Two thoughts strike me as the budget news continues to sink in. First, most of what passes for debate over tax and spending policies between Labour and the Conservatives has been a matter of a few billion here or there. Compared with the hundreds of billions of debt, this really does seem to me a matter of Titanic and deckchairs.
It also says something about how unhealthy the state of our politics is with so much heat and focus having gone into sums that are dwarfed by the scale of the problem. At least Nick Clegg, Vince Cable et al have been talking about plans with sums running into many tens of billions in total in terms of changed spending priorities, fairer tax system etc. That’s the scale of policies we need.
Second, hundreds of billions of debt looming over the economy and public life for years to come – that’s the sort of thing which can wreck a political party’s fortunes for a generation. This is Winter of Discontent / forced exit from the ERM territory – providing both the symbolic and actual damage to a party that sees a generation of its rising stars have their political careers wiped out.
I wonder if that might just be enough to push them over the edge and – if Labour gets
hammered in June – make them dump Brown? The political gossip season of the summer and conference season is set to be very interesting!