Sunday, 4 July 2010

Bartholomew on the budget

James Bartholomew seems pleased with welfare proposals in the 2010 budget, and provides an interesting insight into "the art of the possible":
The welfare reforms in the budget were bolder than I imagined they would be. Many people, myself included, would have thought implementing the sort of cuts proposed would incur so much opposition that no government would consider attempting them. We would have been wrong.

Our democratic process is a funny thing. The politically impossible is sometimes possible. And how has it been done in this case?
  1. Long preparation of public opinion over many years by many people, gradually bringing home to middle-of-the-road people that welfare is not working very well and has had all sorts of perverse consequences. This got to the point where all parties were committed to reforms, often unspecified, of welfare benefits.
  2. Barely mentioning the whole subject during the election.
  3. Consequently not having to make promises that would be broken such as "we will not cut housing benefit".
  4. Suddenly bringing in measures after the election that were never mentioned except in very general terms.
It's a shame we can't debate these issues out in the open, like grown-ups, but such is the state of modern Britain.

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