I have had a hard time at your hands this week. Love you though I do - you're mostly in the caring professions - you've been, how can I say it, annoying in your naivete...since Tuesday's Emergency Budget announcement.
All of you, to a person, have conveniently forgotten that Darling set out cut of 20% next to the Coalition's 25%. Some of you are telling me this is "so un-necessary", as if the deficit didn't exist and all was well. You are forgetting that public spending is still going to rise to 750 billion by 2015 (today it is about 625), much of it paying-back 2001-09 debt). Provocatively of you talk about Lib Dem betrayal as though we had some other alternative than create a Coalition. And then you get onto the banks and how it's all their fault etc.
Which of course it partly is...but let's get real here. About three years ago I shared a platform with Carl Emmerson who is Robert Chote's deputy at the Institute of Fiscal Studies. This was well before the crisis and Carl's mission that day was to tell an un-witting third sector audience that all was not well. That the public sector was being pumped up unsustainably and that by 2011 we'd be looking at cuts, quite severe ones. And this was before the banking crisis.
The truth about the last Government is that it was held together was an ideology which says that clever, enlightened people can manage society through a large state which consumes 45-50% of the nation's resources. You get this view wherever you go in the Labour Party - except, possibly the uber-Blairites (who are now long-gone).
This model has been discredited. And while it was fine to turn the taps up when the receipts were there to cover it, to keep this going for so long when the money wasn't there is, in my mind, neglectful.
My party - the Liberal Democrats - will no doubt pay a heavy price in future elections. But whatever happens, I will be proud that we didn't join in the chorus of opposition to cuts. Don't get me wrong, I am worried. I have kids in (pre)school and depend on the NHS like everyone else. It won't be easy. But I have seen the public sector at close quarters for 20 years and there is massive scope for savings and, with it, long overdue reform.
Which gets me to where I am going with this piece. I am firmly convinced that the implementation of cuts by the Coalition will be executed a lot more effectively than would have happened under Labour. Reform of the public sector was stopped by Gordon Brown. This was over the head of a deeply frustrated Blair. Foundation hospitals, divesity of suppliers in the NHS, academies, you name it. Brown and Labour found ways to stop these things because they weren't part of the Master-Plan.Labour is the part of producers and has paid them more and put them before the user of public services for a very long time.
Neither Liberals or Conservatives think like this. Reform will be immediate and comprehensive. Neither party is funded by or owes anything to Unison, Unite or any of the other blockers. Bureaucracy will be hit a lot harder as will public sector pay and pensions - rightly too in my view. Only the Coalition can do this.
The alternative under Labour may have been a slightly lower level of cuts - but you can bet the cuts would have hurt me and you before they touched a public sector worker. Cuts under Coalition, though more severe, will, I believe, hit the producers much harder than me and you - which is how it should be.
So, my friends from the other side, I hope you do, eventually, smell the coffee on cuts. Labour people are, I tend to find, a heck of a lot nicer than Tories, the majority of whom are not people I would chose to hang out with. But I hope I don't have to spend the next five years listening to moaning about the nasty coalition. That would be no fun at all!