Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Beneath the shiny exterior, honed and buffed up by the slickest PR machine money can buy, the true colours of the modern Tory party have been exposed. During the course of an interview by Jeremy Paxman, David Cameron let his guard slip by admitting he would make deeper cuts where public spending is higher, referring to Northern Ireland and the North East of England.
"In Northern Ireland it is quite clear – and almost every party accepts this –that the size of the state has got too big.
"We need a bigger private sector. There are other parts of the country, including in the north-east. The aim has got to be to get the private sector, to get the commercial sector going.”
We can only imagine what will happen to our public services should the Tories take power given they have signalled a crack-down in areas of need. Tens of thousands of jobs are likely to go, all in the name of ‘efficiency savings,’ with little regard for the social consequences.
What is frightening is that the Tory cuts are inevitably going to be even bigger than those implemented by Labour should they somehow cling onto power. Research carried out by Eurfyl ap Gwilym, and the prospective parliamentary candidate for Carmarthen East, Jonathan Edwards, suggests 45,000 public sector jobs will be lost in Wales based on the latest statements made by the Labour Party. This is the equivalent of 50 Bosch factories closing. Horrific.
Four independent reports have concluded that under the current funding system, Wales receives at least £300 million less every year than we should be getting. Without reform of this system - which is not on the agenda of the Tory, Liberal or Labour's agendas. A slash and burn approach to the public sector will be a double whammy for Wales.
Those of us of a certain age can't help remembering Thatcher and the swingeing cuts that devastated too may many communities, particularly here in the valleys. The only difference between now and then is that Thatcher didn't try and dress up her elitist brand of capitalism as something it wasn’t. Yes, she was heartless, but she did little to disguise it.
Cameron, on the other hand, could be argued to be a more dangerous beast. For all his talk of a ‘big society’ and ‘protecting the NHS,’ things will be very different should he gain power. George Osbourne, who has remained tight-lipped on his talk of an “age of austerity” after it proved to be unpalatable with the electorate last autumn, has already prepared the ground for an abrupt change of direction. In what is certain to be welcomed by his party’s non-dom paymasters, Osbourne has stated he would be calling an emergency budget 60 days after moving into number 11 Downing Street. This will allow him to sweep aside all the pre-election party promises with a simple ‘ah, but we didn’t know how bad the position was until we saw the books.’ It is so predictable.
I only hope those who value public services and believe jobs should be protected, can see the political chameleon that is the modern day Tory party, and are not blinded by the air-brush. Plaid Cymru has pledged to ensure that the most vulnerable do not bear the brunt of the cuts. If Wales had fairer funding we’d be getting at least £300million extra per year and that would safeguard up to 9,000 jobs in the public sector. It wouldn't be enough to close the gap, but it would help.
There is consensus between the big thee parties that cuts will be made to the welfare state. All will deliver severe cuts in health and education and to public sector jobs. Our MPs, in their Celtic bloc with the SNP, could hold the crucial balance of power in the event of a hung or balanced parliament, which is looking increasingly likely by the day. In this scenario, we would make sure the best possible deal for Wales is put on the table before reaching any agreement. What other political party can be trusted to do that?