There’s footage doing the rounds of a woman in Doncaster confronting Boris Johnson about austerity. While it’s enjoyable to watch our Prime Minister squirm, it’s the woman’s words – not his – which are most revealing about his premiership so far.
“People have died because of austerity, and you’ve got the cheek to come here and tell us austerity’s over and it’s all good now.”
That’s what one woman told Boris Johnson during a visit to Doncaster, but he said his government was putting more money into public services. pic.twitter.com/zPcMkBtKIX
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 13, 2019
“All you’re going to do is put the same amount of police on the streets as what you took off,” she tells him, regarding his pledge for 20,000 police officers.
It’s a point that nails the hypocrisy of the Tories’ latest spending commitments.
Yes, the Chancellor Sajid Javid’s Spending Review earlier this month sounded more generous than expected, with an additional £13.8bn signalling the largest rise in spending for 15 years. But the reason that sounds quite so impressive is precisely because departments have been cut for so long.
Despite the loud promises of money for education, health and policing that Johnson attempts to boast of in that Doncaster dingdong, the extra funds promised by this government barely reverse a quarter of cuts to spending departments since 2010 (excluding health), according to Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis.
And furthermore, the less election-friendly areas that have been hit hardest by austerity – adult social care, local authorities, and prisons – still “appear like poor relations” despite the increase in spending, according to Whitehall-watchers at the Institute for Government.