The New Managerialism
First, admit that the last government – “for all the right reasons” – ramped up public spending too much and left the public finances too weak to face the crisis. Unforeseen and unprecedented as the crisis was, public finances should have been stronger. That’s what people think, and it happens to be the truth.
Second, “panic cuts” can be opposed – but not all cuts. Long-term public-sector pensions and welfare reform should be embraced. Public Finance Initiative reform too – a PFI Rebate, as proposed by Tory MP Jesse Norman, would be a vote-winner, and the right thing to do.
But spending and borrowing ought to be reduced faster than the last government planned. Labour should find practical alternatives; not raising VAT but bringing in a mansions tax and other taxes; protecting infrastructure spending that creates jobs and growth; attacking the excesses of public-sector “fat cats” and quangos; reaching an agreement with the unions to avoid strikes in vital services – using Labour’s union links as a strength.
Deficit reduction is a managerial activity and requires a managerial response. All-out opposition to cuts will take the party back to the 1980s, ghettoised in defence of union-dominated public services: a pre-Blair core vote “strategy”.
The New Managerialism is hardly a stirring slogan to stitch to the banners, but he is right. Which is why The Independent on Sunday takes George Osborne’s Spending Challenge seriously. Some of the suggestions for spending cuts or revenue increases from members of the public – two thirds of them working in the public sector themselves – are silly (“Sell Cornwall”), but many of them are well-informed and should prompt a thoughtful response rather than mockery.labour leadership, tax and spend
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter