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Why Ed Balls is right on the Economy

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment

The Oldfield-Pike Project has not declared for any of the Labour Leadership Candidates on account of being non-aligned politically. If it was Labour aligned it would back David Miliband but that is another story. However, after much deliberation the Oldfield-Pike Project would like to make small comments on the Leadership contest between now and the 24th September. The first in the series is on Ed Balls.

 Over the past few weeks Ed Balls has shown himself to be knowledgeable on the economy, unsurprising considering a career at the FT and the Treasury before becoming an MP. His keynote speech at Bloomberg offered an interesting insight into how Ed Balls’ mind works. His analysis is spot on, if copied from various sources (the Project believes ‘plagiarised’ to be too strong a word). There is an increased risk of a double-dip recession, which could not have been said a month ago.

 His comments about using £6bn from reduced borrowing to fund the construction of houses first raised our eyebrows followed quickly by a very small nod in agreement. The Oldfield-Pike Project has always implicitly argued for fiscal frugality, however Mr Balls is correct in his assessment that if this problem is not addressed soon it will merely create worse problems in the future. Britain has reached, or soon will reach, crisis point with a shortage of housing, more specifically housing that is applicable to social and private tenants. The Project believes that a relatively small investment now will pay dividends in the future as it will reduce the strain on an already saturated housing market.

 Mr Balls’ analysis on reducing the structural deficit through growth is a possible course of action, but it is not a course of action that the Project would endorse or even recommend. It will, theoretically, create a more stable economy in the long run and growth begets stability (NOTE: it is not in the market’s interests to see Britain’s credit rating downgraded). But it will take a period of years to come to fruition, up to 20 years to eliminate by conservative estimates, and in the meanwhile another crisis could have struck with Britain in an ill prepared financial state to absorb the shocks.

 Because of the above reason, the Oldfield-Pike Project does not believe that Mr Balls would make an effective leader of any party. We might recommend him for the Shadow Chancellorship if he takes a more acceptable stance on the economy. However we would like to wish Mr Balls the best of luck in any endeavour.

Gordon Must Step Aside (and other electoral repercussions)

May 7, 2010 2 comments

This pains me somewhat to write this. I am not Gordon’s biggest fan but I do respect and admire him in a professional capacity (not having met him, I cannot say what I would think of him in a personal capacity. I would like to think I would like him). Gordon, as Leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister, is, unfortunately, an electoral liability. He must step aside.

Thankfully, due to the unfair and disproportionate electoral system, Labour has managed to hold on to a sizeable portion of seats at Westminster. The problem is, because there is a hung parliament, deal brokerage will take place between all the parties at Westminster. It has already been established by Clegg, whom I distrust massively, that the Lib Dems would not deal with Labour whilst Gordon is at the helm. Clegg has also alluded to a Con-Lib coalition. This does not surprise me as Clegg is a Tory in an Orange Rosette. The majority of Lib Dem grass-root members would loathe to deal with the Conservatives as, I suspect, a majority of Lib Dem MPs would as well. I fear that Clegg will destroy the Lib Dems with his appetite and quest for power.

But, party squabbling aside, it is increasingly likely that there will be another General Election within 18 months. This could be for any number of reasons such as a Labour minority government that gets a vote of no confidence. A Tory minority government that suffers the same fate, or a break-down of any coalition combination.

The reason why I bring Gordon up is that Exeter suffered a large swing from Labour to the Conservatives. Thankfully Exeter is still red but the majority is slim – 2500 down from 8500. The reason is not that the Conservative candidate is better than the Labour candidate – that would be a lie. The reason is a combination of Gordon Brown’s unpopularity and the weird quasi-presidential style of government.

On the doorstep one asks the question “What do you think of X as an MP/Candidate?” Electorate responds “Oh, they’re great!”

“So will you vote for X?”

“No”

“Why not?”

“Gordon Brown”

One explains to the electorate that they elect a local representative not the PM (though they might do indirectly but that is another concern). I do not want to lose a brilliant MP that I, and others, have fought hard to retain because of someone I haven’t met.

I do not wish, however, for Gordon to be pushed – he deserves respect. But he needs to be encouraged, or gently made to realise that stepping aside would be best for everyone and Gordon keeps his dignity.

Gordon, I suspect, is a typical male historian – very astute and canny in correctly interpreting others’ intentions towards non-personal matters (i.e. not his leadership). But either does not recognise or misinterprets others’ intentions towards personal matters (i.e. his leadership). I know/suspect this, because many male historians, myself included, are very similar in this respect.

In other matters, the national Labour Party HQ needs a shake-up. The choice of poster depicting David Cameron as Gene Hunt was as beneficial as chopping your own head off. The Elvis impersonator went down like a lead balloon and the constant grammatical errors on the posters do not look good.

Before you go through and check spelling and grammar I would like to point out that I am mildly dyslexic. In other words I get special stickers to put on essays.

I like Gordon but the future of Exeter, Labour and the Country is more important than one man.

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