Government spending

The expansion of government expenditure, at the expense of the private economy that has to pay for it, is demonstrated clearly in the following graph from IEA Discussion Paper No.24, "How Should Britain's Government Spending and Tax Burdens be Measured? A Historical Perspective on the 2009 Budget Forecasts" by David B Smith:

UK government spending, 1900-2010

The government is now spending more than it did at any point during World War I, and more than it did at the peak of its profligacy at the end of the 70s (by which time it had near enough bankrupted the country). The only time we have spent more was in the depths of World War II. The government now accounts for more than half of all spending.

Brown likes to tell us that this is a global crisis and that Britain is leading the way. Well Britain is leading the way in one regard: in government bloat. The following graph is from a briefing on "The growth of the state" in the 23rd January edition of The Economist.

Government spending 1995-2011 in Britain, France, Germany, Canada and the USA

Brown and the Labour party are beneath contempt for what they have done, and the lies they tell to try to pretend that they aren't culpable.

But the opposition parties are little better. What were they saying while Brown was going on this spending spree?

To much acclaim from the party faithful, Theresa May, a member of the Conservative Party front-bench, focused in her party conference speech in 2005 (when Brown had already increased government spending from 37% of GDP in 2000 to 44% in 2005) on the argument that (to precis) "it's not about big government or small government, it's about good government". To Mrs May, it seems, the size of government is not important, and the problem is simply that other politicians haven't been trying hard enough, or haven't been blessed with her supreme gifts, to deliver "good government". And what has Cameron done with someone capable of such banal, ignorant and cowardly wishful-thinking? He has put her in charge of the biggest spending department in government: the Department for Work and Pensions. Apart from Ken Clarke, those in his party who made the most strenuous arguments against the government bloat (and there weren't that many of them) are consigned to the back benches.