The scale of British borrowing is about 155 billion and we are all to tighten our belts to get rid of it. At least that is what we have been promised by a rebranded Conservative Party that seems to say: yes we are tough, but honest and fair. Fairness was also the election slogan of the Tories' new-found comrades in arms, the Liberal Democrats.
But what is fair? Mr Cameron has said the public sector will bear the brunt of the burden because "there is no way of dealing with an 11 per cent budget deficit just by hitting either the rich or the welfare scrounger".
This has been the Conservative ideology since time immemorial; attack the state and depersonalise it. Refer to the state as public sector and don't mention nurses, teachers, police officers, social workers or anything else that can be interpreted as an actual human being. It is easy to talk about public sector and state because it is so very impersonal.
But when we translate it, can we still call it fair? Were the nurses, teachers, police officers, social workers responsible for the deficit? Should they therefore bear the brunt?
Who was it again that got us in this mess? How quickly we forget it was the private sector, not the whole private sector but a part of it. And who benefited most from years of economic growth? No, it was not the public sector; again it was the private sector.
Although latest figures will have you believe that public sector pay is higher, this does not take into account money made in profits and paid out in dividends. Thus fairness would dictate that it is the private sector that should bear the brunt.
I could be accused of depersonalisation as well by referring to real people as the private sector, so let me be specific, banks, oil companies, pharmaceutical firms, telecoms, food industry, supermarkets, every company that is listed in FTSE 100.
Now, I don't mean the workers for these companies as an average wage in the private sector is lower than in the public sector. I also realise that by taxing shareholders you are also punishing pensions. What I am arguing is that if these cuts are necessary, then they should be made in a fair and honest way. Fairness and honesty should be the criteria to which we should judge decisions. I accuse Cameron and Clegg of lacking both.
They are being dishonest by using dehumanised words such as state and public sector; not telling us what it really means. They are being unfair by suggesting the public sector should bear the brunt whereas it is the private sector that plucked the fruits when the sun was shining and made a mess of things.
It is fair that we should all bear the burden, but this should be in accordance to three criteria: how much can a person afford, how much did a person benefit during good times and how responsible were they for the current situation? Singling out the public sector does not fulfil these criteria.
ARNO VAN DER ZWET
University of Strathclyde