Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Canadian Solution Lacking Legitimacy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Canadian Solution Lacking Legitimacy

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL LINFORD

ONE of the shortest-lived and least successful political advertising campaigns of recent times was Labour's General Election poster featuring David Cameron as fictional 80s TV cop Gene Hunt.

"Don't let him take Britain back to the 1980s," said the catchline, as the Tory leader was depicted astride Hunt's famous red Audi Quattro.

The campaign, which was swiftly pulled, ignored two important facts. Firstly, most people thought Gene Hunt was quite cool.

Secondly, many would jump at the chance to go back to the 1980s were it really possible.

For all the bitter folk-memories of the 1984/5 miners' strike, unemployment topping three million in 1981 and the Toxteth and Brixton riots that summer, it was an altogether gentler age than the one we live in.

If anyone is in any doubt about this, Mr Cameron's speech on Monday in which he sought to prepare the public for spending cutbacks the likes of which have never been seen before ought to disabuse them of it.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is insistent that it won't mean a return to "Thatcher-style policies," and he's quite right. It's going to be far worse than that.

For all that the Tories still worship the Iron Lady as the premier who began the rolling-back of the state with her 1980s privatisations, there are some parts of the public sector she would have never dared touch.

That is emphatically not the case now. The message from Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne is that no item of public expenditure can now be considered sacrosanct.

Is this a bad thing? Well, not necessarily. All parties are agreed on the need to reduce the country's pounds 156m budget deficit, and however many reviews of government "waste" are carried out, it seems there are always new savings to be found.

But for me, the biggest question mark against the plans to adopt the "Canadian Solution" and radically shrink the size of the state, concerns its lack of political legitimacy. …

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