I know I have blogged about this sort of thing before but I still get exasperated when I see comments like this from Peter Hoskin on the Spectator Coffee House blog today:
Cameron & Co. say that they would cut further and faster – but, when it comes to the details of what to cut and when, the similarities between them and Brown's government are striking. Indeed, as I've said before, we're largely taking it on trust that the Tories have a plan sufficient to the scale of the debt problem – even though there are timorous signs that that trust will turn out to be well-placed.In the meantime, the think-tanks and other non-party political bodies, like the CBI, are doing most of the running when it comes to identifying specific candidates for chop. Perhaps that's all we should expect with an election around the corner. But, for the time being, the debt markets look on nervously.
Why do we have to take it on trust, and why is that all we should expect with an election round the corner? Just think about the logic of this for a minute. The closer we get to the public having their right to decide who should govern us, the less likely the people who want to do that governing are to tell us what they intend to do.
I am not politically naive. I understand the pressures politicians are under and what could happen if they "say too much" especially from their political opponents. But surely something has gone seriously wrong when the result of our adversarial political system is that politicians just cannot or will not go into details about crucial things like where they will focus on for public spending cuts before an election?
What's even worse is that judging by the "that's all we can expect" comment, there are some in the media who seem to accept that that is just the way it is! They should be shouting very loudly that we are not getting the answers.
At this rate, neither the Tories nor Labour will have any mandate to make the necessary cuts if they get into government.
UPDATE 19:05: Peter Hoskin has been in touch with me to point out that he is not condoning the Tories and in fact he has been saying for months that they should be more honest on cuts. His comment about it being "all we can expect" was out of exasperation. I am happy to set the record straight.