As with most political bloggers, I followed the CSR and am now going to publish my first reactions while I find time to read through the report, which is where we’ll find all the detail of this review. Obviously, we don’t look there for the devil. He already stood at the despatch box reading the bloody thing out.
Osborne has probably put more thought into the politics of this review than he has the finances. It was clear that the majority of things where Cameron had made personal guarantees were saved from cuts. But if the promise had been given by a lesser cabinet member, especially a Liberal Democrat, then they were cut.
The incessant coughing of Osborne throughout the speech has been variously ascribed to guilt, nerves, and fear. I am willing to go out on a limb and ascribe it to a cough. It’s that time of year and stuff is going around. Silly people trying to read psychology into a cough are trying too hard.
It was obvious that Osborne has passed off the worst of the announcements to their relevant departments and tried to save as much of the positive stuff for his speech to work in soundbites and headlines that will be good for the Tories. From what I’ve seen so far, it hasn’t worked too well.The rapid pace of delivery combined with thin levels of real information were highly reminiscent of Gordon Brown’s budget speeches. And like them, the real information will be tucked away in the depths of the formal written report. People have already begun the long search through it.
The tone of the coalition MPs in the chamber was highly misjudged. All the cheering and back slapping whilst announcing cuts that will devastate peoples’ lives came across very badly on tv. It was nice to see Alan Johnson and the Labour benches highlighting that issue. All the build up to the CSR failed to prepare most of us for the scale of some of the cuts announced today. Communities, especially, was one that made me wince. Alan Johnson did a great job of responding to Osborne using a good level of humour and hitting back reasonably well despite not coming out with any specific alternatives at this point.
He did manage to get his point across that this was a ‘reckless gamble’ from the Coalition, and he was perfectly right. What Osborne’s speech had was lots and lots of cuts but no growth. There is nothing coming from Team Cameron to tell us how they plan to create growth in our economy, and without growth, we’re in deep deep trouble.