Should Labour’s first priority be to avoid the blame?

Should Labour’s first priority be to avoid the blame?

Do the winners always write the history?

One of the dangers for Labour, magnified during the coverage over the past couple of days, is that the coalition are placing much of the blame for what’s happened on the last government.

All the painful measures that ministers are announcing are predicated with the argument that this is all required because they are having to “clear up the mess that was bequeathed to them”.

The message that the coalition is trying to get over is that the crisis was caused by the profligacy of the Brown government together with its failure to control the financial system. Labour’s argument that the primary cause was the global financial collapse caused by bankers is getting crowded out.

This presents a problem for the official opposition because what’s likely to have the biggest impact in the long-term is whether the overall blame point will stick. But in the immediate aftermath the Labour focus has, inevitably, been on the specific measures.

Winning specific forays is fine in the short-term but if the lasting perception is that it was Labour that caused it then that could have serious consequences.

This is where governments have so much going for them. They have so much control of the media agenda. As is often said it is the winners who write the history.

At PMQs yesterday Cameron scored a hit when hit referred to Ed Miliband’s role with Brown at the treasury – a retaliation for all those Labour barbs made against the Tory leader for his part on “Black Wednesday” in 1992 when he was working with the then Tory chancellor.

Mike Smithson

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