David Blackburn

Laws is unperturbed by the scorched earth

Laws is unperturbed by the scorched earth
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Wags may term them ‘Osborne and Little’, but David Laws is emerging as one of the government’s star performers. Laws was instrumental in constructing the coalition, and now he has the unenviable job of identifying cuts. Being the axeman and taxman is hard work enough, but the opposition have weapons at their disposal.       

Labour can say what it likes in this parliament’s infancy. Credibility comes later, with the election of a new leader for instance. Harman and Darling may have spurned the investment versus cuts line, but today Darling revived the conceit that all cuts are inherently bad:

‘During the election campaign the Conservatives did not say they were going to cut beyond eliminating what they said was waste and inefficiency. They've gone far beyond that today.’

Laws deals with this calmly, pointing out that Labour’s record has been protected where it is worth protecting. Today he answered a petulant Dennis Skinner with:

‘We’ve protected the NHS and we’ve done something that the last Labour government failed to do... announce from April 2011 the restoration of the earnings link on the state pension.’

I do agree there seems to have been a scorched earth strategy, not only in terms of the state of public finances but the way in which this [Labour] government was spending money at the end of its term.

‘And we are looking very closely at all of the decisions that have been made and we will be making further announcements shortly, about the action that we will have to take.’