Austerity for ever

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has expressed concern about the the Conservative Party’s desire to have ‘austerity for ever’.   It has taken him a little time to notice.  David Cameron gave a speech over a year ago arguing for a permanently ‘leaner’ state.

I argued at the time that it has never been about austerity.  Austerity is about saving money.   The Welfare State was founded in a society where resources were excessively scarce, where food was still rationed; the NHS was a model of austerity.   Transferring resources and responsibility to the private sector is something quite different – not to mention more expensive.  Nor is it about the deficit:  if George Osborne was serious about reducing the deficit, he would be looking to increase taxes or otherwise to increase government income.     This is part of a long-standing commitment to roll back the frontiers of the state – in Alexander’s words, “an ideological demand, not an economic necessity”.


One comment

  1. Caroline Leclercq

    Indeed. And to make things worse, the European Commission is issuing edicts about the necessity of “austerity”.

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