PATRICK HARVIE – Government must change track before it's too late

THE UK Government this week published its "mid-term review", a self-assessment of their performance since the Tory/LibDem coalition came together in 2010.

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I'd guess that few people would be as forgiving about their dismal government as they are themselves.

From the beginning, their essential argument has amounted to "no pain, no gain" – telling people that only dramatic cuts to public spending and long-term efforts to reduce the deficit can create economic recovery.

In their coalition agreement they wrote about building a new economy from the rubble of the old.

The reality of course is that many Tories have longed for a chance to dismantle the public services of which the UK should be proud, and the LibDems were willing to put them into power in exchange for pathetically limited concessions.

If their basic economic strategy was bearing fruit, they'd at least have some kind of defence. But their failure is all too obvious.

So far, some of the worst of it is being inflicted only on England; the dismantling of the NHS and the continued efforts to turn education into a market commodity are shocking, but in Scotland we are able to protect ourselves from those policies.

Even though the political parties here disagree about how to deal with the funding cuts which Westminster hands out, even Tory and LibDem MSPs aren't pushing for the same wreckage of the public sector here.

However the worst is yet to come. With savage cuts coming to the welfare state, designed partly to save money but also to ensure that those savings come from the poorest in society instead of wealthiest.

Unless the UK Government changes track, mere failure will turn into disaster.

I have no interest in hearing the Tories' rhetoric about "tough choices", or the defensive pleading of LibDems who rightly fear the voters' judgement.

If they don't have the nerve to bring this toxic government down they will deserve everything they get in 2015.

The chance to throw this shower out of government can't come a moment too soon.

Local government

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