Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where will the axe fall? Whitehall waits for the bloodbath.

I have said ever since George Osborne spoke of cuts of between 25 and 40% that I thought he had pulled this figure from his ass and that such reductions were impossible to achieve.

Now, a member of his own team has stated, that achieving such cuts is "a metaphysical impossibility".

But we are about to find out where the axe is to fall.

Alan Johnson, the Labour Shadow Chancellor, is to attack Osborne's claim that the cuts are unavoidable.

As the outbreak of hysteria over the cutting of child benefit showed, most people in the UK support cuts, as long as the cuts do not directly involve themselves. We are all for other people getting along with less, but heaven forbid that it should directly affect us.

The Osborne tactic has achieved public support until now, because it has been all talk. We can all share Osborne's revulsion at immigrants receiving tens of thousands of pounds in benefits. If the deficit could be reduced merely by removing such obvious wrongs then Osborne would end up the most popular man in the country.

But, eventually, he is going to have to tell us what exactly he plans to do.

As the outrage over child benefit showed, at that point I fully expect Osborne's popularity to fall like a stone.

There is nothing unavoidable about what Osborne and the Con-Dem coalition are about to do. They have decided, as a matter of policy and ideology, to pay off the mortgage over five years rather than 25. It's going to hurt.

The people who support Osborne now, do so because they imagine that these cuts will affect other people. Once they realise that the cuts affect themselves, I expect them to lose their enthusiasm for them immediately.

Osborne has sold these cuts by highlighting benefit abuse, which most Brits abhor. But he's not going to be able to achieve the figures he is speaking of by merely cutting out such abuse.

And, as the outrage of high tax payers who lost their child benefit showed, at that point the whole thing is going to move from the abstract to the deeply personal.

The Con-Dem coalition have been getting away with murder up until now, talking tough - which people love - without actually telling anyone how it is going to affect themselves.

That honeymoon is about to come to a shuddering halt. And, once Osborne has spelt out where he intends to make his cuts, I don't think he or the coalition are going to be very popular at all.

Click here for full article.

No comments: