There seems to be a growing sense, which I’ve only noticed in the past week – and partly, I think, because of The Independent’s cheer-leading for a property crash – that we are all buggered, not to put too fine a point on it.
Like most panics which start in the press, this is almost certainly not true. But there is no doubt that cutting public spending by 10-20 per cent will have a huge impact on the economy.
I’m not a deficit hawk, but I do believe that the government is vastly inefficient, and largely because it is so centralised. On the other hand, it seems to me that there was a tacit – if not an explicit – commitment made by the Lib Dems to the electorate, and it is this: if the economy takes a nosedive, or the banks crash again, we will not stand idly by and let civilisation unravel.
That is the implication of everything the party said before and after the general election.
My feeling is that there is a growing sense in the nation that they can no longer rely on that promise. They can see the need for cuts, even maybe welcome them, but they need to know that the government – at least the Lib Dem government – remains on their side and not, in the end, on the side of the bond market speculators.
All of which is a way to say that something reassuring wouldn’t come amiss. Something that you might expect the party of Keynes and Beveridge to say, even in a crisis – especially in a crisis – about whose side they are ultimately on.