Friday, March 26, 2010

Alistair Darling: we will cut deeper than Margaret Thatcher.

Alastair Darling has stated that Labour's cuts in public spending will be as severe as those brought about by the Thatcher government.

Asked by the BBC tonight how his plans compared with Thatcher's attempts to slim the size of the state, Darling replied: "They will be deeper and tougher – where we make the precise comparison I think is secondary to an acknowledgement that these reductions will be tough."

The shadow chancellor, George Osborne, seized on the first admission by the chancellor that Labour was planning greater austerity than that achieved by Thatcher's chancellors Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson. "Labour has been found out. Gordon Brown is basing his election campaign on the claim that Labour can go on spending. That is completely blown apart by Alistair Darling's admission, under pressure, that Labour's own budget numbers imply deep cuts. But why didn't he admit that yesterday? Twenty-four hours on, this empty budget has completely unravelled and Labour's failure to act will hit families hard."

I am stunned that Darling would make such a comment. There is now almost no daylight between the Tories and Labour on this subject. Which should, if the public are paying any attention, effectively hand the Tories the next election.
The IFS used its post-budget analysis to spell out what was in store for Whitehall departments, but said there appeared to be only a modest difference between the plans of the two main parties.
And neither are either party being particularly open about where they intend to make these Thatcherite cuts.
"There are an awful lot of judgments still be made, or revealed, notably with regards to public spending over the next parliament. This greater-than-necessary vagueness allows the opposition to be vaguer than necessary, too."
It's one the strangest pitches that I have ever seen an election fought on, but it does now appear as if Labour and the Tories are going to end up battling over who is going to cut what. That is, of course, if either of them ever have the courage to show us their hands.

But, whilst both parties announce that they are going to slash public spending, I can't be the only person who would cheer the party which imposed some kind of financial punishment on the buggers who got us into this mess in the first place.

It strikes me as manifestly unfair that the poorest members of society are going to end up carrying the can for a financial crisis which they did not make and did not benefit from.

If Labour are looking for a place to shine some daylight between themselves and the Tories, I would suggest that might yield a rich mine.

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