One of the myths perpretrated by Labour and the BBC is that Margaret Thatcher came in and cut public spending. She did not – spending on the main services grew rapidly under her control. She did cut plans in 1981 to help the recovery, but the overall figures for total public spending including capital, current and debt interest were:
1978-9 (last Labour year) £71.2 billion
1980-81 (first full Cons year) £120.2 billion
1981-82 £130 billion
1983-4 £137.5 billion
(These are all cash figures taken from the Red Books of the day – they also represent rises in real terms, though on a much smaller scale than the cash increases)
She tackled the deficit and the need to fuel growth by asset sales in the middle and later years, and by better control providing better value for money. She also got the high rate of inflation down which she inherited, and put through crucial trade union and nationalised industry reforms.
Margaret Thatcher had no need to cut public spending by the £39 billion Labour now say they need to reduce it by,(or by the then equivalent) because she ran things more prudently and did not borrow so much.
I do wish the commentators and interviewers wouold look at the numbers and the published facts, instead of all this misleading spin. They could also point out that say a 10% per cent overall cut over 4 years is a very modest cut by private sector standards, and has been delivered by many private sector companies with no dimunution in quality of service.
There are several simple truths – it is possible to cut public spending by substantial amounts without sacking a single nurse, teacher, doctor, soldier. It is possible to cut some public spending and make things better by doing so. It is possible to greatly increase efficiency throughout the public sector, if only someone started to run it with the taxpayers interests at heart.
It is also an immutable law of public sector reform in the UK that Labour spin doctors and some BBC journalists will wish to keep alive the myth of the massive “cuts” of Margaret Thatcher, and the myth that all cuts are damaging if not politically impossible.
Not an especially tough choice, then, is it, actually?