Shouting The Truth From The Rooftops Might Cost The Conservatives The Election

Here's the latest from our Highly Placed Professional.

There seems to a terrible mood of resigned fatalism around the City, after the Darling budget that never was.

I returned from a day trip to Eastern Europe to find that City professionals and those in the know were talking about a narrowing in the polls, the potential for a new Labour Government, and a ballooning budget deficit that will reach something like £1.4 trillion by 2013 / 14. And it's the debt, of course, that may eventually bring the UK's economy to its knees.

One of the big problems, though, is that there are still a hell of a lot of people in this country who don't give a monkey's about the national debt, nor the cost of servicing it - which may rise to over £100bn-a-year. And that's because Ordinary Joe doesn't understand the implications of having a national debt that's spiralling out of control. Ordinary Joes don't understand how, eventually, it will affect them.

How do I know this ? Well, there are plenty of our fellow citizens who, like the Labour Government, are happy to postpone the so-called tough decisions until some day far off in the future. My taxi driver on the way back from the airport put is succinctly: 'The problem, gov'nor, is that the Tories will make the common man suffer more than Labour. Labour will keep the hospitals going and welfare, and education and public services'.

My protestations that this was all somehow unaffordable, and some kind of opium laced pipe dream, left him cold. Stubbornly he continued, 'The thing is, I can trust Labour and I can't trust the Tories'. Even the way he used the word 'Tories' made them sound like some feudal power! That's when it struck me. Plenty of people simply don't want to have to go through a nasty period of austerity - they would rather just let the government keep borrowing and spending to soften the effects of our flat-line recession.

Of course we know it will be a bit austere even under Labour, but it won't be as austere, because they will spend more, borrow more, and certainly tax more. People seem to have got used to the idea of a welfare safety net, and they're not buying the argument that you have to tamper with it, or limit it in some way. What is ironic, however, is that the Chancellor himself has now admitted that the cuts that will be forced through by a new Labour government will be bigger than those made even under Maggie Thatcher in the early 1980s!

My taxi man is a decent chap, who works hard and understands how poorly our country has done under Labour, but he's in no hurry to change allegiance. This man believes all Labour's latest promises - ring fencing schools, the NHS, winter fuel allowances and the rest. Not a word about the 52% of our gross domestic product that we spend on the people who administer and deliver these services! So I tried one parting shot: 'What about future generations ? Our children and grandchildren who will have to pay for all these promises ?', I bleated.

'We'll get the growth one day - look what happened after World War Two, mate!', he replied.

What's so scary about taxi man's reaction is that it's so short sighted. It's not just future generations that have to pay for the national debt, it's all of us right now. The consequences of ever ballooning deficits are staggeringly simple. The debt servicing bill will increase each year, and this amount will start to eat away at the very welfare state that Labour would have us believe is so sacred. And, at some point, if we're not careful, the government will find that it simply cannot raise the finance it needs. And then it's game over. Off cap in hand to the IMF for a bailout, with the mother of all cutbacks required to meet the stringent terms of any loan!

But you can't win arguments on this subject that simply focus on pain and cutbacks. And that's David Cameron's problem. Ironically, shouting the truth from the rooftops might actually cost him the election.

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