Friday, 29 August 2008

Darling waves the white flag

The Chancellor has used an interview with the Guardian tomorrow (BBC link here) to do say what all the rest of us have known for some time. The economy in the UK is screwed and everybody blames Labour for it.

So it's goodbye to the line that 'it's a world downturn, started in the States and the UK will escape the worst thanks to the magnificent skills of the Dear Leader'.

First of all we had the growth figures which showed that the US grew 3.3% last year whilst the UK stayed still (hat-tip Guido). Now we have Darling's admission. And there are not too many weasel words here. According to Darling the downturn will be 'more profound and long lasting' than most people (in the Government) had feared.

He even went as far as to admit that voters were 'pissed off' with Labour's handling of the economy.

So, after all these months and years in which Labour has been spinning a message along the lines of 'whatever else is wrong, at least we've built a strong economy', now we get the truth and the white flag that goes with it.

The challenge for the Liberal Democrats is to capitalise on this admission and voter's distrust of Labour over the economy. The Conservatives are too timid to talk about tax cuts. Cameron says he needs to wait to see the books - at which point he will announce that we're all doomed but at least he is on hand to steer us out of the mess.

So it falls to the Lib Dems to say it like it is - that Labour has invested billions in public services - as we wanted - but that they have mishandled how it was spent. Now that things are tight we need to maintain public services but give a break to those who are struggling. Let's abandon the Brownian bureacracy of tax credits and other administrative nightmares. Instead, let's look to give a tax cut to ordinary people - targeted at those who need it most.

The other parties will say that our figures don't add up. I'm sure they will, but, to be frank, I don't care. No-one expects us to be governing on our own after the election. What they want from the Lib Dems is a credible (if not figure perfect) policy and a promise that we will stick to our principles and use whatever leverage we have to argue for lower taxes and more sensible spending on services.

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