Once upon a time I used to have a bit of time for David Miliband. He seemed to be something of a sensible social democrat. He could put forward a coherent case for what his then Labour government was doing. He appeared to be interested in reforming the UK. Well, change of government and change of posture by Miliband The Older.
Today I read in our regional newspaper, The Journal, that Miliband appears to be against any cuts, warning, "The 25% cuts to public spending will, of course, hit the North East worse than other region." The question has to be asked, if you don't have cuts, how do you balance the books? Is it really credible to be against any cut going? It's the easy position to take. Miliband is currently engaged in a battle to beat up his younger brother, kick Ed Balls into the long grass and generally ignore Diane Abbott as an amusing irrelevance and Andy Burnham as an unreconstructed Blairite. In other words, with Labour members having set themselves against the reality of the financial situation and sinking rapidly into pure oppositionism, contenders for Labour Leader need to reflect that outlook. At a time when Labour needs leadership, the Labour party is not interested. The leadership contenders are therefore posturing as quack doctors offering palliative medicines that do nothing, claiming that the economic crisis can be solved with no pain. They need to do that as they need to strike a chord with their out of touch members.
The unreal world in which Labour lives is illustrated by a comment I have received from a leading Labour councillor in the North East which will be posted up soon on my post yesterday about the Budget. It needs a reply which I will write soon and post up alongside it. In effect, Labour are offering pain free solutions. The response I have from my own constituents is that pain is expected because they know the dangers of doing nothing. They do not believe the pain free palliatives on offer from Labour.
It is perhaps a bit unfair to dismiss all the Labour leadership contenders as quack doctors. Andy Burnham himself did offer recently some ideas on reducing the deficit by questioning the protection given to the NHS budget. It may not do him any good in the Labour party but it does show that perhaps there are one or two people in the Labour party who understand the predicament the country is in. Their problem is that they are tiny in number in a party in denial about the situation we are in.