Thursday, 18 November 2010

Cut somewhere else

I can't remember the exact detail, but there was a Spitting Image scene where the budget deficit was being explained to Ronald Reagan.  It went something like, "Mr President, suppose you have ten apples, and you take away three trillion; how many do you have left?", to which Reagan replied, "Oh, I don't know, but there must be a few at least".

It came to mind when I read this report, or more precisely the comments of Paul Davies AM, on rural transport this morning.  Transport is a major issue in rural areas, of course.  And I agree with him that we need to increase the frequency of train services to Fishguard in particular and West Wales in general - although I still think that his repeated calls for dualling the A40 are a completely inappropriate response.  The point is, though, that rural transport issues will never be resolved by the private sector; they require a large dose of investment from public funds.  I recognise that, and am prepared to argue for the sort of public sector spending regime which can deliver that.

Mr Davies, though, does not.  Only yesterday, he and his party were arguing that health spending - note, spending, not delivery - should be protected from any cuts at all, which means larger cuts elsewhere.  He and his party have argued consistently that the public sector needs to be cut by a large amount and in a short timescale to rectify the deficit.  I disagree with him and his party on both of those; but there's nothing at all wrong with him putting those arguments.  There's something more than a little dishonest, though, about then calling for significant extra government expenditure in his own constituency.

It smacks of the all-too-common refrain of people who support cutting public expenditure, as long as the cuts happen somewhere else, and to somebody else.

1 comment:

Peter Freeman said...

I always find this type of story disturbing. Not just because of the hypocrisy that you point to but also because I fear the "Pork Barrel" politics of the USA affecting the UK.
Whenever Congress enacts a bill there are included amendments that have nothing to do with the act itself. In order to get the votes of key members of both houses, the bill has to contain something, whether it be infrastructure or public building, whatever in the constituency of that politician. The politicians election coffers are fed by business who expect lucrative Pork contracts to come to their area. It means that every enactment of Congress has a portion of its cost that has nothing to do with the bill itself.
Whenever I hear of a politician in Wales acting in the way you describe here I wonder if this is going to be the way of our politicians in the future.