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I wish I'd been wrong

Graham Smith | 20:36 UK time, Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Back in February Laurence Reed asked me, live on air, for my best estimate as to how many Cornwall Council jobs would be lost as a result of post-general election spending cuts. I hadn't seen the question coming so waffled a bit while trying to do the maths, and eventually got to the figure of 2,000 - based on the £7 million redundancy pot, the average wage of a council employee, the need to save more than £100 million over four years and the fact that wages are the biggest single cost on the council's budget.

This earned me a rebuke from the council, which accused me of scaremongering. A few weeks later a number of think tanks and academics began publishing their own estimates, with most settling on a figure of between one in six and one in ten public sector jobs likely to get the chop.

The council's next move was to say that everyone was wrong and that "only" 500 jobs would be lost, mainly as a result of natural wastage with no redundancies.

Today's announcement from Cornwall Council that it is indeed going to axe 2,000 jobs, which is precisely between one in six and one in ten of the workforce (depending on whether you look at only full-time equivalents or include part-timers too), mainly through compulsory redundancies, is distressing enough. But the faces of the trade union officials as they sat through yesterday's media briefing told its own story - they were very angry.

Is it too cynical to suggest that a fact is not a fact - until after the polling stations have closed?


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