Whoever wins this election, the small state is dead

Ex No 10 insider: The one thing Corbyn and Johnson have in common is their renunciation of the balanced budget.

by The Secret Brexiter
Last Updated: 06 Dec 2019

We will have to wait for Sir John Curtice’s exit poll next Thursday evening to find out the result of this unusual election. With a full week of propaganda still to come, not to mention "events, events dear boy", there is still time for unexpected results in an election that the Conservatives would like to be about the single issue of Brexit, Labour about much, much more, and many voters about holding their noses and making a choice between which leader and party they least dislike.

What is most striking from the manifestos is that whether we end up with a Conservative majority or Labour-led minority, both of the main parties are offering significantly increased levels of investment in infrastructure and public spending funded, in the main, by borrowing rather than tax rises - well certainly not tax rises that directly impact the wallets of the majority of voters.  

Make no mistake, this is a big change and is a direct recognition of voter expectations, particularly but not exclusively in Leave-dominated areas, that Brexit will be positive for their household income.

You will see whether Brexit is ultimately good or bad for the economy. In the short term, the Conservatives in particular need people who backed it to feel it in their wallets as well as their hearts, even if that feeling is to be paid for by their children and grandchildren. 

The Lib Dems are really the only party putting forward a classically fiscally conservative centre-right programme, and look where that has got them. So you could argue that whoever wins, the policies of the big state are winning and the policies of fiscal prudence are in full retreat, if not fleeing the field.

Should we wake from our slumbers on Friday the 13th with a vision of a tired but triumphant Boris Johnson burned onto our retinas, it will be worth reflecting that within a year, according to his plans, that single issue of Brexit - the basis and reason for being of his premiership -  including a new EU trade deal (or no deal at all) will be done and dusted. 

This will leave voters a full four years to judge whether, on the back of what is a slim set of wider "buy them all off with expensive Christmas presents on the credit card" proposals, Johnson was right, whether his plan has made them feel richer, more positive and more prosperous or not.

Should Labour fall short again in 2019, it may be that they were a party with proposals not too radical, but out of time - proposals not for the 1970s, but instead for the 2020s, having come an election too soon. It could be that the time for even more radical proposals, whether drawing from the theologies of the left or the right, will arise before an election in 2024 - should a majority government elected next week serve its full term. 

Dare we even say that the dust may have settled on Brexit, and politicians and voters will be dealing with the aftermath and shaping a new future for Britain in the world. 

Image credit:  DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / Contributor

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