Tax expertise runs thin in the Labour Party at the best of times. The Party almost coped under Ed Miliband. But the staffers he brought in have all moved on. And the relationships John Wrathmell (Miliband’s widely admired Head of Economic Policy) worked so hard to develop – have withered or died. Even Richard Murphy – who seemed to many likely to occupy a place at the heart of the Opposition – has no role and appears disenchanted with the project. To my knowledge there is now no one – at all – in the Shadow Team expert in the revenue raising side of Government finances.
So when I learned that Rob Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South West, was to take the tax brief as Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, I was interested to see how he performed.
The Committee stage of the Summer Budget Finance Bill concluded on Thursday. During discussions David Gauke (Marris’ opposite number) pointed out that the position Marris was taking was different to that Ed Balls had previously taken. He then added gently:
I am not sure that Ed Balls is a particular hero of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton South West.
Not gently enough. Marris needed no further invitation:
Yep. You read that right. Labour was responsible for the credit crunch. To which Gauke responded – well, wouldn’t you have? – with:
Again, I think we can find some consensus.
I suppose it’s too much to expect that Marris might also have mentioned (of many examples) this Cameron speech from 2006:
which showed that Labour and Ed Balls was on the right side – not right enough, but even so – of the debate around appropriate levels of regulation.
But then, if the real enemy is Labour’s record in Government, why would you?