‘No cuts!’ said banners held at the march on Whitehall today. Well, the Treasury is listening. It has pushed state spending to £732 billion this year, up from £673 billion under the last year of the Labour government. So why the fuss? My guess: lefties like to march and call for the downfall of governments. It’s their way of enjoying the weather. It’s a nice day today, some of us have been out celebrating midsummer and those of an angry, leftie disposition have been doing some placard waving. Each to his own. But as the below graph shows, it’s rather hard to accuse this government of savage cuts:-
Russia Today has been very excited about the march, as you might expect, and interviewed Owen Jones about it (above). Now, I have some admiration for Jones (to the chagrin of most CoffeeHousers) and he was clever enough to avoid the austerity canard. I suspect he knows that Labour cut far more when it was in power. Even adjusting to real terms, we see that it has taken George Osborne eight years to make the progress that Denis Healey made in one year.
So in real terms, total state spending is being cut by under 4 per cent over eight years. Cruel, harsh cuts?
When interviewed by the Russians, Owen Jones wisely spoke about other things: the Living Wage, housing problems and cost of living, which is related to inflation, wages (and productivity) rather than government cuts. Jones speaks about flexible (or ‘zero hours’) contracts, but knows he can’t complain about unemployment which is dropping like a stone. And to his credit, he also mentioned he’s protesting against repression in Russia.
I suspect he knows that his fellow marchers have got their sums wrong, or perhaps that multi-millionaire types like Russell Brand never much cared about sums in the first place. Britain does have several economic problems, but austerity just isn’t one of them.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.