The Great Debate UK
Now that Gordon Brown has suffered his Damascene conversion and forced himself to utter the C word, all three UK parties are talking of how they will cut public spending if they get the chance.
The case for cuts appears to be overwhelming. This year the gap between government income and expenditure is projected to be 175 billion pounds, or 12.4 percent of GNP. For every 7 pounds it spends, the British government will need to borrow two; balancing the books would require slashing the equivalent of the entire education budget.
The following years look almost as bad. The official projections from last April's Budget show little change in the deficit for at least the next two years. After that, it appears to come down miraculously, but then it always does in the Treasury's medium-term projections. They are over the political horizon and largely wishful thinking.
There is plenty of scope for cutting, as always. The Taxpayers' Alliance has done sterling work in ferreting out 50 billion pounds-worth of eminently feasible savings. These include the usual suspects which deserve euthanasia, like ID cards, the doomed attempt to computerise the records of the entire National Health Service, and vainglorious defence procurement ventures like Eurofighter, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.