Peter Hoskin

The Tories are ramping up their spending cut rhetoric

The Tories are ramping up their spending cut rhetoric
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David Cameron has just delivered what struck me as his most forceful speech yet on public spending, an indication that the Tories may finally be prepared to talk about cuts.  The basic theme was "more for less" - cutting down on Government waste and trimming the "quangocracy" - to deal with the crisis of our public finances.  Sure, it's all still a little nebulous.  But at least it makes fiscal sense - unlike the "sharing the proceeds of growth" formula, which I suspect this speech was designed to bury once and for all.

The more Cameron talks like this, the better for the Tories.  As Robert Chote points out in his article for the Times - highlighted by James earlier - the next government will be forced to "squeeze" (i.e. cut) public spending and raise taxes.  Being part of a "conspiracy of silence" over this is counterproductive, and the Tories can afford a bolder approach.  Not only does the economic climate make spending cuts a much easier sell, but if Cameron & Co. fail to come clean about the full scale of the problem now, they'll find it much more difficult to keep the public on side should they return to government.  That's why the speech today was so important.  And there's now reason to believe that the acorn Cameron planted on Monday - so unimpressive at the time - may grow into something bigger.