Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Hannan: all that matters, for now, is cutting the deficit

From Daniel Hannan today:

No one pretends that trimming six billion pounds from the deficit is more than a statement of intent. To grasp how paltry the saving is, have a look at Guido’s graphic.

Gordon Brown’s talk of “paying down the deficit” deliberately fudged the distinction between debt (how much we owe) and deficit (the rate at which we’re getting deeper into debt). These cuts will mean that our national debt will rise by £153 billion this year instead of £159 billion. The government will still be borrowing a pound in every four it spends.

Still, statements of intent are important. Symbols matter. The new government has semaphored to the markets and, more important, to the electorate, that it intends to put spending on a downward trend. It is signaling that it will tilt the balance back from the public sector (which consumes wealth) to the private sector (which creates it). Hence the importance of including, in these first cuts, the elimination of quangos and a civil service recruitment freeze – a device which Margaret Thatcher used in her first years to save colossal sums.

The graphic he links to is worth reproducing here:

£6 billion is a drop in the ocean. A rounding error. Statistical noise. The sooner we can get on with some real cuts, the better. All it would take is returning public spending to 2002 levels. The more politicians pretend that saving £6 billion will be difficult, the harder they'll find it to sell the real cuts when they come along in a few months' time.

There's an interesting mix of comments comments over at the BBC; many people recognise the need for cuts, but some are in deep denial.

No comments:

Post a Comment