Friday, 21 November 2008

Cameron's U-turn

In 1997, the decision by the Labour Party to stand by the spending and taxation plans of the outgoing Tory administration for the first two years was claimed to have been a factor in their electoral success. I was never particularly convinced, mind. After all, what's the point of electing somebody different if they're going to do the same thing? I think that they would probably have won anyway, even without that pledge, so strong was the zeitgeist for change.

I was somewhat surprised when Cameron initially made the same commitment – even if the trick did actually have some effect the first time round, surely people wouldn't fall for it a second time? It's no real surprise this week to see him dropping the commitment, which many of his backbenchers were always dubious about anyway.

The question is, though, will he be allowed to get away with dropping the commitment without spelling out his alternative? He and his party are clearly unhappy about the lack of balance between spending and taxation, and intend to close the gap. It's a valid position to take – even though it's one which I fundamentally disagree with - but it means that there can be no question whatsoever that he is either committing to increase taxation or to cut spending (or a bit of both) – and to do so within the first two years of a Conservative government.

"Tell us what you'd cut" is an over-simplistic response of course, but in essence it's an entirely valid question to be asking. A fairer question is "tell us what your alternative programme looks like", but at the moment, he seems to be answering neither.

PS - I note that Glyn Davies is very happy that his party leader "has decided to face down the gamblers". Presumably that doesn't include the gamblers who are largely financing his party?


Anonymous said...

John - are you seriously suggesting the Tories should NOT change their policies in the light of the economic situation? What, and Plaid would never react to a massive change in the economy? If not, then Plaid doesn't deserve to be in government. A party has to have principles but it also has to have common sense.

Will Plaid's 2011 be full of pointless gimmicks and freebies parceled up as a manifesto? Could a Plaid government afford that or would it cut government spending (i.e. sack people) to make money for the give-aways?

John Dixon said...


No I'm not suggesting that they shouldn't change their policies in the light of events at all. But I am suggesting that they should tell us what their policies actually are, rather than simply what they're not.

As for our 2011 manifesto, I expect that to contain a programme for a 4 year term which is as fully costed as we can make it.