Labour has just released a dossier setting out what 10 percent cuts would supposedly mean. But as we know from the IFS and the 2009 Budget, Labour plans to cut by 7 percent - the difference between the two figures is simply because the Tories would spare health.
In a mature, truthful debate (which Brown feels confident he will avoid) the question should be: who would cut what? So I have gone through Labour’s cuts dossier—which assumes all cuts hit frontline services—changing the wording (from "the Tories are" to "Brown is") and the figures so they correspond to Brown's planned 7 percent cuts post-2011 as opposed to the 10 percent cuts which Lansley spoke about post-2011. Everything else is the same.
* Schools: Brown is planning to take £3.6 billion out of education spending, the equivalent of losing 30,891 teachers, and 24,140 teaching assistants and school support staff.
• Police: Brown is planning to take £650 million out of the Home Office. Cutting police funding by the same 7 per cent as the rest of the Home office could see the loss of 10,500 police officers - exactly the number of extra police officers delivered from Labour’s record investment since 1997. That’s nearly 21 off the beat in every constituency across England.
• University places: Brown is planning 7 per cent across the board cuts for public spending. That could mean cutting the number of places available each year by 22,400.
• Defence: Brown is planning to cut 7 per cent from the defence budget - the equivalent of cutting 7,000 soldiers, and a further 5,600 members of the armed forces from the Navy and Airforce. That’s almost double the number of troops the UK has in Afghanistan.
Labour’s attack dossier actually presents the Tories with an opportunity. They should be honest and say "yes we'll cut - and here's how" and treat the electorate as adults. They should be able to show that unlike Labour, they have thought about how to minimise the impacts of cuts on frontline services.