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To cut or not to cut

Betsan Powys | 09:59 UK time, Friday, 23 April 2010

Today you will either believe that Labour are guilty of distorting the truth and spreading lies about cuts the Conservatives will impose if they win the election, or you will believe that the Tories are rattled and that Labour's claims are true.

If you are voters in Clwyd West then you need to know what is true and what is not. The sort of leaflet Mr Brown denied last night that he had authorised has been distributed on your patch. I'm guessing then that the accusations of "lies" and "smears" on the one hand and the claims that the Tories are drawing attention "to the dark underbelly of their slick PR machine" on the other, will not be new to you.

The Labour leaflet in Clwyd West claims, for instance, that the Conservatives would cut free bus passes.

The Conservatives say the opposite - that they are committed to free pensioner bus travel and won't scrap it.

Labour say the Conservatives would cut free prescriptions.

The Conservatives say that under their plans, most would continue to get free prescriptions but that "those who can afford to will be required to pay a small charge".

They also point out that both policies are devolved anyway and therefore, not affected by the outcome of this election.

By the way the SNP in Scotland have pointed to similar claims about "cuts to concessionary travel" made in Mr Brown's own leaflet in Fife.

Welsh Labour have come out fighting. Wayne David, their Campaign Co-ordinator, accused the Tories of being "clearly rattled" and that "Labour can stand up every single one of the points raised in these leaflets".

For instance: the justification for claiming that the Conservatives would cut free bus passes is that the Conservative Assembly Group Transport spokesman David Melding has said that he would like to see the scheme restricted to off peak times only.

For "cut" read "cut back"?

For Tory complaints read a party that is "clearly rattled to be reacting like this to one of our leaflets" according to Welsh Labour.

One of our leaflets?

As my colleague David Cornock points out in his blog, the claims are in the Welsh Labour manifesto, which has been authorised by Carwyn Jones and Peter Hain, even if Mr Brown can say ... not by him.


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