So, there we have it. George Osborne has announced his spending review.
All in all most of it was so well leaked, I might as well have taken a little nap during the speech itself, but that should not limit the shock and fear today's announcements ought to inspire.
490,000 jobs lost in the Public Sector - say it quickly and it doesn't sound as bad, but that would fill Wembley Stadium 5 and a half times. With estimates of job losses in the Private Sector at somewhere around 300,000 we are well on the way to a million lives ruined, a million families suffering.
There was no plan for growth in this speech, no plan for jobs, little for investment (and what was announced was often just a very scaled down version of what Labour had already planned). The Chancellor is relying on deficit reduction, a narrative of the "undeserving poor" and a following wind to sort our finances out.
Take a little look around the blogosphere just now. There is only one refrain from Conservatives - "Labour did it" it was "Labour's fault". Well, as the latest YouGov shows, the global credit crunch may have occurred under a Labour government, but when it comes to specific cuts, the public is starting to blame this government. Anthony Wells, from UKPR says "
The most interesting question though was who people thought was to blame. 30% said the coalition and 34% said the last Labour government. Compare that to the regular YouGov tracker on who people blame the cuts in general, which is still finding 48% blaming Labour the most and only 18% blaming the coalition most. My suspicion is that this is because people blame the last Labour government when it is just genericcuts, but once specific cuts are announced they may begin to apportion more of the blame more upon the present government as they are the ones who chose to make these particular cuts.
So the claims of the "Deficit Deceivers" will start to sound hollower by the day. There is an alternative to these cuts, there is no need to for them to be this deep or this fast, or indeed target the most vulnerable. Blaming Labour when every other country is suffering the same fallout from the Credit Crunch will seem more and more ridiculous and the government will have to take responsibility for the path they took today. They have bet everything on the deficit going down and the economy improving. At some point soon the coalition are going to have to realise that they are in power, no longer in opposition, sniping from the sidelines.
If the gamble doesn't pay off, if debt rises, the deficit remains stubbornly high, unemployment rises and growth falters, this government will stand alone and will need to explain exactly where things went wrong.
**For details of George Osborne's speech and initial reactions, please go to comments thread on