There is no correlation between high public spending and social and economic equality.
I favour much greater redistribution of both income and capital than allowed by the current political consensus in the UK. But I also favour much greater cuts in public spending – perhaps four times greater, over a decade – than Osborne just delivered. The two are not incompatible.
Under New Labour there was a massive step change in levels of public spending and in the percentage of GDP comprised of state activity. Did social equality improve? No. The wealth gap between the wealthiest and the poorest yawned wider and wider. Even in the public sector itself, the gap between richest and poorest grew until it is now seriously proposed, with a straight face, that the situation be redressed so that the highest paid executive in a public organisation should only (!) be paid twenty times more than the lowest paid employee.
Blairism should have shattered forever the notion that very high levels of public spending are the answer to social inequality. But it is a notion to which the left is addicted.
I favour redistribution because Sir Fred Goodwin, Wayne Rooney and Tony Blair area perfect reductio ad absurdumof the notion that a system that rewards the ability to grab money in a laissez faire manner has desirable results. The Duke of Westminster does the same for accumulated capital. I also truly hate the pvoerty in which so many good people are trapped. But the notion that Britain’s vastly over-inflated bureaucracies address this problem is tenuous, to say the least.
I also believe that it is not coincidental that New Labour’s huge physical increase in the state coincided with a massive erosion of civil liberty.
So I view those protesting against cuts in public spending as well-motivated but trapped in a historical accumulation of palliative devices which each attracted a massive superstructire of self-interested providers and administrators.