Spending review: Anger and conscience

The coalition government is vulnerable to public anger over the spending review
The coalition government is vulnerable to public anger over the spending review

By Ian Dunt

The political aftershocks of the spending review continue to dominate the British political landscape today, as politicians and activists struggle to come to terms with its repercussions.

Talking to Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said he had searched his conscience to justify the cuts to public spending the review entails.

"I have spent every day of this process, pretty well every minute of this process, asking myself whether there are pain-free alternatives, whether we are doing the right thing, and I genuinely believe there is no easy alternative," he said.

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"I have certainly searched long and hard into my own conscience about whether what we are doing is for the right reasons.

"I am not going to hide the fact that a lot of this is difficult. I find it morally difficult. It is difficult for the country."

Writing for the Observer, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the review demonstrated that David Cameron was not compassionate.

"This was the week that took the compassion out of David Cameron's claim to compassionate Conservatism," he wrote.

"In fact, it was a week that had a feel that my generation and his remember: back to the 1980s."
Opponents of the review were gearing up for an epic battle to try to block its measures.

The TUC was organising what it said would be the "biggest and boldest" demonstration in the history of British trade unionism next March.

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"Together let's make that mobilisation the biggest, boldest and best event in our history," general secretary Brenden Barber said later.

Labour appeared to be capitalising on the public's reaction to the spending review, with the party on 37%, the Tories at 35% and Lib Dems on a just ten per cent in a Mail on Sunday/BPIX poll.

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