If I Had a Million Pounds I Would…

Gordon Brown has proposed abolishing the childcare voucher scheme that he introduced.

Is this to save money, to finally start addressing that huge budget deficit?

Nope. He wants to redirect the money to providing nursery places for two-year-olds.

The reaction from his party has been predictable. They don’t want the vouchers abolished. And now nine former Labour cabinet ministers have written to Mr Brown along the same lines.

Are they criticising Mr Brown for devoting the savings to nursery places rather than to cutting the government deficit? Are they heck. Their criticism of the proposal is that it will prevent working mothers from being able to afford to go out to work.

You can debate the merits or otherwise of the childcare voucher scheme versus toddlers’ nursery places as long as you like. But that isn’t really the point.

On the day those ex-ministers wrote that letter, Fitch ratings agency was warning that Britain faced the biggest risk of losing its AAA credit rating of any major economy, unless the next government makes serious efforts to bring spending under control. (They’ve obviously given up on the current government doing that.)

While Brown’s government squabbles over which type of childcare provision the State should provide, it is now blindingly clear to everyone outside the government that cuts are not just needed, but will be forced on whichever government is in office pretty soon.

Those Labour grandees earnestly debating which kind of childcare to provide at taxpayer’s expense rather remind me of debates that children have about “what I would do with the money if I had a million pounds”.

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