The most recent winner in the election campaign was not the Liberal Democrats but the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and its director, Robert Chote. Chotemania has not yet replaced Cleggmania but, by upbraiding all three main parties for their dishonesty over the pain that lies ahead, the IFS has seized the moral high ground.
The IFS has produced a series of papers on election issues, valiantly number-crunching the parties’ proposals. Most notably, they calculate that all three parties have left between three-quarters and nine-tenths of the spending cuts needed for their deficit-reduction plans unexplained.
Clegg, Brown and Cameron bickering about a few billion here and there when they share a mass of (partly inevitable) uncertainty is pathetic. Chote and his IFS colleagues are the angels of our better nature, whispering in our ear that we should concentrate on the vast numbers that will shape our government for the next decade rather than a stupid remark about a pensioner in Rochdale.
Fat chance. With the indulgence of a public that doesn’t want to think about difficult things, our pinheaded leaders are dancing all over such angelic counsel.