Tough choices. Difficult decisions. We all know the drill by now. But an enormous deficit requires a clear, detailed plan to tackle it, and thus far none of the parties have gone into nearly enough detail on how this plan might look.
The fact that of the 2.24m net new jobs created in 1997-2007, 1.27m were state or para-state probably has something to do with this. These figures mean that 57 per cent of extra UK jobs created during 1997-2007 were reliant on taxpayers' money. Manchester University’s Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change reports that in some regions like the North-East, job creation since 1997 has been particularly state dependent: 79 per cent to be exact. Negotiating the assorted vested interests of a vast and expanding public sector means it’s easier to offer broad, sweeping comments about making the right cuts, without upsetting anyone in particular in the run-up to the election.
Yes, the choices are indeed tough, and the decisions difficult. But a credible strategy to deal with the deficit is badly needed; the report's authors say that Britain’s business model before the financial crisis was “undisclosed and unsustainable”. It's time for an honest debate about how we can fix that; a disproportionately large state payroll should not stand in the way.
(For an insight into one important part of that debate, see here.)