James Forsyth

While avoiding one trap, Mr Cameron might fall into another

While avoiding one trap, Mr Cameron might fall into another
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David Cameron is understandably eager not to allow Gordon Brown to present the Tories as slash n’ burn merchants intent on starving schools and hospitals of funding. However, unfair it was the £35bn of Tory cuts jibe at the last election hit home—as the IFS points out, by Brown’s own logic he will have cut spending by £9bn by the next election—and the current Tory pledge to match Labour spending commitments until 2011 is probably a necessary act of reassurance. But the danger is that Labour box the Tories in by projecting their spending plans further and further into the future.

Here’s how Cameron responded when asked about whether he would extend the matching pledge beyond 2011 by The Times

“He rejected calls from his own Right to ditch a commitment to stick to the Government’s spending plans to 2011 and said that he did not rule out doing so into the years beyond. “We will look at [the projected spending figures] and see if they are consistent with our principles. If they are we will support them.

“I am being very careful because if you say anything else that strange man in Downing Street will cook up an enormous package of Tory spending cuts. It is complete and utter fiction. I have seen it done before and I have learnt a thing or two in the last few years.”

If he is not careful, Cameron could arrive in government having already committed to a spending programme for the whole of his first term. Considering that, as a percentage of GDP, public spending in Britain is already higher than in Germany that can’t be a good idea. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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