A couple of days ago I gave an interview for London Business, in which I said there had been no austerity.
My reasons for saying this? Some facts.
Exhibit A – This August, the last month for which data is available, the deficit (i.e. difference between what the government spends and the taxes it takes) was the highest ever. Not just higher than in the last decade, or last century. Higher than any month since the Coalition came to office.
Exhibit B – As Fraser Nelson and several other commentators have done, if you looked beyond the spin and study the maths, you will see that core spending and debt are up this year. See the graph for core public spending at the bottom of this Coffee House blog. It is up. Not down.
Exhibit C – Data from UKPublicSpending.co.uk shows total public spending this year is £688 Billion, compared to £621 Billion during Gordon Brown's last full year in office.
All of these are facts, not statements of opinion. You may disagree with my use of the data. You might prefer I also look at other data. You may even suggest that there have been some cuts in some areas, so my point only applies to overall spending. But my claim remains one rooted in facts.
Whenever I point this out, I find I am attacked for it - most recently in an anonymous article on a newspaper site. Yet rarely do those attacking me make any effort to repudiate the facts on which I base my case.
Nor when I claim that there has been no cut in public spending am I suggesting that there has not been a fall in living standards. There has been both a falling living standards for many people and an increase in public spending.
It might suit the government to tell us that there is austerity because it makes them appear as if they are getting to grips with the public finances. It might suit the Opposition who can make great play of the cuts. But the maths suggest something different.
I happen to believe that the British state has lived far beyond the means of the rest of us to pay for it. For almost a decade it has had to borrow the equivalent of a tenth of total output, just to pay the bills. Our Big Government model is bust.
I make this point even more vividly in The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy, published next week.blog comments powered by Disqus
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