Peter Hoskin

The Tories start to level with the public on cuts

The Tories start to level with the public on cuts
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Isn't it funny how things work?  Andrew Lansley gaffes in a radio interview last Wednesday and, as a direct result, George Osborne today writes the kind of article on public spending that he should have written months ago.  Rather than shying away from the idea of cuts, he actively pushes them as a necessary measure to tackle Brown's debt crisis - an obvious point, I know, but one that the Tories wouldn't have made so bluntly even just a few weeks back.  Here's the key passage:

"We've all been tip-toeing around one of those discredited Gordon Brown dividing lines for too long. The real dividing line is not 'cut versus investment', but honesty versus dishonesty. We should have the confidence to tell the public the truth that Britain faces a debt crisis; that existing plans show that real spending will have to be cut, whoever is elected; and that the bills of rising unemployment and the huge interest costs of a soaring national debt mean that many government departments will face budget cuts. These are statements of fact and to deny them invites ridicule."

One of the biggest factors helping the Tories in this debate is Gordon Brown's reliance on the old "cuts vs investment" dividing line, when the public debate has moved beyond that.  Exhibit A: Ed Balls crops up in today's Guardian, spouting the same "Mr. 10%" trash that we heard last week, and is roundly dismissed by Jackie Ashley on the comment pages of the same paper.  So soon after nearly losing the Labour party leadership, Brown is now losing what is perhaps the biggest pre-election battle there is.  Not, I imagine, how he would have wanted to start his fightback...