In recent decades there has been a fundamental reorientation of the state away from its traditional roles and responsibilities. While public spending as a percentage of GDP has remained broadly similar year on year since the end of the Second World War, where and how that money is spent has been altered dramatically.
The Blair era more than any other ushered in a radically new culture of public spending. The state abandoned its traditional roles in the maintenance of essential infrastructure and national defence, and the moderating role which it played in the economy. National industry was opened up to privatisation and outsourcing; in recent years even such vital infrastructure as the very means of energy transmission have been flogged to private foreign interests; in this example the National Grid was granted to a Sino-Australian conglomerate. Without a hint of irony, the Blairite market radicals sold our British infrastructure to state-backed companies of the Communist Chinese government.
Strangely, the mass sell-off of Britain's infrastructure hasn't reduced public expenditure. This is because while traditional and vital roles of the state were abandoned, the same Blair and post-Blair administrations expanded the state into all sorts of areas in which it previously had no remit, and brought in hugely corrupt and wasteful financial practices. Debt-based PFI contracts have contributed significantly to ballooning health and education budgets. Billions is spent annually on foreign aid and the rather dubious diplomacy that surrounds it. The welfare system now subsidises the private sector: private landlords became the chief beneficiaries of housing benefits, paid to tenants who would have once been granted social housing; the burgeoning childcare industry meanwhile is massively funded for purely ideological reasons. Education spending was caught up in the drive to send everybody to university, no matter how vacuous or vocationally-useless the degree; apprenticeships and vocational education were meanwhile starved of funding. A new culture of management and bureaucracy has brought a whole new highly-salaried class into the public sector; chiefly box-tickers to enforce the new equality and diversity code.
In flipping the role of the state on its head, we have ended up with such absurdities as privatising core national infrastructure while nationalising childcare. The consequences of this are extremely profound and broad-ranging, and are deeply intertwined with a number of the constitutional and social challenges that Britain faces today.
If we are to rebuild Britain, then we must reorientate the state back towards its traditional roles and responsibilities, and roll back or remove its activities in those areas where it does not belong. We must return to a culture where the state conducts serious and essential national activity such as the effective maintenance of core national infrastructure, industry and defence. And we must end the corruption and waste which has taken root in public spending since the Blair era in particular, and end the culture of debt, reckless spending, middle-management and the highly ideological harnessing of the state to promote the mantras of equality, diversity and multiculturalism with which Britain's public sector has now become so preoccupied.