David Blackburn

The irrefutable fact about cuts is that they are needed now

The irrefutable fact about cuts is that they are needed now
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I did Lord Myners a disservice by suggesting he’d gone off message by saying that spending would continue until recovery was “firmly rooted”. Peter Mandelson’s cuts speech yesterday supported that line, renewing the cuts versus investment dividing line. Steve Richards argues that the government’s approach is correct and Tory policy is a recipe for disaster. He writes:

‘He (Cameron) is now pledged to a revolutionary shrinking of the state without being able to specify how he will go about making the big changes. His speech last week about cutting the subsidies on meals in parliament was beyond parody.

Yesterday Mandelson made use of the space that has opened up in policy terms by highlighting the differences. For all the Government's recent hopelessly agonised contortions, his main arguments are irrefutable. The Government had to invest in the recent past in order to revive derelict public services and it has to do so now to stimulate economic recovery.

 

At a point when the move can be made without wrecking the economy, the debt will be re-paid. The message does not fit easily into a soundbite as it comprises a defence of the past, an investment-versus-cuts message during the recession, and a need to find substantial savings when the economy is growing again. Whatever the complexities and evasiveness of Mandelson's speech, the arguments are echoed in various forms around the world. The Conservatives choose to be in a different place and, for the country, it is a dangerous one.’

As ever with this opposition, the devil is that there’s no detail; it’s laughable, but slightly worrying, that the Tory’s most developed policy to date is the re-pricing of bangers and mash in the Commons’ bar. But what is irrefutable is that the Tories' are correct about the urgent need to address the budget deficit. Whilst unemployment benefit bills continue to increase, whilst debt repayments mount and tax receipts dissolve rapidly, borrowing beyond the current £175bn per annum is both undesirable and unsustainable. Labour has withdrawn to the comfort of its fanciful original dividing line: the Tories must be ecstatic.