Coalition cuts, compassion and HS2
Her Majesty’s Armed Forces are being decimated, thereby severely limiting the sorts of military operations in which we can engage in the future. We are told that Britain will no longer go to war alone.
Apparently, the French and the Americans will be called upon to assist.
One wonders if presidents Obama and Sarkozy have been informed of this.
And how they will ever be persuaded to lay down French and American lives in support of the British national interest.
And today we hear about everything else that is to be pared, pruned, whittled, chopped, trimmed, hacked, carved and slashed.
No doubt an awful lot needs to be and can be. Danny Alexander let slip yesterday that 490,000 public sector jobs will be lost by 2014-15 as a result of the spending cuts.
No doubt they can be justifiably cut: it cannot be right that we have a million more state employees in 2010 than we had in 1997.
Some budgets are ring-fenced: Health and Overseas Development are (unfortunately) immutable.
But one budget is expanding without so much as a whimper of objection from the Government (or backbenchers or Parliament).
And that is the EU budget, about which Daniel Hannan MEP has spoken eloquently:
‘Britain’s net contribution to the EU is rising from £6.4 billion this year to £8.3 billion in 2011-12 and £10.3 billion in 2015. But, of course, the net figure is misleading: the EU may spend some of this money in the UK, but rarely does so on things we would have chosen for ourselves. Much of the moolah goes to a privileged class of EU contractors and consultants; some goes on straightforward propaganda. Our gross contribution is rising from £14 billion to £19 billion – enough to cut council tax by half, take fourpence off income tax or pay of our Olympic debt in a single year.’
And the Coalition is still intent on spending £30 billion on a grossly extravagant scheme called HS2.
This is a high-speed rail link between London and ‘the north’.
It will cut precisely 10 minutes off the journey from London to Birmingham.
That’s £3,000,000,000 per minute.
It will decimate the Chilterns, blight 20,000 homes, rape the green belt, annoy communities, irritate pressure groups and probably lead to the resignations of Cheryl Gillan and David Lidington.
Why is George Osborne taking Britain into uncharted social and economic territory with £83bn of spending cuts in university funding, public housing and welfare when there’s £30bn here he could cut in one fell swoop?
Is he really going to cut the budget for sport in schools?
Just a few years before the Olympics?
Is he really cutting funding for the elderly and vulnerable?
If it costs £14.4bn for the Government to fund adult social care, and councils face a 4 per cent annual increase in the bill just to stand still, how can it be morally justified to cut this by 25 per cent (the reduction demanded in the spending of unprotected departments) at a time when the population is ageing and it is estimated that 370,000 more elderly and disabled will need care and support over the next four years alone?
This care is critical. Cutting it will leave elderly and disabled people to struggle on their own.
That’s not very compassionate, is it?
Come on, Chancellor. Why not just scrap HS2 and give the £30bn to school sport, the elderly and the disabled?