Lots of people are, justifiably, outraged over the cuts announced today by the government. I think this outrage and narrative needs a bit of focus, if it is to put the coalition on the defensive3.
For a start, it would be worth acknowledging that cuts in government spending cannot be avoided. Many lefties actually think we can carry on spending like we have been – a financially non-viable situation. The deficit is too big and dangerous to carry on the same level of spending.
Secondly, the coalition government have been talking about the coming cuts for months, if not years. The public expects it and most people will be ok with it. Don’t expect them to automatically join in the outrage.
Third: the key to mobilising public opinion against the cuts will rest on getting two things right: (1) successfully pointing out that these cuts will make the situation worse when the cuts could have been made more efficiently elsewhere; and (2) focusing specifically on what is being cut, and being able to inform particular demographics (mothers, students etc) how the cuts specifically hurt them.
Opposing cuts in a general sense is a losing strategy.
Update: Several have said on Twitter that the deficit should be financed by taxation. I don’t buy that for two reasons. Firstly, the deficit is just too big for that much of an increase in taxation to plug the gap. No really, it is. Do the math.
Secondly, at one point the City was contributing to nearly 35% of our tax revenues. The sector is unlikely to ever recover to the point where it offers that much revenue in the future, so a long term decline in spending will be necessary. Furthermore, we shouldn’t even want to be that reliant on the City in the future for taxes.
Either way, the maths point towards a long-term decrease in spending unless we can find some new growth industry that stimulates the economy.
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