So Alistair Darling today repeated the same trick he used in April’s Budget – referring only to rising “current spending”, so as to hide the full extent of Labour’s spending cuts. Current spending is only one component of total spending, and when you add in some of the other components – as we have done in the table below – the cuts become clearer. The table shows that next year is the last year of any real rise in spending. From 2011, spending either falls or flattens out. But the cuts will be even deeper than the table reveals. This “total spending” figure is all we could work out from the appendices in today’s Pre-Budget Report – but, alas, it doesn’t account for debt repayments or unemployment benefits. Tomorrow, the IFS will work out estimates for those and the picture will become clearer still. In April, the cuts were to the tune of 7 percent over three years. This time, they will most likely be deeper. These cuts are necessary and to be welcomed. It’s a great shame that the government would prefer to hide them from us. When you see them, it’s clear that the next election isn’t about “investment vs cuts” – but rather about whose cuts you prefer.