Friday, June 18, 2010

I didn't vote LibDem for this

Axing hospitals, jobs, help for the unemployed, manufacturing projects and front line services: this cull is coming straight from the most ideological right-wing hymnsheet.

Commenting on cuts and "difficult budget decisions", Deputy PM Nick Clegg said recently that his government would "not" do it "the way we did it in the 80s". "We're going to do this differently", he remarked.

The acute observer, however, may have learnt the bitter way that, whatever the Lib Dem leader says, the exact opposite is true. In fact, his public declarations read in reverse should be coveted as the best way of predicting government policy.

And so, yesterday's announcement that projects worth £2bn are getting axed (with another £8.5bn suspended) is a clear sign that, for all Clegg's posturing, the 80s are actually back with a vengeance.

To quote Chris Dillow, "[W]hen Clegg says he’s going to do things differently from Thatcher, he’s right - he’ll cut overall spending by much more than she did".

The significance of yesterday's cuts is immense. It offers a clear glimpse of the ideological direction taken by the Con/Dem administration.

The Coalition are not cutting back on things such as council-funded festivals, public-funded anti-obesity ads or - even better - the salaries handed on a tray to the Chief Executives of Network Rail or the Royal Mail.

No. The axe is falling on public projects which were crucial in both the public and private sector. Cuts are going to affect job creation (mostly in the private sector), 21st century manufacturing, the health service and measures to help the unemployed.

Those include scrapping a much needed new hospital in the North-East and cutbacks on the Future Jobs Fund, a scheme that was created during the recession to help the long-term unemployed with jobs or training.

But probably even more significant was the massive blow dealt to manufacturing firm Sheffield Forgemasters.

Their £80 million loan would have created skilled jobs and stimulated the supply chain in low carbon power generation. It was a good investment both in terms of future green technology and long-term support of a specialised UK company with only one direct competitor in the field of heavy steel forgins and steel castings - in Japan. Other foreign companies will soon be vying to fill the gap.

Quite clearly this government is not interested in diversifying the economy away from the financial sector. They are repeating the short-termist mistakes that led us to the crisis in the first place. They are not interested in a forward-thinking manufacturing base and they have no plan for growth other than praying that their Ideological Hymnsheet may deliver the goods.

And the 11th Chapter, first epistle to the Free Marketeers, Verses 2-16 states clearly that the government shouldn't invest in manufacturing and that mass unemployment is a price worth paying. Amen.


roym said...

the SF loan decision seems an illogical and bloody minded one. even if the libs are anti nuclear per se, there were good commercial grounds for this loan as there are dozens of planned nuclear power stations world wide

lets hope they are able to raise the funds elsewhere.

Stan Moss said...

Hate to say I told you so...

Mr S. Pill said...

I said similar on the same post at Lib Con, but I'll say again here: whatever happened to the idea that the LDs were going to water-down the worse Tory excesses? The most we have is Clegg looking vaguely uncomfortable whenever the EU or HRA is mentioned at PMQs... these cuts are a disaster and the reason why Labour needs to step up the fight when they have a new leader, no matter who that leader is.