The Comprehensive Spending Review deserves a cheer and a half, but not much more than that. The Coalition has developed a welcome single mindedness in getting the public finances under control, but they could have been both more radical and more methodical. They seem to have tackled deficit reduction in a tactical, rather than a strategic fashion. The blue skies thinking, which was promised at the time of the emergency budget, has either not really taken place or has not been overly imaginative.
To consider the upsides first, the review does underscore the determination of George Osborne – and the Government more widely – to depart from the reckless spending largesse of recent years. If we were hurtling towards a Greek-style meltdown, this has most probably been averted.
Both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have shown some courage in departing from their wildly optimistic manifesto pledges to face up to economic reality. This may raise issues about how – just six months ago – a wide-ranging discussion about public spending was essentially ducked in the General Election campaign, but at least we have a government that seems to be dealing with the world we actually live in, rather than the world as they would like it to be.
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