Monday 20 February 2017

Voters are not falling for the line on stability

Focus on fiscal restraint has been positive, but there's lots to worry about, writes Dan O'Brien

Published 07/02/2016 | 02:30

DECISION: Counting votes. Photo: Steve Humphreys
DECISION: Counting votes. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The early days of the election campaign have been marked by the absence of auction politics. Instead of attempting exclusively to outdo each other in what tax breaks and new spending commitments they offer to voters, the parties have been arguing about the detail of the constraints and limitations on future giveaways. One party (Labour) has explicitly said that the reduction of public debt is a priority.

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Is this a sign, however tentative, that our politics has changed? Could the effects of the crash and the plethora of new rules on managing the public finances have brought a new maturity to politics?

The move away from making as many promises as possible to acknowledging how scarce resources will be is potentially much more significant than differences over the amount of future "fiscal space" in five years from 2017 to 2021.

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