Liberal Conspiracy and the confession that wasn’tPosted on March 3, 2011
The Left’s obsession at the moment is the artificial distinction that the Coalition’s cuts were “ideological” rather than practical. For them, perhaps, ideology is divorced from reality – it would certainly explain a lot about their views – but very few people would hold an ideological view that they didn’t think was practical.
The illogic of their position aside, it is this line of attack that has led to either a misunderstanding or a deliberate deception over at Liberal Conspiracy today. “Nick Clegg admits cuts were a political choice” blares their headline, claiming they have uncovered
Two interesting things here – first the admission that the speed of deficit reduction is a ‘choice’, in contrast to the Government’s usual ‘no alternative’ line.
Second the admission that the cuts were ‘not forced on us by the bond markets’ as in Greece and Ireland.
So what did the Deputy Prime Minister say to apparently blow his supposed cover? Well, in his speech to Lib Dem Spring Conference he announced:
[Cutting the deficit] has meant making difficult choices.
But at least they have been our choices…
Not forced on us by the bond markets as they have been in Greece and Ireland.
And the risks of delay far outweigh the risks of swift action.
The problem is, Liberal Conspiracy’s interpretation of these comments just doesn’t stand up.
Their first charge, that he said the cuts are a “choice”, is a total misinterpretation. Clegg says that cutting the deficit “has meant taking difficult choices” – ie that with deficit reduction being essential, they then had to choose which spending cuts to make. That’s no confession or change of line – it’s a reasonable acknowledgement that picking the specifics of cutting isn’t easy.
Their second charge is equally flimsy. Saying that those choices weren’t “forced on us by the bond markets as they have been in Greece and Ireland” is clearly about the timing of the spending cuts – either they would inevitably have to happen due to the collapsing confidence in Britain’s solvency or, as Clegg says in the previous half of the sentence, they could be the Coalition’s choices taken with greater consideration rather than in a panic.
This is a total dead-end for those who want to oppose the Government’s spending and tax measures. The opinion polls aren’t going to swing based on a theory of the philosophy behind the fiscal direction, they will rest ultimately on whether the measures work – will the pain be worth the gain?