Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

As the Cuts Bite, So Labour Bites Back

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

As the Cuts Bite, So Labour Bites Back

Article excerpt


AND so at last the real cutting begins. A new hospital in Hartlepool. A business loan that would have guaranteed hundreds of jobs in Sheffield. A huge modernisation programme for libraries.

All gone in a flash, along with another pounds 2bn worth of projects apparently approved by Labour in its last few months in office, though in the case of the hospital, it seems to have been in the pipeline for rather longer than that.

And at last, too, some real passion from Labour in opposing the Con-Lib coalition's programme of cutbacks - both from Liam Byrne on the floor of the House on Thursday, and later from David Miliband on the BBC.

The defeated party finally found its voice as Mr Byrne, the man who came close to making it a laughing stock with his "sorry, there's no more money" note to his successor, managed to redeem his own somewhat battered reputation. The shadow chief secretary told Lib Dem opposite number Danny Alexander: "The country....will be aghast at your attack on jobs, your attack on construction workers, your attack on the industries of the future and the cancellation of a hospital.

"In five minutes this afternoon you have reversed three years of Liberal Democratic policy of which you were the principal author. What a moment of abject humiliation."

Mr Miliband went even further, when invited onto the BBC's Newsnight that evening to discuss the cuts - in particular the cancellation of the pounds 80m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.

"We were looking to facilitate a genuine industrial revolution in the North of England. It's been thrown away by an act of gratuitous economic vandalism," he said.

The sense of outrage that finally welled-up from senior Labour politicians has been long brewing.

As I wrote last week, the government is making a very determined effort to construct a political narrative in which "irresponsible" Labour is blamed for wrecking the economy and leaving a mess for the coalition to clear up. …

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