Wednesday 20 October 2010

Labour needs to land more punches

There seemed to be little bile towards the Government over defence cuts yesterday considering it committed to slashing 25,000 civilian and 17,000 military personnel.

In part it might be because people don’t have enough time to think about it before they are being bombarded with another round of broader cuts today. It may even be simply because everyone accepts the cuts need to happen.

But it’s also because Labour failed to land any punches on the Coalition in the House of Commons during the statement and debate yesterday.

Miliband’s speech hardly registered in the post debate/statement commentary neither he nor any MP really made the case for slower cuts – where was the “credible alternative” that was promised.

I spoke to Labour MPs who said there hadn’t been any organisation of the party through the whips for either yesterday or today’s much more demanding event. There just hadn’t been enough time since the shadow government was put in place, they said.

The opposition’s befuddlement seemed to be symbolised when Eurosceptic Tory MP Edward Leigh stood up and encouraged the Government to work more closely with the French.

If Labour can’t attack the Tories on their Euroscepticism, then on what can they?

The failure to really score yesterday means Johnson must punch chunks out of Osborne today if the opposition wants to have any sort of impact on the debate. Do we think he’s ready?

Monday 18 October 2010

The devil will be where it always is

There was a distinct vagueness when the PM’s spokesman was this morning discussing how much detail there would be in this Wednesday’s spending review announcement.

There will be a major document with chapters on each department, laying out how much money overall they will have to spend over the next four years.

Then there will be a press release from each department discussing what the impact of that budget might be on the department’s biggest programmes.

For further details on them and other spending programmes it sounds like we’re going to have to harangue departmental press offices – which is generally time consuming.

Given the cuts are so broad I bet that once the initial headline budget figures for each department has been announced, there is going to be a wealth of detail that slips out over the next couple of weeks.