While Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson isn’t afraid to utter the c-word — that’s “capitalism” — in pleasant contrast to his immediate predecessors, his government seems to be steering away from other longstanding Tory principles, namely those of fiscal responsibility and small government. So notes CapX editor John Ashmore in a new commentary, pointing to plans to splash out on social spending including police, healthcare and schools.
- The Tory spending spree is widely viewed as a political maneuver to compete with Labour’s extravagant promises in an impending election. But as Ashmore points out, this is a game the Conservatives can never win, since Labour will always be willing to promise more (Ed: It’s also unclear how necessary it is to fend off Labour’s spending plans, considering how far behind the opponent is in the polls, thanks to the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn).
- There’s also the not-so-small problem of the UK’s national debt, which currently stands at 86.8% of GDP and is set to spiral upwards if the measures that defined austerity are cast aside. Ashmore points out that adding to the debt when the economy is performing weakly hardly seems prudent.
- On that note, lavish spending promises also threaten to tarnish the Conservatives’ reputation for fiscal probity and good economic management. The parallels with the fiscal course charted by the GOP in America are certainly food for thought.