The recent budget again shone the spotlight on the UK's precarious economic position. Despite years of austerity, public spending cuts, Quantitative Easing and some limited stimulating activity such as taking the lowest paid out of tax, the country is still in grave danger of falling back into recession. But we're not alone. The global economic outlook is poor. And western countries have hardly recovered from the last great recession.
We are told, time and time again, that the government should spend taxpayer money wisely, efficiently, and sustainably. Often these pronouncements are followed by promises to use taxpayer money well by cutting government spending and making efficiency improvements. There is an assumption behind these statements that is utterly inaccurate and dishonest, however. Namely, that there is such a thing as "taxpayer money."
In today's budget, George Osborne sets out a path for the government's fiscal deficit over the next five years. His aim is to get the overall budget into surplus by 2019/20. This is one year later that planned back in March - a welcome smoothing of the path for eliminating the government's deficit. But he may still be moving too fast.
Talk of the deficit is very much in vogue, and the opposition leaders are fighting like toddlers in a ball pit in an attempt to air their own plans to cut the country's deficit. Meanwhile, Dave and fellow toff George Osbourne look so chuffed about cutting the deficit by only taking money from people who were never going to vote for them in the first place, that they risk bursting into an unholy Eton mess.
While Spiderman's Uncle Ben lies dying on the ground, he does indeed utter that 'with great power comes great responsibility'. The students in our constituency form a quarter of the electorate. We do have the power to uproot a notorious Lib Dem safe seat. So let's take this power and vote responsibly, for a party that will protect our communities, and not benefit a small few.
The Chancellor is right to argue that debt will have to be reduced. There is no definitive answer to the question of the optimal level of debt, but debt in the UK has doubled since the onset of the financial crisis and, as a result, it would be harder to respond to a future severe downturn in economic activity through an easing of fiscal policy. Debt needs to be reduced to create room for it to be increased again if needed.
Despite the political rhetoric, if current economic policies continue broadly as they are, the UK economy does not have a bright future. In my view, and that of many others, our economy has at least five big problems. These major challenges will end the current upturn probably shortly after the 2015 general election, no matter who wins.