Belfast Telegraph

Balls bets on tax cuts in Labour's casino politics

By Simon Carr

The conference warriors continue to curdle the blood of their listeners. “The Coalition has declared war on working people,” one said. We are “witnessing an unrelenting attack on our futures”, warned another.

A 16-year-old declared confidently that “the welfare state is being ripped apart by a vicious right-wing government”.

What are they going to say when there really is a right-wing government and public spending is cut back to 25% of GDP (the maximum it should be, in the view of that vicious old fascist Lord Keynes).

Ed Balls told us the Tories were tearing out the foundations of the economy. It made him pale with anger. He just hates to see Tories enjoying themselves.

He gave us his five-point plan. It's tax cuts. And iron discipline in spending. But “don't let anyone tell you we were profligate with public money”.

Confused? Yes, because Labour always used to say tax cuts “took money out of the economy”.

However, there will be tax rises as well, to pay for jobs. They may not all be for strategic outreach co-ordinators as before, but they will probably vote Labour.

Oh, and “tough fiscal rules” (as they worked so well last time) overseen by the Office of Budget Responsibility (which he derides for getting everything of importance wrong).

Maybe he's wrong and maybe he isn't. The one thing that is certain is that he cannot know whether he's telling the truth. Remember those experts in 1981 who became nitwits overnight when Geoffrey Howe turned out to be right? Balls is putting all his chips on red and letting the wheel spin. It's not casino banking but casino politics.

Balls told us sadly but sternly that we had to learn the lessons of the past or be condemned to repeat it. One lesson is that a monetary collapse leads to raving nationalism and thence to war. If the euro collapses I'm putting a fiver on Tony Blair leading us into one last battle — on the Plain of Megiddo against an enemy yet to be determined.

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