Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Krugman: Labour Is Weak

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Krugman: Labour Is Weak

Article excerpt

In person, Paul Krugman is short, shy and quiet. But the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist isn't afraid to hurl verbal hand grenades at his opponents--as I discovered to my amusement when I caught up with him on a visit to London this past week.

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Krugman, who was in town to plug his book End This Depression Now!, struggled to find anything positive to say about the EU's leaders, President Barack Obama or the Israeli government. But it was the Princeton University professor's comments about the Labour Party that stood out for me.

He was scathingly critical of Labour's "weak" opposition to the Conservative-led coalition's spending cuts. "Certainly, economically, they're too cautious," he said, dismissing the party's plan to halve the deficit over four years.

His comments will make uneasy reading for the two Eds, Balls and Miliband, who are petrified of being tagged as "deficit deniers" by their right-wing critics. Under pressure from the Blairites inside the party, they have been trying to find the right balance between opposing the coalition's austerity measures in the short run and supporting deficit reduction and cuts in the long run.

Krugman seemed to have little sympathy for them: Labour's position on austerity, he told me, "has been a kind of 'We're like them but only less so'. And it does come across as fairly weak." He continued: "It does seem odd that when you ask me: 'Where is the really effective intellectual opposition coming from? …

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