But no. These aren't cuts at all. In Brown's fantasy world of endless zeroes, by some, astonishing feat of mental gymnastics, this is 'investment'. Apparently, Tory realism and proposals for managing the decline in national output (Brown's bust) are 'massive Tory cuts in essential public services' while Labour's piecemeal fiddling around with shortfalls enforced upon them because they've run out of our money (they've even run out of borrowed money - now they're running out of printed money) aren't cuts at all. That's 'investment' in la la land.
I watched the exchanges between Brown and Cameron a few minutes ago on the interweb. Cameron wiped the floor with his delusional, monocular, has-been opponent. Why, then, does the media appear to think otherwise? I have to assume it's just blind prejudice. It was refreshing, therefore, to discover that I am not alone in my assessment of Cameron's performance. Lloyd Evans (solid name, that) thought so too:
Cameron stood up with a ready-made quip. ‘How pleased I am to see the prime minister in his place.’ Brown shrank physically at this, staring obsessively into his lap like an anxious schoolboy trying to magic himself out of danger.
Cameron explained that the Tories support the existing electoral system, ‘because you can throw out weak, tired and discredited governments.’ He asked if the prime minister planned to hold a referendum before the general election. Brown had flicked the switch by now, restoring himself to Gladstonian mode. He welcomed Cameron’s decision to discuss the issues and added sorrowfully, ‘there seems to be an element of self-interest in the way he is discussing policy.’ This brought the house down. Even the Tory whips joined in. So did the Speaker. ‘Tew noisy!’ he bawled which prompted more catcalls. He swivelled his massive pink trunk towards the Tories. ‘And I’m not getting much help from the chief whup!’
Cameron poured scorn on Brown’s apparent opportunism, calling it an attempt ‘to fix the rules before the next election.’ Brown flayed uselessly with the accusation that the Tories planned 10 percent cuts across the board and Cameron was withering in reply, calling Brown’s government ‘the worst in history’ whose ultimate legacy would be the mismanagement of public finances. This cheered Brown up. He unsheathed the most perilous weapon in his armoury. Tedium. ‘Let me read the figures for public spending,’ he said and reeled them off from memory. By the time he’d finished, my keyboard was smoking. Brown can hype faster than I can type. As an ultra-boring finale he repeated his mantra that the Tories’ only policy is to do nothing. This was more a skirmish than a full-blooded battle and I have a suspicion Cameron was expecting to face the Postman today not the Presbyterian.
That's what I thought I saw. The only problem I thought Cameron might have was deciding which bit of Brown he should stomp-on next. Or, as Evans the Blog puts it:
Cameron’s real problem is that the PM is now so weak he could barely put up a fight against Andy Pandy. How do you discredit an opponent whose friends can’t credit him? How do you finish off a man who is finished? How do you ridicule ridicule itself? He mustn’t make it look too easy and Cameron struck the right notes today. Anger, impatience, mockery – and a bit more anger. Exactly.Exactly. From now on, folks, it's The Cameron Show all the way. Brown? Ignore 'im.
According to Fraser Nelson, the true Labour spending cuts have been revealed - inadvertently - by Andy Burnham on C4 news. You can read his piece here. John snow summed it up neatly in a question:
"There is no one who doesn't know the parlous condition of our finances. We have borrowed five times our own GDP. It beggars belief that there are not going to be swingeing cuts and all sorts of alteration to taxes to pay for that. How otherwise are we ever going to plug the hole in our finances? Surely what the Tories are doing is telling the truth - and what you're doing is trying to disguise it?"The truth will out.