Boris is Bringing Back Big State Conservativism

The manifestos are being finalised and Guido has bad news, they are all offering a bigger state, more spending and more government borrowing. All the signs are that the Tories plan to win Labour heartlands by outbidding Labour’s 2017 manifesto when it comes to spending. The scale of the planned spending splurge is unprecedented. This bear in mind is after Sajid Javid has already increased spending by 4.1% in real terms for 2020-21 relative to 2019-20. That is the biggest jump in spending since Gordon Brown in 2002 was released from his 1997 manifesto promise to stick to Ken Clarke’s spending envelope.

Resolution Foundation’s analysis of commitments, made before more free stuff is promised in the Tory manifesto, reminds us that:

  • Total Managed Expenditure by the state is on an upward trajectory once again, despite the (rising) deficit. Spending is set to rise to 40.6% of GDP; higher than it was under Chancellor Gordon Brown.
  • This is before an expected surge in infrastructure spending by the state. The Tories are hinting there will be a £100 billion splurge.
  • Increased spending on the NHS will take government spending up to 42% by 2023
  • Welfare spending has been increased at the expense of national defence
  • On this trend demographics alone will drive the state to spending 50% of GDP by the middle of this century

Without a fiscal framework and firm intention to resist the growth of the state, the Tories will end up being a party of big government, permanent deficit spending and high taxes. Sajid Javid has a portrait of Margaret Thatcher on the wall in his office looking down on him, her era now risks becoming an aberration in Conservative Party governance…


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