Simpson of UNITE also seems to be re-writing history - he tells Jon Sopel of BBC that his remarks regarding Gordon Brown stepping aside if he won't adopt more left wing policies have been mis-represented by the media

James Higham said...

His mantra of "wise spending not big spending" is New Labour to its core. It is of course a mantra that anyone could utter, Conservative or Labour.

The pre-elction positioning to take the common ground.

john in cheshire said...

I wish we were back in the times of the Roman Empire when you could drag the treacherous, lying bastards around the streets trailing from the back of a horse. We need a General Pinochet who will purge this country of the socialists and crypto-communists. Then we can go after the muslims. And once completed, we can try to resume our upward trajectory towards civilisation.

trevorsden said...

Meaningless garbage from Mandelson.

It only proves that Labour will not act responsibly until forced to by the markets and the IMF.
The only thing keeping our debtors from the door at the moment is their thought that the Tories are going to win the election

Jon Harvey - of course there is no difference - economic reality is economic reality. But labour are trying to pretend there will be no cuts. And its Labour who got us in this mess. thats two big differences.

Anthony said...


Anonymous said...

"Well, which is it?"

Doesn't matter Iain. There will never again be a Labour government. The working class has, effectively, seen them as the scumbag parasites they have proved themselves to be.

(nu)Labour goes for ever at the next election. Then it's time for the rest of the liblabcons.

Chris Paul said...

Oh FFS Iain. You shouldn't do economics. Or rhetoric. False dichotomies and nitwittery everywhere here.

1. There is a capital budget and a revenue budget in all public functions. It is the latter that is in most need of protection in terms of maintaining jobs and services in these sectors.

2. The (ancient, though some Tories think they invented it) motif is "fix the roof while the sun is shining" is it not? Lots of roofs have been fixed - hospitals, schools and so on - more could be done of course but there is some choice in the timing. And waiting for more sunny days wouldn't be complete idiocy or as much of a brake on recovery as swingeing cuts in public sector jobs.

3. Currently there is a significant fall in the effective tax take and effective overall rate going on. Less in work, less bonuses, less sales tax, less duties etc.

4. Mandy is warning against second dip IFF Tories are allowed to cut too much or reschedule too much or try to cut taxes too much. He is making the case for continued spending, within reason. But also I'd say for some rescheduling of discretionary capital projects.

5. There is no contradiction to speak of if you read and listen carefully and with good faith. Though that's hard of course, for some more than others.

Chris Paul said...

It was raging greed on Tory lines inn the USA and here too that got us into the mess, not social democracy and certainly not socialism. Discuss.

Paddy Briggs said...

Obama, Sarkozy , Merkel, Brown...skilled practioners of the noble art of Keynesian macro-economic management. Not ideology driven but history driven. It worked then - and it is working now. It created defecits then - and it creates them now. The storm was weathered then - and its being weathered now. Printing money isn't always wrong - it wasn't then and it isn't now.

Anonymous said...

I heard Lord Putrid's interview this morning as well. I was so mesmerised listening to him desperately AVOIDING saying the word 'cuts' that the rest of his speech just came out as blah, blah, blah.

I honestly can't remember what else he had to say. I rather suspect I'm not alone in that respect, either. Sometimes, the convoluted language used to avoid clarity simply nullifies the whole script.

What I DO remember quite clearly is Nick Robinson clarifying all the occasions when Brown did parrot 'Tory Cuts v Labour Investment.'

The slimy Lord didn't do too well did he.

Anonymous said...

mandy needs barber and the unions to fund labour after the wip out next year.

if mandy comes with union cash he will be leader.

who else apart from some cranky writers and businessmen who were bullied at school are going to fund labour in the wilderness for 30 years?

The Purpleline said...

Another day another change of direction from the good ship Nu-Labour.

This schizophrenic government and their reviews, it would appear the directionless beast is now holding a review to look again at the scope of the Vetting and Barring scheme to make sure the ''right balance'' has been struck on how many people are covered.

God help us if this lot were let lose in the Guinness Brewery to hold a drinks party for the Labour faithful >one man and his whippet< they would fuck it up.

I love the Queen and Royal family, but even I am getting rather pissed off they have abandoned us to this Scottish vindictive gay cabal.

Anonymous said...

Labour and Wise Spending.

and he managed to say this without laughing?

Floatinvoter said...

I would wager that there are a few hundred labour MPs who wish Mandelson was their leader, not Brown.

True Belle said...

Lord Mandelson is a dominant top dog, those of you who have dominant pet dogs have made a rod for you own backs.

To me , although Lord Mandelson has a brilliant pedigree, he has shuffled himself into top dog position.

His speech was incredible, but badly flawed.

He has usurped the Prime Ministers position, of that I am certain.

Top dogs can bite back savagely if they are firmly commanded back to heel.

Who the hell is the master though? I have no idea, do you Iain?

Anonymous said...

Remember, remember the 5th of November Gunpowder (Patriotism) and Plot

Jabba the Cat said...

The big question is still whether Call Me Dave and the Boy George have what it takes to sort out the morons in the public sector and other unions over wholesale ement and pension cuts. The good thing is that the Tory anti-union legislation is still on the statute books, funny how ZaNuLab never repealed it, so the threat of sequestration of union assets is never far away.

tory boys never grow up said...

Iain - given you may have some influence could you have a quiet word with Donal about this

JMB said...

I thought it was brilliant on the Today programme where stopped mid-sentence for what seemed ages, though probably only a few seconds, and then came up with some convoluted phrase rather than say the word "cuts".

trevorsden said...

Brown it seems is going tom use the word 'cuts' and is also going to use the phrase' front line services first'.

Oh good - that means they will be like our Armed Forces - sent into action without the proper backup.

Our services under Brown will be an empty shell. I perceive a salami slicing of cuts designed to give a superficial impression of efficiency.

What we need is a radical look at what government actually does.

And on a day we here that Brown wants to put front line services first we see two Fire Authorities closing stations and scraping appliances.

manicbeancounter said...

This country now has a structural deficit £100bn, or around 7% of GDP. To tackle it effectively will require a clear vision, a steely determination to turn things around and the leadership ability to carry a significant proportion of the public with them.
It will not be tackled by those who created this problem by running large deficit through the boom years. Neither will it be resolved by those who see reality in terms of political point-scoring to influence the next opinion polls.

Bobby,, said...

What is he repositioning?
His trousers.

I do not understand, this./

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

For anyone that missed it, here's the highlights from the exchange between Mandelson and Nick Robinson

Dimoto said...

Some of the comments on this blog seem to consider that the "TUC" and "worthies" like Simpson and Barber, somehow matter.
It isn't 1964 you know.
Delusional claptrap.

Charles said...

@ Chris Paul

It's simple. Yes people were greedy - individuals who borrowed too much to buy a house or to consume, and banks who lent too much in search of ever increasing profits. But so was the Blair/Brown government: they borrowed and spent in the wrong belief that life could go on for ever.

The restructuring that the government needs to do is similar to that which an overstretched individual needs to: cut their spending and, if possible, increase their income. The former is much better longer term than the latter because of the government's unique role in the economy (crowding out) and because of the Laffer effect.

The reason why the government should be blamed is because a) we elect leader who, in theory, should be able to avoid the basic mistakes that we as individuals all too often make and b) because they complete failed on the regulatory front: one of their key jobs is to 'take away the punch bowl when the party is getting good' [to misquote Greenspan] - and this they simply didn't do.

It wasn't socialism per se: it was simply too much wasteful spending and arguably even a negligence in setting their fiscal policy.

Anonymous said...

Where were the Tories yesterday? Why was no senior member made available to rebut Mandelsons's slurs and lies? The barely credible Norman Lamont was on Newsnight and even he, faced with the sitting duck of Frank Dobson, failed to respond. And the interview with an ex-advisor to Hazel Blears on the 10 was a disgrace.

Before the 97 election, didn't the Labour Party have a rapid response / rebuttal unit at Millbank designed to counter Tory assertions on tax and spending? Why haven't the Tories got something similar?

Unless there's some cunning plan at work here to let Mandelson et al monopolize the airwaves, the Tories need to do better than this.

Unsworth said...

@ Chris Paul

"It was raging greed on Tory lines inn the USA and here too"

WTF does that mean? Do you speak English?

WTF is 'raging greed on Tory lines'?

Is there some other sort of 'raging greed' on other 'lines', then?

Would you, for example, say that 'raging greed' was solely attributable to one political party?

Completely loopy.