In the 1970s at the end of a wildly socialist period of Labour government we had a similar problem to today – too few producers. Then it was recognised and led to an important change of government to start to sort things out.
All the economic numbers about the UK are currently at misery levels. Inflation is too high. Real incomes are too low and falling. Unemployment is too high. The balance of payments deficit is too large. Public borrowing is too big. The interest bill on the public debt is enormous.
The answer is obvious – we need to produce more of our own goods and services, and we need to sell more abroad to afford the imports we crave.
Mr Brown – and Mr Clegg – seem to think sustaining high and rising levels of public spending is the way to tackle the problem. They fail to see that high taxes – present and prospective – put people off working harder, risking investment, creating jobs, making things. They fail to see that some public spending, far from creating home goods and services we need and want, is wasteful, just adding to the debts around our necks for no good purpose.
The MPs have been forced to get it. Borrowing more public money to buy a Lib Dem MP a better armchair or a trouser press does not add to the national well being enough to justify the extra debt. If the items are imported it is a double blow to our economy. Now it has to be the turn of the rest of the public sector to get it.
There is hope on the dorsteps. Yesterday I had two surprising exchanges. The first was with a lady who was very disillusioned with politics in general. She told me she worked for the NHS which she said was “crap”. Instead of protesting about how good much of the care is from our nurses and doctors, I asked her why she thought that. She told me it was so because they employed far too many managers and box tickers who got in the way of their provision of care, and took too much of the money which was needed to spend on patient service.
The second was someone who enthusiastically said he would support me and then went on to explain he was a civil servant. He said he knew the cuts were coming, and he thought they were needed, even if it was not in his own interest. It was good to hear a public servant speak up for the general interest and to see the dangers of borrowing too much so clearly.
Mr Brown has tried to create such a large public sector, hoping then they wll unite “to fight the cuts”. Some in the public sector fully understand you need a productive and successful private sector to pay the taxes to pay the public sector bills, and fully understand the need to do more for less to make their contribution to economic recovery. There is a growing sense of unfairness in London and the south about how much of the national bill we have to pay, and growing fears amongst the Labour, Nationalist and Lib Dem political classes far away from London about what happens when the public sector money tree no longer produces such a good crop. The way to unite the nation is to unite it around the twin propositions that we need a much stronger private sector recovery, which requires lower tax rates, and we all need to do more for less in the public sector, as the private sector has had to do for years to compete.
Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU