True, spending cuts have not yet hit the easily swayed and the government’s popularity will recede, but it won’t collapse – the 37 percent who think the economy is doomed do so for ideological reasons, the economy has not tanked yet. More serious are the Liberal Democrat’s stunted poll ratings, but the price paid for absconding from their self-professed duty to restore stability to the nation’s finances will be even greater – this is the Liberal Democrat’s great moment.
The Times (£), The Sun, The Mirror and The BBC appraise the coalition’s performance. All conclude that the government has wasted no time in addressing the deficit, only The Mirror questions the sense of having done so. However, the coalition’s other efforts attract a dose of criticism. The government has moved at breakneck speed to reform education, welfare, university funding, the ministry of defence, criminal justice, the electoral system and NHS commissioning. Aside from whether those are worthwhile reforms in the long-run, they have had the effect of clouding the public spending review, the government’s immediate priority. Already the Treasury has fought IDS and lost; it is also fighting Liam Fox, Ken Clarke, Chris Huhne and Vince Cable. It is good that inter-departmental discussion thrives, but, as the IDS case illustrates, George Osborne will find it hard to extract departmental cuts of 25 percent, which means he will have to raise taxes to eradicate national overspend. The taxpayer will end up footing the bill for this government’s enthusiasm.