Is the Guardian splash a gift to the beleaguered Tories?
An extraordinary piece of journalistic digging by the Guardian this morning suggests that since Brown became PM on June 27th his government been able to announce new spending of Â£39.32 billion pounds and that this flurry of activity has been behind the bounce in the polls.
The new spending includes an extra Â£7.7bn for defence to 2011; Â£15bn to improve the railways; Â£4bn extra spending on early years education over three years, covering Sure Start centres; Â£8bn on increasing the availability of affordable housing; Â£800m on flood defences; Â£400mon students grants and Â£1.2bn on a new electronic national border system.
So for every one percent change in Labour’s poll position with ICM there has been Â£3.57 billion of announcements – all funded, as the Tories, no doubt, will tell us by the taxpayer.
What’s been impressive in PR terms is the way all these announcements have been tailored for marginal constituencies. In Bedford, where I live, the incumbent MP in the Tory’s 67th target seat has been able to get great kudos bout from the Â£5bn improvement package for the Thameslink rail route which serves to town.
The question now is what the political impact will be of lumping all this news together like this. It certainly should give the opposition parties something to get their teeth into for it it does look a bit like Gordon’s tax cut announcement in the budget. It also gives them an excuse for the Brown bounce.
There is also the problem of what to do next as Guardian’s editorial suggests: “… each pound earmarked now for new policies, such as expanded student grants, is a pound that cannot be spent later. Mr Brown may improve public services by running them more calmly than Mr Blair. What he cannot do, however – at least without tax rises – is transform the resources they have. Announcements brought forward and big-sounding numbers cannot alter that underlying reality. But they may flatter the polls for a while.”
All this spending as well does indicate that an early might be being considered but I am still not convinced.