Having finally analyzed the Chancellors pre-budget report, it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry. As Philip Webster and Gary Duncan write in The Times today, Gordon Brown has simply repeated his habit of imposing extra taxes and increasing public borrowing. At a time of severe labour shortages in the construction sector, the timing of his announcement of further expenditure to refurbish schools could hardly be worse.
Meanwhile his cocktail of "green taxes" looks weak and ineffective. Whereas, the Liberal Democrats would increase taxes on pollution and cut taxes elsewhere, the Labour government just increases taxes. The British economy is already groaning under the weight of Gordon Brown's attempts at micro management. Meanwhile Cameron's promise to "share the proceeds of growth"- increasing expenditure while making undefined pledges on lower taxes just looks like what it is: pure waffle.
The fact is that a limit must be set on the size of the state- and since Gordon Brown began ignoring his own "golden rule", neither Conservatives nor Labour are prepared to accept this. The proportion of the national income under state control is too high and must fall. The Liberal Democrats have pointed out several ways about how to do this- scrapping a large part of regulation, and closing large parts of Whitehall, including the abolition of the Department of Trade and Industry (or Timidity and Inactivity, as Private Eye has it).
Brown and Osbourne are two cats up the same tree- both advocate increasing government expenditure practically without limit. Both fail to understand the need to simplify and reduce the role of the state. Both are in a dead end.
The time has come to challenge the Blair-Brown legacy: over regulated, over taxed, and over bearing.
It is such a pity that David Cameron would say almost anything to get elected, anything that is, except the right thing.
So the task must fall to Ming Campbell and Vince Cable- The tax-and-spend consensus is choking the British economy- it must be challenged and harried at every turn!