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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Labour stagger from farce to fiasco over budget u-turn

Given the hole that the Labour Party is digging itself into at the moment it is surprising that the latest opinion polls show them still gaining on the Conservatives. Either voters think that the turmoil and internal rows within Labour are irrelevant process issues that have no impact on their concerns over the health service and the economy, or there is a time lag which means that public opinion has not yet caught up with the party's problems.

The latest U-turn on whether the party will support George Osborne’s "fiscal charter", is a case in point. In fact, the big question here is why John McDonnell signed up to it in the first place? After all permanent budget surpluses hardly fit in with Corbyn's anti-austerity narrative. It just goes to show that even the uncompromising left wing of Labour agonise over how to appear fiscally responsible, whilst at the same time advocating policies that would increase the size of the deficit.

The Independent though concentrates on Diane Abbott's car-crash interview in which she sought to defend the rather bizarre manoeuvring by the Labour front bench on this issue.

They say that Ms Abbott’s performance prompted further derision in that she laughed in the face of questioning from John Humphrys and did not explain the U-turn, beyond saying that Mr McDonnell would set out his position in the House of Commons on Wednesday:

Former deputy leadership candidate Ms Abbott played down the reported unhappiness of Labour MPs, voiced during and after the PLP meeting – which they described variously as a “total f***ing shambles” and a “huge joke”.

But Ms Abbott said: "At any given time there were will be a group of MPs in Parliament, of whatever party, who are unhappy.

"I suspect my colleagues, on reflection, will calm down and devote their energies to attacking Osborne and his mismanagement of the economy."

She said: "Some people in the party are only slowly coming to terms with the fact that Jeremy won. Once they have come to terms with that, they will be happy."

Ms Abbott hoped that process would take "weeks rather than months".

That timescale could well prove to be very optimistic, especially if the feared de-selections get underway.
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