Throughout period of government by the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher, the Labour Party and their aficionados claimed there were cuts in public spending. In fact, in each year, public spending rose under the Conservatives. In the year before the Conservatives came into government under Thatcher, 1978-9 (the last year of Labour government), total public spending was £75 billion. By 1989-90 (the last year of government under Margaret Thatcher) public spending was £200 billion. This was an increase in public spending year on year, every year and an increase in public spending even allowing for general inflation.
According to this year’s budget plans, public current spending will rise from £600.6 billion in 2009-10, the last Labour year, to £692.7 billion in 2014-15, the last planned year of the Coalition government in this Parliament. That’s a rise of £92.7 billion, or more than 15%: a rise of £1500 for every man,woman and child in the UK.
Total spending including capital will rise from £669.3 billion in 2009-10 to £737.5 billion, a rise of £68.2 billion. This shows that there will be a reduction in capital spending over the next 4 years but this reduction in capital spending WAS the plan inherited from the last Labour government and which the Coalition government have inherited and accepted.
So why then do we hear so much about “Cuts”? Is it simply because it suits the Labour Party to paint the Coalition in a poor light knowing that every citizen who feels antipathy towards a reduction in welfare, social and housing benefits will come out and support the Labour Party believing that Labour will save them from any reduction in the subsidies they receive courtesy of the British tax-payer.
Sadly, this approach to decrying the so-called “Cuts” is disingenuous in extremis as Alistair Darling, as the outgoing Labour Chancellor of The Exchequer, announced that if the Labour administration were returned to government in the May of 2010, the Labour government would have had to start reducing of capital expenditure by £44bn over the period 2011-2015 – the Conservatives have simply increased that figure to £61bn over the same period – a reduction less than an 1% of total annual budget for the UK Government spending plans.
So what are these “Cuts”?
They are currently the ‘bleeding stumps’, sob stories and pronouncements of public sector managers seeking increases in their budgets and doing so publicly – as seen with senior Police Officers suggesting that the Nation will go to rack and ruin if there is a reduction in frontline Police numbers (when the fact is that if there is constraint on the budget of the Police then the savings could be managed by reducing non-frontline costs!). The reality is that the actual “Cuts” are not yet known and not announced until 20 October 2010; thus the narrative of “Cuts” as promulgated by the BBC, the Trade Unions and the Labour Party followers and supporters is merely navel-gazing and studying tea-leaves to guess what the actual “Cuts” will be and when they do come I suspect they will be less dramatic than foretold by the critics of the Coalition Government.