Over the last couple of days there has been report after report about how the new coalition government are going to demand cuts of up to 40% in some departments. This figure has been revised from the 25% projected previously. There are various theories being expounded for this increase. Some people are saying that the cuts have to be this deep in order to manage the national debt whilst others argue that the tories are using this as an excuse and these cuts are simply part of their plan to advance some right-wing ideology.
Jackie Ashley in the Guardian has an interesting take on these reports calling it a "piece of shameless spin" designed to soften the blow when the real figure of around 25% is confirmed.
I have no idea what the actual figure will be once all is said and done. I suppose some departments will see bigger cuts than others. One thing I am sure of though, is that the cuts will be as deep as is needed in order to get the deficit under control well before the next general election.
A couple of months ago Mervyn King warned that the winner of the 2010 election would have to make decisions so unpopular that they would become unelectable for a generation.
The first priority of most (probably all) governments is to stay in power. In my view, the Conservatives have heeded this warning from the governor of the Bank of England and believe their only chance to retain power at the next general election is to be in a position within 3 or 4 years to start a program of tax cuts and hope that the electorate has a short memory. Who knows, they may be right. It only took 13 years of Labour for people to forget what the last tory government did to us in the eighties.