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Turn and turn about

U-turn if you want to; the lady’s not for turning

Goodness what a mess. May be I’m old fashioned about these things, but I’d like to think that the chap in the top economic job in the country had a rather better record in getting his sums right.

Remember the turnaround on the ‘pasty tax’? And now the Chancellor has stood up in Parliament and said that the cuts to the Disability benefits that he announced only one week ago were “a mistake” and now won’t happen. It’s another knee-jerk reaction and smacks of the playground – “I didn’t meant it. I’m sorry. Please still like me”

It’s not like the Budget caught him by surprise – it’s been happening every March for as long as I can remember, so presumably he and his Treasury team had time to crunch the numbers properly.

I’m under no illusion that Ian Duncan Smith’s resignation had more to do with his position on the EU than it did with the bad timing/bad mathematics of the PIP disability benefits, but he’s certainly right on one thing: to announce cuts to the, arguably worst off in our society at the same time as announcing tax cuts for all (including those at the top of the tree) smacks either of not caring or of a spectacularly bad grasp of the fundamentals of public relations.

It’s not as though Gideon (yup, he doesn’t like to be known by his real name in case it makes him seem too posh and out-of-touch with the rest of the populace) even needed to buy votes in the run-up to an election – newsflash guys: you won. You’ve got another four years before you have to start the financial deck-chair shifting in earnest.

I spent much of the five years of the Coalition Government calling Nick Clegg the human embodiment of the sentiment “be careful what you wish for” and much of the time since the election pointing out how much the Tories are using the Lib Dems as a scapegoat for everything that the populace didn’t like about the previous five years.

Guess what, there’s no hiding behind anyone now. The Lib Dems are well out of it and the Tories only have themselves to blame if they cock it all up.

Post-election, one of the out-going Lib Dems – I think it was Sir Danny Alexander, former Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Sir? He looks about fourteen!) – said that it wouldn’t be long before we discovered just how much of a brake on the worst of the Tory excesses his party had been. I think we might just be starting to see that now.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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