Honeyball’s weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

“Does the Tory Party actually want to win the next election?” asks Andrew Rawnsley in his article for the Observer this week.

There are enduring problems among the Tories, of which we read about often enough this week it will be even more apparent as the Chancellor announces further spending cuts much to the anger of his cabinet colleagues.

All of which is further compounded by  a group of Tory MPs who have written the ‘Alternative Queen’s speech’ in which they call for the August bank holiday to be renamed ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’, the restoration of national service and an exit from the European Union. The manifesto runs into some 42 proposals in total.

The result of this is confusion within the party is that the public remains unclear about whom and what they are voting for. As Rawnsley writes: “That confusion remains to this day. So do the same arguments within his party about the best way to secure power. There are those around him who press for the next election campaign to be tightly focused on traditional Tory issues such as welfare, immigration and Europe with a dash of tax cuts if they are at all affordable.” You can read his full article here.

And, as if dissent from backbenchers wasn’t enough, there is mounting fury from within the cabinet over the Chancellor’s spending review which led to this headline in the Sunday Mirror over the weekend: “Spending review row: Tory ministers fighting ‘like ferrets in a sack’ over savage cuts”.

The acrimonious battle between the chancellor and several of his cabinet colleagues over the savage cuts has caused an 11th hour battle ahead of the announcement on Wednesday. George Osborne is expecting them to find £11.5billion worth of savings between them.

Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls responded by stating “that further cuts were necessary because their deficit reduction plan had failed”. He wrote in the Sunday Mirror that instead of cuts the Government should boost jobs and growth.

Balls wrote: “The hard reality is that if David Cameron and George ­Osborne carry on with the same failing policies, Labour will have to deal with a difficult situation after the next election.”

In his article for the Sunday Mirror Ed Balls wrote of the real impact cuts have had after three years in Government, Balls pointed out that, “for ordinary families life is getting harder. Prices are rising faster than wages. The number of people on the dole for over a year is going up”.

People often ask what Labour would do differently, and the shadow chancellor sets out his plan in the article: “Instead of planning more cuts two years ahead, they should use this week’s spending review to boost growth and living standards this year and next.

“More growth now would bring in more tax revenues and mean our public services would not face such deep cuts in 2015.

“Help working families with a 10p starting rate of tax, not giving millionaires a tax cut.

“And get construction workers back to work repairing Britain’s broken roads and building the affordable homes we need.

This alternative plan would boost growth, create revenue and in turn mean we can save and improve public services which are also at breaking point following deep cuts. This is a plan that is workable, that seeks to help those who need it most, while focussing on longer term measures which will get the economy back on track. You can read Ed Ball’s article in full here.

The cuts are reckless and regressive.

Labour Party

Many will be left reeling after the revelations of yesterday’s Spending Review, a long list of savage cuts which threaten 500,000 jobs and the welfare of millions. In announcing this strategy, Chancellor George Osborne claimed to be driven by the demands of fairness; if this is true, it is painfully clear that he has a very distorted concept of what ‘fairness’ entails. Few could describe as fair a budget that impacts disproportionately on the poorest half of the nation, slashing already squeezed social housing provision and reducing care provision whilst allowing the City to emerge unscathed. Even The Telegraph readily admits that this is a political budget, shaped by ideological imperatives as much as economic demands.

Already, the plans have prompted a surge of compelling critiques from think-tanks and charities shocked by their regressive implications. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (hardly a voice of radicalism) has warned that the impact on the poorest tenth will be five times that on the richest, Shelter has expressed fears that homelessness will surge, and the Social Market Foundation has pointed out that protecting the schools budget meant big hits for all-important early years services.

Acknowledging all of this is hugely important, but it is also crucial that we include gender in the picture and recognise the particularly pernicious effects these cuts will have on women. As the Fawcett Society outlines, it is women who will be the main losers as jobs are cut, public services are rolled back and benefits are slashed. Of the 500,000 to be cut from the public sector, two thirds will be women and, as primary carers, it is women who will assume the extra burden of responsibility when provision for children and the elderly is scaled back. We must challenge this: if it goes unrecognised, women’s services and benefits will remain a soft target, vulnerable to a Coalition all-too-often governed by expedience.