With a budget deficit larger than that of Greece, a reduction in public spending is essential if the government wants to achieve sustainable and continuing economic growth. But the ring-fencing of areas of very high government spending has made it much harder for the Chancellor to come remotely close to balancing the books.
John Mann MP's comments in response to Thursday's UK GDP figures, for the first quarter of 2013, display a sort of unhelpful ignorance that is not conducive to any meaningful discussion on economic policy, or constructing a worthwhile criticism of the government's economic policy.
The importance of these figures isn't whether or not we have entered a triple dip, but that the UK economy is stuck in a rut. Real GDP remains 2.6 per cent below its peak level five years ago and has increased by just 0.4 per cent over the last two and a half years. After five years, this is disappointing news not only for the government but for businesses and consumers, who are experiencing a continued squeeze on their living standards.
It almost goes without saying that the arts have an intrinsic value - the 'arts for arts sake' argument has been made countlessly and convincingly. But, clearly we are living in tough times - and we therefore need to make sure that the incredible instrumental potential of culture is both appreciated and maximised.
I am 100 per cent convinced that Ed Miliband has courage, conviction and passion like no prime minister, since Margaret Thatcher left Downing Street. In that sense, he is her heir.
A Department for Infrastructure should be created. This super ministry would provide more than leadership for spending departments. It could consolidate infrastructure resources and talent spread thinly through the rest of Whitehall.
There's nothing in economic theory that says you pause a third of the way through a deficit reduction programme which has gone way off track; nor does the fiscal framework, now effectively defunct with the abandonment of the debt target, dictate this approach.
The past five years of economic troubles have left their mark. There is no obvious end to them in sight. And these troubles are reflected in people's lives, not just GDP statistics. Graduates saddled with debt and finding it hard to get a decent job; couples waiting a decade longer than their parents to buy their first home, and so on. Long-term pessimism may be misplaced, but it is not surprising.
In order to ensure that no one - absolutely no one - is left out, we plan to make it possible for people in the future to work into their 70s and beyond. This doesn't mean that we plan to make old people 'work 'till they drop.' We merely plan to provide the elderly with the same opportunities that we've given to the disabled and enable them to realise their full human potential.
In what has been labelled as a step to encourage those from poorer backgrounds to attempt to attain places at highly ranked universities; it seems to me that the Conservative Government are effectively saying congratulations for achieving something that has been made considerably easier for the wealthy.
Our study does not call for Labour to make a cast-iron spending pledge but quite the opposite. Flexibility is one of the most important tools in a Chancellor's armoury and should not be cast away lightly. Look at George Osborne, who has trapped himself by committing too firmly to his own 2010 plans and will not change his mind 'when the facts change'.
Being the head of the civil service is a difficult job and you probably have to take your friends where you can find them. It is disappointing then that Bob Kerslake seems determined to make enemies of the 450,000 civil servants who work for him.
The tributes to Margaret Thatcher have her endlessly depicted her as a conviction politician - but history will find the reality less consistent, more complex. Those who bother to drill down into the myth soon realise that she was as mutable and movable as any other politician, too often an empty vessel waiting to be told what to do and think, and always prepared to pretend the opposite of what she believed if it would get her to where she needed to go.
The curious thing about Thatcher was not so much that she was divisive, but that in a funny way she actually united people around the idea that politics and economics were important again.
I wrote a global outlook piece at the end of last year, where I tipped 2013 to be "the year of the slow grind". Following today's latest set of economic predictions, it seems that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is coming round to that way of thinking.
Much has been made of people downloading the Wizard of Oz song Ding Dong the Witch is Dead and turning it into a hit. This created a surreal difficulty for the BBC.