What was it everybody used to say about the United States? Look at what’s happening over there and you will see our future. Whatever Americans are doing now, we will be catching up with them in another 10 years or so. In popular culture or political rhetoric, America led the fashion and we tagged along behind.
Well, so much for that. Barack Obama is now putting the United States squarely a decade behind Britain. Listening to the President’s State of the Union message last week was like a surreal visit to our own recent past: there were, almost word for word, all those interminable Gordon Brown Budgets that preached “fairness” while listing endless new ways in which central government would intervene in every form of economic activity.
Later, in a television interview, Mr Obama described his programme of using higher taxes on the wealthy to bankroll new government spending as “a recipe for a fair, sound approach to deficit reduction and rebuilding this country”. To which we who come from the future can only shout, “No‑o-o, go back! Don’t come down this road!”