- Colossal cuts to council spending (that’s your libraries, youth centres, rubbish collection, paving, street-lighting, social care and housing etc.), trading standards, education, benefits, environmental spending, justice (police), etc. etc. – basically all the services that folk depend upon.
- The unleashing of the market across swathes of the public sector, including virtual privatisation of the NHS.
- The destruction of upwards of half a million public sector jobs (with knock on job losses in the private sector).
- The deliberate leaving open of tax loop holes, plus the letting off of the hook of the banks and major tax evaders and avoiders, like Vodafone.
- The irresponsible transfer of vital public services into the voluntary sector a-la The Big Society.
Put another way, that’s 8.5 out of 10 for a government transparently committed to the evisceration of the welfare state. Way to go, Martin!
Horwood also repeats the lie (at 8 mins 10) that this smashing of the welfare state is “necessary” due to “staggering overspending” on the part of Labour. In fact, as the chart below makes crystal clear, there was no “overspending”. Average spending under New Labour was 38.24%, which was significantly lower than under the Tory government that preceded it, with the spike in spending precisely corresponding with the banking crash.
And yet, it’s worth noting that even if Labour HAD “overspent”, cuts to public expenditure would make no sense in any case, since the one thing you don’t do in a recession – at least not if you happen to care about ordinary working people – is implement policies calculated to raise the unemployment rate (the logical consequence of cuts), which lowers the tax-take, raises benefit spending, and ultimately exacerbates the problem you’re (purportedly) trying to solve!
Un-phased by this monumental whopper, Martin goes on to argue that there is no inconsistency between his facilitating of the cuts agenda at national level and his subsequent championing of popular anti-cuts campaigns at local level – most notably, the excellent campaign orchestrated by Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries. One of the libraries slated for closure is Hester’s Way, which Martin claims to be deeply concerned about. He claims also to be concerned about the county council’s planned closure (or possibly the transfer to the voluntary sector) of the Hester’s Way’s youth centre. And yet, neither closure would be happening if Martin and his peers hadn’t hopped into bed with the Tories. What a breathtaking display of political opportunism. If Martin thinks he can play this game and emerge unscathed, he’d better think again.
Finally, since Martin seems to be having difficulty diagnosing the reasons for his increased majority at the last General Election, perhaps he won’t mind if I spell it out for him: PEOPLE VOTED LIB DEM AS THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD HELP KEEP THE TORIES OUT! Thus, in practice, Martin attracted scores of tactical votes, in particular from, but not limited to, Labour (whose percentage of the vote declined significantly), while Green voters also turned temporarily yellow, assuming – erroneously as it turned out – that the Lib Dems represented the relative left-of-centre vote. Martin knows there’s every chance that these voters will desert him at the next General Election, and hence his efforts to accrue as much political capital as he thinks he can get away with by backing local campaigns against the cuts. It’s part of our job to ensure he doesn’t get away with it.