Recently, we read the news that US tech giant Apple had become the first US company to be valued at over $2tn, that is 2 trillion dollars! I have already seen comparisons with the alarming news that the UK national debt has now surpassed £2tn. Of course, given the exchange rate, our debt has outpaced Apple’s growth in value by about half a trillion sterling. In absolute terms the debt is now £227.6bn larger than this month last year. Questions will soon become more pressing, as to whether the Chancellor; Rishi Sunak’s response to the pandemic was measured and what decisions must be made in order to bring the debt back under control, as much as it was previously in any case.
This major milestone in the history of the UK’s public finances is considerable, as the magnitude of debt that the country now shoulders equates to 100.5% of our nation’s GDP, the first it has been above 100% since the 1960s, according to the ONS.
As the economy is reopened, Liberal minded people like myself, would quite like to see questions posed as to the role of the state post-pandemic with a view to shrinkage through the management of wasteful spending and the reprioritisation of funds. Naturally, we should worry that the opposing side of the argument, that being the proponents of socialism winning the day. The arguments are compelling on both sides. The regulatory burden has physically manifested, many afflictions have been visualised, questioned and overcome by liberals. An example of this was the two metre rule in England, it was quite rightly scrutinised and found to be a potentially major hindrance to the operation of many businesses particularly in the hospitality industry as the lockdown was lifted. It therefore became the ‘1-metre-plus’ rule, with encouragement to the industry also being provided through the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. On the flip side, the mask debate has quite clearly been won by those with a less liberal-bend with regard to public transport here in Wales as well as taxis although notably not in work places as is the prerogative of the French. The mask discussion is innately toxic, indeed, but one for another time!
Emotive and poignant arguments will be evoked, the discomfort, adversities faced and the hardship that came part and parcel with the events of the last four months will be quantified and educed in the impending weeks. This will become a battle of ideas, for the future direction of this nation for years to come.