Tories are “foaming at the mouth”
Posted by Matt Walker on September 14, 2009
The pre-election fight gathered pace today, as the Business Secretary Peter Mandelson urged the Labour Party not to lose its nerve over public spending. The government’s budget deficit is set to reach £175 billion this year. This deficit has become central to political debate and is set to dominate the next election.
The Conservative Party claim that the deficit needs cutting straight away, to restore confidence in the pound, and prevent rises in interest rates. The Labour Government reject this, arguing that cuts will simply prevent economic recovery. Both parties acknowledge that cuts will be made, but neither have specified where the axe will fall. Where they fundamentally disagree is the extent of these cuts.
Mandelson accused the Tories of “foaming at the mouth” with excitement regarding the prospect of reducing the size of the British state. His opposition counterpart, Ken Clarke retorted that Mandelson was being childish, and was using every euphemism in the book to avoid using the word “cuts”.
Crucially, Labour shifted its position today. Mandelson admits that cuts will eventually have to take place, and that the government will have to prioritise public spending. Gordon Brown had previously framed the debate as ‘Labour investment versus Tory cuts’, a strategy that simply didn’t wash with many voters.