It is fair to say Ruth Porter, Communications Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, caused more than a few shockwaves when she lobbed the proverbial grenade into a packed room of delegates at Holyrood’s ‘Future of Public Service Delivery’ conference in Edinburgh in November.
Her brand of economic thinking – unashamedly libertarian and characterising big government as the enemy of the smallholder – forced former First Minister Henry McLeish, who chaired the event, to follow her pronouncements on everything from slashing benefits to stopping state pensions by declaring that he agreed with absolutely nothing she said.
But Porter insists the perpetually flatlining economy is symptomatic of a failure to curb government spending fast enough.
“We’re in a state now where the national debt of the UK – and this is just the explicit debt – is about £1trn. By the end of the parliament it’s going to be closer to probably around £1.6trn depending upon what happens with growth. The question becomes how much more money do you want to borrow?
We’ve tested to destruction this idea that actually expansive public spending will bring about growth and it hasn’t worked and it’s not working. So I think it’s time for a new strategy.” One of Porter’s main hopes is to rebalance the economy away from public sector jobs to encourage, in particular, small and medium-sized businesses to get a foothold.
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