Excuses, excuses Mr Cameron

AnnieM, June 8, 2010

Prime Minister David Cameron gave the following speech yesterday:

This is the sober reality that I have to set out for the country today. The legacy left by the last government is terrible. The private sector has shrunk back to what it was over six years ago. Unless we act now, interest rates - interest payments - in five years time could end up being higher than the sums we spend on our schools, on climate change and on transport combined.

“Because the legacy we’ve been left is so bad, the measures that we need to deal with it will be unavoidably tough. But people’s lives (and this is vital) people’s lives will be worse unless we do something now.

“The cause of building a fairer society will be set back for years, unless we do something now. We are not alone in this. Many countries around the world have been living beyond their means and they too are having to face the music.

“And I’ll make this promise to everyone in Britain – you will not be left on your own in this. We are all in this together and we are going to get through this together. We will carry out Britain’s unavoidable deficit reduction plan in a way that strengthens and unites our country. We are not doing this because we want to. We are not driven by some theory, some ideology. We are doing this as a government because we have to. Driven by the urgent truth that unless we do so, people will suffer and our national interest will suffer too.

“But this government will not cut the deficit in a way that hurts those we most need to help. In a way that divides our country, or in a way that undermines the spirit and the ethos of our vital public services.

“Freedom, fairness, responsibility: those are the values that drive this government. They’re the values that will drive our efforts to deal with our debts and to turn this country around. So yes, it will be tough. I make no bones about that but we will get through this together. And Britain, and all of us, will come out stronger on the other side.

There are several points I’d like to make in response to this clever piece of writing. He has an excellent speech writer. His speech writer is someone who knows and understands the values of writing in layman’s terms. There is no jargon, there is no fluffy language. It is direct, it is open. It is honest.

But is it? It may ‘speak’ to the average person, but it is writhing in smugness. Utilising a culture of blame, Cameron and his cronies gloat over the ‘fact’ that the previous government have driven our country into debt. The fault is all Labours. The coalition government use this ‘fact’ to justify (ahead of the budget in two weeks’ time) the horrendous cuts they will have to make. Simply by passing the buck they can justify just about anything in this way. Yes, they may promise not to ‘hurt those we most need to help’ but they can now – in clear consciences – make the budget axe fall on any area of public service under the guise of transparency, because - don’t you know - it’s for our own good.

They can cut frontline services because it’s part of the ‘tough cuts’ they’ve had to make. They can cut spending on NHS trusts, state schools, transport. They can cut spending on education, emergency services and housing. They may disguise these cuts well – they may cut the back office functions of these services and claim they are ‘protecting’ front line services in doing so, but ultimately, it will be the frontline services that suffer.

If you make a million hospital cleaning staff redundant, you increase infection rates in hospitals, you increase the likelihood of an excellent, hygienic and infection-free hospital falling foul of hygiene standards. And so it goes on.

I agree on one thing in Cameron’s patronising and empty statement, though. It is going to be tough. But whether it’s a move towards a ‘fairer society’ is another matter all together.