£179.7 million, spent by the Government on advertising. Obviously, classical liberals see this as an outrage - taxpayers having to foot the bill for Government propaganda.
Actually, classical liberals believe that people should have access to the information that allows them to take control of their lives. Libertarians believe that government should be minimalist and, for the most part, non-intrusive. Nothing wrong with either stance, the latter taking a stronger line in terms of personal responsibility, but perhaps less mindful of the needs of those less well-equipped to take care of themselves.
Most Government advertising is designed to impart information, about changes in tax law, for example, or new entitlements such as the Child Trust Fund. You might not like the legislation, and in many cases, most liberals have doubts, but the idea that the public should not be told hardly strikes me as a liberal one.
Now I am hardly stupid enough to claim that the whole £179.7 million is spent effectively - anyone who knows how media buying works will tell you that you can only use the available data and personal experience gleaned over time to make the best call on the use of spend - but to describe it as 'propaganda' is lazy and, to be blunt, misleading.
I'll offer up an example of a recent advertising campaign that, to my mind, is reasonable, justified and not propaganda. There are plenty that I could offer, but I'll settle for this one. The penalty regime for limited companies has recently been toughened up, and the points at which penalties are levied have been brought forward.
So, Companies House ran a poster campaign warning people that they were doing so. There are now millions of company directors in this country, following Government efforts to encourage enterprise. Many of them are one-man operations, and could well do without having to pay such penalties. Warning them encourages them to comply with the requirements of company law - good for the consumer, good for honest traders - and makes it less likely that they will be penalised.
Of course, it could be argued that the guidance notes provide with company returns could be used to impart this information. Unfortunately, in my experience, people seldom read the guidance notes, and then are deeply unhappy when the result of their oversight is explained to them. Therefore, a range of communication tools, including advertising, works.
Liberal Vision like to claim that they are the true champions of classical liberalism, implying that the rest of us aren't sufficiently liberal. In this instance, they demonstrate that they are the champions of classical knee-jerk reactionism, and I'm delighted to differ from them in this instance.