Brown climbdown over cuts, sort of

“We have a deficit reduction plan for the next Parliament.” At last Gordon Brown has conceded -though through clenched teeth – that Labour cuts would come in the unlikely event of their winning the next election. And by the way, he always “tells the truth,” he insisted to the BBC’s Nick Robinson. Everyone had been yelling at him that he was spoiling a not bad Labour story and blunting his attack on the Conservatives by refusing to concede this. Next, when will he tell us what that “ deficit reduction plan” is? Ah well, he can’t because that depends on the size of the economy from 2012 – and so the whole rigmarole will start all over again.The climbdown got off to a bad start in the racket of PMQs, when as he so often does, Gordon fluffed his lines.

No, total spending will continue to rise, and it will be a zero per cent. rise in 2013–14. In 2011–12 and 2012–13, it will continue to rise—[Interruption..(Hansard language for gales of derisive laughter).What nonsense is this? Andy Grice is the Indy explains.

Mr Brown made a gaffe by speaking of a “zero per cent rise” in total spending. He later admitted his mistake, saying he was referring to a 0.7 per cent average rise in real terms in current spending in future years.

You can just about trace the fine print of the climbdown from quotes from Hansard I’ve ripped out of context and strung together..
The capital spending that we have advanced to 2009–10 and 2010–11 is therefore not available after 2011…
I have already said that current expenditure will rise, and continue to rise. Capital spending will rise until 2011, then it will fall…We have already announced a deficit-reduction plan for the next five years. We have taken difficult decisions about efficiency savings and asset sales, and about raising the top rate of tax: about measures that ensure that people who are in a position to pay more do pay more in the tax system—that is, at
the top rate of tax..

“Current expenditure” I take it ends in 2011. If that’s the deficit plan it isn’t up to much. Once he’s started, will be finish? I wouldn’t bank on it..

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London