“Oh what jolly japes! I’m going to read as fast as I can and you have to guess what I’m saying: and when I’ve done you can put your jester’s outfit on and make us all laugh. Won’t that be fun?” So it was today.
Sometimes the House of Commons can be a very silly place. It was this afternoon. George Osborne delivered his speech at such break-neck speed that even the most accomplished scribbler in the press gallery must have been wondering what hit them. The opposition front bench did their best not to look confused, and failed. Why did he do it? Did he think that we wouldn’t notice the nasty bits? Silly boy George!
Alan Johnson’s response to Dr Osborne’s nasty medicine was limp and laid-back. He got the laughs, but completely failed to deliver any killer punches. If this is the sort of opposition we can look forward to, the coalition must be rubbing their hands in glee. Definitely need to do better.
Both performances in the House today were a reminder of how detached the political process is from reality. Today it was all about performance. Today’s players were playing to their cohorts and the media. The electorate were not in the room.
The reality is that the cuts are going to hurt. They may have sounded ‘reasonable’, but they are going to cause a lot of pain. Clearly the coalition believe it’s a ‘price worth paying’ to get rid of the deficit. A pity the price has to be paid by those that can’t afford to pay.
And what of the million and a half new jobs that the OBR thinks the private sector is going to conjure up? Not a mention. Perhaps they don’t exist after all. What about substantial new initiatives to create jobs? Nothing, just a few projects saved from the axe.
Mervyn King said that this was going to be a tough decade. After today I believe him.