Monday 25 October 2010

A Pat on the Back

There have been no posts for the last few days as I have been on a walking holiday in Cornwall. Consequently I have missed the bulk of the news and comment on the Comprehensive Spending Review. However, I did catch one brief clip on television from the end of the speech and have seem the photograph republished several times in newspapers.

I have argued consistently in this blog that these cuts are economically unnecessary and ideologically driven, and that Liberal Democrats in government should distance themselves from them as far as possible. Some Liberal Democrats, even former radicals, have told me gravely that, because of Collective Cabinet Responsibility, that is not possible, though that same Collective Responsibility does not seem to prevent the Tories from not only distancing themselves from electoral reform, but allows them to campaign against it.

Be that as it may, Collective Responsibility does not require that, after having given a speech misguided in its purpose and harmful to the most vulnerable in our society, the Chancellor of the Exchequer should receive a pat on the back from the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, heirs to the party of both Keynes and Beveridge.

I suspect that picture will haunt us throughout this parliament, just as Nick Clegg's ill-judged remarks about "savage cuts" damaged our reputation in the general election campaign.

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