More evidence this morning on the impact of cuts on the Scottish economy. This time from David Blanchflower, one of the very few economists who predicted the 2008/9 crisis.
He said in an interview in The Herald: “It will probably kill off 1.5 million jobs, but especially in places like Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north-east (of England). That is where the jobs will get killed."
He mocked George Osborne's assertion that jobs lost in the public sector would be replaced by new employment in the private sector, and taking Glasgow as an example, he asked: “How will these jobs cut in the public sector suddenly appear in Glasgow? Who is going to come to Glasgow in the next few years? The private sector is going to step into Glasgow and create what? What are they going to create in Glasgow in the next four years to make up for what they have cut? It is cloud cuckoo land. It is laughable.”
He went to argue that the Coalition’s economic strategy is based on “a belief system, on dogma, rather than on a flexible way of responding to the economic data. I hold them responsible for this inept action – for the greatest macroeconomic mistake in 100 years.”
Strong language from someone who should be listened to because he has a credible record.
One of the challenges for Labour is how to respond to this analysis. It was an issue for the Scottish Policy Forum on Saturday when debating the policy programme for next year's elections. There are some in the Party who want to stick with the line at the General Election that our cuts would have been less than your cuts. Whilst that may be true, it is not a coherent economic strategy and more importantly - it failed.
What we need now is a strong articulation of an alternative economic strategy. Given the growing public recognition of the impact of cuts this also offers a credible political strategy. At UK level I would argue that that Ed Milliband has been the credible candidate most willing to break from the past. However, I give credit to Ed Balls whose Bloomberg speech was probably the best economic analysis given by any of the UK leadership candidates.
The challenge for Scottish Labour is set out this alternative in a Scottish context.