On Sunday George Osborne (Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer) appeared on the BBC’s Politics Show. His appearance reinforced a concern I have held for a long time about the Conservatives lack of commitment to policies. With speculation that a general election may be called as early as March, this stalling on crucial decisions becomes increasingly serious.
I am very much of the opinion the Tories are operating a policy of staying quiet. Currently they are ahead the polls, so rather than dedicate to specific polices and make promises, which have the potential to lose support as well as attract it; they are opting to sit on the fence.
In fairness to Osborne, he did make it very clear that he wanted to tackle the current budget crisis by cutting expenditure rather than increasing taxes. He has also indicated for some time that he believes more power should be given to the Bank of England in regulating banks. However, ‘expenditure’ is a very general area and he refuses to be specific on any individual departments.
One naturally wonders how extensive these ‘cuts’ are going to be. Are the conservatives planning to dramatically shrink the state? The consequences of such large-scale reduction could be massive. If the state funding into the economy was slashed too quickly, in a hurried manner, then it could send a fragile, recovering UK economy back into recession. Someone has to lose out as a result of scaling back. Who it will be and how many will it effect are questions loaded with trepidation.
A prevalent trend of David Cameron and his party is that they are always quick to criticise Gordon Brown and Labour, but offer very little of their own input. Sometimes I doubt whether the Conservatives themselves are sure of what exactly they want to achieve if voted into government . It is easy to judge Labour’s ideas and suggestions; offering pragmatic and varying policies is a whole lot harder. The Conservatives have not convinced me they can do the latter.
On the Politics Show, Osborne, in an attempt to avoid a concrete answer on policy, said that he didn’t want to commit to making promises until he was certain he could live up to them. There may be some truth and sense in this, but the Conservatives are leaving it extremely late. The prospect of a government with an uncertain agenda is a frightening one.