20 April 2011

How Hammersmith Tories use debt as a smokescreen for ruthless cuts

At the council meeting on Tuesday, Tory councillors lamely blamed the council’s debt for their decision to slash early years services and youth support. One nameless councillor (oh, very well, it was Helen Binmore) even claimed that if interest rates went up, so would the council’s debt repayments.

Fortunately, Labour’s Rory Vaughan was on hand to explain that most of the council’s debt is on 20 to 30-year fixed rates, which provides solid protection from an interest rate rise.

If he hadn’t been shouted down, Rory would have gone into more detail about why the Tory claims about Hammersmith’s borrowing are economically illiterate, as we have already explained here.

The truth is that for the leading local Tories – if not all their more gullible members – debt is a smokescreen, a carefully constructed myth that they use to justify cutting an extra £1 on top of every £3 of local cuts demanded by the government.

If they stopped peddling the debt myth, they would be forced to have the courage to admit they are cutting because they believe ideologically in hacking the state down to (a very small) size.

Tory Councillor Harry Phibbs let the cat out the the bag when he tweeted recently that the cuts didn't go far enough.

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