These promised 'Cuts' will impact so-called "Low-priority' Government services rather than "Frontline" services, so that's OK then, except that one Trades Union leader, the RMT's stalwart warrior, Bob Crow, one of my best clients, 'Bless him', was less than generous about the Prime Minister's speech and his failure to enlarge on what "Low priority" services might actually be.
So cuts in public spending will be the order of the day regardless of which party you happen to support, it's just a matter of where such cuts will occur. The Treasury forecasts that public borrowing will reach £175 billion, or 12 per cent of GDP, in the current financial year. In a recession, public borrowing increases as tax revenues fall and welfare spending rises. In a downturn as intense as this one, there is a strong theoretical case for the Government to borrow still more, to compensate for the shortfall in demand. This will only make things more painful for us all in the short-term at least.
The Times reports that Gordon Brown now invokes the Great Depression as a reason for not tightening fiscal policy prematurely. And much of the spending increase planned for next year, of around £30 billion, will be accounted for by higher social security spending and interest payments on government debt. Neither of these can be substantially reduced till economic growth returns. It comments that "Loose fiscal policy carries its own risks. No one knows how far a rapid accumulation of public debt might undermine financial confidence. But to tolerate wide deficits now, financial markets need to be reassured that there will be offsetting tax rises and spending cuts when the economy recovers."
So what does this mean to you and me in real terms? I've been remarking for some time on this weblog that the true impact of the financial train hitting the buffers hasn't been felt yet. We saw the collapse of the private sector and it's only now that we will start to see the heavier rear carriages of the train, the public finances, come off the rails and overturn as the budgets for 2010 onward are scrutinised and prepared.
Any new Government is going to be very unpopular indeed, whether it be this one or more likely an incoming Conservative administration with new ideas on how to balance the books. Options are very limited and local Government as central Government's proxy tax collector and agent for essential local services has even less room to manoever as funding dries up completely or is reduced to a trickle.
In seven months or so people will face a choice; do things differently and more prudently with a far greater emphasis on local accountability or maintain the status quo with the same discredited hybrid, Stalinist, Old, New Labour characters that landed the country in the broken shambolic mess in which it now finds itself. I suspect that the British people are fed-up with a decade of being conned and are aching for change and so, like many readers, I'm looking forward to seeing the country's final judgement on Gordon Brown at the polls next year as collectively, they start to feel the bitter winds of the very same cuts he mentioned for the first time today.