Wednesday, 20 October 2010
The Comprehensive Spending Review
As we stand today many of these deficiecies have been radically overhauled thanks to concerted investment. Underinvestment is no longer a buzzword: we have short NHS waiting times, school buildings featuring in international design arwards, unparallelled sporting success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and arts organisations that reach more people in more ways than ever before. Today I fear we will take a massive pole-vault backwards.
While I agree that debt is economically debilitating and needs to be tackled, cutting accross the board is not the answer. We are so far in debt primarily for two reasons: expensive and utterly unneccesary international conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the bailing out of the banks. Not, therefore, as a result of investing in the fabric of our society. So why is this fabric set to bear the brunt of the cuts? There are all sorts of alternatives - scrapping Trident, raising taxes, not policing the world, targeting cuts gradually and strategicallly, sellling our stakes in the banks - all of which would do so without resulting in a regressive impact on the least fortunate.
The discussions of the next decade will be written today. In ten years 'underfunding' will once again be the buzzword we are all using to lambast the poor state of our public services. It will then cost more to rectify the situation than it would have to keep things going. in the first place.
These cuts are not being forced by the economic situation, they are the direct result of ideological opposition to government spending by a Thatcheright Tory government that is rubbing its hands with glee today at this open goal they've been given to do exactly what they most wanted.
The ten year old me who was baffled at why we had got into a situation of such underinvestment back in the 1990s is saddened to be back at the beginning of the cycle today. And the twenty-something socialist is just plain angry.