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Monday, 29 June 2009

Yet Another Question of Judgment

More than once, I’ve pondered where Pa Broon comes up short in the field of politics. And each time it comes down to judgment. And today he’s at it again, setting out what looks suspiciously like the beta version of an Election Manifesto, although, as the BBC’s Nick Robinson has noted, without the red rose of Labour on the front.

It’s called “Rebuilding Britain’s Future”, although as Robinson has observed, a more candid substitution would be to change “Britain’s” to “Labour’s”. Tough on benefits. Council housing waiting lists. Royal Mail sell-off moved discreetly to the back burner. The result being, no doubt, that Pa Broon can then set out his position on what he hopes will be the correct side of the line between cuts, and, er, cuts – in other words, to paint his plans as the best bet for moving the country out of recession, while trying to show that the Tories will be cutting more and deeper, this meant to frighten floating voters into returning to the Labour fold.

But it does sound, well, a little tired. Haven’t we been here before? Perhaps it’s the inevitable result of one party being in power for over twelve years. So what’s new with the competition? Well, Young Dave has been telling his latest news conference – as also noted by Nick Robinson, who’s been busy today – that if they don’t prepare the Great Unwashed for forthcoming cuts, there’ll be rioting in the streets.

On this, I agree totally with Cameron, and because we’ve been here before: the 1979 Tory Manifesto didn’t tell the electorate what they were going to do when they got their hands on the levers of power, which was to enact a series of savage public spending cuts (yes, including the Endurance). The result: there were indeed riots, and across the country, too. How Dave proposes to talk that one down will be interesting to see.

Because any substantial cuts in public spending will mean significant reductions in services, and folks losing their jobs. The idea that around 10% can be lopped off without any real hardship – and I’ll concede that this mischief can’t be laid only at the door of the Tory Party – is dangerous nonsense. If everything could be done for 10% less, it would already be happening. No Government would spray the difference up the wall merely for the sake of it.

Still, weather’s nice. Mustn’t grumble.

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