A couple of days ago we asked the Phi100 Panel of Westminster ‘insiders’, which includes, leading politicians, policy, and media figures, about realistic targets for reducing the UK’s burgeoning public debt.
Given that it is now received wisdom that “there will be blood” – i.e. there will have to be substantial cuts in public sending and services to reduce the debt – it’s not unreasonable to assume that our political class might have some idea of how much blood, and by when?
Almost a third (29%) simply “don’t know” what the national debt target should be after two Parliaments. (Gordon Brown’s original target was no more than 40% of GDP).
Of the two thirds that do, their opinion is deeply divided. Almost another third (28%) think that the best that can be expected in two Parliaments is a reduction to 50% of GDP and only slightly less (26%) think 60% is possible (which is similar to some other major countries – e.g. Germany).
Only 11% think getting back to Gordon Brown’s 40% target is feasible – which is by implication what the Tory opposition is suggesting they will do (and sometimes they seem to be saying within one Parliament rather than two).
The average response of those who did have an opinion was that after two Parliaments the best that could be hoped for was down to around 53% of GDP. In my opinion even that figure is highly optimistic – without real blood on the streets.