Copy Canada to defeat the problems of public debt and spending, says Terry Smith

Terry Smith, founder of Fundsmith and chief executive of interdealer broker Tullett Prebon, says the UK approach to deficit reduction needs to learn lessons from Canada.

In the 1990s Canada was a ‘basket case’ in terms of its public finances, but took the necessary action to rectify its situation.

The UK had a record deficit in August, which is no surprise to me, any more than the fact that this is being followed by warbling by all and sundry, including some who should know better, about how the coalition government should be excused from its miniscule deficit reduction targets and polls about how people would like government to spend more. Really? How surprising-like all those rounds of applause from TV audiences when someone says “Stop austerity”. If only a vote or a round of applause were all it took.

Meanwhile this article in a Vancouver newspaper reviews how the Canadians escaped their plight. It’s a short article and worth reading. Here are three telling quotes from it:

1. ‘We came to understand that if we wanted to save health care, we had to cut everything, including health care.’

2. ‘No carve-outs were permitted for defence or transport subsidies or social programs.’

3. ‘Every government that grasped the nettle of reform didn’t merely defeat the deficit, but enjoyed tremendous public support and was handily re-elected.’

The degree to which ideologues on the left have been allowed to frame the parameters of debate is not fully appreciated-we are not even allowed to question NHS spending any longer. The irony of this, as the Vancouver article suggests, is that in the end the crushing deficit which will result from the literally impossible task of funding the NHS will destroy or irreparably damage it. The article also gives the lie to the suggestion that telling people the harsh truth about our situation makes a politician unelectable.

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