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Osborne’s Paradoxes


Three paradoxes that leap out from a quick reading of the executive summary of the Spending Review:

1. War is Peace: ‘Last year, Britain’s deficit was the largest in its peacetime history'; ‘The Spending Review fully funds Britain’s operations in Afghanistan.’

2. The Magic of Accountability without Regulation: the proposed public service reforms will involve both ‘cutting burdens and regulations on frontline staff’ and ‘improving the transparency, efficiency and accountability of public services’.

3. Less Money = More Power: ‘These priorities are underpinned by radical reform of public services… shifting power away from central government to the local level.’ Central government contributions to local government are set to decline by 26 per cent over the next four years; local government spending will drop by 14 per cent. (Yes, to the Tories ‘the local level’ means ‘the Big Society’ not local government, but that doesn’t make any sense either.)

Comments on “Osborne’s Paradoxes”

  1. Brilliant:

    ‘Last year, Britain’s deficit was the largest in its peacetime history’

    That’s an astonishing catch. One interpretation might be that it indicates the level at which ‘the war’ is something to be consumed by the public, rather than something genuinely construed as war within the heart of the state.

    It also begs the question, how does a war that, on one level, is not happening, ever conclude?

    • Phil says:

      Yes – I even missed it on first reading. Welcome to peacetime!

      Not sure about the third one, though. If central government provides 74% of what it used to and local government 86%, the balance between them has shifted – whether it’s from 50:50 to 46:54, from 9:3 to 8:3 or from 2:6 to 2:7.

      • pinhut says:

        One for the ages, certainly.

        And how many pages apart were the two references? (p6, p10).

        Number 3, I’m with Phil, I don’t see the paradox you are getting at. It could be true, in the sense that the radical reform is the actual handing over of power itself. No?

      • Thomas Jones says:

        They want them to do more but are giving them less to do it with: ‘The Spending Review provides a settlement for local government that radically increases local authorities’ freedom to manage their budgets, but will require tough choices on how services are delivered within reduced allocations.’

        • pinhut says:

          They will have more freedom in how they spend less?

          Freedom should really be rendered as ‘discretion’ then, but they want to have the word ‘freedom’ in there for its more positive connotations.

  2. Oliver Rivers says:

    The term Orwellian really does, for once, apply: War is Peace.

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