Published on 5 Jun 2013

Spending ministers looking like ‘national union of mice’

I hear that after the chancellor and the chief secretary addressed cabinet yesterday about the need for departments without agreement on their 2015-16 budgets to get serious and fast there was not a squeak from any of the relevant ministers.

“Not so much the national union of ministers as the national union of mice,” one cabinet source said.

Those ministers the source was primarily referring to are Owen Paterson, Philip Hammond and Vince Cable, though quite a few others are also still to settle.

About a month ago their departments, DEFRA, MoD and BIS, had offered up virtually nothing substantial for the chopping board as far as the Treasury was concerned.

Now, I hear, they have produced potential cuts for discussion that could get them two thirds or three quarters of the way to the sum the Treasury’s demanding – though some of the items will have significant political pain/risk warnings attached.

There are endless bilaterals this week to go through the detail. While Labour’s leadership carries on its dance of the seven welfare veils, the coalition not as off-track as it was piling up new cuts, beyond welfare, that Labour may yet have to admit it will not be able to reverse.

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2 reader comments

  1. Andrew Dundas says:

    Maybe the example of Japan’s “Abenomics”, or the tutoring of Osborne by the new Governor Mark Carney, will provide the excuses needed to escape this madness?

  2. Philip says:

    The main reason why Labour won’t be able to reverse them is because the existing cuts have failed to make a serious impact on the deficit, but have been a drag on the economy, so revenues haven’t risen as much as anticipated. In other words, Labour are stuffed because of George Osborne’s ideological stupidity & failure to manage the economy, which means if they win in 2015 (extremely large “if” if you ask me), they’ll be stuck in the same hole they left the Coalition in in 2010. You might consider that poetic justice – but it also indicates 5 wasted years in the pursuit of an economic policy which has already been seen to fail.

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