When Labour says Conservatives wish to take spending back to 1930s levels they mean as a percentage of GDP, not in real terms let alone cash terms. However, it comes across as if they think Conservatives want to cut real spending back to 1930s levels. So what are the true figures?
In 1932 the UK public sector cost £1.397 billion. If you translate that into today’s prices, allowing for all the inflation since then, it would mean public spending of just £82.9 bn. Instead public spending this year is £731 billion, or 780% higher than 1932. That’s why we can afford the NHS and much else besides which we did not have in 1932.
Put another way, today’s £731 bn would have cost £12.3bn in 1932, nine times what was actually spent! Incidentally, for much of the 1930s public spending was lower than 35% of GDP, as well as GDP being so much lower in real terms.