Coffee House

Mutually assured silence: a cross-party 2015 election strategy

7 June 2013

The Institute for Fiscal Studies gave one of its cheering presentations today on quite how miserable things are going to be for a good while longer. Today’s event was on the forthcoming spending review, but the IFS and Institute for Government also offered some predictions about the long-term economic picture. In a briefing note, the two organisations warned that we are likely to have not one but two austerity elections. It said:

‘If the UK experience proves to be as drawn out as the Canadian one, we should expect not just 2015 but also 2020 to be an austerity election. Spending reductions are set to be a long-term feature of UK public finances, rather than a short and sharp experience. When the Chancellor stands up to speak on 26 June 2013, will he be frank about the long-term reality of austerity?’

But will any politician be frank with the electorate about the long-term reality of austerity as they approach the general election? The IFS reminded us today that cutting departmental expenditure limits at the same rate as planned over the years covered by the 2010 spending review would require £9 billion of tax rises or welfare cuts or higher borrowing in 2017/18.

The big question is how frank politicians are prepared to be about how they would fill that £9 billion black hole? It would perhaps be beneficial to all parties if they went into the 2015 general election on a platform of mutually assured silence about tax rises, rather than interrogating one another about what they would do.

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Show comments
  • Tim

    What a silly article. Did Fraser read this first?

    The issue isn’t nine billion. The issue is the one twenty billion deficit each year. And then the one trillion debt pile.

    Something about woods and trees and Isabel lookng for twigs comes to mind.

  • George Washington

    It is to be hoped that the population see thru this bunch of 5 knuckle shuffle players and votes accordingly .

    I know several parties that will NOT get my vote and one that will

  • Terry Field

    So the entire populaton will be expected to vote on a set of highly constructed lies. And you consider that democracy can continue and survive in such a situation? Autocracy is not far off, and who would mourn the death of this current absurd farce?

  • Abhay

    The conclusion in the last para is odious as pointed out by other commenters too.

    But what’s with the £9bn? Is that the size of the problem? Sounds a bit nonsensical to me. The UK public spending is touching £680bn almost in 2012-13! If the issue was just £9bn, I am not sure people will be losing sleep. Something is missing here.

  • Smithersjones2013

    It would perhaps be beneficial to all parties if they went into the
    2015 general election on a platform of mutually assured silence about
    tax rises, rather than interrogating one another about what they would

    What a stupid conclusion. Dizzy Izzy has outdone herself.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, the adults really do need to put this child into timeout.

  • LB

    The problem is that they can’t talk about the true debt because they have lied about how much they owe on pensions.

    So a little cut here and there, and the debt balloons.

    The it all collapses.

  • Andy

    It is no more than a statement of the bleedin obvious I would have thought. Of course ‘austerity’ is here to stay. And it is so because the bloody useless politicians we have (all of ’em) have allowed spending to spiral out of control where it exceeds the States income by £120 billion a year. It is absurd that spending has got so out of hand.
    And no it has nothing to do with the Banks.

    • LB

      Quite. The latest ONS figures put the pension debts at rising at 734 bn a year.

      Kiss you’re retirement goodbye, they spent it.

      • HookesLaw

        As ever rubbish

        • LB

          So what’s your plan Hooke?

          Ah yes, you’re not going to pay the pensions are you. If its not a debt, it doesn’t have to be paid.

  • IanH

    And why is continued cutting of public spending a bad thing? Unless of course you are the BBC or live in the bubble

    • Gareth

      Because you tend to get what you pay for.

  • Austin Barry

    “At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”

    George Orwell

    So, yes, the Lab/Con/LibDem conspiracy will be silent on a whole range of issues.

    And don’t anyone, anyone, dare mention Woolwich.

  • HookesLaw

    Cutting spending at the same rate requires more tax rises?
    I must remember to get a job at the IFS

    • Abhay

      Based on the knowledge and judgment you show in your posts here they have already rejected you even before you applied. Didn’t you get the rejection note?

      • HookesLaw

        Do you have an explanation of where this black hole actually is?

  • Alexsandr

    so a mass silence on austerity, government borrowing, EU, immigration etc. Gonna be a boring old campaign then.
    I’ll get some DVD’s out.

  • Rhoda Klapp7

    “It would perhaps be beneficial to all parties if they went into the 2015
    general election on a platform of mutually assured silence about tax

    Yes indeed, if the intention is to cheat and deceive the electorate, as they do and will over the EU, immigration, the war, climate change and energy policy.

    How nice it would be if the Spect was interested in preserving our democracy rather than conspiring with the rest of the political class to ignore real issues and feed us trivial issues and gossip to get excited aboiut.

    • telemachus

      Excuse me
      What is coffee house if not gossip
      You should concentrate on a victory for the forces of reason

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …yeah, but if we fought for that sort of “victory”, you’d have to wind up in a bunker with Blondi.

        • Andy

          *Sends telemachus cyanide capsule and pearl handled revolver*

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