Remember what things were like when Gordon Brown was at the helm? Remember how he'd find new ways of spending money he didn't have?
One of his favourite wheezes was to put big ticket spending items on the government equivalent of a credit card – PFI, or the Public Finance Initiative.
This meant he could commission lots of super duper new schools and hospitals and ships – but not actually pay for them out of current tax revenue.
Instead, the contractor would agree to supply them in return for a guaranteed slice of future tax revenue. No need to seek permission from today's taxpayers. Just send the bill to their kids. How we Tories used to complain.
Tomorrow will see the current Chancellor unveil something called PF2 - the successor to PFI.
PF2 will, according to Treasury spinners, save us gazillions. Except it won't. This continuity PFI scheme is continuity Brown - it will continue to cost us billions that we don't have.
The Treasury's new "buy now, pay later" scheme shows that far from learning to live within the tax base, the government seems determined to carry on living beyond it. Through PF2, we will be signing over yet more unearned, future tax revenues to giant corporate interests.
The government hasn't merely left the PFI taps running. They seem to be doing so for the worst sort of reasons.
According to Robert Winnett in the Telegraph, the Treasury sees PF2 as a means to "kick-start the economy" by allowing "construction to be ordered now but paid for over several decades."
Got that? The Treasury is using Gordon Brown's "buy now, pay later" scheme not only to provide public services, but to provide a Brownian-type fiscal stimulus, too.
Are we absolutely certain Gordon is not beavering away, unnoticed, in some forgotten corner of the Treasury? I've not seen him in the Commons for a while, and so much of what does come out of the Treasury seems to have his finger prints all over it ....blog comments powered by Disqus
"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times