Justin just doesn’t add up

This is a letter published in the Swindon Advertiser

If Justin Tomlinson wants people to believe him, he’ll have to do better than repeat the cheap tricks of Mr Osborne (“We have to make difficult decisions”). Instead of Labour’s cut of 20% “there will be average cuts of 19% for unprotected departments over four years”. I don’t know whether Justin has read his own government’s Spending Review but if he did he would have to own up to talking arrant nonsense.

If he looks at those things called tables – you know, with lists of figures and such like – he will see that the previous government had tabled cuts of £52 billion whereas his government is cutting £81 billion. I don’t know how they teach maths in schools these days, but using my old fashioned method of adding up I reckon the coalition is cutting an extra £29 billion.

You can’t have it both ways: arguing that such deep cuts are necessary, and then trying to con people into believing that the coalition cuts are less than Labour’s. It’s a cheap trick which won’t work.

There’s another arithmetical trick in Justin’s column. He says that “one estimate” (wow, as many as that?) suggests that more than a million private sector jobs could be created in the next four years, “far outstripping the predicted job losses in the public sector”. All those redundant public sector workers will be able to pick up minimum wage jobs? We shall see.

However, if Justin reads the press he would be aware of the leaked Treasury document which predicted the loss of 1.3 million jobs as a result of the coalition’s austerity drive: 600,000 in the public sector and 700,000 in the private sector. Justin seems to have ignored the loss of jobs in the private sector as a result of government cuts.

One other thing. Justin says his government is prioritising the NHS. It’s a strange way of prioritising it, imposing £20 billion “efficiency savings”!

If you want to argue that the cuts are “necessary”, go ahead. I don’t believe they are. But don’t repeat Osborne’s fallacious debating tactics to cover over the reality of your unprecedented cuts.

Martin Wicks

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