The above chart appears in the main leader in today’s Times. It offers some important facts-of-economic-life:
- "Decades, if not centuries, of bitter experience have shown that individual endeavour and private enterprise are far superior to state intervention when it comes to managing wealth and improving living standards."
- "Labour has led the State to a dominant role – spending has expanded as a share of GDP by 20 per cent in the past decade."
- "In the North of England, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland [the state] accounts for more than half of all economic activity – well ahead of international norms."
- "Economic success in London and southeast England is partnered by smaller state incursions."
The need to start to reduce the growth of the state – and stem the Sovietisation of parts of Britain – explains why party members oppose George Osborne’s commitment to match Labour’s spending for the next three years. They oppose the Shadow Chancellor’s position by 64% to 24%. I cannot see Mr Osborne abandoning that position but I hope as we get closer to a 2009 or 2010 election we don’t see it repeated. Recent events may have reminded him of the potency of tax-cutting Conservatism.
The graphic on the right from today’s Sun (click to enlarge) may offer part of the explanation for the huge rise in spending on the north. All but two Cabinet ministers represent non-southern constituencies. Last week’s announcement by Brown on Crossrail may mean that he realises the problem – at least at times of pre-election fever.
This huge state expansion, particularly in the north, is further proof that’s it’s always ‘total politics’ with Gordon Brown. Every (spending) decision he makes is a calculated attempt to win votes. As ConservativeHome has noted before – Labour has expanded state dependency during good economic times in order to move the electorate leftwards. None of the proceeds of the good years have been saved for rainier days.
PS Both the Times leader and George Pascoe-Watson’s Sun piece appeared to have been inspired by Alice Miles’ column in yesterday’s Times.