Instead, how about giving nurses a pay rise?by Stephen Crabb / June 28, 2017 / Leave a comment
One of the key political debates over the past seven years has been not about particular policies, but language—specifically, the language used to define what happened with public expenditure over this period, and the impact it had on our economy and society.
Labour’s favourite word, “austerity”—conjuring up images of severe and uncaring hardship—has stuck. It is the short-hand expression, widely used in the press and by public sector bodies and charities, for a range of choices about taxation, spending and how we reduce a budget deficit that had reached an enormous 7 per cent of GDP in 2010.
While rejecting Labour’s premise, Conservatives have struggled to come up with neat language of our own to describe our approach. “Getting our country back to living within its means” was probably the most voter-friendly phrase we adopted. Nevertheless, by the time we reached the 2015 election, we could point to a powerful track record showing that our strategy was bearing fruit in terms of economic growth, with record employment levels and a steady fall in the deficit. This was fundamentally why the Conservatives secured an unexpected majority.
Given a choice to abandon this course, voters gave us the benefit of the doubt and stuck with the plan.
But the surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn at this election, and the loss of the government’s majority, has led some to argue that we are now in a period which demands a different strategy.