The Chancellor has read the Budget. The House of Commons is debating the Finance Bill. Experts have pored over what specifics are in the Red Book. We have all passed our judgements. I can see George Osborne is gambling massively on the private sector suddenly picking up the slack that his cuts will create in the public sector. I can also see that his gamble will fail. A huge number of private sector firms rely on the state for their business. In fact, the public sector as whole is the UK private sector’s biggest single customer.
So when that biggest customer faces cuts up to one-third of their budgets, it’s fairly obvious the private sector is going to suffer as a result. Commercial organisations aren’t going to spend money now. They’re going to save. They’re going to try to build reserves to see them through what’s coming. And that means no economic recovery. That means economic slow-down, and a return to recession. The infamous ‘double-dip’.
Are the public blaming the Tories for this? Well, no. It’s what Tory governments do. Hard to blame them for following what comes naturally to their ideology. The latest polling shows the Conservatives up 4 points to 41%. Considering this is the ‘honeymoon’ of this government, they should probably be doing better, but they’re still up. No, people don’t blame Conservatives for being conservative. They blame the Liberal Democrats for failing to stick to their Liberal principles. They’re down 7.5 points to a miserable 16%.
I do find myself wondering what thoughts are running through the minds of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians. At least a few of them will feel very uneasy now. I also find myself wondering whether the Tories will still be on 41% when the public sees that these cuts mean fewer schools, fewer hospitals and GP’s surgeries, fewer social workers, fewer police officers and firefighters, fewer engineers maintaining the nation’s infrastructure, declining pensions, and less money in the bank at the end of the month. Will they still be on 41% then?