David Blackburn

Clarification or u-turn?

Clarification or u-turn?
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Smarting from the savaging he received in Mo, Peter Mandelson characterised David Cameron’s "no swingeing cuts” comment as a u-turn, and compared Cameron and Osborne to Laurel and Hardy. This is a bit rich considering the government’s obvious confusion over the timing and extent of cuts, and that the immortal line “That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into” should be the Tories’ campaign slogan.

Cameron’s comments are a clarification, not a u-turn. As Jim Pickard notes, Tory policy has to respond to last week’s withered growth figures. Whilst still recognising that cuts have to be made now to avert a fiscal crisis, a distinction that the government fails to recognise publicly for political purposes, their extent depends on the strength of recovery, a point emphasised by Ken Clarke last week. The position is relatively nuanced, caricaturing it as ‘confused’ or ‘dogmatic’ is fatuous. However, once again, the Tories have failed to communicate a complicated economic point as effectively as they might.