Osborne's cuts take us back to the dark days of, umm, 2001


It's good to see that we're not the only people who have realised that Osborne's cuts are not about to plunge the nation back into the penury of the 1930s. We're actually going back to the dark old days of 2001:

Because the government does not want to raise taxes to fund these plans, public spending is forecast to fall from 41% of GDP today to just 35% by the end of the decade.

That has prompted accusations that the government wants the country to go back to the late-1930s—and the Britain Orwell describes in his cri de coeur against poverty. The Office of Budget Responsibility, Britain's fiscal watchdog, stated that Mr Osborne's plans would force public spending down "below the previous post-war lows reached in 1957-58 and 1999-00 to what would probably be its lowest level in 80 years". "You're back to the land of Road to Wigan Pier", one BBC journalist roared. The opposition Labour party also sensed good electioneering material; on December 17th, Ed Miliband accused the prime minister of wanting to send Britain "back to the 1930s".

Hmm, well, yes:

Stripping away the hyperbole about Mr Osborne's plans shows that in reality they only amount to a reduction to the levels of public spending seen in 2002-03 in real terms, or 2001-02 in real terms per capita. The government could, back then, clearly afford a welfare state, as it will be able to still do in 2020.

You might think this a tad cynical, in fact, so do we think it a tad cynical. But then we are cynical about politics. Blair and Brown were elected: they stuck to the previous Tory budget plans for their first couple of years. Then they let rip: raising public spending as a portion of GDP from the levels it had so painfully been managed down to. No, this isn't bank bailouts, nor is it just the result of the recession. It was a deliberate plan for what they thought would be a better Britain (obviously we disagree on that betterness). All that is being done now is a reversal of that Brown Terror and splurge. You might agree that this should happen, you might think that it should not, but those screaming that it's a return to the 30s well, here's the cynicism: we think they're the people that that extra money has been spent on these past 12 years. No one likes to see the gravy train shunting back into the yard one last time, do they?