Lately there has been some talk among the chattering classes that the so-called "austerity" budgets (in reality, budgets that are just less spendthrift than before, as they generally still run substantial deficits) are a Bad Thing because they reduce economic growth. The more sophisticated version of this argument continues: reducing growth also triggers more spending in the form of automatic stabilizers (unemployment benefits, for example), and thus both impoverishes a nation and fails to solve the debt problem.
In some trivial sense, that argument is correct. If Uncle Sam borrows money and spends it - whether on social welfare programs, government employment, or "loans" to soon-to-be-bankrupt solar energy companies, current GDP is higher than otherwise. If Uncle goes on a spending diet, the beneficiaries of this largesse have less to spend, current GDP takes a hit.
In a broader sense, however, the argument is absurd. Borrowing a dollar to give to someone incurs an obligation to pay that dollar back - plus interest. If people were infinitely-lived, that extra dollar of consumption today would mean somewhat more than an extra dollar of less consumption at some point in the future. Because people are not infinitely-lived, and because future generations don't get to vote on current spending, the electorate and the governments that represent them can borrow money today for a higher standard of living, leaving someone else to pay it back. There's no free lunch here. Only by forgetting that the money has to be repaid can people delude themselves into thinking otherwise.
European governments - such as the one in Britain - are coming under pressure to increase spending again. How selfish.