James Forsyth

The long haul starts here

The long haul starts here
Text settings

Sunshine might have won the day but today was also the start of the age of austerity, as George Osborne and David Laws laid out £6.243bn of cuts. Despite the fact that they were cutting ‘wasteful’ and ‘low priority spending’, both men were keen to insulate themselves against the Labour attack that the coalition is cutting for ideological reason. Osborne said that ‘controlling spending is not an end it itself.’ While Laws stressed that the Coalition would ‘cut with care.’

Within its first fortnight in office, the government has found savings with commendable celerity. But the fact that the whole package was agreed on at 11.45 pm on Friday for a Monday morning announcement, shows that most Secretaries of State are keeping their powder dry for the comprehensive spending review which will have to set out deeper and far more painful cuts. As Laws pointed out, today was the ‘first step on a long road.’

One striking feature of today was Laws’ language. He began his statement by reminding everyone that ‘public borrowing is only taxation deferred.’ He then took to Brown’s whole strategy of giving with one hand while taking with the other; declaring that it was ‘quite simply a deception’ to say child trust funds made children better off as that generation would have to pay the money given back in tax.