Just a quick one on talking Balls. Driving to work this morning I happened across the Evan Davis Today show on Radio 4. He was interviewing what appeared to be an ill-informed member of the public. I missed the start of the show so I hadn't realised that I was in fact listening to the Shadow Chancellor.
He totally refused to answer basic economic questions. For once, a BBC broadcaster attempted a vague defence of Government policy, and Balls had no answer. It was a laughable display from apparently a prominent front bencher and from someone who made the point several times that he was an economist. Personally, if I had been a principle adviser to a treasury that wizzed quite literally all of the money up the wall to no effect whilst an international boom occurred to win votes, only to find the cupboard bare when the inevitable bust (an economic cycle which they ended ... oh no) came, I would keep that one quiet and plead ignorance.
All he did was return to the mantra of the Labour party that (when pressed) they would have cut, but they would not have cut so "unfairly". When asked what his alternatives were, he yielded none. Just like the man he is planning to usurp, Ed Miliwho, often does. When asked if all they were really planning on doing was delay the pain, he eventually agreed. When asked what this extra "growth" that they would "invest in" would bring for each pound added to the vast deficit, he had no answer. Simply the childish, "Tories are cutting jobs and growth, we wouldn't, we'd invest". Ok, what about the deferred payments on the interests? What about the much higher interest payments, let alone interest rate hikes if the market devalued our debt repayment ability? Doesn't putting off paying off the debt mean ultimately when they come your cuts will actually be more painful? And Ed ignores and reverts to, "it's all about fairness".
It is genuinely astounding anyone can listen to Labour's economic "argument", and I use the word in the loosest sense, and not ask what they're on. There is certainly pain in cuts - nobody likes losing money, even if they only got given it the year before in a bumper increase. We still hear people cry about returns to 1960s-esque cuts when most budgets are going back to levels of only a handful of years ago. The point is, the cuts are necessary, even Labour will eventually admit it quietly. It may be that the Coalition don' have the exact right mix - in fact, it is likely, so broad is the problem; there will be people who could have afforded to lose more, and some who lose more than they can afford. However, that is Government. That is the principle that you try to do the best for the most, and you simply do not have the time or resources to make everything perfect.
What the Opposition need to do to be taken even vaguely seriously is to actually propose an alternative and spell it out, cut by cut. Until then, they are just piss and wind, quite an apt description for Balls I might say.
Whilst we're on the "fairness" one and Radio 4, the next person on was Danny Alexander during whose interview the Beeb returned to good old leftyism. The National Insurance and Income Tax changes of this week have altered everyone's financial positions. The Beeb insisted on getting Mr Alexander so admit that the cuts mean "on average, households would be £200 worse off". He was naturally flabbergasted. The social media, the left, well just about everyone harp on about progressive cuts. They insist the rich pay "their fair share" - an amount yet unquantified, but I assume from general sentiment it should be somewhere near 90% of their earnings, feel ashamed for earning so much and paying for all the public services they barely use and stop trying to do the best for their children, those 'sharp elbowed internship-setting up bastard' fathers and pushy 'do your homework so you can get a good education' mothers.
What he tried to point out again and again was that the lowest earning 80%. Yes, 80%. I said it again, because that's most people, and definitely most of the squeezed middle and lower economic classes, will be better off. The average, because that's what a sodding average is, is down £200 because of the vastly disproportionate hit 20% of people have to take to counter 80% of people doing better and still end up with a net loss. Yes, that's a progressive tax change. So, for the love of what is left of the credibility of statistics and publicly-owned media, could someone please exercise some restraint at Broadcasting House. They may not like the Tories, but abusing statistics on a policy which is actually at the heart of the left to make the right look bad actually only makes the BBC look stupid. It appears when it comes to reporting Government policy on the national broadcaster, there are lies, damn lies, statistics and public sector employees who can't do GCSE maths.
Oh, and I really dislike Ed Balls, who without a shadow of a doubt will be an even worse Shadow Leader than he is Shadow Chancellor. I wanted to end on that, because I thought the last couple of paragraphs may have distracted you there...