Lord Mandelson will today face down union threats of strikes and rioting if there are public spending cuts.That’s the problem with feeding the crocodile in the hopes it’ll eat you last – what happens when you run out of food?
In the most hawkish statement yet from a senior minister on the need for restraint he will say Gordon Brown has decided to stop 'throwing money' at state services.
His intervention comes as union barons raised the spectre of 1980s-style riots if public spending is slashed.Or, to put it another way, ‘Nice country you’ve got here. Shame if anything was to happen to it…’
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said taking an axe to public services would spark a 'double quick, double dip' recession and push unemployment over four million.
Unemployment could hit 40 per cent in major cities in the North, triggering massive social unrest, he said.
He warned: 'Last time we suffered slash and burn economics we had riots in the streets here.‘Here’ being Liverpool. Which rather begs the question, how did he know these riots were anything to do with economics?
I mean, we are talking about the UK here - a place where police have to baton charge drunken scum to prevent them trying to get into a burning nightclub. So, I'm not sure we'd notice, frankly...
But I digress. It seems no-one quite trusts the government any more. Odd, isn’t it?
The strategy change came as a new poll found that more voters trust the Tories rather than Labour to make cuts without damaging frontline services.I’ve yet to be convinced myself, because I doubt either plan to target the huge, unsustainable, peripheral ‘services’ that have sprung up in every corner on central and local government.
And it seems Labour are targeting the people who don’t vote for them, in the hopes of attracting more of the people they have paid to remain on their couches watching ‘Trisha’ to actually turn up at the polls:
Aides close to Mr Darling suggested that middle class benefits could be the first to feel the axe. They said universal benefits such as winter fuel payments, child benefit and free TV licences for the over 80s - available to everyone regardless of income - were payments that could be made means-tested.Now, if you are going to means-test these, then you will need people to do it. Civil servants.
Which either means you are going to recruit more – thus adding to the already unsustainable public sector pension debt – or redeploy those you already have.
I bet the plans aren’t to redeploy any of the ones currently performing ‘make work’ diversity and eco-based jobs. It’ll be in other areas. Areas that do valuable jobs.
So these plans to cut what must surely be miniscule amounts in comparison will actually end up increasing the size of the public sector or annoy even more voters and their relatives.
Are they trying to run a ‘scorched earth’ game? I’m beginning to wonder…