Hands up how many of us had used or even heard of the word "austerity" before so many European economies began their progressive meltdowns? Probably not a huge amount, but now it is the buzzword when it comes to economic measures. And even as I write this, I'm getting a strange sense of deja-vu that I've already used the words "austerity" and "buzzword" in a previous blog! Oh dear. Kind of makes the point though, doesn't it? What we've also seen are some pretty extreme reactions. Greece obviously springs to mind ... the protests there were violent, sometimes deadly ... but now we're seeing protests in France at pension reform, and political unrest in Spain where debt is still a huge problem. Now it's the UK's turn. I've used a question mark in the title of this blog because I don't believe there will be quite such a violent reaction in the UK ... but you can understand the displeasure Chancellor George Osborne's budget cuts made this week. They're pretty brutal with half a million public jobs on the block! That's tough in anyone's language. What's in the back of my mind though is the political side of this. Clearly, when Britons voted in a general election back in May, they were sick of Labour. Thirteen years in power was enough (too much?) and it was time for a change.
But when they voted for the Conservative Party, did they really know that this was the path the country would head down? That the new economic policy would be the exact opposite? Gordon Brown always talked about "securing the economic recovery" and doing it by spending and stimulating. What the UK now faces is a stark, stark change. Full coverage of the UK budget cuts on Counting the Cost this week, with Samah El-Shahat in London. She explores the notion of spending vs austerity, and is joined in the studio by guests from both sides of the argument.
Counting the Cost can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1430, 2130; Saturday: 0300, 1230; Sunday: 0630, 1930; Monday: 0030, 0730.