In mid-1983, Michael Foot led the British Labour Party to a disastrous general election loss. The party, already in opposition, lost 60 seats in a 9.3% swing against it. Labour barely scraped into second place ahead of the SDP-Liberal alliance, with just 27.6% of the vote. Foot’s economically interventionist manifesto and socialist rhetoric were blamed for the scale of the loss.
I wrote a post the other day about the widespread calls for a Parliamentary Budget Office. Now the Greens and Labor have reached an agreement that, amongst other things, commits the parties to pursuing a PBO.
The agreement says:
So, the agreement between Labor and the Greens settles three things: that they’ll seek to establish a PBO, that it will sit within the Parliamentary Library, and that the rest will be decided by a committee. That leaves an awful lot yet to be decided, including the crucial question of precisely what the PBO’s role will be.
Bernard Keane and Jeremy Sear have each backed the creation of a PBO in recent days, without making it clear what role they envisage for the institution. I suspect that some PBO supporters, particularly on the left, may resile from their support if the Parliamentary committee recommends a strong PBO (although there are good arguments in favour of a strong PBO, as Nicholas Gruen outlined in the comments on my last post).
I’ll watch the process with great interest.