The difference between the world we have lost and the one we are stuck with can be measured in billions of pounds. Before the crash, anyone could appear on radio or TV and demand inheritance tax cuts for the wealthy or income tax cuts for low earners; tax breaks for marriage, green energy, research and development or new businesses; tax credits for the poor and not-so-poor; and more spending, ever more spending, on our armies in Afghanistan, on our schools, hospitals, railways and roads, on starving children in Somaliland and obese children in Sunderland, on abandoned mothers, deprived toddlers and infirm pensioners, on the BBC, the film industry, theatre, opera and ballet, even on that classic example of “well it seemed like a good idea at the time” fiscal recklessness, the 2012 Olympics. Before 2008, the British could stand up and demand more for everyone, everything and, especially, for themselves. Although compliance with all the requests would have bankrupted Britain, each request sounded plausible because billions seemed to be available. Now each demand for money sounds implausible to the point of absurdity because we are bust, with debts running into the hundreds of billions.
Or rather they ought to sound absurd.