Coalition ‘needs to mend discourse with public’
By Judy Hirst in Liverpool | 4 July 2012
The public’s desire to simultaneously have lower taxes and better public services is just one example of the ‘broken political discourse’ that needs urgently to be addressed, RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor told the CIPFA conference.
There was a ‘social aspiration gap’ that was not being addressed by the coalition, said Taylor, a former chief political advisor to Number 10.
Even when New Labour was ‘throwing bucketloads of money’ at public services it was an issue, he said, adding that now austerity had made the problem acute.
All politicians had told ‘a pack of lies’ in the run-up to the last election about the level of cuts needed, Taylor told delegates. This had created cynicism and added to the broken discourse with the public.
Commenting on Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent speech on welfare reform, Taylor said it was ‘useful to confront difficult issues’, but that his speech was ‘very unbalanced’.
The PM had avoided tackling the thorny issue of welfare entitlements for the middle classes and older people. Unless this is confronted, welfare cuts will inevitably hit the very poorest the most harshly.
Politicians needed to ‘tap into the public’s capacity for collective self-help,’ Taylor told the conference. Former government adviser Steve Hilton had ‘got it right on this,’ he said, but the coalition’s Big Society vision lacked ‘intellectual rigour’.