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Alan Johnson’s First Lesson: Public Debt

Alan Johnson: We know you’re an intelligent fellow and a fast learner so we shan’t mess about. That chap, Osborne, has been saying that we’re “deficit deniers”. We need you to know just how bad this deficit is. This picture shows how big the deficit public net debt has been as a percentage of GDP since William III invented the idea in 1692. We’re now on the right. Doesn’t look too bad in comparison, does it?

In fact, the deficit’s been higher than it is in 2010 for  231 out of 320 years. Labour was in power for about 15 of those years. In the remaining 216 years, it was the Tories and Liberals (or Whigs as they used to be called). Looks like they’re the real deficit deniers. I wouldn’t worry about your grasp of economics, Alan. After all, George Osborne studied History at Oxford but he doesn’t seem much good at it.


  1. Ravi says:

    The graph you show is the national debt and not the deficit. The two are different but related. Debt is the total amount owed. The deficit is is the difference between income over expenditure in a fiscal year.

  2. vic t says:

    I suggest that AJ reads the book “The best way to rob a bank is to own one” by William K Black a former bank regulator in the USA. He makes it clear that the present economic mess has it roots in the deliberate frauds of the American savings & loan industry dating back to Reagan’s presidency. I doubt if anything much has changed today.

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