George Osbourne's recent bizarre behaviour in calling for reports on the full impact on public services of a 40% cut in expenditure is worrying indeed.
Not just because of the obvious impact on public sector jobs and the services axed but also because it suggests a government which is determined to out slash the mad Thatch herself when it comes to getting tough with public spending.
How do you even begin to imagine cuts of such a magnitude? Knowing how public expenditure has already been reigned in over the last couple of years it is utter madness to suggest that such high scale change is possible without a huge impact on the economy and on the public good. We are talking about whole scale services being abolished not just a snip here and there. Prepare for whole sale closures of residential care homes, cuts to social care delivered at home and higher charges introduced, black sack collections fortnightly not weekly, Third Sector funding halved if not scrapped, dirtier streets, roads not repaired, Libraries closed, Museums closed Arts projects? forget it! Police numbers slashed, Hospital waiting lists back to where they were 10 years ago. Rail fares up as subsidies are slashed. Anybody who forgot or never knew what it was like to live under a Tory Government won't have long to wait to find out the harsh truth.
Today on Radio 4 it was further announced that Capital budgets as well as Revenue budgets are also to be slashed with public sector new build projects reducing from £49bn down to £21bn A £28bn pound cut to projects already identified as necessary! So what impact will that have on the services and also on a construction industry still reeling from the collapse of the Housing Market? What will it do to NBC's plans for Housing PFI and ensuring a decent Home standard for its tenants?
And equally what impact will have on overall unemployment levels? Public sector jobs it is estimated will fall by 600,000 and any further impact on the private sector order book will add greatly to that number.
Now, and only now the markets are starting to get twitchy, what if he goes too far? what if we have a double dip recession? what if what if the speculators will cry before ensuring exactly the same fall in the stock market that they are warning us all about. The irony of course is that Public Borrowing requirement was £8bn below that which was expected by the Tories when they made their plans for an initial £6bn squeeze on the public purse, meaning that they could have got their saving + £2bn without a single cut instead of carrying on regardless meaning a movement now of £14bn and still the Chancellor wants more!
Well I do see trouble ahead, real trouble, industrial action, rising welfare bills and quite possibly civil unrest, much as it pains me to say it I can't see the British Public just standing by this time and taking it on the chin. And the protests will be mainstream, not just limited to politically motivated farmers, fox hunters and lorry drivers who have surprisingly gone very quiet recently as petrol prices have rocketed under a Conservative/Lib Dem government!
So where do we all stand when the time comes to stand up and be counted? This must be the most difficult of questions for Lib Dem MP's, Cllrs and ordinary party members who are attached completely to the actions of the coalition government as it's their party and their leader who are wielding the axe!
Having listened to Tory and Liberal Democrat Cllrs over the last few years complaining that a Labour Government has sold Northamptonshire and Northampton short at budget I look forward to their commentary this time. What exactly will there mantra/excuse be?
No one will buy the lame excuse of national necessity or paying for Labours spending in the past, according to most Lib Dem's the Labour Government wasn't spending enough it seemed! and Lib Dem candidates up and down the country stood on tickets of no rises in VAT and the need to be cautious with any public spending reductions which threaten the economic recovery. What shallow cruel words they now seem, what hypocrisy! And was the price of a vote on the Alternative Vote next May really a price worth paying? Not to the Lib Dem's I have spoken to who think the vote is far too early and the desired outcome far too hard to difficult to achieve at a time when the country will have different voting patterns dependent on local elections.
So we will have a few very interesting weeks and months ahead of ourselves as Lib Dem MP's Cllrs and individual members have to make the toughest of tough choices and decide if they will stay true to their principles and leave the party or continue to sell their souls and reputations to the devil in the guise of further right wing attacks on the public realm the scale of which even Thatcher herself never dared to attempt.
I hope I am wrong on one point though above, no one wants civil unrest, it is always nasty and the public will always suffer as a long term result, but at the minute I can't see an alternative outcome? Not when we have the nasty party back in government this time all wrapped up in the yellow hue of Liberal expedience.
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