Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Tory splits.....

While the media gets itself all in a tiz over whether David Miliband will work with his brother, a real story is going almost unreported. The Torygraph is alone in highlighting the spilts within the coalition on defence spending. It has a front page story based on a leak from the MoD which reveals a fundamental split in the Conservative approach to defence cuts.

According to a letter from Defence Minister Liam Fox to David Cameron, the proposed cuts in the defence programme are:
““financially and intellectually virtually impossible” at a time of war."
He warns of the political damage that the cuts will do to the Tory party and the coalition;
“Frankly, this process is looking less and less defensible as a proper SDSR and more like a “super CSR” (comprehensive spending review). If it continues on its current trajectory it is likely to have grave political consequences for us...."
There has been a slew of opinion polls telling us that the public "supports" the coalition's spending cuts as necessary in tough financial times, and no doubt there is some truth in that. But this episode shows that even Tory Ministers, who would be presumed to be in favour of the cuts in principle, have grave reservations when the practical effects of the cuts hit nearer to home.

In this case Liam Fox, whose entire career has cast him as a hawk in terms of government spending, suddenly finds that he cannot take the decisions which are the logicical outcome of the his political beliefs and his fiscal position. As with Fox, so with every other spending department, and even more so with the public.

Everyone can agree that "something must be done". That's the easy bit. But when that "something" is a cut in your own wages or benefits, or your local school or hospital or even worse, it results in you losing your job, then the public will have exactly the same reaction as Dr Fox. They most assuredly will not like it and they will not be slow to let their feeling be known.

Cut the other guy is a good idea. I can live with that. Cut me and mine, and y'know Dave, I'm not so sure about that.

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