What Does Darling Do Next?..


Alistair Darling last week at his party conference revealed very little about his and Labour’s future financial plans for the UK. Gordon Brown alluded to savings that could be made in Whitehall weeks earlier at the TUC conference, however these savings would be miniscule in relation to the debt that has been racked up in the past years under Labour. Belatedly Darling announced a pay freeze for top public sector earners the night before George Osborne spoke to his party conference.

George Osborne outlined numerous ways in which the deficit could be brought under control, including a public sector pay freeze for one year for all those earning over £18000 a year, raising the pension age to sixty six from 2016, the scrapping of baby bonds for all but the poorest families and no child tax credit for those earning over £50,000. The reaction to the speech was very positive on the whole, with many pundits citing that although it was a risky strategy it was the right call to warn voters that cuts were going to affect the majority of working public.

So what does Darling do at the Pre-Budget Report? Does he remain aloof with the voters about where the cuts are going to be made and their severity? In my opinion this is the worst possible option as it makes him look indecisive compared to the Tories. Does he go into more detail and reveal deeper cuts than the Tories did this week? I doubt this would happen as Brown’s position has always been that the Tories would cut deeper than Labour and this approach would be the polar opposite of the message Brown is trying to drill home to the electorate. Does he state he is going to raise taxes? This in my opinion is the most plausible option although commentators would question why he did not outline such details at his party conference when he had the chance.

It’s clear to me that the Tories are trying to back Labour into a corner where they are seen as dishonest whatever they say on the economy. David Cameron knows that the economy will be the issue that defines the election and so will try to take the lead whenever he can to push home the message that the Conservatives are the only party that can be trusted after the General Election.


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