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austeritybreakseconomies

Say what you like about Ed Miliband, at least he hasn’t descended into the morass of smears, accusations and counter-accusations that typify the Tory and Liberal Democrat election campaigns.

Labour’s approach seems to be focused on the national situation, rather than local areas – perhaps Mr Miliband is leaving local campaigning to local representatives, who know exactly what they’re talking about. Good policy.

By concentrating on the overarching issues – especially ahead of next week’s launch of the Coalition’s future legislative programme – he’s telling the country what Labour stands for, right now: Action on jobs, tax, housing and training, and cutting household bills.

I don’t know about you but I’m in favour of all of that.

Labour would provide a jobs guarantee for the long-term unemployed. People out of work would be obliged to take up those jobs (which might seem draconian, but remember, these people have been out of work for a long time and their pay would be more than the benefits they receive) and the £1 billion costs would be funded by reversing the government’s decision to stop tax relief on pension contributions for people earning over £150,000 being limited to 20 per cent.

Labour would re-introduce the 10p tax band and cut VAT temporarily, freeing up the money supply to pump much-needed life into the national economy. Mr Miliband said the Coalition’s attempt at trickle-down economics was failing badly, and he was right – trickle-down is a proven falsehood.

And Labour would cut energy bills and crack down on rogue landlords, putting more cash in the wallets of the people who actually spend their money.

Of course, the Conservatives reacted predictably by complaining that the plans mean more spending, borrowing and debt – completely overlooking the fact that their own policies have increased borrowing by £245 billion since 2010.

The World At One’s Martha Kearney tried to tackle Mr Miliband about this, but ended up making herself look a little foolish. While Miliband patiently tried to explain that investment now would bring growth in the medium term, cutting future borrowing, she seem to expect him to wave a magic wand – a Mili-wand, if you like – and fix the borrowing issue immediately.

Of course that isn’t possible – but it’s a far better alternative to the failed austerity programme. The statistics in the image (above) indicate clearly how disastrous austerity can be for a country, and of course Gideon Osborne’s main evidence to support this course was disproved a couple of weeks ago (I’m still waiting for you to bring forward other documentary evidence in favour of austerity, by the way, George).

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have climbed onto the Tory ‘negative campaigning’ bandwagon and decided that their best hope of winning votes is to attack the other parties. It’s a common Lib Dem ploy.

So the Conservatives have abandoned compassion, and Labour is now a party of protest, according to Nick Clegg (who was clearly taking notes when Mr Miliband met former Labour leader Tony Blair).

What a shame he didn’t pay attention to what Mr Miliband was saying. It’s ridiculous to suggest Labour is “offering anger rather than hope” when Labour has been telling everyone exactly how it would return hope to Britain’s blighted economy.

Mr Clegg claimed that both Labour and the Conservatives were retreating to political extremes, and urged voters to vote for his party instead – conveniently forgetting that the Liberal Democrats in Parliament are currently an enthusiastic part of the most extreme right-wing government the UK has had in generations.

What’s even more amazing is that he followed up this character assassination of his political rivals by saying that, in the event of another hung Parliament in 2015, he would gladly go into coalition with either of the other parties.

He said the Lib Dems would “do our duty to the country”.

Considering your track record to date, Nick, it seems unlikely that ‘duty’ has ever been your motivation.