Neither Cameron or Brown has had a good New Year first interview/speech. Whilst Cameron was busy giving his usual rhetoric full but policy absent speech, Brown was reintroducing the old Tory cut vs Labour investment line. Yes, we all know that the Tories are the party of cuts, however, it is silly for Brown to act as though any party has the ability to promise no cuts with the public finances as they are. Whilst Brown is busy away announcing new spending commitments, there are key cuts in education (a supposed ring fenced department) from Mandelson, which Vince Cable rightly highlighted:
“Lord Mandelson has already undermined the Prime Minister by making very deep cuts in the university and science budgets, with some of the best scientists in the country losing their job. This leaves Mr Brown looking very foolish.”
I blogged about this recently, and it seems nonsensical to act as though investment is Labour’s speciality when right under Brown’s nose departments are cutting up to 10%. The public hate being lied to about spending cuts. If Brown makes out that cuts aren’t happening and then you find out that your university has for example, 10% to cut from its budget, how much worse is that than if Brown had just admitted from the start that cuts are inevitable with the public finances like they are?
Whilst the Liberal Democrats cannot rule out a pact with Labour if a hung parliament occurred, it is important to make sure that at the moment we distance ourself from the courting that is currently taking place by both Labour and the Tories. Both parties are a compromise to what we stand for, but if it came down to it, Labour are closer to our values as we do share common ground in aspects such as constitutional reform (even though it has taken Labour 12 years to become serious about electoral reform) and taxes – however, there are still dis-junctures between us and Labour, such as civil liberties. Thus, whatever happens, it is important for us to withstand independence from Labour and the Tories, as we do have unique values and are not just a branch of either of the two main parties, we should be a closed book for the time being – let Labour and the Tories squirm for a while, after all we are more likely to get a better deal out of them if it does come to a hung parliament.
Whilst I support a lot of the actions (such as the bail outs of the banks) that has got us into the problems we are in now and whilst I support continued investment in the right areas, making out that we can just continue to invest without any ramifications on the need for cutting is insulting.