Thursday, June 11, 2009

A 'too clever by half' Prime Minister exposed.

Been trying to decide whether yesterday's battle of words about spending cuts was positive or negative from a Conservative perspective. Immediately after I heard what Andrew Lansley had said on the Today programme, I feared that it might be negative. But by evening, when I saw the always competent Phillip Hammond demolish a jibbering John Denham on Newsnight, I had not the slightest doubt that Lansley had done the Conservative Party a huge service.

Along with David Cameron and almost everyone except Labour, this blog has been calling for an early General Election - mainly because British politics is in a state of limbo until the voters have their say, and replace the current flawed and discredited parliament. But the major downside for Conservatives if this were to happen would be the danger of taking over as the Government before the people fully appreciated the scale of the cuts in services that are to come. Our honeymoon could have been short. Yesterday's argument, which wasn't actually much of an argument at all, has drawn back the blinds, and exposed the harshness of the climate of austerity that is advancing to envelop us.

Now Gordon Brown thought that his dreams had come true yesterday morning - and what petty deceitful little dreams they were. Because Andrew Lansley had put a hard figure on what he thought the reductions might be, our Prime Minister thought he could nail the Tories as public service cutters - until it was pointed out by independent assessment Lansley's figures were the same as those promised by the Chancellor in the recent budget. The only significant difference is that the Conservatives are committed to maintaining real terms increases in health care expenditure, while Labour is promising that their 7% real terms cut over the three years from 2011 will apply to all budgets. Because the health budget is so significant, continuing to increase it as the Conservatives promise, means that Labour's 7% 'across the board' becomes a 10% cut for issues other than health. Its also the case that a Conservative Chancellor, following an early General Election would begin straightening out our public finances in 2010, rather than 2011.

Now, to why this is positive news for the Conservative Party. Firstly the commentators dismissed the Prime Minister's blustering and blathering for the dissembling garbage that it was. Secondly the British people are now much more aware of what is needed to sort out the disastrous mess that Labour is going to leave behind. And thirdly, the British people now know that the current Government is planning the same sort of cuts in public spending as a Conservative Government - just hoping to keep it hidden until after the General Election is out of the way. Yesterday, the ground was prepared for the election of a Government which is more truthful, and open, and committed to repairing the damage to our public finances.


alanindyfed said...

This was borne out in the debate on BBC's Question Time tonight. The audience and panel were aware of Peter Hain's attempts at covering for Gordon Brown and fortunately there was an economist on the panel who knew what she was talking about and the real situation that Britain faces.

Anonymous said...

I am generally supportive of the Conservative stand-point as the best means of freeing Britain from the Labour yoke, but why oh why are the Tories committed along with maintaining healthcare spending to maintaining international development spending? I am all for helping those less advanced than ourselves, but with the awful strain our economy is under - charity begins at home.

Dewi Harries said...

Met a lovely pair of Maldwyn women on the train from Newport to Cardiff( full of Oasis fans)- They are cycling from Cardiff to Holyhead to raise money for Ugandan farmers, - I donated a tenner and suggested they should have a word with you! (Didn't catch their names but one was Irish and the other Australian)

Christopher Wood said...

Not meaning to take anything away from the abject seriousness that we should all view the terrible state of UK government finances - but this issue pales in comparison to a deep structural issue that will drive the UK (and hence Welsh) economy into the ground in terms of the UK's world competitiveness.

A Martian can see that the UK economy is being overtaken by other countries. Not so long ago the UK 4th in the economic league tables in terms of comparative GDP output. I think its ranked 7th now.

The UK has invented or discovered a huge portion of the things that rendered many of the things we take for granted today.

The UK's standard of living is going to drop significantly if the government(s) doesn’t priorities converting innovation into commercial products. No, I am not talking about the UK government getting into the private sector, but the UK government should work hard to unleash the UK's innate talent and potential for inventing things and helping them protect their inventions and funneling them into commercial production.

Ordinary folks come up with incredible ideas; we need them to move from their garage or garden shed into commercial development.

We are so feather bedding the public sector that we are creating a risk-averse society where innovation and risk taking is often regarded as 'too weird' - why don't you get a regular job, why don't you just do some overtime or take a cold shower or something. And the loser is society and future society that would be but for the lack of emphasis and respect for UK's little innovators.

'US Correspondent' said...

Footnote: Professor Dylan Jones-Evans has an insightful article on this issue (June 13, 2009) in the Western Mail (can be viewed online) - it makes for very chilling reading. "Why Assembly Government has failed to boost economy".

Wales is going backwards in terms of its economy c/o WAG.

Meanwhile we are, and justifiably so, very concerned about how detached many of our politicians have become c/o the various gravy trains, e.g., Parliament and Brussels.

The Kinnocks seem to have done very well, legally so, out of the various gravy trains; newspapers are full of the Kinnocks 'glorious fun' in terms of multiple-state pensions and allowances amounting to a figure that mere Welsh mortals can only get near if they win the Lotto! Your humble US Correspondent has a letter winging its way to the Echo/Western Mail - be interesting to see if its published. From 5-Star to Euro-Club Class to Lording in the Lords.

Anways/Milliways, the Welsh economy has serious structural issues that the WAG is not acknowledging and so Welsh families will pay the piper's price in terms of lower job prospects, lower wages and the public sector will continue to bloom.

There is no way, no how, that Wales can go 100% independent with an economy built on public sector spending. Not without major spending cutbacks and a standard of living falling faster than a speeding bullet on a vertical downward trajectory.

Welsh comrades, you are in for a jerky downward spiral of a 'fun' ride, c/o a WAG that just doesn’t' 'get it' or even worse, doesn't see any point in 'getting it'. Welsh Labour/Plaid and the Lib Dems have all been part of the WAG. Average GVA per head in Wales compared to the UK average is now about 75% ... 'and falling'.

Is there any hope for Wales?

Yes there is, but requires a fundamental rethink on how WAG treats the private sector, how WAG prioritizes (doesn’t now) R&D, etc.

Anonymous said...

Well, as a sort of footnote, the Governor of the Bank of England told the Chancellor (Darling) to get the UK's finances back in order ... or some such wordage.