I’d have liked to write more in the Very Basic Politics series (see part 1, part 2 and part 3). But I’ve been insanely busy and the election has arrived, so I’ll have to resume, if I do, after we have a new parliament. (Note, that’s not the same as saying when we have a new government: it could take weeks for the new parliament to form a government, or they might not be able to do it at all.)
So I’m going to skip straight to the simplest, most urgent point.
[This was written in hurry: please forgive any typos or other mistakes; better still, point them out in the comments, and I’ll fix them.]
As noted in part 1, the UK’s annual fiscal deficit (the difference between its income and expenditure) is about £100 billion. The population of the UK is 64 million, so that means that as a nation we are spending £1500 per person more than we’re bringing in. To put it another way, we each need to chip in one and a half thousand pounds a year to balance the books.
That’s why Liam Byrne, the outgoing Treasury chief in 2010, famously left a note saying “I’m afraid there is no money.”
Fiona and I played our set at the Cinderford Music Festival yesterday. We were delighted to do it, in part because it’s so local and we like to support local things. (We live 5 km from Cinderford.)
This isn’t us — it’s a band called Vevolution playing at the 2014 festival. I don’t think there are any photos from the 2015 festival yet, and probably none of us in any case.
I’m playing a half-hour set at the Cinderford Music Festival tomorrow at 1:30pm. Fiona will join me to provide backing vocals and flute. Here’s the blurb as it appears in the festival programme:
Mike Taylor sings and plays songs that people know and love — songs by bands like the Beatles and the Kinks, and songwriters like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. He describes his voice as “adequate” and his guitar playing as “unobjectionable”. Come and sing along.
Please come and join us if you’re in the area! It’s free entry: all the details are on the Festival’s Facebook page, but the venue is the clubhouse of the Cinderford Football Club, Edge Hill Road, Cinderford, Gloucestershire GL14 2QH.
Many thanks to all who have commented on part 1 of this series: very interesting discussion. Also to Millennium Elephant for fact-checking my statements about LibDem policies.
Today, I want to look at what government spending is for, and why we have it. The reason that’s important is that lots of people resent taxes, and feel that the government is taking their money away. That’s the means, not the end. It would be more true to say that the government is spending money on your behalf. Why does it do that? Is it a good thing?