Did you notice in the final few days of the recent election that a whole new class of argument emerged? One I believe was a major contributor to the unexpected Conservative victory.

Time and again during the campaign there were calls from different parties for the new government to ‘end austerity’ – the Conservative response changed in the final days before polling day to one that said as a nation, we must balance the books to avoid running up a huge National debt to make our lives easier that would then be passed on to our children and grandchildren to pay. This clearly struck a chord with the electorate and proved a powerful and persuasive argument.

Five years of austerity has hit almost every aspect of modern life, even services that were ‘ring fenced’ such as health have not seen the growth they would have expected, and these tightened financial controls are likely to be with us going forward. For years our spending had run far ahead of our ability to pay and the gap was filled by borrowing, but in recent years that borrowing for the wrong reasons. Rather than investing in our collective future it was borrowing to make our own lives easier.

This new found fiscal prudence came as something of a surprise to many of the seasoned political commentators – so what was it that swung the vote? – what was it we feared? I suggest it was the harsh judgement of our children and grandchildren.

Just look at much of the western world – the US, Greece, Portugal, Ireland. Sovereign debt does have consequences and the people who will pay the price may be close to home!

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Written by John Small

John’s business career started in the technology sector working with ICL and Fujitsu before moving to International Finance where organisational change and development has been a constant theme.