Support 100 years of independent journalism.

Why the election result marks the end of austerity

The Tories will have no majority for divisive spending cuts in a hung parliament.

By George Eaton

Ever since they won a small majority in 2015, the Conservatives have struggled to pass further austerity measures. They were forced to abandon planned cuts to tax credits and disability benefits. Philip Hammond dropped the proposed increase in National Insurance on the self-employed just a week after the Budget.

With Parliament newly hung, austerity will all but end. The DUP, who the Conservatives will depend on for their majority, have long opposed aggressive spending cuts. Their manifesto called for the abolition of the “bedroom tax” and the maintenance of universal pensioner benefits and the state pension “triple lock”.

Many Tory MPs are fiscal nimbys, who subscribe to austerity in theory but not in practice. A significant number are resolutely opposed to any measures that further reduce their constituents’ living standards. The damage inflicted on the Conservatives last night will be hailed as a vindication of this stance. Further cuts create too many losers for comfort.

After seven years, Britain has lost patience with austerity. May’s cold insistence to a nurse that there was no “magic money tree” to end the public sector pay cap exemplified the Tories’ predicament. Having deferred George Osborne’s budget surplus target to 2025, much of the impetus behind austerity has already been lost. An ultra-fragile majority, Brexit and the economic downturn will combine to halt it altogether.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
Why competition is the key to customer satisfaction
High streets remain vitally important to local communities
The future of gas