At the weekend, there was a flurry of activity online following Ed Miliband’s interview on the Andrew Marr show where he denied having said that the government’s policies would cause a double-dip recession and various people pointed out how this was contradicted by his own website (and also, though less noticed, by the Labour Party website too).
If you look at the dates of who said what, there seems to be a fairly straight-forward explanation: Ed Miliband and others in Labour were expecting (or at least willing to talk in public as if they were expecting) a double-dip during the summer, but at some point last year changed their minds. Changing your minds as new economic data comes in is hardly a sin, indeed it is a virtue, though this virtue is rather tarnished by Ed Miliband saying to Andrew Marr , “I’ve never said that” rather than “Events have moved on” or quoting Keynes that, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
But, but, but. Even that generous explanation leaves a puzzle.
For as recently as just before Christmas he was attacking the government for not having a fully worked-out Plan B in the case of a double-dip: “We have said all along that the Government has no Plan B in the event of the economy hitting a serious downturn. This proves absolutely that an alternative approach is needed.”
So between them Alan Johnson and Ed Miliband really seem to be wanting to have it both ways – backing away from previous rhetoric about a double-dip whilst also demanding the government does more to plan what to do in the event of one.