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My father has torn up his membership card

July 15th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized by

picThere are moments between a father and a child when one looks at them and is so proud that a lump forms in their throat.

So it was yesterday when my father told me that he had given up his membership of the Labour Party.

He was always a somewhat odd choice for a Labour member. When challenged, he would argue (not implausibly) that Blair and Brown were the natural continuation of Thatcher and Major, and also that the Tories had it wrong on Europe and only the Labour party could be trusted to keep us in the European Union. Being a man of his generation he remains sceptical of the Lib Dem’s prospects at the ballot box. In addition, he has always had a degree of deference for the government. Only six months ago he claimed that Gordon Brown had had a good financial crisis!

So it was with great surprise and much joy that I heard him state yesterday that he had not renewed his membership of the Labour Party, and that the reason for that was that Brown had allowed public spending to get out of control and had made a mess of taxation. Oh frabjous day!

Public spending is not just out of control. It is not just a burden on society. It is becoming a threat to our very freedom. Calculations vary, both because the government hides much public spending and because calculating GDP is not as straight forward as one might believe (the habit among journalists and politicians of talking about GDP as though it was as uncontroversial and easily calculated as one’s supermarket bill is part of the problem). However, Prof. David B. Smith (Visiting Professor at Derby University and the Cardiff Business School) has used the 2009 Budget projections to calculate that Government spending will rise to 53.4% in 2010.

As Professor Smith warns us:

• There must be serious doubt whether deficits on this scale can be financed in a non-inflationary manner;
• The rise in non-productive spending as a share of GDP since 2000 is likely to have cut the UK’s sustainable growth rate by some 1.0 to 1.7% per annum;
• Britain’s current profligate fiscal policies are more likely to lead to 1970s-style stagflation than cure the recession.

But the danger goes beyond mere economic stagnation and inevitable inflation. As the size of government grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to act freely anywhere in society. The state begins to encroach ever more upon what is left: intervention begets intervention; the state cannot tolerate divergent views; it is increasingly tempted to use its monopoly on coercion.

Sadly, we are now saddled with the Labour Debt. Taxes may have to rise (in which case I suggest a Labour Tax). If we are to enjoy freedom and prosperity in Britain we must reduce that debt as quickly as possible without stifling the productive economy. That can only be done by government tightening its belt at least as much as the rest of us have had to do. Now even Labour members are beginning to realise this truth, and accept that their own party is to blame.

6 Responses to “My father has torn up his membership card”

  1. Mark Littlewood Says:

    My football team have to start the next league season at -10 points owing to their outrageous financial mismanagement.

    It’s a pity that there’s no way for Labour to have to begin the next election at -10 for their obscene mishandling of the economy :-)

  2. Neil Craig Says:

    So if you feel that how can you be proud of yourself while still in the LudDims – a party which supports almost every rise in government spending while calling for tax cuts even more unsustainable than Brown’s increasing spending while keeping taxes the same? A party in which being a traditional economic liberal is officially “illiberal” & trying to grow the economy oficially “to right wing to discuss”?

  3. Tom Papworth Says:


    You are clearly very confused as well as slightly illiterate.

    Why not take time out from working on your sentence structure and spelling to read The Orange Book, which sets out the economically liberal stall within the Liberal Democrats.

    You might also want to consider Vince Cable’s recent speeches on the need for cuts in expenditure, and note the large government schemes we are already committed to scrapping (multi-billion pound ID cards an obvious example of a Labour spending commitment that the Tories initially supported and to which the Lib Dems consistently objected).

    Frankly, I think that Boris Johnson’s interventionist and expensive term as Mayor of London tells us more about what the Tories plan for government than the views of Tory members expressed grumpily in fringe meetings. The age of the tax-and-spend Tory is upon us!

  4. Jock Says:

    Clearly not everyone shares this view!

  5. Alex Says:

    Er, you’re a Lib Dem supporter, but you don’t support the policies of Keynes i.e. fiscal stimulus during a recession? Brown’s idea of a stimulus (73% is VAT tax cut and probably too small) is a poor one, but a better alternative would still give at least as much debt.

    Of course, most of the debt is made up from bailing out the banks (to stop a Depression, surely you don’t oppose that?), lost tax receipts (nothing can be done about that), and unemployment benefits and other safety nets (I hope you don’t oppose that).

    Professor David B. Smith sounds like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Expansionary fiscal policy during a liquidity trap is not inflationary. In fact, if it wasn’t for the BoE’s quantitative easing, we’d probably already be in a deflationary spiral, rather than just barely avoiding it.

    Btw, Vince hasn’t given any speeches that we need to cut spending NOW (as the Tories want). It would obviously be safe to get rid of ID cards and trident, but while still in the recession, the money saved should be still spent. Anyway, a quick google found this article by Vince, you’ll see he doesn’t favour cutting spending in a recession:

    Once out of the recession though, the government (whoever they may be) has got to be bold, and got to honest, and cut spending. Spend in the recession, cut in the boom years – countercyclical fiscal policy is what Keynesian economics calls for.

    Keynes would be turning in his grave at the thought of you in his party.

  6. Tom Papworth Says:


    You are correct that I am a Lib Dem supporter who does not support the policies of Keynes. I rather prefer the hands off approach of the Gladstone era rather than the interventionism that took hold after Keynes.

    The fact that he was a member of the Liberal Party does not make his writings sacrosanct, and the recent resurrection of Keynesian ideas does not change the fact that that he has been proved wrong both in theory and practice over the past 50 years.

    You highlight the practical problem with “countercyclical fiscal policy” when you write that “while still in the recession, the money saved should be still spent… Once out of the recession though, the government (whoever they may be) has got to be bold, and got to honest, and cut spending.” The historical record on this is apalling. Governments never cut spending once the good times come, because turning off the monetary taps exposes the malinvestments in the economy and leads to short-term economic hardship as the market readjusts. Politicans don’t do short-term hardship so they keep the easy money pouring in long after it has ceased to be necessary.

    This is the case even if one accepts the basic theory that recessions result from misalignments of aggregate factors such as demand and investment. That in itself is a dubious claim.

    Well may Keynes spin in his grave. He created the theoretical underpinnings of the boom-and-bust cycles of the C20th.