Sunday 25 September 2011

No apologies on economy says Cooper

Labour shouldn’t apologise for its record and needs to fight back against Tory myth-making about the economy, said Yvette Cooper at the Fabian Question time event at Labour conference.

Rejecting the proposition put by Times columnist Philip Collins that by accepting they had lost the argument on the economy the party will gain a hearing again in the country, Cooper said Labour would be wrong to back down because the Conservatives had misrepresented the financial crisis.

“We shouldn’t concede argument on the economy. It goes against the principles of the Labour Party to concede on things that are wrong. You don’t get credibility by saying things that are wrong and will be proved to be wrong.”

Cooper said the focus should instead be on growth and showing “the Labour alternative to what is happening now.” She argued that the Conservative "myth-making" turned the financial crisis into a crisis of the public sector, whereas in fact it was the public sector that saved the economy from the failures of an under-regulated financial sector.

She argued Labour still had to challenge the Conservative version of events, but should also focus on the future: “this is a growth crisis not a debt crisis” she said.

Collins argued however that no one is listening to Labour because they won’t concede any mistakes. “Refusal to give an inch loses whole argument” he said, highlighting that spending did get too high in the government’s final years, tax revenues were misjudged and the language of ‘boom and bust’ was a mistake. He said – which he acknowledged was surprising coming from him – that the party should return to Gordon Brown’s slogan of “prudence with a purpose”.

Fabian Society General Secretary Andy Harrop agreed Labour needed to work harder to regain economic trust and said that a promise on public spending was central to this, but also warned against “carping about troubles coalition is facing…it’s not in our interest for economy to tank” as the right tends to triumph in downturns.

Maurice Glasman suggested the debate about the economy was too centred around public spending and should be more concerned with talking about how to make the economy more productive. "The price of successful political action is a constructive alternative" he said.


Robert said...

To day we must hit harder on welfare, no council houses unless you have a job, lucky Houses is devolved otherwise I suspect people in Wales would scream .

We are seeing labour return to the Blair type of politics and basically people have had enough, if you want to be Blair who we are told is now advising Cameron then join the Tories.

Renideo said...

I couldn't agree more. Noone is suggesting the Labour party should cheer bad economic news, but if we believe sincerely, as we do, that the coalition policies are disasterously wrong, we must be prepared to say so, so that we have outlined our alternative in the event that the facts prove us to be right.

If we are not clear in representing our position, what we think should be done, and the facts as they stand, then even if we are proven right the public may regard us as a party which complained but had no new answers to give.

Of course this isn't a growth crisis as opposed to a debt crisis, it is a demand crisis, and the two are completely inter-related. Growth is absolutely necessary, but if it comes, as it has in the US, without jobs and wage increases, then even that will not solve our problems in the long term.