Public debt is very topical so let's have a look at the numbers. Here is the total value of UK public debt over Gordon Brown's tenure:
As you can see debt growth was quite restrained in the first few years of New Labour's governance; back then they were fearful of being considered profligate and were sticking to the previous Tory government's spending plans.
Then in 2001 there was a sudden dip in the debt. How come? Well, not through prudent management of the economy; actually the government sold off bits of the radio spectrum for the next generation of mobile phone and garnered £30bn in one fell swoop. Gordon Brown also transferred some spending to PFI, Private Finance Initiative, schemes and so took it off the books.
From 2002 onwards spending ballooned. Gordon Brown really let rip! We ended 2007 with a public debt over 600bn.
New Labour politicians are keen on saying they've been paying off debt. Of course they haven't, they just mean relative to GDP and even GDP has only grown on the back of private sector debt and inflation; both of which they have singularly failed to control.
Now of course, who knows that the real number is? One hundred billion pounds for Northern Rock; more for Bradford & Bingley, more to bail out other banks. We are going to see a sharp uptick. I hope future generations of Britons are braced for how deep they will have to dig.