Monday, 26 April 2010

Fiddling while Rome burns

A Channel 4 News report this evening pointed out that while we are all enjoying our election fun in the sun (we are, aren't we?) the serious politics of the next few years is actually being worked out in the back offices (ahem) of the Treasury.

Civil servants are preparing financial scenarios based on which party will be in charge after the election and any subsequent deal-making. These scenarios try to incorporate the parties' election pledges, although that will not be easy. All of the scenarios envisage far more pain for the country (or sections of it) than anyone on the stump is prepared to admit.

Below are some sobering comments taken from the news item (see the whole thing here).

Sir Richard Mottram, Work & Pensions permanent secretary 2002-5, told Channel 4 News that it was not true that things people cared about would not be hit by cutbacks after the election.

He noted that the chief executive of the National Health Service was looking at cuts, on an efficiency ticket, of £20bn. "What do people imagine," he asked, "is going to be the result of this?"

"You couldn't reorganise on that scale without fundamentally looking at everything the National Health Service does. This is not going to be painless."

The Institute of Personnel and Development's John Philpott said the risk to public sector jobs over the next five years was "in the order of half a million".

Recalling the forthcoming 90th anniversary of the 1926 general strike, He said: "It wouldn't surprise me if the kind of fiscal austerity we see in the next few years will generate something of the same kind before that 90th anniversary is met." And he suggested there could be "serious problems on the streets in the years to come".
I'm afraid John Philpott over-estimates the gumption of our current crop of trade union leaders who, I believe, are shockingly supine. Does that mean I salivate at the thought of massive industrial strife? No, not when I can imagine what might happen to cause it. Is there an alternative to massive blood-letting in public services? I do believe so, but it would entail very different political priorities than any of the main parties has.

1 comment:

Rog T said...

"Pain for the country". I suspect that should read social deprivation for the poorest and most needy.

I will bet you a cup of the finest cappucino money can buy that whenever the next election takes place, the richest five percent of people in Britain have got richer.

I'll also bet you a slice of whatever cake you like to go with it that the Poorest five percent have got poorer.