Tory MP John Redwood wrote a blogpost earlier this week where he drew a parallel between how a middle class family who finds their income cut by 10% can make adjustments and used the analogy to describe how the UK state could also make adjustments.
Here is main part of what he wrote:
Tomorrow’s budget will probably be proposing cuts of less than 10% over the lifetime of this Parliament. Sensibly managed, this need not entail cutting anything that really matters.The UK state has been living a middle class lifestyle. If you are living on a low income then of course cutting spending is difficult or impossible. If you are living a middle class lifestyle and your income goes down by 10% you have plenty of options. You can holiday nearer at home and cut out the foreign trip. You can eat in more than in the local restaurants. You can trade down for a cheaper car. You can draw some money out of the savings account to tide you over until your income goes up again. You can buy more of the value items at the supermarket, and put more vegetarian dishes into the home menus. You can discover home entertainment to keep the leisure bills down. You can turn down the thermostat a little and put on a jumper.The UK state finds itself in that position today. It has plenty of assets. Some can be sold to help out. It has been dining out on consultants and temporary labour. It needs to do more in house. It has been appointing all too many to exotic job titles which we could manage without, and sending many of them on expensive overseas fact finding trips and seminars. It has indulged in a mind blowing array of politically correct regulations which often fail to tackle the underlying problem they wanted to address. It has been a master at buying the “nice to have” or the “why do we need this?” instead of concentrating on doing the basics well.
Seems like a reasonable post to me. Perhaps I might quibble with making a direct comparison between the UK state level and a household level as it is a bit simplistic but it allows him to make his broader point in an accessible way which I am sure was his aim.
However the Daily Mail has picked up on this and in a story entitled: "Cold and hungry? Wear a jumper and eat vegetables: Tory MP sparks outrage with advice on how to survive 'Bloodbath Budget'" it proceeds to take Redwood's comment totally out of context and treat them as if he is giving direct advice to people as to how they should handle the budget cuts which he is not.
Sunny Hundal on Liberal Conspiracy has taken only the section highlighted above in red and hence shorn it of all its context and then posted this entitled: "Redwood asks poor to ‘put on a jumper!’" even though Redwood explicitly states that if you are on a low income then cutting is "difficult or impossible". And just to repeat it is an analogy, not direct advice.
I tire of saying this but no wonder politicians are terrified of saying or doing anything outside of bland pre-prepared and vetted statements. All Redwood is trying to do here is point out a way that the public spending cuts could be viewed.
The reaction from The Mail, Lib Con and doubtless others is just deliberately taking his comments and twisting them in order to make it look like he is saying something that he is not.
UPDATE: The Mail article I linked to has now changed so that the Redwood stuff is not in the main article but instead in a side box where they show that Redwood denies what they originally claimed and they give him the right of reply.