The Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, is alleged to have said that whoever makes the cuts needed to bring the UK back on track will be so unpopular that they will be unelectable for a generation. Well, he's right isn't he?
We've had 13 years of profligate spending on 37 ministerial departments, 300 local councils, 900+ quangos, 3 devolved governments and the EU.
There are probably a million people who could disappear from the civil service payroll without affecting teaching, health, the military and any other front-line service.
That would save a bucket-load of tax through not paying for salaries, pensions and other costs, such as failed £12.7bn NHS projects. That tax would be returned to the economy, which can be used to re-employ the million former civil servants to do something useful. Who would then pay tax and spend money, thus perpetuating the cycle. It cannot happen overnight and will be painful for all involved.
However, this will never happen with Brown and Darling in Nos 10 and 11. Cable wouldn't have the guts or the vision to do anything so radical or creative, unless it is presented to him on an abacus.
The Tories could do it though. They are not afraid to be the baddies. They did it for 18 years, set up a very nice economy thank you very much and have watched while it has been systematically dismantled since 1997. Time to let them try again.