According to many newspapers George Osborne will be announcing tonight that it is his intention to run long term budget surpluses in the UK so that ha can reduce government debt and put state finances back on what he calls a sound footing, because he believes that only by running surpluses and reducing debt can he deliver long term prosperity for this country. He is actually going to say the government should only borrow in exceptional circumstances, but is declining to say what they are.
As Larry Elliott describes this in the Guardian, this is an exercise in returning to Victorian values in economic management. Indeed, a committee that has not met for 150 years is, apparently, to be reconvened to oversee the task. Larry notes that:
Osborne will drive home his desire to bring back the days of sound finance by announcing he will convene the first meeting in more than 150 years of the committee of the commissioners for the reduction of the national debt.
Set up by William Pitt the Younger to help repair the damage to the public finances caused by the Napoleonic wars, the body last met in 1860 when William Gladstone was chancellor.
And let's have no doubt that what Osborne is doing is seeking to change the whole tone of government economic (and so social and any other) policy by moving back to another era. Osborne will say:
The result of this recent British election – and the comprehensive rejection of those who argued for more borrowing and more spending – gives our nation the chance to entrench a new settlement.