Week in Westminster - 23/10/2010

Steve Richards of The Independent reviews a defining week in the life of the coalition government. The Chancellor, George Osborne, has unveiled his long-awaited package of spending cuts - amounting to £81 billion and predicted to cut half a million people from the public sector workforce. Hailed as an 'unavoidable' way of cutting the deficit , the package has aroused fears from Labour that unemployment will grow and that the economic recovery will be stifled. Here , Geoffrey Howe, a former Conservative chancellor with experience of imposing highly unpopular cuts, debates the coalition's approach with a very recent former chancellor, Labour's Alistair Darling. Some critics suspect the Tories are using the deficit as an excuse to get what they want anyway - a smaller state. How far is David Cameron an ideologue in the mould of Margaret Thatcher? Or is he simply pragmatic? A topic here for one of his speechwriters, Ian Birrell, and the general secretary of the Fabian Society, Sunder Katwala. The Liberal Democrats, the coalition's junior partner, have been feeling the heat in the opinion polls - which the BBC's Editor of Political Research, David Cowling, has been closely following. Here, he puts the pollsters' findings to the party's deputy leader, Simon Hughes .


  • 2010-10-23 11:00:00 - 2010-10-23 11:30:00 on Radio 4 FM, Radio 4 LW,