I do write quickly
But there might be a longer one coming out later. Off for Radio Newcastle now.
UPDATE: Polly Toynbee thought similarly, and my verdict yesterday on the whole efficiency savings cuts thingie:
if credibility was the real prize, Osborne was already hamstrung by his extraordinary tax give-away earlier in the day. How can he promise tax cuts yet a deeper, faster deficit cut too? To be sure, both main parties offer effortless, painfree, invisible cuts magicking money out of the ether. Darling’s budget had £11bn of airy nothings, “streamlining” back offices while the NHS slashes £550m by reducing sickness absence. How credible was that? Naturally, the Tories poured scorn on it. Labour had “never been serious about tackling waste and inefficiency”, said George Osborne. The plans were no more than “a figleaf”, and so on. But that was last week, just so last week. Yesterday, with never a backward glance, the same George Osborne accepted all those efficiency savings with a straight face, banking and trumping them with another £12bn of his own totally painless phantasmagorical cuts – immediately, right now, “over and above any savings already planned by Labour”.
UPDATE 2: Steve Richards is also in the Tories Zig Zag camp:
The Conservatives have changed their economic policies more often than under any opposition leadership I can recall. I do not mean that the policies have evolved in a recognisable direction. That would be constructive change. They have moved from one direction to another. First we had Osborne’s declaration at the Conservatives’ conference in 2006 that economic stability was his priority, and not tax cuts. A year later, a tax cut was his main priority. At least the abolition of inheritance tax was to be financed by a tax on non-domiciles, which was unconvincing but more credible than “efficiency savings”. Next Osborne declared that a future Conservative government would stick with the current administration’s spending levels. Cameron and Osborne were adamant they would not shift from this position whatever the pressures within their party and from their supporters in the media. They shifted halfway through the Parliament, when they proposed spending cuts at the height of the recession. At this point cutting the deficit was their priority. The duo was privately scathing of Howard’s attempts to propose tax cuts through an efficiency review, arguing that, at the very least, the proposed savings were perceived as cuts in services. Now they propose a tax cut through an efficiency review