Monday, 15 June 2009

More cuts please

When Andrew Lansley made his infamous 10% cuts blunder last week, it is understandable he thought he was presenting a good news story.

Being wholly focused on his brief of Health, he was keen to let the nation know that Conservatives would protect the NHS and refrain from including it in future budget cuts.

Unfortunately, by backing up his statement with statistical facts, he answered a question that hadn't been asked. Only Conservative Central Office and wonks at the Institute for Fiscal Studies – or perhaps Fraser Nelson – had worked out that the government's own published figures were a plan for 7% future spending cuts across the board.

But now that Labour have a stick to jab at the Tories there is no way they will let it drop. Twelve years experience shows that Brown will never admit the true costs of his budgetary tricks. So the responsive answer is for Cameron to go on the offensive.

To deny Conservatives will need to cut public spending would be nonsense. To be precise about future budgets would be equal nonsense – the government figures Lansley quoted are likely to be the minimum estimates currently required.

But Conservatives have been recommending sensible government cuts for years. Not only should they be pointing them out now, they should be making absolute pledges to carry them out.

ID cards, regional government, endless quangos and their superannuated public servants, useless super-computer programmes, wasteful public information budgets: cutting these won't solve the government debt crisis, but pledging their axing would show a clear and popular sign of intent.

No comments: