Monday, 24 May 2010

Gideon's Guillotine: A Blessing In (really good) Disguise?

So the moment we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived with Gideon announcing his spending cuts. This man, the heir to the Osbourne baronetcy of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, has told poor families, amongst other things, that they can’t have the small offerings from the state when they have children.

Of course, we always knew the cuts were coming. So there is no real shock. This merely confirms the madness that is Gideon’s economics brain. “Let’s get the economy moving”, said his buddy Dave at, seemingly, every single media appearance he did. So Gideon proposes to do that by cutting the Future Jobs Fund. “Unemployed for 6 months? Keep on lookin’, baby”. That’ll get the economy moving alright. Of course, as Alastair Darling has said, the Conservative government hasn’t detailed the impact that this will have on people. The announcements are full of big numbers and political language for now. There is no detail about how many jobs will be lost. Let’s just assume that it will be a lot.

How about a quick, speculative, look at how this could impact voters. Let us imagine that these cuts will have a more detrimental impact on the poor. It’s easy to imagine, really, as it is a Conservative government after all. According to preliminary IPSOS-MORI data, Labour lost masses of voters from the traditional base of the working class. 11% of C2 voters and 8% of DE voters did not “come home to Labour” on May 6th. These are low-income families, probably affected by unemployment. They are likely to benefit from Child Tax Credits and one of their pathways to a job would have been the Future Jobs Fund. If someone has been unemployed for 4 months, they could have got some guaranteed help in two months time. Not anymore. These people will have been disenchanted with Labour given that their situation was showing no signs of getting better. Well, under this Conservative government their situation, if anything, will get worse. Labour has to re-connect with these voters. Margaret Hodge and Andy Burnham offered methods to do this at the recent Progress Conference and Labour campaigners have to learn from both of them, in particular Hodge. And we need to re-connect now. Left Foot Forward editor Will Straw, also at the Progress event, spoke about how we should be out on the doorsteps already, showing people we don’t only care when we need their votes. Straw suggests we utilise the (hopefully) lovely weather of the summer to get back in touch with our voters.

Still, let’s see how it goes and hope that the lower classes don’t get hit as hard as it seems they will.


UPDATE: I defer to @martin_oneill for better ironic explanation of the context of Osbourne's cuts.


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