LibLink: Tavish Scott: Cuts plan is Osborne masterstroke

Well, we almost choked on our tea here in LDV Towers when we read that headline. Then we remembered that Tavish is hardly best buddies with the Tories, nor with the idea of the Coalition.  What was his latest article in the Scotsman all about? Well, possibly getting his wooden spoon out and stirring it a bit. This article was even quoted in Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions by Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm.

Tavish looks at Osborne’s assertion that there must be £25 billion further spending cuts:

Fast forward to this week and Chancellor Osborne is positioning his party against both Labour and the Lib Dems. He has achieved something that would have appeared impossible in British politics. He has allowed the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and the Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls to agree. So what brilliant idea has united the Deputy Prime Minister and a hated political opponent? Spending cuts. Osborne has committed his party to cut £25 billion of spending in between 2015-2020 if the Conservatives remain in office. This may be brilliant political positioning. But it could have handed the next UK general election to Labour.

But will the country wear it?

So as the mood turns upwards and people look forward to rising wages, is slash and burn on spending a good strategy? There will always be a political market for a smaller state. But it is a constituency that shrinks when times begin to improve. It is in effect a core vote Conservative strategy. It looks ideological rather than what needs to happen. £25bn of cuts is huge. That affects many schools, hospitals and care homes. So Labour now know what to put on every leaflet, tweet and target letter until the 2015 UK election. They need not reveal their economic hand until the election. Why should they? The financial numbers underpinning government expenditure will be unclear until the autumn budget. Clegg’s unequivocal response this week separates the Lib Dems from Osborne’s position and is a good for party morale.

And how might that affect the independence referendum in Scotland?

The Scottish dimension is very clear. A probable Labour win in 2015 makes a Yes vote in the referendum increasingly unlikely. Alex Salmond needs a Tory government in London. Badly. Why is he so keen to debate with the Prime Minister? Because Cameron is a Tory, considered posh and above all, English. If Labour look like winning in 2015 then this hurts the SNP. Osborne may just have pulled off a genuine masterstroke. He has found a way to keep the union by losing an election.

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4 Comments

  • The Scottish dimension is very clear. … … Osborne may just have pulled off a genuine masterstroke. He has found a way to keep the union by losing an election.

    II would prefer the Unionists to lose an election and the referendum. We used to be against unionists . I cannot quite understand why friends in Scotland stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tory and Labour Parties and the status quo in the Referendum debate.

  • jedibeeftrix 11th Jan '14 - 2:22pm

    “We used to be against unionists”

    Come again…

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Jan '14 - 3:33pm

    thank you for the explanation.

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