I spoke of putting spending on a new path. And this leads Iain to explode:
Put state spending on a new path? Do me a favour. Translated, that ought to mean 'cut public spending'.
Again, I am afraid that won't do. Iain is normally admirably precise, but not here. No Government is going to cut public spending. And, Iain, you aren't actually in favour of them doing so. Trust me.
No, Danny, trust me, I really am in favour of cutting public spending - not necessarily slashing, but cutting. It may not be in fashion to say this but it's not something I feel any hesitation in proclaiming. The main function of government is to decide what it wants to do and how it is going to pay for it - i.e. how much tax to raise and how much to borrow.
The trouble with too many modern day politicians (and commentators) is that they look at government as it is, not how they think it should be. It has become so bloated and thirsty for taxpayers' money that it seems almost impossible to reverse the trend of public spending growth. There are, of course, areas where Conservatives would indeed continue the growth of spending, but equally, there are areas where that savings can be made - either through efficiency savings or outright abolition of wasteful government programmes. In a budget of £617 billion no one could possibly assert that that there are no savings to be made or priorities to be altered.The political situation is different now. People know that spending, borrowing, debt and taxation are all either out of control or at the limits of public acceptability. This is what David Cameron was pointing out in his speech yesterday. He was right to acknowledge the fact and should now do so over and over again.
What he needs to do now is commission a new James Report and examine every piece of government expenditure for efficiency savings and to determine whether it is actually necessary in the first place.