So, here comes the budget. And here come the cuts. It's going to hurt.
But permit me, for a moment, to delve into something which I think is important: the motives for these cuts in public spending. A lot of people I know have already started banging the 'evil old Tories' drum - you know the one: the Tories love the rich, the Tories hate the poor, the Tories want to protect the privileged whilst grinding the worker into the dust. That sort of thing. I find it painful to listen to, and I want my friends to understand this. I believe in these cuts. That doesn't mean I think they're going to be great. Some of them I think are a good idea, like tightening up the welfare system and making sure it pays more to work than it does to claim. Others I think are an unfortunate necessity in the economic climate, like not building a visitors' centre at Stonehenge, or cutting arts funding. And I understand that for many people - including people I know and love - these cuts will mean personal hardships and even tragedies. I get that. But I think it is necessary for us as a nation to spend less - much less. There it is.
Now, I wonder whether my friends think I hate the poor? Maybe they do. If that were so, that would make me a rubbish Christian, and, let's face it, a pretty awful human being. But I promise you it isn't the case: I genuinely believe that this is better for all of us in the long run. Of course, you may think I'm wrong. But do you also think I'm evil?
I hope not many of my friends think that I am evil. In which case, I want to ask them to hold off on assuming that Dave, George and co are necessarily evil. If, just for a moment, we assumed that the people we disagreed with might have good motives, wouldn't that lead to a more constructive debate about the way forward?
To put it another way, it would be very easy for me to write off all my leftish friends as people who hate success, are driven by envy, and desperately want to take away economic freedom. That would, of course, be facile and frankly idiotic analysis. I don't think that. I think my leftish friends are wrong; but I think their motives are good. It would be nice if the compliment were extended in the opposite direction.
End of rant. As you were.