How to cut public services following a bank bailout.
1) Take several months to reframe the situation in peoples heads, talk a lot about tough decisions, and deep financial crisis. Scare people enough that they don’t sit back and consider what caused the mess in the first place. Do not under any circumstances discuss the fact that the cost of the bail out is escalating by £50billion a quarter.
2) Prepare public for ‘hard choices’. (In preparation for step 6 it is a good idea to also start demonising unions about now. If there are any industrial disputes occuring I advise hijacking them for this purpose.)
3) Identify a public service that is relatively cheap and voter friendly- pledge to ringfence it. Surestart is a good example. Vocal commitment to a scheme like this, can distract people from the cuts you are making everywhere else. A pledge to protect aspects of the service used most by middle class voters is also useful here. I recommend the NHS.
4) Discuss waste in the public sector. I know that these are essential public services. Forget that. Talk ‘waste’. Talk inefficiency.
If you can- imply that it was the provision of these services that caused the mess in the first place. If you use the term public spending quite often, it should plant that seed quite effectively. It may help to talk about the public sector workers who contribute nothing to the economy. Regularly mention over inflated salaries because noone will check.
5) Introduce debates about ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. Useful stereotypes for this are single mothers, benefit claimants, asylum seekers. In fact anyone who is economically inactive-even if the recession is the reason for that inactivity.
If you concentrate on extreme stereotypes and play up benefit fraud, you should be able to cut public services and welfare spending by a great deal. Don’t worry that people will notice when they are unable to access the help they need. You should be able to encourage them to blame the people you have already identified as ‘undeserving’-and use this as an example of the unfairness of the system. You can also offset some of the blame for the initial crisis, onto these people. In times of rising unemployment this is quite useful, as you can actually blame them for their failure to contribute to the system even if the recession is what caused their unemployment.
THis has the added benefit that blame taken by these people, is blame deflected from you and the finance sector. This win win for you.
6) It is important for this point, that you have already spent a great deal of time demonising any trade unions. There is a chance that when you start cutting back the ‘waste’ in public services, that workers within those services will object and try to defend services from those cuts. If you have successfully demonised the unions you should be able to use this objection as clear evidence of the necessity of these cuts. You should be able to score political points on how tough you were.
7) If you have completed all of these steps satisfactorily, you should be able to cut public services without anyone ever noticing why you had to do it in the first place. More importantly, you should be able to do it without losing any important votes. Not only this, but by now you should have a wide variety of people who you can blame for failures in service delivery. There is a good chance that any issues which arise through the cuts in these servicescan be blamed on either service users, or staff.
8) Don’t panic too much if the effect of withdrawing these services has unexpected effects. The effects of poverty can quite easily be blamed on those experiencing it. It is helpful to enlist the help of the right wing press with this. Poverty does cost a lot of money but by the time anyone notices you will be off developing a career as a lobbyist and public speaker. Besides a ‘Broken Britain’ platform is a very good way to fight an election.