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21 June 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:18am

Campbell calls on Labour leadership five to “pile in” on the Tories

Tomorrow’s Budget presents candidates with an opportunity in the contest, says strategist.

By James Macintyre

Labour’s leadership contenders need to “pile in” against the Tories’ cuts agenda after George Osborne’s Budget tomorrow, Alastair Campbell has said. Writing on his blog, he says:

It is harder to get heard in opposition. But all of them have to rise to the challenge of showing they can analyse a complex situation, mount an argument about it, and make sure it cuts through to the public. On how they fare in that, a lot will depend.

He adds:

Yes, the positive forward agenda for Labour is important. But in opposition, you need a strong and credible critique of the government.

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So tomorrow, when George Osborne puts the fragile recovery at risk with his ideological onslaught on public services, by pretending the economy is worse than it is, and using the quisling Lib Dems as political cover, it will be up to acting leader Harriet Harman and shadow chancellor Alistair Darling to lead the Labour response.

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But it is also important that David and Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott pile in, and do so with real impact.

So far, Balls has probably led the way when it comes to attacking what he calls the “unprincipled coalition”. Now it is time for others to do the same.

Incidentally, there are possible echoes of Peter Mandelson’s 1994 TV appearance in Campbell’s line, above. Mandelson famously talked of the next leader as “Tony Blair, say, or Gordon Brown . . .” and one could be forgiven for suspecting that the order in which Campbell lists the candidates is also his own order of preference.