“it all may prove as tough as anything Cameron has faced before”

Good piece from Danny Finklestein in the Times of London today, which gives you as good a view of what Cameron and Osborne have planned for the next two years:

In 2015 the Tories got their timing right. In 2012 George Osborne may have been booed at the Paralympics and criticised for his taxation of Cornish pasties. But in 2015 he was re-elected.

Informed by this experience, the Conservatives are deliberately making difficult decisions now. Yet the combination of this strategic choice with the general difficulties that incumbents face and the possibilities of accidental mishap is likely to make the next two years very difficult indeed.

In the coming months, many recipients of tax credits will be informed that large cuts are to come in the spring. This is likely to be deeply unpopular and might even cause serious political instability. The government could, possibly, have phased these cuts in. But doing so would mean that people were still experiencing losses in 2019.

At the same time, in order to reach surplus, there will be large cuts in a number of spending departments, including the police and local government. There will be ructions, leaks and protests as these are resisted from cabinet ministers down. Well before the next election these cuts will have been made. While they are being made things could be very bloody.

It makes the conversation in Northern Ireland on Spotlight last night seem oddly quaint and beside the point. Slugger’s understanding is that plan is blast the cash transfer culture for two years and then give some of the cash saved away to special cases for three.

Yet, it holds great dangers says Finklestein:

…the economy may slow a little, threatening the government’s central narrative that it has rescued the country. And also, of course, making people much less well disposed to it.
And on top of it all, there will be Europe. The period of negotiation, now about to start, is almost bound to undermine relationships between the prime minister and the right inside and outside parliament. The campaign itself will rock the party.
Taken together with other problems, such as the migrant crisis, and the normal unanticipated fiascos, it all may prove as tough as anything Cameron has faced before.

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