Sunday, 27 March 2011

Just a reminder ...

We're told - I'm sure we've been told - that public spending under Labour (British variety, though I suspect the same holds true for NZ Labour) was out of control.

The British Labour party was, and still is, caricatured as a bunch of spendthrifts, frittering away everyone else's hard earned taxes on social engineering and cynical bribes to crowbar their loathed arses back into power. So terrible was their wantonness that we must endure record cuts and a decimation of the public service.

Not true, of course. Well, the last bit is. The public service is being decimated, but the reasons for it are total hooey.

Public spending (1) in 2009 was 44.54% of GDP. We have to go all the way back to 1982 to find a higher figure. Yup, 1982. Remind me who was in power then?

In all the New Labour years, supposedly out-of-control public spending only exceeded 40% of GDP in 2009 and 2010, when the credit crunch dragged down GDP and stimulus increased spending. So spare us the cant about New Labour profligacy.

Consider: in 1980, spending as percentage of GDP was 44.54%. In 1981, it rose to 45.29%. In 1982 it was 45.56%. In 1983, 84, 85 and 86, while falling from these giddy heights, it was still above 40%.

May I remind you, in all the New Labour years, supposedly out-of-control public spending only peaked 40% of GDP in 2009 and 2010. What is deemed a crisis and a disaster and a wildly out of control public service was pretty much par for the Thatcherite 80s. Thatcher only achieved a New Labour level of restraint in the last years of her term.
1 - All figures quoted here are courtesy of The precise data on spending in relation to GDP is shown in a nice graph, and if you scroll down, you'll find the more prosaic table I pulled my figures from. (

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