The rest of the IFS graph is worth studying for the dire implications for defence, transport etc. The "protected" areas are overseas aid (which is to double, no matter who wins the election), health (also to be protected, no matter who wins), but Labour has added in a 0.7 percent increase in "frontline" school spending - a policy intended to give Ed Balls one of his precious dividing lines (which he loved using with Philip Hammond on Sky yesterday). The Treasury have (surprise, surprise) not costed these, but anyone can do the maths. The IFS did. The dotted blue line is the budget for the "protected" areas put together: a 2.9 percent increase if protected for the life of the parliament. But if they were protected over the parliament, then the political soft targets - policing, defence, transport, justice etc - would have their budgets cut by a mammoth 25 percent.
This is why I think ringfencing - while an attractive option on the campaign trail - is a bad idea for government. It is hard to justify such dichotomies. Why should the DFID budget double, if the defence budget is plunging by a quarter in a time of war? The below chart is one to bear in mind when you hear Balls and Brown (and Toynbee) talking about the "unknown unknowns" which have - deplorably - prevented them from printing a spending review. You can guess the figures. If Labour wins, there will be cuts - and massive ones. It's dishonest to pretend