I recently said why I’m not a Tory. In the interests of balance, I’ll say why I’m not a Labour supporter.
On Liberal Conspiracy I recently posted that:
Public spending went up from 36% of GDP in 2000 to 48% of GDP in 2010. If the UK economy grew at an average rate of 2% over those years, that’s an increase of 63%. This is a vast sum of money, and if public services did improve by 63%, I certainly didn’t notice it.
For every problem, Labour’s solution was always to spend more taxpayers’ money.
Gastro George replied saying:
Comparisons of total government expenditure as a % of GDP are somewhat dependent on the level of GDP as well as the expenditure – and if you choose 2010 which is well after the crash then GDP is well down and expenditure on unemployment, etc. is well up because of that crash.
More reasonably, in the sense of a level playing field, expenditure went up from 40% in 2001 to 43% in 2007 (before the crash) – somewhat less and only a restoration of more normal expenditure after years of under-spending.
It’s true that 2010 is an unusual year to compare — and possibly unfair to Labour — because of the recession. However, GDP was still higher in 2010 than it was on 2000. If Labour had kept a tighter reign on spending in the good times, Britain would’ve been able to ride out the storm more easily.
I dispute Gastro George’s figure of a 3% increase (in public spending as a proportion of GDP): if you look at this graph, public spending as a proportion of GDP went up by more than that:
In absolute terms, from 2001 to 2007, it went up from £403bn to £514bn (both 2005 pounds), an increase of 24% in real terms:
If instead that £111bn had been spent on modest increases in benefits and major reductions in marginal tax rates for the poor, it would have helped them (and everyone else) a lot more than wasteful spending.
The problem with this country is that the Labour Party, as I’ve said, thinks spending more money is the solution to every problem, the Tories hate and despise everyone except the top 1%, the Lib Dems just suck up whatever their Tory masters tell them to, and the Tories and Labour together perpetuate the squalid gerrymander that is FPTP, which denies democracy to the British people.
So what would I do? My first answer is that I wouldn’t start from where we are now; if I’d been running the country, spending wouldn’t have been so high to start with. But we are where we are now, so it would be remiss of me not to have an answer for our current situation.
My solution would be to slowly decrease spending or keep it stable in real terms; over time, as GDP rises this would mean it would decrease as a proportion of GDP. The present savage Tory cuts are making a bad situation worse.
I wouldn’t cut benefits as the Tories are doing; instead I’d keep them at the same level but reduce tapers and marginal rates so no-one pays a higher marginal tax rate (including withdrawal of benefits) than anyone with more income than them. In particular, people on benefits would be allowed to earn up to £50 a week with no loss of benefits. One way this could be implemented would be by introducing a citizen’s income to replace the present benefits system — though the difference between that and a benefit system that is slowly withdrawn is merely a matter of which one is more administratively convenient.
I’d also build lots of houses and introduce a policy of affordable housing for all. This would not, incidentally, cost a single penny of public money. In fact it would save money since less would be spend on housing benefit (most of which goes to rich landlords, not the poor).
I’d abolish crap like the Digital Economy Act and encourage internet startups. If the USA passes SOPA/PROTECT-IP, then I’d encourage US internet companies to relocate to the UK together with all their staff.
And last but not least, I’d get money out of politics and introduce proportional representation for all elections.
Anyway, that’s why I’m not a Labour or Conservative supporter. I’m a Pirate because none of the other parties offers a left-libertarian solution to Britain’s problems, and because by-and-large they are utterly clueless about the internet and the effects it will have on society.