Monday, 2 March 2009

How brave can the Tories be?

The reality is that this recession is already bad and going to get worse. The Conservative front bench are touching on the only solution - reducing debt. But they are not blunt enough about what this means for the public sector.

It means reducing public sector expenditure, massively. My budget has been cut for next fiscal year by 20%. How many public sector institutions are taking cuts anywhere near this level? And I reckon I ran a leaner ship already than most public sector institutions even before my 20% cut.

Quite simply, the private sector cannot afford to fund a public sector that every day is growing as a proportion of the economy. Every day that this proportion increases is another nail in the coffin of job creation in the private sector. Don't get me wrong; taxes are essential. I welcome them to pay for the services I need. But every pound taken out of the wealth-creating sector reduces the ability of that sector to retain and create jobs, except where the state uses that tax directly in support of wealth-creation (such as investment in road infrastructure). 

The Titian portrait to which the Scottish Government (read me and you) contributed £5.1 million is no doubt beautiful. Is it more beautiful than my job, my future, my ability to create wealth, my ability to stay in my home? The cultural sector would cry foul at this simplistic argument. Perhaps in times of plenty they would be right to. These are not times of plenty; they are times when thousands sit at home weeping at the imminent loss of their homes. The Tories must speak for these people.

Shrinking the state and diverting tax money in support of wealth-creation is a hard and ugly message for hard and ugly times. Will the Tories have the courage to make it? I will fight like a cornered rat to protect my job and those of my team. How brave will my party be in supporting me? 

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