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The Two Narratives

October 22nd 2010

This week, life got a lot worse – or a bit worse, and necessarily so – depending on who you choose to believe. Because you can’t believe both sides, and there are certainly two opposing sides when it comes to interpreting the events of Wednesday 20th October.

On the one side let’s look at the perspective of the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. At both ends of the M4 they argue that the cuts are hard but necessary. To them it is a question of hard choices and prioritisation – the UK Government has made some tough choices to reduce the National Debt and it is now up to WAG to be as bold and brave. Nick Bourne is on the record as saying that:

“The Spending Review is challenging, but WAG can meet the challenge by prioritising its services, as we have long called for it to do. £1 billion is currently “misspent” in health. One third of the money the Assembly Government spends on education and two-thirds of the money on Communities First goes towards administration costs. Public money must now be directed to frontline public services.”

Contrast that with the Labour and Plaid perspective, which is the polar opposite of this position. Jane Hutt spoke earlier in the week of “considerable fear and apprehension” while the she now believes:

“The Assembly Government has always said that it will play its role in reducing the UK budget deficit.  But the cuts announced today are too fast and too deep. Taken with the £18bn cut to welfare benefits, they will endanger the fragile economic recovery and threaten devastating and long term consequences for the most vulnerable people in our society.”

There are two narratives here and they are completely incompatible. So we have, in the run up to next year’s Assembly election in May, and particularly during April when many of the cuts will fall, battle lines in Wales of the type not seen since the 1980s. In the shadow of such a situation, the divisions are clear: the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru on one side; the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on the other.

This division is now so deep it will also define the political outcome of that election, not just in terms of seats but in terms of who can coalition with whom for the following four years. In such circumstances the rainbow will never be seen, even fleetingly. 2011 will be a world away from 2007.

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2 Responses to “The Two Narratives”

  1. Russell Todd says:

    Bourne: “…and two-thirds of the money on Communities First goes towards administration costs.” Oh dear. That the Leader of one of the parties in the Assembly so crassly and/or disingenuously misunderstands the mechanics of the Communities First programme is very worrying. It’s worrying, firstly, for the future of a programme which can play a key role in helping the most deprived areas withstand the force of the cuts in public expenditure. And secondly, for Bourne himself: it really isn’t that complicated

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  2. Russell Todd says:

    Labour AMs are hardly queuing up to defend Communities First either – apart from youself, Christine Chapman, Alun Davies, Jeff Cuthbert and to-be-expected Ministers

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