If I were a cleverer person than I am, I would try to create a joke with a punch line to fit the following set-up: What’s the difference between a cut in government spending and an ideological cut in government spending?
That I’m not clever enough to create a pithy punch line is of no consequence, as it is no laughing matter.
Labour have sometimes tried to trail the line that the coalition’s cuts are avoidable, that there are the product of ideology rather than necessity.
This line lacked some credence because even as they were saying it, the Labour manifesto if 2010, written by a certain Ed Miliband, detailed how Labour would cut.
Alastair Darling said in the Chancellor’s debate on Channel 4 Television pre-the 2010 election that there would be cuts ‘faster and deeper than Thatcher’ under Labour after the election if Labour won, Vince Cable and George Osborne agreed with him that day.
Ed Balls recently published an article in The Times in which he said that Labour would be cutting now if they were in power. (I would post a link but it is behind a pay wall.)
So the consensus appears to be that cuts are necessary and would be happening now, no matter who won in 2010.
That’s not to say that ideological cuts are not happening. Right now across Britain ideological cuts are depriving people of vital services when there is ample cash to pay for them, those cuts are being implemented by Labour councils.
One such example is Haringey Borough Council in London , an area of high deprivation and scene of some of the worst rioting in London recently, is to cut almost £60 million from its budget over the next four years, while having ample cash reserves as can be seen here and here.
But as can be seen from the second of those links, Labour in Haringey are not some ideological mutation of Labour nationally, rather they are doing what Labour council’s across Britain are doing, cutting for the sake of it.
Lambeth council in London is closing services, but has cash and reserves of £120million. It also continues to pay the wages of shop stewards.
I’m a huge believer in Trade Unions, but they are ideological groups, and if Labour is cutting a front line service to pay for people to promote an ideology labour agree with, that surely is an ideological cut?
Even Doncaster Council, where Ed Miliband is the MP, has gotten in on the act, closing services while having millions in the bank.
Now the great economic Liberal JM Keynes was a great believer in fiscal prudence, saving money in the good times to be a safety net in bad times. But I think we can all agree these are the bad times, so what are the councils waiting for?
Further evidence that council’s are making cuts that are not necessary comes from the fact that no council where the Lib Dems are in overall control has cut a single sure start centre or Library.
Now I will leave it up to readers to decide why Labour Council’s across London and the UK are making these cuts, some might argue its simply incompetence, and after 13 years of seeing how Labour ran Britain , incompetence is something we can certainly believe of them.
But then you get back to the ideological point, and you think: All of those Labour councillors making those cuts will be up for re-election between now and 2014. I wonder will they perhaps start announcing huge spending initiatives in the run up to that election, and perhaps tell a tale of how they have all of this money despite the Coalition cuts and doesn’t that show what and efficient bunch of administrators they are?
It would help them get re-elected to promote their ideology, and never mind the damage down.
There might even be a council leader somewhere in Britain who will say, he has abolished boom and bust.
Lib Dems nationally are putting the long-term betterment of the current ahead of short-term election considerations, with 2012 soon to be upon us, we must dedicate the new year to campaigning against Labour’s ideological cuts in our communities.
* David Thorpe is a Lib Dem member in Hammersmith and Fulham.
* David Thorpe is a member of the Liberal Democrats in Newham, and works for an economics publication.