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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Miliband continues to struggle with Blairite voices-off

A bit of a theme is emerging within the Labour Party as their economic message continues to be challenged within their own party.

The Independent reports that Ed Miliband is under mounting Labour pressure to adopt a tougher line on welfare in an attempt to reassure voters about his plans to spend more than the Conservatives if the party regains power.

They say that Blairites are prepared to support a 2015 election pledge for higher spending on major projects such as housebuilding, but they want Mr Miliband to tackle the perception that the party is “soft” on benefit claimants in return. They also want Labour to set out soon a firm timetable for tackling the deficit.

Lord Mandelson, the Blairite former Cabinet minister, said : “If Labour wants to fight the next election with the pledge of more capital spending, the party will need to keep a sharp eye open for any adverse market reaction as the continuing high level of debt as proportion of GDP could weaken confidence. The party also needs to show where it will be tough elsewhere, for example on public sector pay and welfare spending."

Although Labour has pledged to dock benefits of the long-term unemployed if they turn down a government-guaranteed job, some frontbenchers are worried that the party is in danger of losing the argument on welfare and, in turn, on the deficit. Simon Danzcuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, said that “spending my childhood on benefits made me realise it can easily become a destructive comfort blanket, which does as much harm as good.”

Interesting as this is, it leaves the Labour leader with a bit of a headache and no clear message. How he will resolve it will have to be seen.

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