David Cameron and George Osborne may claim that “we’re all in this together”, but the truth is that the poorest, as ever, will be hardest hit by the government’s “painful” spending cuts.
Thankfully, there are still some Tory ministers willing to state the unvarnished truth. Asked by MPs why northern cities were losing millions more than southern areas, Bob Neill, the new local government minister, replied:
Those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt.
Neill might want to explain this to our Deputy Prime Minister, who talks so fondly of “progressive austerity” and insists that he will prevent a repeat of the “savage” cuts of the 1980s. This despite the fact that spending actually rose under Thatcher.
In almost all periods of fiscal retrenchment, it is those most dependent on the state — the poor, the young, the elderly, the infirm — who suffer the most. Clegg’s plans to fend off a new north-south divide are already looking hopelessly ambitious.