David Blackburn

The government should return the unions’ fire

The government should return the unions' fire
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The TUC is mustering in Manchester and its leaders are in bellicose mood. Brendan Barber has called for a general strike; Bob Crow, brimming with the satisfaction of having wrecked London’s transport earlier in the week, has called for his members to ‘stand and fight’ the government’s cuts.

These statements have a ‘Me and my executive’ air to them, so ludicrous as to be beyond parody. But the message is rousing and clear. Not so the government’s – as Fraser argues today in his News of the World column.

The government is caught in an intellectual cul-de-sac. Its sole refrain is that these cuts are Labour’s cuts and they are necessary. At the same time, the government defines the cuts debate in Labour’s terms. It is wedded to the term ‘progressive’ and a mindset that spending is an indication of good government – hence the fact that it became embroiled in a spat with the IFS Blaming Labour is not enough.  that was totally avoidable and then compounded its error by ruling out tax cuts for five years in an attempt to seem ‘progressive’.

Government should be more than an accountant, balancing the books.  It must break free of Labour’s terms of debate and match Crow and Barber’s ‘Radicalism’ with an explanation as to why radical public service reform will deliver more for less.  Blaming Labour is not enough.