Fraser Nelson

Striking the right balance

Striking the right balance
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How worried should we be about national debt? I just had a rather enjoyable spat with Will Hutton on Simon Mayo's Five Live programme. The situation is atrocious, I said. And that set him off: why did I use such a word? I replied that we are spending more in debt interest than educating our children or defending the realm. That is a dismal state of affairs, and will soon become even worse. Forget about the economics, it is a moral failure to blithly keep spending now and knowingly saddle the next generation with billions upon billions of our debt to pay off. Hutton said all this was hysterical, that an 80 percent debt ratio has been managed before and will be managed again. But last time, I said, the debt was the price of winning a war. This time, it is the price of government's fiscal failure and its ongoing refusal to face reality.  And so on and so on.

All of which rather inspires a question: how angry should the Tories be over the debt crisis? In debates, like that between Hutton and myself, the calm person usually wins over the excited one. Personally, I could see some more raw anger from Cameron & Co. given the extent to which the nation's finances have been vandalised. But there is the need to be statesmanlike - this is, after all, supposed to be a government-in-waiting, not a name-calling opposition. So there needs to be a balance. My question to CoffeeHousers: what should the balance be?