George Osborne leaves us guessing

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George Osborne leaves us guessing | Paul Sagar | Comment is free | .

Paul Sagar writes:

Tory plans and predilections are predominantly for state-slashing. This runs the risk of severe unemployment increases and devastating frontline service cuts that would hit middle- and low-income households hardest. That nobody on the Labour front benches apparently possesses the political flair to hang the Conservatives by their own policies was a frustration shared by many at Monday's discussion.

But there is also the fact of the "phantom recession" to consider. For unless you are unemployed — or a close family member is — this downturn probably hasn't hit you yet. Your mortgage is likely to be low, prices in the shops are affordable, and services are the same as in 2007. Consequently, many voters are asking: why cut at all?

Yet cuts will have to come, and when they do ordinary individuals and families will be hit hard. The backlash will be felt by whichever party is in power, raising the thorny question of whether election victory in 2010 is a poisoned chalice. In light of narrowing polls, Labour supporters should perhaps be careful what they wish for: look what happened to the Tories after they won in 1992.

And I agree, in part.

But a Labour / Lib Dem coalition dedicated to real parliamentary reform, careful management of state spending (which means ignoring the Orange Book fringe of the Lib Dems) and a willingness to embrace new investment spending could deliver real change.