Speaking to the needs of the squeezed middle

20th October, 2010 2:22 pm

Fresh CutsBy Mark Ferguson / @markfergusonuk

Today George Osborne had his second go at playing the axeman. A few cursory chops in the budget – the likes of which we might have called savage in a gentler age – were outdone today by the scale of economic decimation he unveiled. Hundreds of thousands will lose their jobs, a slew of services (few of which were announced in full today) will be cut – and capital investment appears limited to road improvements, combined with crippling rises in train fares. And this from a government who promised to be the greenest ever.

Nick Clegg sat behind the chancellor, stress etched across his face. He has seen the polls – even those in his own constituency – which point to a future electoral meltdown for the Lib Dems. He only perked up during the mention of the ‘pupil premium’, but the gloomy face was back as the taxpayer’s contribution to higher education was decreased, and EMA was scrapped. Behind him on the government benches the Tories loved every minute of this budget. As Osborne sneered at “these children” (those who will be left in Sure Start centres) the Tories whooped and cheered, barely able to contain their excitement. So many of them have waited their entire political lives to hack at the state as Osborne did today. His claims that these cuts are not ideological was laughable, but bold.

After a long speech in which the chancellor’s voice appeared to crack several times, the shadow chancellor, the new (old) boy to this game stood up to speak. Some had derided him for his lack of economic experience, but his quick thinking was tailor made for today’s events. Whilst many in his position might have fallen back on economic jargon whilst formulating their critique, Johnson spoke directly to those who will suffer the most from these cuts – the poor, and those squeezed in the middle of society. He also spoke to the country about the things they care about – jobs, homes and security. Responding to the chancellor, Johnson said:

“Today is the day that an abstract debate about spreadsheets and numbers turns into stark reality for people’s jobs and services. Their pensions, their prospects, their homes and their families.”

Today did not vindicate entirely Ed Miliband’s decision to appoint Alan Johnson as shadow chancellor – that will take time – but what we did see in parliament this afternoon were some of the reasons why he was chosen. A cool, calm head on a stormy afternoon. A man who can address the concerns of ordinary people. And someone who can craft a narrative that explains why what this government has planned is so wrong. Alan Johnson spoke to the squeezed middle today. He spoke to the people who will suffer most.

While Osborne played to the Tory gallery, Johnson spoke to the country. It’s the country that will decide the next election. The campaign to win that election starts today.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment All we want is an investigation into founding a Northern Irish Labour Party

    All we want is an investigation into founding a Northern Irish Labour Party

    “There also be institutions between both parts of Ireland and between Britain and Ireland that will also respect diversity and work the common ground. Once these institutions are in place and we begin to work together in our very substantial common interests, the real healing process will begin and we will erode the distrust and prejudices of our past and our new society will evolve, based on agreement and respect for diversity. The identities of both sections of our people […]

    Read more →
  • Comment We need a public and transparent inquiry into the scandal of blacklisting

    We need a public and transparent inquiry into the scandal of blacklisting

    Today is the sixth anniversary of the exposure of blacklisting in the construction industry. Workers had always feared that blacklisting took place but it was not until the Information Commissioners Office raided the Consulting Association that the true industrial scale of blacklisting was revealed. There were 3,123 people on the Consulting Associations blacklist and 44 major construction companies used its services. The blacklisted victims had their livelihoods and often their lives ruined. Often they were unable to find work and many […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The Tories’ plan is letting older people down – Labour have a better one 

    The Tories’ plan is letting older people down – Labour have a better one 

    This article is written by Rachel Reeves MP and Andy Burnham MP Older people have been let down by the Tories’ failing plan. Pensioners’ living standards have been hit by the Tories’ refusal to act on rip-off energy fees and pension charges, and social care funding has been slashed. No one will forget George Osborne’s ‘granny tax’, which saw 3.6 million pensioners lose an average of £68 a year. And the Tories’ have failed to come clean about the fact […]

    Read more →
  • News 12 target seats Labour are worried they might not win because of the Greens

    12 target seats Labour are worried they might not win because of the Greens

    There are 12 target seats Labour are worried that they could lose in May because of the Greens, Buzzfeed have found. These are all on Labour’s target seat list – the 106 constituencies the party think it could win back – usually Tory/Labour marginals or Lib Dem-held constituencies. However, this doesn’t mean the Greens are on the right track to win them. In the cases where they aren’t, the worry is that the Greens will split the vote on the left, […]

    Read more →
  • News Tessa Jowell still ahead in mayoral race, poll shows

    Tessa Jowell still ahead in mayoral race, poll shows

    The Evening Standard have released the results of their latest Mayoral poll, to see who Londoners would most like to be Labour’s candidate. And it’s good news for Tessa Jowell. Since YouGov last did this poll for the Standard, Margaret Hodge and Andrew Adonis have dropped out the race (the former hasn’t formally backed anyone yet, while the latter has thrown his weight behind Jowell). YouGov asked 1,011 people who they thought the best candidate would be for mayor. They […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit