Not really Polly, no

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) says his plan takes us back to a 1930s-proportioned state.


The 1930s,
before rearmament, had public spending at some 25% of GDP. Osborne wants to get to 35%. Around the level of 1997 from memory.

10 thoughts on “Not really Polly, no”

  1. It doesn’t matter that Polly is wrong about almost everything which involves numbers (and plenty that doesn’t) as so are most of her readers.

  2. I think some people make a distinction between transfers (pensions, housing benefit etc.) And departmental spending (health, educ, other ministries) and say the latter is back at 1930 levels. At least, that’s how I recall it. Polly may be ignoring the distinction.

  3. Luis

    What word has the same stem as ‘ignore’ but means something quite different and sums up Polly really well?

    One cannot truly ‘ignore’ that of which one is entirely ignorant.

  4. bloke (not) in spain

    But the “back to the 1930s” narrative prospers & spreads.
    One could learn something from this.
    There are no prizes for honesty.

  5. The point about 1930s levels of government spending was that half of spending went on debt interest rather than public services.

    To quote a recent Economist article:

    In the year with the highest rate of spending, 1939, the government consumed only 30% of national income. And almost half of that—14% of output—was spent servicing the national debt accrued during the first world war, running Britain’s empire and paying for its military and postal service. That only left 16% in 1939 for everything else—health, education, social security, policing, local government, infrastructure and so on—compared to around 30% in Mr Osborne’s plans for 2020. In short, the story is not that Britain will be spending as little as the 1930s—but that in 2020 it will still be spending almost twice as much as a share of national income on public services and the welfare state as it was when “The Road to Wigan Pier” was penned.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/12/public-spending-britain

  6. Pol regrets that one million civil servants will loose their jobs, to be replaced by agency and zero hours workers.

    This is a bad thing for that million. (brings out onion)

    But for everyone else, having the same service at lower cost is an unalloyed good.

    On Pol’s figures (one million v 17 million) the Tories deserve a landslide.

  7. The left used to believe in eugenics. It would certainly have saved a pretty penny on government spending.

  8. The myth of 1945 has made us forget that a not insignificant welfare state existed before then.

    In the 1930s, there was:
    – Universal state-funded primary school education (secondary was still private)
    -National health insurance (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers/themes/national-health-insurance.htm)
    – State pensions
    – Unemployment benefit

    on top of debt interest, defense, and policing.

    Nor should “the 1930s” be some kind of dirty phrase. Britain actually recovered very fast from the Great Depression, and by the middle of the decade was growing by 4% a year. The decade saw a growing middle-class and new industries. Sure, there was unemployment and misery for many, especially in certain areas of the country, but it wasn’t bad for all.

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