I FIND it amusing, but also a little disquieting, that the word prudence has become synonymous with Gordon Brown and his tenure as Chancellor, and by association with the Government’s general economic record.
Under closer scrutiny Gordon Brown and prudence become something of an oxymoron. Profligacy would be a far more befitting word. This is the man who single-handedly raided pension funds to the tune of billions of pounds in 1997, for which it has yet to recover. He sold half of the nation’s gold reserves in 1999 and has presided over very high levels of personal and public debt/borrowing. He has presided over an artificially inflated housing market that was clearly unsustainable, and has priced the vast majority of first-time buyers out of the market.
Not forgetting importing cheap consumer goods from abroad to feed our insatiable appetite, even though many are made by workers who enjoy appalling rates of pay and terms and conditions of employment.
There is also Mr Brown’s penchant for PFI schemes, which will have generations of yet-unborn people paying through the nose for poorly designed schools/hospitals for many decades to come.
There’s currently around £30bn of PFI debt that is off the public sector balance sheet and which Mr Brown conveniently forgot to mention in his Budget speeches.
Though spending on the NHS has significantly increased much of it has been wasted on consultants, managers and failed computer systems etc.
The number of managers in the NHS has doubled to 40,000. They are paid high salaries and yet are so incapable of doing their jobs the NHS spends £600m a year on management consultants to hold their hands and make decisions that they should be making.
Mr Brown has been more akin to a Roman emperor than a man of parsimony. Can we put this foolish myth to bed once and for all?
Finally, Gordon Brown made a statement that a GCSE economics student would not have made. He claimed to have cured “boom” and “bust”. Boom and bust is an incoherent feature of the free market system.
The bigger the boom potentially the bigger the bust, as we are finding out once again.