The last time I offered some thoughts to the great and good of the world it was on the subject of the love of Scotland to use English money in furtherance of its Socialist dream. Now we are in the midst of a general election campaign and we are hearing much more of the same, although this time the Welsh nationalists and the Greens are also being heard - spouting the same economically ignorant garbage. What is interesting to me is that the SNP have now firmly planted themselves in the overtly Communist ground of their Welsh and Green fellow-travellers. Nationalise this, that and the other; hike taxes on a chosen group of victims; promise vast increases to spending on health, education and social services and assert that every problem can be solved by government having more power. Well, it persuaded voters in Venezuela so why should it not persuade the British?
These dangerous extremists all start with the same punch-line. They want the end of "austerity".
It is a start I simply do not understand. What is austere about the country's government spending roughly £90,000,000,000 more in the current year than it will receive in tax and other revenues? Of course it must be accepted that the overspend this year is only about half the overspend in the last year of the preceding Labour government; but it is still a massive overspend which adds £90,000,000,000 to the already vast debt on which we must pay interest every year. As I understand things, the interest payable this year on the vast sums our governments have borrowed but not repaid is in the region of £30,000,000,000; about as much as the government spends on education, about as much it spends on defence and about a quarter of what it spends on healthcare. At an interest rate of just 1% this year's overspend will add £900,000,000 to the annual interest bill. That is not austerity, it is reckless extravagance.
I have long been worried about politicians blabbering on about "the deficit". Countless times in the campaign so far "the deficit" has fallen from the lips of superannuated politicians of all parties. I wonder what that piece of jargon actually means to people with little or no interest in politics or economics. Everyone can understand what is meant by the government borrowing money and having to pay interest on it out of our taxes. Everyone can understand what is meant by the government owing more and more money every year and having to pay more and more interest on that borrowed money each year out of our taxes. Everyone can understand that if the government continues to spend more money than it receives the result will be an ever-increasing amount of taxpayers' money that must be used to pay interest rather than being used for the cuddly things that make taxpayers' lives better. Why do they not use simple language to explain simple concepts?
We know why the dedicated Socialists do not use simple language. Straight talking promotes straight questioning and none of them can explain how their dreams of spending ever more money can result in anything other than greater debt and greater interest payments. When push gets somewhere near to shove and they try to give an explanation they fall back on the very theory that seduced the moronic Gordon Brown. Spend more and the economy will be boosted thereby resulting in greater tax revenues that are self-sustaining and will allow accumulated debt to be repaid. Yes it worked well for him, didn't it? It worked well in the USSR, didn't it? It worked well in Greece, didn't it? It worked well in the UK during the 1960 and 70s, didn't it? It works well in Venezuela, doesn't t it? It works well in Zimbabwe, doesn't it? It works well in France and Spain, doesn't it?
We also know why the slightly less Socialist Conservative Party does not use simple language. Much of that party's problem is caused by a catch-phrase used by the current Home Secretary in a speech some years ago. She wished her party to cease to be perceived as "the nasty party". In doing so she gave that very label to her party, no doubt that was not her desire or intention (and nor was it the substance of her speech), but these days catch-phrases capture public attention in politics as they do in entertainment and she gave her party a brand with which it is still, well, branded.
Mr Cameron has one winning message. So far it has featured as part of the narrative however it has not risen to the top of the debate.
We must be realistic, what matters to most voters is whether the policies of the incoming government will improve the lot of them, their families and friends. They are not, I think, interested in fancy theories or in jargon-dominated statements of principle. They are, I think, more interested in three things above everything else: (i) having more of the money they have earned to spend for themselves, (ii) limiting the amount of their taxes that go to non-taxpayers and (iii) jobs for their children and grandchildren.
I might be wrong but I believe the overwhelming majority of people in this country want to earn an honest living and benefit from doing so.
They accept the need to pay tax but expect income tax rates to be modest on modest incomes.
They support a limit on the total amount of benefits that any one family can receive because they earn less than the amount handed-out to some; the current cap is £350 a week for single adults, £500 a week for a couple, and £500 a week for single adults with one or more children living with them. £350 a week is £18,200 a year, £500 a week is £26,000 a year. These are very substantial sums and it is hardly surprising that those working for £18,200 (on which they pay tax) or £26,000 (on which they pay tax) feel it is unfair for others to receive more in benefits than they receive from working.
I might be wrong but I believe the overwhelming majority of people in this country consider it right that their children should inherit whatever they have accumulated. If someone does not believe in inheritance he or she can always make provision to ensure their children get nothing, my opinion is that most want their children to receive the cash value of whatever assets they have accrued during their lives.
I might be wrong, but I believe the overwhelming majority of people in this country want their children and grandchildren to earn an honest living. They also know that some peoples work deserves a greater return than others. Most importantly they want there to be jobs so that their children and grandchildren have the maximum possible opportunity to earn whatever their endeavours are worth and be self-sufficient.
It was a few years ago now that George Osborne caused his party to leap ahead in opinion polls by announcing a policy to increase the Inheritance Tax threshold to £1,000,000. The benefits cap caused no great difference to opinion polls, although I am yet to meet anyone other than a wealthy Islington Socialist who opposes it.
Mr Cameron's strongest hand is jobs. Five years in government and around 2,000,000 new jobs created in the private sector. I don't suggest that government policy had a lot to do with it, although it undoubtedly had some effect simply by appearing to be more business-friendly that the student union drivel spouted by the millionaire Marxist leader of the opposition.
In a country that is so solidly dominated by the concept that government has magical powers it is not necessary to explain how government policy has caused anything, it is assumed by far more than it should be that anything good or bad is the result of government action (or inaction).
Mr Cameron has one and only one election winning message. He can assert that his has been a government of 2,000,000 new jobs. That is a fact, undisputed by anyone. He says (incorrectly) that his government has created 2,000,000 new jobs. It did not create them. What it did was pursue policies that gave sufficient confidence to sufficient job-creators that they were prepared to take a chance and employ people.
If he has any chance of winning an outright majority Mr Cameron must push the jobs figures. Mr Milliband, the millionaire Marxist, asserted that the policies of the current government would result in mass unemployment. Like so many idealistic politicians he is not interested in the truth. He will not accept he was wrong. The substance of his argument is that they are the wrong type of jobs so they don't count.
So far the election campaign has been about fluff and nonsense. Not just that but it has been dominated by the concept that the more the government does the better things will be. We can't be surprised, it has been the prevailing consensus of opinion in the BBC and the political and press elite for more than 20 years.
Mr Cameron would be foolish if he did not use the remainder of the election campaign to use one simple fact to his advantage. It does not matter whether government caused, contributed to or had no effect at all on employment and unemployment figures; it will be believed by lots of voters to be responsible. Unemployment is at the lowest level for ages but unemployment is a negative thing. Employment, on the other hand, is a positive. He should shout 2,000,000 million new jobs from the rooftops and challenge those who dispute the quality of those jobs by saying "so, you would rather those people had no job rather than the perfect job?"
This election is the election for jobs.