Monday, September 27, 2010

Union boss highlights the Labour dilemma

Ed Miliband stated yesterday that Labour will not oppose every cut. Quite which cuts he will not oppose are not explained but it is at least an attempt to be credible on the deficit. Miliband's attempt to reposition himself away from all the claims of opposition to cuts he made during the Leadership election however were instantly torpedoed by Ken McCluskey, deputy boss of Unite. This morning, in a BBC News interview, he said there was no need for any cuts at all.

And there lies the dilemma for Labour. Do they oppose cuts and get the short term benefit that will accrue, complete with a general feeling of comradely warmth that individual Labour members will experience by taking an unrealistic posture? Or do they take a more level headed approach that acknowledges cuts are needed, therefore appearing credible to the electorate but risking alienating a significant proportion of Labour members and trade union bosses?

It will be interesting to see how this debate proceeds but on Friday last week I argued that the election of Ed Miliband will be seen as a green light by many in the Labour movement for a march to the unrealistic fringe, even if EM realises that credibility with voters requires backing some cuts. What we had today with McCluskey is only the start of that debate, and I suspect it is a debate that will tie up Labour for some time to come.

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