Or, err, not.

Despite a slightly cackhanded Guardian interview  Ed Balls’s Fabians speech did not, in fact, commit Labour to supporting every Tory cut as they made it.

What he committed to was Labour opposition to the ill considered, economically illiterate, counterproductive Tory plan to reduce the deficit by whatever means they could see.

He also committed to doing the right thing

“Which is why Ed Miliband and I have argued for a global plan for growth, with clear medium-term plans to get deficits down, but stimulus now to avoid a global slump too.”

Is he capitulating to the ill informed, ineffective, counter productive Tory and Lib Dem deficit reduction plan?

“George Osborne and David Cameron took it as read that deep and immediate spending cuts and tax rises would at least serve the goal of deficit reduction – no matter how much Labour warned that going too far, too fast would be bad for borrowing as well as for jobs and growth.”

Don’t think so.

Does he have a direct, specific criticism of the Coalitions economic strategy or is he just whining?

On the surface of things, cutting EMAs and the Future Jobs Fund saved money and reduced borrowing.

But  at what cost? How much more will it cost our society and our economy to leave those young people long-term unemployed and
unproductive; they and their children receiving benefits rather than paying taxes and contributing to the national wealth?

Ok, yeah. The man’s got a point.

Is he betraying the public sector and capitulating to George Osborne?

But George Osborne’s economic mistakes mean more difficult decisions on tax, spending and pay. It is now inevitable that public sector pay restraint will have to continue for longer in this parliament.

Labour cannot duck that reality. And we won’t. Jobs must be our priority before higher pay.”

Nope, don’t think so. He’s recognising that Osborne’s economic ineptitude is doing serious, long term harm to the economy and that preserving employment over wage rises has to be the priority compared to job losses for some, pay increases for others. Tiny American flags are neither here nor there.

He goes on to advocate dispersing the agreed increase in public sector wages such that those at the bottom of the pay scale get a significant increase while those at the top see nothing. Seems reasonable to me. There’s then a great deal of talk about the need for pay reform at the executive level both inside and outside the public sector.

The only really significant thing in the Guardian interview was the he said no Shadow Cabinet member should commit to reversing particular spending cuts 3 and a half years hence. He didn’t say “Labour accepts all Tory Cuts”, Jim Murphy followed  strategy last week when he opposed some defence cuts and accepted others.

2015 is a very long time away. The Tories and the Liberal Democrats  are doing untold harm to the economy with their ill judged, misconceived and counter productive austerity program. Labour would do things differently, and opposes the current cuts program – as evidenced in their support for the #spartacusreport led opposition to the welfare reform bill. However, unless something incredibly unexpected happens any incoming government in 2015 will find itself with an irrevocably damaged economy and an ongoing deficit.

At that point decisions will have to be made as to how best to go forward, reversing cuts that have been in place in for 4 or 5 years is not necessarily the best way to go at that juncture. The spin that’s been applied to this, particularly in the Guardian article is ineffective – trying to wear a scratchier, more uncomfortable hair shirt than the Tories and Lib Dems is ineffective and not where Labour needs to be in terms of narrative. Those who already agree with the Tory, Lib Dem and SNP cuts agenda will agree with it regardless, those who who could be convinced by a Labour alternative won’t be convinced by the mealy-mouthed Guardian interview and won’t read the text of his Fabians speech.

Good idea, bad politics. Which is unusual for him.

(Note to cybernats: because the SNP are accepting the Tory cuts program in Scotland rather than raising revenue to ameliorate them you should haud yer wheesht)