It’s judgement day today for Britain’s government budgets, as chancellor George Osborne announces the results of his comprehensive spending review this afternoon. The whole country, or at least the media and the public sector, is pretty much braced for the worst.
I’ve already said I don’t believe this level of cuts is at all necessary, and that it’s a big gamble, since government spending single-handedly got us out of the recession earlier this year. It’s also partisan, since the places least affected by the cuts are all Conservative constituencies.
There are a host of massive misconceptions skewing the debate as well. Those favouring the cuts say we’re in danger of ending up like Greece and that Labour led the country to the verge of bankruptcy, which is untrue – we still had a triple A credit rating at the worst of the recession. Labour did spend rather foolishly in the boom times, but our debt situation is better than the US and they’re not talking about cuts yet.
We’ve also convinced ourselves that the public sector has grown out of all proportion, when it’s actually the same size it’s been for 60 years , as this little chart shows.
But its too late for all that. The cuts were no secret in the general elections and we made our choice, so I guess we need to live with it. And while we can still joke about it for a couple of hours, check out this nifty visual summary of government spending on the Guardian website. You can make your own savings and see how you’d fix the deficit. The ministries of defence and transport were the big losers in my version.