Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Spending must be cut

The more I hear about the state of the public finances, the more it is becoming obvious that spending will have to be cut in the coming years. This is surely going to be true whoever is in government.

Nick Clegg has had a go at trying to change the terms of political debate recently by identifying some areas where savings could be made and reorienting spending priorities.

I think that the Tories are so scarred by the last 3 election defeats where each time Labour went for their jugular about cuts, demanding to know how many schools and hospitals would have to close each time any attempt was made to question public spending that they are afraid to say so now.

However I think that they are in increasing danger (as politicians often are) of fighting the last war. Things have changed on the ground significantly in the last year. I run my own business and I know that people in the private sector are having to cope with pay freezes, pay cuts, shorter hours, lay-offs, reductions in benefits, redundancies etc. etc. This is what happens during a downturn. I think that a large proportion of the electorate will be affected one way or another by these things and they will in turn expect the public sector to take its share of the pain. The more they see this not happening (and the recent pay round showing modest but real public sector pay increases is an example of this), the more angry they will get.

I already sense a strong feeling of injustice regarding the public sector pension arrangements when compared to the private sector and continuing public sector expansion will do nothing to ameliorate these feelings.

Given all of this, I think Labour are wrong in thinking that they are going to be able to throw around accusations at opposition politicians who talk honestly about what needs to happen. It might have worked in 2001 and 2005 but this is 2009 in the middle of worst recession in living memory.

The rules have changed and I think that politicians who are honest with the public about what needs to happen will reap the rewards.


Anonymous said...

The electorate most know that the budget can not remain at the same level

neil craig said...

The problem is well all know Clegg is just saying it to fool the voters - bit like the referendum promise. Since it is not permissable to believe in cuts & smaller government in the party then by deffinition he is lying.

Mark Thompson said...

But I believe in cuts, certainly from where we are at the moment (they are inevitable given the circumstances) and I am in the party.

neil craig said...

Well don't believe in them too loudly then. That's why I no longer am.