If you need a reminder of the extent of dependency created by Gordon Brown you only need to look at today’s Daily Telegraph. One in three households across Britain are now dependent on the state for at least half its income according to a Civitas analysis of DWP data. It is perhaps the great legacy of three consecutive terms of Labour government that they have used the last ten years of relative prosperity to build up the size of the supplicant state – particularly in their northern English, Welsh and Scottish heartlands. They have been able to deliver this enlargement of the state without the pain of the Wilson and Callaghan years because of the relatively benign macroeconomic circumstances.
Other studies have found similar increases in dependency. The Sunday Times noted that parts of the UK had been Soviet-ised in terms of their dependence on government spending:
"In the northeast of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, government spending exceeds 50% of their gross domestic product (GDP). In the northeast and Wales it accounts for almost 60% of the economy. In Northern Ireland it accounts for more than two-thirds of its GDP at 67%. In London and the southeast, in contrast, government spending accounts for just one-third of the economy."
This was The Business‘ take on the same phenomenon:
"British public sector workers are now better paid than their counterparts in the private sector, enjoy better pensions and work fewer hours. So they have good reason to be grateful to Labour; and they repay it by voting for it. Welcome to the great buy-up of the British electorate: many of Labour’s safe seats are now as socialised as the old Soviet states of Eastern Europe. Of the 200 constituencies where public-sector employment is highest, just 20% are held by the Conservatives, 70% by Labour; by contrast, in the 200 seats where the private sector employs most people, 50% are Conservative."
Today’s Civitas report warns that the Chancellor’s tax credits scheme is "only the most prominent example of welfare policies intended to create a grateful electorate rather than free-thinking citizens." It makes Dame Shirley Porter’s housing policies in Westminster look pretty tame.
The Tories are also criticised, however, by the scale of increase in state-dependent voters. Civitas believes that the Conservatives are now afraid of the kind of welfare reforms enacted by Clinton-Gingrich that have helped power the US economy over the last decade and slashed dependency rates.