At dinner last night sitting between another A list candidate and a lobbyist - both charming but the conversation did at one point slip into politics - what had I thought of George Osborne's warning to Tories to stop promising to spend more money?
"Its not about how much money you spend its how you spend it" I said
I was promptly told that this was a very complicated concept.
RUBBISH - its a very simple concept. Every person knows that you can go into the supermarket with £100 and come out with a basket full of expensive luxuries that wouldn't feed the family for a day - or you could fill up a whole trolley and still have food in the fridge on Friday. Labour spending is even worse than that - its more like giving 10 people a tenner and asking them to go off and each buy a part of the shopping list. You have to have meetings beforehand to divide up the list and then negotiations all around the store to reallocate the money between the "partners". Some peoples budget will be too low for their list and others will have spare change that they will spend on the sweeties at the checkout. The whole process is hopelessly time consuming - and time means money.
I see this in local government all the time. From trying to build some tennis courts to running round with my begging bowl to save the Country park let alone trying to take action on crime reduction or getting roads improved.
There are numerous examples of the over complicated way in which the Labour government spends our money - from Defra and the farm payment system, to the ludicrous system of Taxing people with one hand and giving it back in Tax Credits with the other. (which is just like having to queue up at two checkouts - one to pay at and a second to get your change from).
Of course the right solution is not to centralise, centralise, centralise but instead to localise - and simplify. Its not about cuts to services its about how we make sure that the taxpayer receives a full trolley of services without spending more money than was in the wallet at the start of the exercise.