Financial Times interview and Phillipson appointment signal swing back to fiscal caution reminiscent of Labour’s determination to out-Tory the Tories on spending under Miliband. Change is needed urgently
Keir Starmer is preparing to break his campaign promises to stick to Labour’s left-wing policies and spending plans, according to an interview he has given to the Financial Times – and a letter from one of his appointments to the Shadow Cabinet.
During the Labour leadership election, Starmer tried to increase his appeal to the party’s left-wing member majority by pledging to maintain Labour’s plans to invest in the economy, scrap tuition fees and raise taxes on the richest – but now he is signalling a sharp departure from that stance.
Starmer has told the FT that his predecessor’s leadership was the ‘number one’ doorstep issue during the general election campaign – ignoring the fact that Labour lost more than fifty leave-voting seats after Starmer pushed Labour into supporting a new referendum – and then attacked Labour’s manifesto spending plans:
Starmer’s appointment of Bridget Phillipson as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury was already a signal of his intention to ignore his promise, as Phillipson attacked even Labour’s hugely successful 2017 general election manifesto for offering too much to voters.
But now a leaked letter from Phillipson confirms the u-turn on his promise. She has written to front-benchers warning them that she doesn’t care about the public “popularity of individual policies” – and not to even think of planning any policies that involve spending without Starmer’s and the Treasury team’s approval “long before any planned intervention”.
The move is tragically reminiscent of Labour’s determination to look more ‘credible’ than the Tories on spending, which began under Ed Miliband, saw then-Shadow DWP Secretary Rachel Reeves promise to be tougher on benefits claimants than the Conservatives and reached its culmination in the order from then-acting party leader Harriet Harman to abstain on a vote to cut benefits to the UK’s poorest:
That dreary, uninspiring and self-evidently ill-advised stance showed how out of touch Labour’s ‘bubble’ was with the appetite for change among the public and how utterly bereft of imagination and vision the party’s ‘leading’ lights then were.
It will do no different now. Urgent and radical change is needed.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.