“We must reduce our deficits steadily according to a plan, but we must do nothing this year that will put our recovery at risk.”
The cuts-investment dividing line has been nuanced into a question of timing. Brown cited Ken Clarke among the “major world leaders” who lend his policies authority. Brown has overreached himself. Clarke did not dissent from the party line; he stated the obvious truth that if cuts are too deep or ill-applied then recovery may be impeded:
“It is no good offering cuts that are going to be calamitous consequences… George and Philip will have co-operative colleagues, but their duty is to make sure we don’t, by mistake, make damaging and unsupportable cuts.”
If anything, Clarke illustrated that the Tory high command are considering deficit reduction responsibly - rational and measured politics, rather than the brutal urges of unashamed cutters.
Brown is scuppered by Clarke’s very definite view that cuts should be made now:
“You won’t get all the cuts straight away, but you have to start straight away. The amount of cutting you can deliver in-year in 2010-11 is limited to a certain extent.”
For once, Brown’s dividing line is real – the Tories are adamant that expenditure is curbed now.