Tuesday, 14 September 2010
What did you do after the war, daddy?
This plaque stands on a house in Pentre Gwyn in the Whitegate ward. The local council was rightly proud to have built 3,000 homes in the 13 years after the Second World War - a time of great hardship, of rationing, of rebuilding damaged infrastructure and dealing with returning soldiers and refugees.
Despite this, the council pressed ahead with an investment programme to improve housing for the people. At the time, the UK deficit was running at 200% and more of the UK's GDP. As the graph shows, the high level of government debt in those post-war years continued into the 1960s.
Today we're constantly bombarded with the notion that the UK deficit is historically high, that it's unsustainable and the Con-Dem government has to cut essential public services to balance the books. The truth is that the books haven't been balanced for the past 70 years, whether it's Labour or Tory running the show.
The millionaires running the UK government and their allies in the Tory newspapers are happy to spin this line because they won't be affected by reduced spending on schools, health, housing, social services and other services we have taken for granted.
But what both central and local government understood in those crucial post-war years is that creating work, investing in public services and improving key sectors like housing are vital if we are to avoid a depression.
At all levels, the challenge now is to resist the Tory and Lib Dem spin calling for cuts, cuts, cuts and make a comprehensive argument for better use of public money to create jobs, improve the environment and renovate those houses that were built in the post-war era.