Public scepticism is expected for policies
Tuesday 17 February 2004
Oliver Letwin was as candid as ever when he identified the immediate political problems posed by the spending overhaul he outlined yesterday.
At a press conference before his speech, he accepted that those on the right would regard his plans as "a mouse" (i.e too small), while the Labour Party would condemn them as "slash and burn".
He also conceded that by failing to give detailed figures for each area of spending, the public would be justified in viewing them with "considerable scepticism".
Mr Letwin has certainly tried his best to head off the worst of the charges that could be thrown at a Tory opposition - that it would decimate spending on the NHS and schools.
A promise to increase funds by 9 per cent in cash terms for the first two years of the next parliament will give Michael Howard's candidates valuable cover against such criticism.
Mr Letwin repeated his pledge to increase police numbers by 5,000 a year, despite the planned freeze to the Home Office budget. Pensions plans would also remain protected.
But the real-terms cuts for nearly every other Whitehall budget over the first two years of a Tory administration will give Labour and the Liberal Democrats more than enough ammunition in the run up to the next election.
In many ways the most interesting aspect of Mr Letwin's speech yesterday was what he did not talk about. The biggest omission was the exact nature of any tax cuts. We will have to wait until the end of the year to find out about these; many Tory MPs are hoping it will be worth the wait.
- 1 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 2 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...