And what of the likely reality? Well, here's a go...
1. With the UK economy going down the toilet, Brown calls early election on back of his bounce in the polls. Tories fail to provide proper alternative, saying that they won't cut spending to cut taxes and that 'rolling back the state isn't an option'. Muppets vote Brown back in.
2. Run on the Pound (even more than already) - how about £1 = 0.75 Euro?
3. UK can't refinance all of its debts as well as new borrowing. IMF called in.
4. UK economy completely fucked.
I think that about sums it up. Time for everyone who can to leave for the exit...
1. Cameron comes to his senses and makes the Tories a low tax party; or luck intervenes (seems more likely...) and the IMF are called in before Brown dares hold an election.
2. IMF forces 'savage' (all of 10%) cuts in UK spending in return for structural adjustment lending. Surprise, surprise - the sun doesn't fall out of the sky and the world goes on...
And this is the point. Although a recession will be painful - no foreign holidays for some (oh, the pain, the pain...) and no job for others (but they're in the private sector, so this is good news for our Labour Masters - more welfare clients...) - it may force the changes that the UK needs:
- It will be pretty easy to squeeze health spending by 10% - just cut the national tariff which determines prices. Together with wage freezes for the doctors who have done rather nicely under Labour (43% of additional health spending under Labour has gone on wage increases). Let's end the fiction of an NHS dental service (other countries leave it to the private sector - lightly regulated to prevent abuse of market power). A lot of public health spending can be cut without affecting health - e.g. anti-alcohol and 5-a-day campaigns.
- Cut down on wasteful spending. That means abolishing the Dept of Timewasting & Interfering (now called 'BERR' for some pathetic reason). It means no more 'lesbian co-ordinators' and the like, a ban on outside consultants being paid more than their civil service equivalents without specific sign-off by a Secretary of State (making them accountable for showing VfM) fewer special advisors, a hiring freeze across Whitehall and the rest of the public sector (with the exception of those who can show that they will generate cash savings, e.g. people who know how not to get ripped off buying IT services), wage cuts outside London to reflect the true difference in the cost of living rather than one that's made up, no more new furniture and IT kit at the end of the financial year, etc. And the House of Commons can show it's sharing the nation's pain by taking a 10% wage and allowance cut and losing its drinks subsidies. It's symbolic, y'know...
- All civil servants to be required to suggest a way of saving money in their area in order to receive a higher box marking, be eligible for future promotion and avoid a pay cut - we need to encourage a culture where efficiency is the norm, not the exception. Suggestions to be published, so that senior civil servants and Ministers can be held to account if they block their implementation.
- Abolish tax credits - whether for 'working families' (just cut taxes) or for R&D (ditto). Simplify tax system, introducing flat tax. Measures together will save billions in Revenue & Customs salaries, fraud / overpayment and firms having to spend much less on their tax returns.
- Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland to receive same per capita spend as regions of England with equivalent levels of GDP per head. If they want more, they'll have to pay more tax. We can also save some money by reducing the number of MPs from those areas to reflect their population size and the fact that Gov't is devolved...
- Unilateral UK withdrawal from the Common Agricultural Policy, together with the concommitant cut in the UK's EU budget contributions. We gave up our rebate for nothing - now we'll get something. :-)
- Prison spending to be held steady - 2 at least to a cell (Human Rights Act to be disapplied to criminals), no more playstations, day trips for feral youths, etc. will fund new prison places.
- All existing Gov't funding for the Turd Sector / Charities to be ended. If they want to campaign against Gov't policies, they'll have to find private individuals to fund them. Those who want to implement (new, tougher) Gov't policy and can produce credible plans for doing so, can bid for funding against cr&p public sector authorities such as Haringey.
- DFID's budget to be cut. It's stupid for the UK to borrow money it can't afford to pay for corruption in the developing world. Spending that remains only to be given to countries that help themselves by adopting sensible policies. But as we're no longer in the CAP, they can export their farm produce to us without restriction (helping them and us - lower food prices for us, more secure markets for them).
- No national ID scheme (a bigger waste of money than David Bentley...). Olympics to be given to Paris.
- Education spending to be slightly cut by abolishing LEAs and ending nonsense like payments to students to do A levels. Vouchers to be introduced across the board to drive competition a la Sweden. I'm sure there's loads more that could be done - quality hasn't gone up with spending over the last decade...
- Defra and MoD to lose all industrial policy responsibilities and spending. No money to be directed towards the countryside over-and-above spending elsewhere - the cost of living is higher in cities, so why should taxpayers there subsidise those who live in the country?!
- Scrap RDAs - another complete waste of money.
- Police targets to be abolished. Local police chiefs elected - if they don't deliver real cuts in crime, they'll get voted out. All the bureaucracy introduced over the last 30 years to be at least halved.
- End welfare as a way of life (TM). Anyone that claims benefits fraudulently will lose entitlement to benefits permanently (and fuck anyone that says, 'but what about the chiiiiildreeeeeen?'). Anyone on benefits will not receive extra benefits for having more children. Nor extra housing. No-one under 25 to receive a council flat / house - that might encourage some responsibility... With tax thresholds massively increased, there will be no excuse not to work if you can - I don't care if that means cleaning the streets or public toilets (which are so disgusting that they can only be carrying large numbers of vacancies).
But I needed to get it off my chest.
And 2009 may turn out to be not be so bad after all... but the start of something good.