A Parliament of Pain – or of muddling through?

By Michael Burton | 08 April 2015
  • Michael Burton

A few months ago there were predictions that the next Parliament would be a ‘Parliament of Pain.’ But will it? Most difficult tax and spend decisions have admittedly been shunted beyond May, either to an emergency Budget in June or the next Autumn Statement which will set out the next Spending Review.

But what is clear so far is that the public appetite for austerity is significantly less than in 2010 when voters accepted the principle of spending reductions and the difference between the main parties was simply the severity of the cuts.

The growth of the smaller parties, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Greens, has pushed the political swingometer to the left such that during the recent TV debate Cameron seemed to be on his own against the others on the stage in arguing for more austerity. In this week’s Scottish debate Labour’s leader Jim Murphy appeared to deny even his own party’s commitment to spending cuts. The leftward shift has also persuaded the chancellor to make populist tax changes such as limiting the size of pension pots while increasing the tax-free allowance for the lower paid and keeping mum about welfare cuts.

Want full article access?

Receive The MJ magazine each week and gain access to all the content on this website with a subscription.

Full website content includes additional, exclusive commentary and analysis on the issues affecting local government.


Already a subscriber? Login

Budgets and efficiency Pensions Welfare NHS Spending Review