Tuesday 18 May 2010

Opening the books

After going all the way through the election without revealing the true scale and nature of the cuts and/ or tax increases that they were planning to impose, it was never going to be more than a matter of time before we heard the refrain, "Now we've seen the books, and the situation is much worse than we thought", or some variation thereon. (Although quite how Labour would have managed to spin that had they been re-elected must remain an unanswered question).

So Sunday's story came as absolutely no surprise to me. The precise list of issues which would be used to justify the claim would have been hard to predict, but the broad nature of the claim was as likely as night following day.

It's the sort of spin which is essential if they want to be able to explain an increase in VAT, for example, which is being widely trailed. And we can depend on the government's supporters to make the most of the claim to justify the forthcoming decisions (and I see that Peter Black is at it already).

There was one item on the list which did surprise me though, and that was the reference to the fact that the decommissioning costs for nuclear power stations have almost certainly been grossly under-estimated. The fact that they've been underestimated comes as no surprise at all - I think that those of us who have been opposed to future nuclear build have been arguing for some time that no government could possibly have a proper handle on these costs. No, the surprise is that the incoming government has drawn attention to it.

The larger coalition partner remains completely committed to new nuclear build, but keeps harping on about there being no public subsidies available. Exposing the fact that there are large backdoor subsidies and that they've been underestimated can hardly help their case. Not that I'm complaining.

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