Well, I have only had time to read Julian Glover’s verdict (“statist mush”), watch the nauseating video and read the BBC summary. I wish I could say I was impressed – I think Britain wants and needs a hung parliament, and that means Labour putting up a better fight. But I think Glover’s verdict looks fair: statism – look at all the lovely things we can do, lots of fiddly little things from toddler credits to guarantees of this and that, and rights to that and this, from the speed of cancer test delivery to the power to sack senior coppers. How will this list impress bored people?
On page 0:6 of the actual document, it farcically lists loads of tough choices while illustrating hardly any of the toughness, apart from the limit to public sector payrises. Selling assets is not a ‘tough choice’, and the last bullet item about tax rises is tough on the recipients, not the government.
What would actually be tough? How about removing the taxpayer subsidy to banks’ borrowing costs, as Tony Jackson details here?
I am not sure what the unifying theme is. Perhaps Glover’s last para is that theme:
The word “tough” appears in the document 39 times, the word “reform” 83 and the word “control” 23. The words liberal and liberty don’t appear once. This is old Labour in a modern setting, a surrendering of progressive liberal ambitions for the future.
Now we know where we stand. The government has the following good ideas for how to make life better for you. Leave it up to the government, and when you ask how we pay for it, we will just repeat the word “tough” till you want to cry. And liberal values? Oh, that is so 2007. I’m not saying I could do better. If I had a £160bn deficit to deal with I’d just want to wimper and hide. But I hope I wouldn’t have the nerve to boo and jeer at the difficult questions (see Boulton’s blog).
(update: this PPB on the other hand is, I think, quite good. Though it overstates Brown’s ‘leading the world out of recession’ role scandalously, it sells the message well.)