As I wrote yesterday, there is a clear choice now for the electorate between the spend now and tax later policy of the Labour Party and the more fiscally sane Conservative approach of allying any tax cuts to a reduction in government spending. The Times agrees; although in the leader they fail to acknowledge the true extent of government waste and in so doing over-exaggerate the delicacy with which Cameron needs to tread.
In setting out the argument for the likely promise from the Conservatives of a reduction in spending compared to Labour, The Times states the following:
There are very few claims on public resources for which there is no case at all. This newspaper has long been an advocate of a more extensive reform of public services. But reform almost always loads the cost up front. To close down one system and replace it with another pays off in Year 4 but depletes the balance sheet in Year 1.
This really misses the point. We do of course need reform in what are considered key government services, and this could cost money in the short term, but what is needed now are promises of a slash and burn approach to wasteful spending outside of ‘key services’.
The Finklestein fear – that voters are afraid that the Conservatives will not properly fund public services – can easily be allayed through clarity of argument. Because the public have an irrational fondness for the NHS, it makes political sense to hold off any plans for the reform of this behemoth until the public comes to its senses (despite the human tragedy this entails). However, outside of this ideological sanctuary there is much that can be done.
The plethora of quangos and consultants should have their execution date set for soon after the next election. We have given a guide to sensible Privatizations and none of them will cause the electorate to lose an iota of sleep. Added to this there is much waste to be cut from all departments of government. It is thus good to read that the Conservative shadow Cabinet will spend the next few months carefully studying Whitehall budgets to identify where savings can be made. There are in fact many claims on public resourses that have no case at all.
Now all we need from Cameron is a commitment to some nice clean tax cuts.