Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Give up the dogma of the unshrinkable state

This government has cut £35bn since 2010 without Britain regressing into a desolate pre-modernity


The British state used to have a prices-and-incomes policy. Now it does not. It used to run utilities, airlines and car manufacturers. These are now businesses. It used to tell people how much currency they could take abroad, like a parent doling out pocket money. Go to Heathrow airport this Christmas and try that with outward bound holidaymakers.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says the cuts to public spending envisaged by George Osborne, the chancellor, imply a "fundamental reimagining of the role of the state". The august think-tank is right but any Briton over the age of 35 has already lived through one. Any Briton born around the time of the second world war also grew up during a great mutation of government, when healthcare and industry were nationalised.

Throw in the welfare state conceived by David Lloyd George as Liberal chancellor between 1908 and 1915, and that is four "reimaginings" in roughly a century: two extending the role of government, two rolling it back. That is roughly once a generation. We are due one.'





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