What is the correlation between how much a Government spends and whether it goes on to win the next election?
The chart above suggests, well, that there is no correlation. It shows the change in current government spending over Parliaments since 1951.
John Major's government between 1992 and 1997 increased spending more than the Thatcher/Major government between 1987 and 1992. The former got whacked, the latter got re-elected. Harold Wilson's government between 1966 and 1970 spent around the same as the Thatcher Government of 1979-83: the former got turfed out, the latter got re-elected in a landslide. And, as we have seen, David Cameron was unique in modern history for not just cutting current government spending but also getting rewarded with a majority.
The chart does also present a challenge to the candidates contesting the Labour leadership. Look at those two spikes in spending between 2001 and 2010. This is the period when Labour stand accused of over-spending. Both of them can be explained away: the first by the need to pump needed resources into public services like the NHS; the second by the need to respond to the economic crash. But, set against the historic trend of government spending, they do stand out as exceptional.