In the UK as a whole, public spending has climbed to 44.1 per cent of GDP, 15th highest in the OECD and the same level as Germany. But in some regions, the share is well over 50 per cent. In Northern Ireland, a Soviet level of 70.5 per cent of GDP goes on state expenditure, while public spending as a share of regional income is higher in Wales, the North East, Scotland and the North West than in France, the OECD country with the highest share of public spending overall.
By contrast, public spending in the economically successful London and the South East is 31.4 per cent and 33.5 per cent respectively - below the level in Ireland, Australia and the US.
As the Times comments: "It is no coincidence that economic success in London and southeast England is partnered by smaller state incursions." Exactly.