07 April 2009

George Osborne needs to be careful


There is little argument that public spending will have to be cut and taxes have to rise due to the ever increasing public deficit.  The Tories are winning the argument that borrowing is too high and a further stimulus is unaffordable.  However, is focusing on the specifics of the 3-year public sector pay deals the correct move by the Tories?  George Osborne said this on Today:

I think we need to look at these three-year pay deals that the Government came up with because they may be very inflexible at a time when the economic conditions are changing very quickly.

Several hours later, after the move was attacked by the trade unions, Osborne’s advisers clarified the position. They said:

That while the three-year deals were inflexible the Conservatives were not “gunning for them” because they would be into their third year by the expected time of an election.

George Osborne needs to be careful in dealing with the detail of where cuts will will have to be made, especially when it comes to public sector pay at the lower levels.  Of course he has to spell out the Tories position, and will come under much pressure to do so from the media and the right wing of his party.  However in the process of doing so, Osborne and the Tories should not alienate voters in the run up to the election.

Setting out the specifics of economic policy is not necessarily good politics when you are in opposition, no matter what the circumstances are.

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