The weekend's reports that the Conservatives are rowing back frantically on the subject of cutting public spending are just another sign that they haven't really got a grasp on how to run an economy. Alternatively, you could argue that it's a sign that they haven't got a clue about how to win an election other than keeping their fingers crossed that Labour will continue to find new and interesting ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
As I noted last month, cutting public spending isn't that easy. If it were, everyone would do it. It isn't necessarily popular either, at least when specifics have to be announced. Everyone is in favour of less public spending, with the criticial exception of those aspects they benefit from. And in the face of a slight drop in Conservative support, the Conservatives have wavered.
"Public spending cuts, Mr Osborne?"
"Yeah but no but yeah but no but..."
The dance of the three main parties on public spending has been quite enlightening. Labour started off denying that cuts would be necessary and then backtracked as it became clear that the concept of reducing debt was a popular one. The Conservatives started by calling for major, rapid cuts (quite popular) then realised that they couldn't really think of anything that would make a difference and not be unpopular. Seemingly, only the Liberal Democrats have adopted a position and stuck to it for longer than six weeks. Hopefully, that situation will continue.
The Conservatives are so close to power that they can almost taste it. The worrying thing is that, if they get it, they are still no closer to working out how to pay the nation's bills. It's kind of scary, when you think about it...