I love a good comment thread. I've just spent a happy hour or so laughing at silly people.
Nonetheless, there is a serious side that (leaving aside my own personal amusement) we really ought to address before we land up in the deepest mess in living memory.
Ditzy-Debate No.1 Labour spent all the money. We are teetering on the edge of a Greek or Portugese debt-precipice that will destroy us if we don't scrap every last bit of social progress made in the last 30 years.
Every indicator proves this to be a lie. Until the credit crunch, Labour had a lower deficit as a proportion of GDP than 6 out of the 7 G7 countries. Spending had been largely well controlled for over a decade and our debt and deficit were entirely manageable. A global credit crunch gave us two options : Prop up the banks with eye-watering wads of cash, or face the total collapse of our financial systems. Our debt is largely held within the UK and is nothing whatsoever like Portugal or Greece on any measure. Economists of every political persuasion are clear that cutting too fast before recovery is established is at best the risk of all time and at worse, disastrous.
IF Geroge Osborne were to say : "The credit crunch has left us with a serious financial situation that needs addressing and it is my view that cutting fast and deep is the best way to get out of the mess" His argument would have some validity. It would still be contentious, but it would be honest.
Ditzy-Debate No.2 "We don't need to cut the deficit at all. We can make tax dodgers pay their fair share, spend our way out of trouble and all our problems will be solved."
This is clearly just as bonkers. If tax dodging were so easy to address, then capitalism alone would not be enough to save the dodgy dodgers. Sure, we might be able to rake in a few billion here and there, but we'd still be left with a whole pile of deficit. No-one ever argued that cuts were unnecessary. The argument ought to be about when it is safe to tighten our belts and just how much belt-tightening can be avoided by stimulating growth.
Ditzy-Debate No.3 - The state is bloated and lazy. It traps people in poverty and suffocates innovation.
Anyone who has ever worked for a large, private, multi-national corporation knows that bloated laziness exists wherever people do. As does brilliance. The NHS, our education providers and our police service innovate and improve every day. Some Private companies waste money quicker than I could say "Business-flight-to-America" or "Meeting-with-buffet-to-discuss-previous-meeting". The fact that seemingly intelligent people think that cuts of 27% (local councils) or 37% (NHS Trusts) can be found by cutting management, bureaucracy and paper clips never ceases to amaze me.
Ditzy-Debate No.4 Conservatives are evil lying cheats who just want to kill off a few of the weakest to put more money in fat-cats pockets/Labour are resentful, jealous militants who want to take money from hard-working taxpayers to feather their own nest and support an army of scroungers and skivers.
It does politics no favours to make these arguments. It just feeds the destructive "They're all the same" myth. Most politicians go into politics to make things better. They just have different ideas on how to go about it. If we insist on such a shallow debate, then we have only ourselves to blame when the public vote for "none of the above"
Ditzy-Debate No.5 Ken Clarke thinks rape isn't serious/Chris Huhne must go for fibbing about speeding/William Hague seems to get on well with his SPAD/Lord Strathclyde had sex with a constituent/Miliband brothers split over leadership.
We are just incapable of talking about anything sensibly. Race-to-the-bottom gutter thinking that has nothing whatever to do with whether or not the "disgraced" minister does a good job or not. I seem to recall Gordon Brown even got the blame for a volcano erupting in Iceland. We really have to get a grip.
Every time I read any of the above arguments, I immediately dismiss those who make them as utter lollipops. They contribute nothing to running our country well. They mis-inform and divide and allow gross pillock-hood to flourish.
These are important times. Huge decisions are at stake and whatever the outcome, our lives are about to change entirely. All of us. Rich and poor, public and private sector. Can we not actually try to find the best solutions and leave playground chants to the 6 year olds?