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April Fools

Stephanie Flanders | 13:42 UK time, Thursday, 1 April 2010

Welcome to the election. If we're to believe Alistair Darling, the Conservatives' 'credibility gap' on tax and spending has shrunk by 34% since January, or about £11bn. If they carry on like this, they might be thoroughly credible by election day.

Alistair DarlingNaturally, that is not how the chancellor put it in his press conference this morning, as he released more than 180 pages detailing the Conservative Party's (new and improved) "Credibility Deficit".

Back in January, Labour said there was a £33.8bn hole in the Conservatives' plans. Now it's fallen to £22.2bn - suggesting a 34% rise in credibiliy. But, to coin a phrase, Labour's numbers really don't add up.

I'll come back with more detail in a later post, but here are some of the headline problems which I spotted in the first few minutes of looking at it:

The new dossier claims that since January the Tories have "broken" promises worth £7.2bn a year by 2014/15.

But the promises they've broken aren't always the same as those listed in the January report. For example, back then, Labour said the Tories were committed to spending £5.2bn abolishing stamp duty on shares.

That has disappeared entirely from this report, to be replaced by an entirely new Tory pledge to reverse the abolition of the dividend tax credit (Labour's famous "pensions stealth tax") at a cost of £5bn.

George OsborneI asked George Osborne's office about this. They said that he promised to "look at" abolishing stamp duty a few years ago. Apparently they looked at it and didn't like it.

And as for the dividend tax credit - well, he has said he wants to bring it back but in his conference speech he admitted that it could take "more than one Parliament". So much for that.

Back in January, Labour said Mr Osborne had promised to reverse the new 50p rate of income tax, at a cost £2.4bn. Now that's gone from the list entirely. It's not clear whether Labour thinks they "broke" that promise or not.

On the other "broken promises", the Conservatives have "broken" their promise of 45,000 new single rooms in the NHS. That's a fair cop.

Most of the other promises, such as reducing taxes on savings, were part of their submission to the 2009 Budget. Perhaps others will disagree, but it's not obvious to me they count as election pledges. If memory serves, there was some debate at the time about the status of the submission.

Likewise, the dossier itself provides no documented evidence for a pledge to spend £492m a year on providing maternity nurses for all.

The quotes in the report suggest that Conservative officials have said they will "look at" the system in Holland, which might cost that much to replicate here.

But even Labour's attack dogs don't seem to be able to find a solid Tory pledge to do so.

Two other big-line items are also on what you might call the flakier end of the "fact" spectrum.

Once again, the tax cut for married couples is listed at £4.9bn, which would be the cost of the change proposed some time ago by Iain Duncan Smith.

But the Conservatives have now made clear they will be recognising marriage on the cheap. It won't cost nothing. But it could cost less than £1bn.

You can call that derisory. You can say it's an empty promise. But you cannot then also say they've committed to spend nearly £5bn on it.

The document suggests the Conservatives will save precisely zero pounds from the efficiency drive announced this week, which Mr Osborne says will allow him to cut the budget of non-protected departments by £6bn.

Labour say this is because the Conservatives' savings are already included in the efficiency savings that Labour has already committed to for 2009-10 and 2010-11.

As I said on Monday, there is quite likely to be an overlap here between Tory efficiencies and Labour's. But there is one important difference. The Tories are promising to cut departmental spending in line with the savings.

That makes them "real", even if they are not as painless as they suggest.

If they are the same as the efficiencies already built into Labour's plans, then they will have a bigger effect on services than the Tories claim. But, once again, Labour can't have it both ways. You can't claim the cost-cutting will have a devastating effect on public services and the economy - but somehow, with all that, not raise any cash.

The Conservatives have at least given us a number by which to measure whether those savings happen. That is more than Labour has done.

And a party that has yet to account for two thirds of the £35bn in efficiency savings promised between 2008 and the end of this financial year (April 2010) isn't really in a position to lecture the Conservatives on their lack of detail.

There are other, more minor mistakes in Labour's document. For example, they have costed the National Insurance tax cuts for next year at £6.7bn a year - as if they were reversing all of next year's rise.

However, the IFS has estimated the cost of the measures proposed by Mr Osborne on Monday at £5.6bn a year, falling somewhat over time.

The bottom line? Well, I haven't read all 181 pages yet (forgive me). But right now I'm hard-pressed to identify a hole in the Conservative plans of more than £5bn, if that.

Now, you might see the gap between that and the Labour figure as a tribute to the slipperiness of Conservative "promises". Certainly, the document shows some nice sliding in the rhetoric of senior Tory politicians, between things that sound like promises, to aspirations, or vague "hopes".

They turn out to be "looking at" so many policy proposals - I'm surprised they have time for anything else.

Yet the Conservatives hardly have a monopoly on non-pledge pledges, or uncosted aspirations. This election campaign is already full of them, from all of the main parties. And it hasn't even formally started.

Labour may have planned to land a knock-out punch on April Fool's day. But, as far as the Conservatives are concerned, the joke may have backfired.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Stephanie:

    Thanks, for the excellent blog about the potential general elections in the United Kingdom and the jockeying of the parties in regards of their versions of economic policies....

    (D)

    =NB: I am not advocating and/or affiliated with any political party in the United Kingdom...=

  • Comment number 2.

    But will they respect you in the morning?

  • Comment number 3.

    270. At 10:57am on 01 Apr 2010, nautonier wrote:

    Nick

    I thought (incorrectly) that you had got a grasp of the 'big picture'

    The Fourth and most important trick - The 'Recovery' (What recovery?)- Is Gordanovich Brownoffski also going to get away with this?

    Perhaps you should take on more responsibilty there at the BBC and make sure that the current UK economic situation is analysed properly?

    How can anyone talk about cuts if no one knows what government spending is and what Brownoffski's Enron style government accounting is hiding there in the murky shadows of Whitehall Treasury and other government departments which operate without any proper spending plans/targets?

    Unreported loans?
    Off balance sheet debts - PFI scandal?
    Government contracts messed up?
    Quantitative Easing scandal?
    Overseas 'donations'?
    Buying off war-lords?
    Buying up poppy crops?
    Black economy?
    £10 bn in uncollected taxes?
    ? bn in VAT fraud
    ? bn benefit fraud
    ? bn fuel duty fraud
    False GDP reporting?
    Cuts now in progress squeezing elderly people with cheaper medicines?
    Lack of NHS dentistry
    £30 billion pa war in Afghanistan
    Illegal benefits claims and illegal use of NHS public services, housing etc
    Billions of pounds spent administering those with no legal right of abode in this country
    Billions in legal aid defending perpetrators and not the victims
    60,000 in jail who should be given the option of envigourating hard labour and give something back to the community (and get paid for it)
    Insider trading fraud?
    Compensation from fraudulent banks?
    Import tariffs on goods that subdue the UK economy?
    Tax haven loopholes?
    Non dom loopholes?
    Council tax loopholes?
    Excess public sector pay and pension provisioning?

    etc
    etc

    be here all day?

    I think you'll find that this all comes to much more than $6bn or £11 bn PER ANNUM - in fact, I calculate that rectifying these issues can, on balance, pay off most of the UK national annual debt payments starting 2011.

    It's called accepting proper fiscal and budgetary responsibility.

    If the BBC or another competent news media can bottom these and other money waste items we might just get the semblance of a proper debate somewhere in time for the general election?

    Where's me Nobel Prize?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


    Posted this today on Nick Robinsons blog - the BBC ended the blog asap and relegated it asap

    Others who normally post on here can do a better job than I at putting the list together if the news media and politicians can't do this.

    'Getting tough' in economic terms means e.g. the UK pulling troops out of Afghanistan to leave an advisory and training force to save £30bn a year - that would mean that very few if indeed any public worker would have to lose their job after the general election because of 'cuts'.

    Getting tough in economic terms means stopping the killing of British troops in Afghanistan and bringing them home - this would save the most money - the next step is to use the troops to keep order on British streets and send the trouble makers home!

    Economic problems solved for the next Parliament - we just need a politician with guts to do this.

  • Comment number 4.

    I don’t like the adversarial system in politics.
    Labour proposes, and the Conservatives knee-jerk into opposition.
    Conservatives propose, and Labour knee-jerks into opposition.
    Think about the lack of confidence this instills in the public.
    I’ve never heard a politician say (and I’ll bet you’ve never heard a politician say) things like:“That’s a great idea from my Labour friend, and if the Conservatives win, we will likely implement that idea.”
    It’s always about tearing down, never about building up.
    That being said, I do believe that “facts” that are not “facts” must be challenged.
    Why?
    Because these so-called “facts” can mislead the public.
    When a politician says that if elected, he will do something, that is a social contract with the people who elected him. It is important; it is not a thing to be dropped when power is picked up.
    Part of the problem these days is that some politicians, like too many voters, don’t say what they mean, don’t do what they say, and try to get away with everything they can.
    It’s April Fools’ everyday!

  • Comment number 5.

    In many ways the Conservative party reminds me of Neil Kinnock's labour party. They are 'looking at' so many popular sounding ideas in a hope to 'buy' votes. However I cannot remember too many firm policies. If only we had a "none of the above" option on the voting form. They'd win by a landslide!

  • Comment number 6.

    He said, he said, then he said. It is like a playground until the context is put in place.
    Overall the difference between them is zero. I am just waiting till the candidates come knocking on the door asking for my vote. But this time I am sure they all will use the phone or internet so as not to interface directly with people just in case..........

    As for the savings the conservatives have mentioned, I saw a bit of an article on days lost to illness in the public sector, I am sure it was on the BBC site, and if 'efficiencies" like cutting down illness can reduce the loss of huge sums of money what other little ideas could be brought in?
    Oh for a bright young thing to carry these ideas though, they would get my vote......

    Maybe

  • Comment number 7.

    Lord Mandleson and his cronies have made Labour look rediculous this morning and smearing successfull business leaders will not go down well with the the people who work in those businesses. We will be relying on those businesses to get the UK out the hole that Labour have dug.
    Is this now Labour's third dodgy dossier?

  • Comment number 8.

    Jolly good, Stephanie, you are starting to look at matters from a slightly less partial viewpoint.
    When the parties publish their manifestos you might even have some meat to get your delicious pearlies into. You might even ask why the government has not bothered to publish the long-overdue Public Spending Review. You know the answer already, of course, which is that if they did the Tories would be able to see where, if anywhere, Labour planned cuts, and would be able to tailor their offering to it. In the (planned) vacuum, Labour can simply rubbish the Tories' plans, prepared as they have had to be in the absence of firm figures.
    Will you play their game or a straight game, I wonder?

  • Comment number 9.

    Perhaps the Torys have been given more information by Labours two former advisors and as a result if being given the budget red book however vauge that is . Thus giving them more room to manouver at slow pace . maybe when the election is called they will be given more figures which again will enable them to make further statements

  • Comment number 10.

    Whatever, this is all peanuts when compared to the overall debt level. £ 0.85 Trillion public debt, rising fast, £1.3 Tr public sector pensions liability, £ 0.2 Tr PFI liability, and £1.5 Tr Private Sector debt. As Vince Cable said correctly in 'Meet the Chancellors', we face ten years or more of relative austerity in trying to reduce this debt mountain. The politicians need to be more honest, but they dare not do so before the election. Much of the electorate are childlike, and think that money grows on trees, and for the banking class, it does.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well done. People were beginning to wonder about the objectivity of the BBC.

  • Comment number 12.

    As a non-party affiliated voter I find it astounding that the Government can state so many figures which a (highly skilled) journalist such as yourself can prove are, quite frankly, dishonest in "the first few minutes of looking at it".

    How can we make an educated decision on our future when our politicians do whatever is necessary (including lying) to ensure we tick their box on election day?

    Disgusted once again.

  • Comment number 13.

    Very few commentators and pundits seem to want to show much economic understanding about the role of private debt and its toxicity - all the talk is about public debt reduction.

    Let me expand just a little on how excessive private debt is crippling the country and damaging our future. To employ staff you have to pay them a living wage so that they can afford to live within commuting distance of the workplace. And so do your competitors all round the World. Most educated employees have, or will have, not only student loans but also mortgages. Employers have to pay their employees a sufficiently large wage to pay their outgoings. This loan cost minimum wage is already extremely high in the UK so to think of making it grow is a further clamp down on UK productivity vis a vie the rest of the World. But making it grow is exactly what the Government and the Opposition are intent of doing.

    Thus their overall economic philosophy of increasing lending to individuals does not make any economic sense. (Particularly when they have already destroyed the Bank of England, by letting it set interest rates at the lowest level it has ever done since it was founded.) Our economy is basically absolute pants! Rates must rise and debt has to undergo deflation for us to be able to recover, but we are living in a panglossian utopia in the run up to the election, on all sides!

  • Comment number 14.

    'Labour may have planned to land a knock-out punch on April Fool's day'

    And no one is looking like a bigger fool right now than Lord Mandleson. You always know things are getting out of hand for Labour when they trot out the Prince of Darkness to start spreading muck around.

  • Comment number 15.

    The big difference for the Conservatives now is that they have Sir Peter Gershon on board - he used to be Brown's waste adviser and he HAS seen the books,

    Also it would be nice if you could display all your knowledge by explaining the difference between debt and deficit! most BBC presenters don't seem to know the difference IMO

  • Comment number 16.

    Who in their right mind would use opposing political parties' claims to base their judgement of their opposition's case?

  • Comment number 17.

    A great blog by the way Stephanie. And I hope we get to hear plenty about it on the 10 O'clock news tonight.

  • Comment number 18.

    At last - a BBC report which does not just regurgitate the Labour line. Impressive, ma'am! You will be sent to Coventry in the BBC canteen; mark my words!

  • Comment number 19.

    sowhatdoIknowanayway 5

    'They are 'looking at' so many popular sounding ideas in a hope to 'buy' votes'

    Hardly. No other party has been more forthcoming about some of the tough (and unpopular) measures they will introduce should they win. See NR's latest blog for examples.

  • Comment number 20.

    I would have thought that as a political party that might be in power in 6 weeks time, the Tories have a duty to look at as many ways as possible to benefit the country as they see it. They then have to do a cost-benefit analysis to see whether they can commit to it or whether it remains an 'aspiration' for the future.

    If they commit then I assume it will be in the manifesto. If not then all they can do is to announce it as an aspiration so that the public can see what their philosophies are.

  • Comment number 21.

    Labour felt they had to bring Lord Mandelson in this morning to prop up Alistair Darling. David Cameron should go one better and replace George Osborne with Ken Clarke. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 22.

    "Naturally, that is not how the chancellor put it in his press conference this morning, as he released more than 180 pages detailing the Conservative Party's (new and improved) "Credibility Deficit""

    One question was this new dodgy dossier produced solely by labour party officals or was it produced by civil servants?

    IE Did we the Tax Payer pay for this party political work?

    If we did can you ask the Darling if there is a equlivant civil service team looking into Labours election pledges and when that document will be published?

  • Comment number 23.

    Stephanie, the reason there is a credibility gap is simply because the Tories when asked about their economic policy, as a punter, one does not see a clear line to thread with. What is it they want? Low tax ecomomy or reduce the debt? Which one is first RIGHT NOW? How are they going to square up both aspirations?
    Take Labour, although I am not an economist like you, I understand what they want: First secure the recovery, lock in the recovery, second protect frontline services, because we all know what happened to the NHS, SCHOOL BUILDINGS during previous recessions under the Tories, third diversify the economic activities (not only banking and services) but new industries (renewable energy, electric car). You see even if I am not going to vote Labour, I can see what they are trying to do. It is about time, you ask hard questions to the Tories instead of being mesmerised by the change in the air and the so-called support they got business and Rupert Murdoch. The consequences of their failure are paid by us not them.

  • Comment number 24.

    Looks like there's going to be a lot of
    'Mud Mud Glorious Mud' slinging!

    (Sorry, I just couldn't resist it).

  • Comment number 25.

    Stephanie Flanders blog is nothing more than a party political broadcast for the Tories. She is so hostile to the government it is painful.
    Why doesn't she stand as a candidate and make an honest woman of herself?

  • Comment number 26.

    It's degenerated into mud-slinging and now it's a matter of who can sling the stinkiest mud. Picking holes in each others' figures is picking nits. All for what? Their prattlings mean almost nothing as they are not in control of their global economic context.

    A good part of why the UK is in this mess is down to Brown, Blair and Darling. Brown and Darling have made so many fiscal mistakes, they've tried to bluff over statistics (perhaps their self-bluff is simply that they don't understand data and statistics), so I don't look on anything they utter as other than another mistake with a slender chance that it isn't.

    Truth is, there is no recovery - yet. We're pumping in artificial money like there's no tomorrow, we have scrappage schemes; the lowest interest rates in history. No good Brown shouting that it's global! It's the banks' fault, it's everyone's fault but my own! He failed.

    So I wouldn't trust him. And I don't trust grabbing-at-straws Osborne either. A new boy out of varsity hurriedly riffling through his text book for the magic spell. It ain't there, Mr Osborne. Why on earth doesn't Cameron bring back Ken Clarke? Oh, ok, yes: Osborne and Cameron were good buddies back in schooldays, weren't they. Better to risk a country's economy than upset a comfortable arrangement with Osborne the subordinate... that mightn't be the case if Ken Clarke returned.

    I reckon this will be the lowest voter turnout we'll have seen in recent times. No one trusts, well, any of the main parties, really. Only those people on benefits with their free housing, the workshy, the teenage mums etc will benefit. The rest of us are the losers.

  • Comment number 27.

    Many of the 'business leaders' who spoke up this morning are paid up Tories as well. They always want less tax on business, and less tax on their huge incomes, and less tax on their wealth. They all scrap jobs and put workers on the scraphead without a moment's hesitation so it is pure hypocrisy for them to be suddenly caring about workers' jobs. Can Stephanie please tell us how many are members of the Tories or supporters? The timing sugegsts they were set up for this before Cameron made his announcement, so it all looks like a pre-planned political set up to me.

  • Comment number 28.

    Steph, you ain't gonna last long at the BBC with this kind of impartial reporting

    Well done in the meantime

  • Comment number 29.

    Funny that.

    Is this the same Labour Party who invented stories about Tory politicians having affairs and sexually transmitted diseases as part of Smeargate and have just been criticised by their own statistics watchdog for making up the numbers to suit themselves.

    They are now saying that the opposing party are getting the numbers wrong, hardly suprising when they won't produce figures themselves, and they are the only ones who can really know.

    A bad day for Labour, but to be honest they haven't had many good ones lately.

  • Comment number 30.

    Roll on the election , am i alone in being sick off Nu-labours spin and lies????

    This is the most needed election of my lifetime!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Good Blog Stephanie, full of meaningless figures and tory defences.Why not go the whole hog and just advocate a tory vote.how surprising that would be for a bbc politico {think not}

  • Comment number 32.

    Why did Mandelson chair this press conference?
    I thought, in the absence of the PM it should have been the Chancellor or Deputy Prime Minister.
    Why does this unelected minister keep getting put up as the Labour Party Spokesperson?

  • Comment number 33.

    13

    Surprise surprise....Same old post.....yet not answering my question

    Nobody shows much interest, as it is down the pecking order in terms of importance

  • Comment number 34.

    On National Insurance. So, major business leaders say a rise in NI will hinder recovery and affect employment levels - but what sane businessman would not oppose a rise in costs. NI is not a tax on jobs so much as a deduction from employees' pay and a cost to employers. Most businesses employ just enough staff for their usual workload. If the workload goes up then they wiil get as much as they can out of existing staff before hiring new staff and, if the work goes down, they will eventually lay people off. I fail to see how marginal changes in NI will have much impact on employment levels. If NI goes up then employees will have a little less to spend and employers will have lower profits. If it goes down then employees will have a little more to spend and employers a higher profit. Obviously, the varying spending power of employees, companies investing profits, and shareholders spending their dividends, as a result of changes in NI, will affect the wider economy but that effect is tempered by the varying spending power of the government as a result of how much it gets from taxes such as NI. Clearly large changes in the marginal rate of NI would either see businesses fail or give them, and their employees, much greater profits and spending power. I fear the chancellor has been somewhat canny with the NI rise as, like the tax on alcohol and nicotine, it's a sure-fire way to raise money to reduce the large deficit in the government's finances.

  • Comment number 35.

    Do I believe Labour's financial numbers? No. Do I believe the Tories' financial numbers? No. Do I think there'll have to be big cuts in public spending? Of course. Do I think taxes will go up whoever gets in? Of course. Surely I'm typical - why do they all think they have to hide the truth from us as though we're children or idiots? The upshot is - they don't trust us, we don't trust them. My vote will simply be for CHANGE, to sweep out the fools who got us into this mess.

  • Comment number 36.

    To me, it is a further example of the lies this Government will tell in their desperation in trying to hang on to power

    Anyone 'off-message' is to be smeared

    We should expect nothing less from Brown and Mandleson as they have significant history of doing this

    Darling has either decided to join the Emperors New Clothes club or is incompetent

    This government, like many on this blog confuse voting Conservative, or supporting a conservative idea with the same as being at the behest of CCHQ

    Sooner we rid ourselves of this stain upon our National Soul the better

    Nice of Tony Blair to take a break from giving speeches on Napalm and Iraqi Oil Deals to give a speech on the difference between having principles, and saying anything to get into power

    MMM

    Who did that remind me of?

    Neither Mandleson or Brown have been elected, and it is a disgrace that they are running the Country

    Well, at least it won't be for much longer

  • Comment number 37.

    It is blindingly obvious that the Conservatives are following the same strategy that won them the election in 1979 and 1992 in times of high government debt : Promise lower taxes than Labour before the election and then announce a "surprise" rise in VAT after it. Presumably some of the 23 businessmen (many of them retailers) who wrote the letter today in support of Tory policy on National Insurance will not be happy when a VAT increase comes in to pay for it.

  • Comment number 38.

    At last a non biased non partisan view from the BBC

    Furher more for the first time ever I actually understood what was being said.

    More Laura less Nick

  • Comment number 39.

    Stephanie

    These figures are not really relevant to the big picture. We know that politicans break their promises and although I don't disagree with evidence based analysis it's
    all irrelevant if it's discussed outside the context of what banks are doing with our money.

    On the subject of promises there's also one that you didn't mention. Pay a visit to the nearest cash machine and withdraw some of your savings and then look at the words underneath where it says Bank of England.
    You allready know what it says but let me make it explicit:

    I PROMISE TO PAY THE BEARER ON DEMAND THE SUM OF......

    Has THAT promise been kept ?
    Has anything been done by ANY of these politicians to even ask that question ?

    Sure - we get given the same pieces of paper but go shopping and you know that every single week the value of that paper is worth less than the week before !

    Now why could that be do you think ?

    That's another analysis for you but with respect - It has profoundly more to do with the banking system than the factors you discuss here.






  • Comment number 40.

    All this is just phoney politics.

    The real politics has to be founded on the simple truth that the money has run out, the deficit is huge and the debt even bigger.

    Yet still the political class get busy-busy trying to bribe us with our own money. Do they really know no other form of politics?

    All the budgets have holes in them as the country is bust. Can they please address that fact, preferably before the election?

  • Comment number 41.

    It amazes me that with access to the whole machinery of govt the labour party is unable to provide us with realistic costing ranges on their policy proposals or to tell us what they will cut.

    So to give readers some idea of what is coming I will share with you the current and stated future cuts in Criminal Defence Legal Aid.

    I work in the criminal justice system so I know what I'm talking about.

    Means testing Legal aid for magistrates court trials has already deprived anyone with a pre-tax family income of over approximatley £22,000pa from getting legal aid. Lay people with no knowledge of the law, of procedures, of rules of evidence, no experience of cross examination, of presenting evidence, of finding expert evidence, are representing themselves against a state with unlimited funds, expert investigators whose job is to blindly collect evidence of guilt not of innocence, expert lawyers whose job is to present as forcefully as possible that evidence of guilt to the court. A finding of guilt could lead to months or years in prison for an innocent person.

    It's like a Manchester United team who have to win this game to hit their target, against a Junior School football team. It's ridiculously unfair.

    This means testing is now being trialed at a number of Crown Courts for jury trials. The penalties can be life imprisonment. They will most definitely be introduced.

    It's not just in Hollywood that the mentally ill and the malicious make serious false allegations, that circumstantial evidence points to the guilt of an innocent man, that evidence is fabricated by others, that evidence of innocence is withheld from the defence and the court inadvertantly and very occassionally deliberately by the police or prosecuting authorities. But unlike Hollywood, there isn't a hero lawyer who spends 6 months gathering evidence, preparing papers, attending court, while living in a log cabin eating road kill. Most Criminal Defence Lawyers take home little more than bus drivers in Croydon. They have a mortgage, kids, utility bills, etc. The legal aid fee has to cover the office costs, the secretary's wages, There isn't anything left to help the working innocent.

    If you don't work you will get a legal aid lawyer and a proper chance to prove you are innocent paid for by those who work.
    But if you work you're on their own against the state. No bank is going to lend the money. Lawyers only work on a cash up front basis.
    Innocent people will have to chose between selling their property before the trial or pleading guilty and going to prison so their kids can have a home.

    We are entering an age of Kangeroo Courts and Show Trials. The 'Rule of Law' is truly finished in the UK.

    Be very very careful about what you say, where you go, who you know. At all times, including all night, you should make sure you are in the company of someone who is not a family member and preferably not known to you, who has no criminal convictions what so ever, and is either a professional or someone who does a lot of charity work. It's impossible i know but that's the only way you will be safe from liars, from the mad, from criminals, from co-incident and from the ineptness of bureaucracy.

    Why is this happening. Criminal defence lawyers are not direct govt employees with generous retirement and redundancy packages. They don't have a union and a single employer. Any one of them that calls for a strike would be bankrupted by a govt claim for the losses incurred to the state and likely barred from the profession. They are easy and cheap to get rid of. And that's all that matters to politicians.

  • Comment number 42.

    I cannot believe that we, the battered British tax payers, have just spent who knows how much creating a 180 page dossier to debunk the Concervative plans for the UK future economy. Am I the only one that sees this as electioneering paid for by the tax payer ? If only both parties could just lay out their stalls and let us make a choice, instead of spending our money back-biting and gerry-mandleson-ing ;-)

  • Comment number 43.

    Mandelson spoke this morning about cutting the deficit not being "pain-free". Why are we feeling pain in the first place? It's all down to this government going bezerk on spending and running up the largest budget deficit in peace time.

    I call it irresponsible.

  • Comment number 44.

    Stephanie,

    You hit the nail on the head about it being April Fool's Day. But in this case its "fools" not "fool's" with the fools being, Byrne, Darling and Mandelson. Such Labour presentations are a sign of desperation on the day when business leaders correctly point out that taxing jobs is contrary to Darling's declared aim of more jobs in a wealth-creating economy - the domain of the private sector.

  • Comment number 45.

    5. At 2:11pm on 01 Apr 2010, sowhatdoiknowanyway wrote:
    "In many ways the Conservative party reminds me of Neil Kinnock's labour party."

    To me too. And Brown's government resembles that of Major when the Tories won their surprise victory.

    Back then the incumbents were despised for their sleaze and for the recession they had wreaked on us all, but still we returned them for another term. Why? Maybe because, like now, the opposition couldn't come up with a convincing enough performance to sway voters (for this read: the small minority of floating voters in a handful of key marginal constituencies; such is the pathetic electoral system we endure).

    I don't know whether the Tories are deliberately fumbling so as to avoid having to plough the scorched earth, but Brown may have a chance of a few more years, God help us. That's what you get when you vote Labservative. If only there were more than two boxes on that ballot paper...

  • Comment number 46.

    At this stage before an election the party in government can always say that everything the other party proposes is “uncosted” or is subject to a “black hole”. Of course the other party’s proposals will be partially uncosted because it has only partial access to the numbers, and no access to the Treasury models. So the party in government will always have an advantage by restricting access. On this occasion the party in government is not only restricting access, it is also using spin deception and stealth.

    There is only one number that the electorate should focus on, and that is the national debt. This is predicted to pass £1 Trillion before very long.

    The question every elector should be asking is which party has the necessary motivation, and the real intent to get in control of this number. The well-being of our selves, our children and our grandchildren will depend upon it.

    The policies of the present party in government have caused boom to end in bust. The country needs a new start, with a party motivated to put us back on course to be great again.

  • Comment number 47.

    Well done, Stephanie.Glad to see someone's keeping track of these slippery politicians.Meanwhile, where are we with QE and growth of broad money? £250 billions of asset purchases later? Dont suppose there are any press conferences about that?

  • Comment number 48.

    Labour's strategy is evident from their assertion that the forthcoming election should not be a referendum on the Government - a wise strategy, given their record. Everything they say and do is designed to achieve that end and distract from that record. They are brazen enough in pursuit of this strategy to couple "Don't make this a referendum on our record during our 13 years in Government" with "Let's spotlight the record of Tory broken promises during 13 year period out of office"

    To the extent that the electorate listen to future promises from any political party, the tend to be dubious - to put it politely. They tend to take more account of that which has already happened, which is why Governments are voted out, rather than opposition parties voted in.

    Labour know this. Hence the strategy.

    Tories should trump Brown's five point pledge card with a card of their own - Brown's realities. Pick any five from a large field of runners eg:
    *Pensions plundered
    *Gold giveaway
    *never mind the facts, feel the spin
    *taxation by stealth, waste by the bucketload
    *referendum pledged but not delivered
    *troops deployed but not equipped
    *boom and BUST
    *etc etc

  • Comment number 49.

    Thanks for a well balanced blog today Stephanie. The message is quite clear whilst the Tory statements are not perfect it is a lot more accurate than the Labour criticism of it.

    Of course while our politicians continue in this knockabout form it hinders real debate of where our economy stands and where it is going, with perhaps the biggest issue being our fiscal deficit. Issues such as QE are not getting any real debate and so I hope that others see the analysis and critique of it on the notayesmanseconomics web blog today. Someone has to raise the standard of the debate I feel....

  • Comment number 50.

    "nofool wrote:
    Good Blog Stephanie, full of meaningless figures and tory defences.Why not go the whole hog and just advocate a tory vote.how surprising that would be for a bbc politico {think not}"

    It actually provides a nice change from the Nick Robinson blog which has more of a Labour supporting lean.

    And I am not sure how challenging a Labour document which basically has made up figures to attack the Tory's spending plans advocates a Tory vote.

    The blog points out that Labour is using dodgy maths to attack the Tory - there is nothing in the post which is suggesting people should vote Tory.

    Unless you feel that anyone who dares find flaws in Labour must be a Tory? If you do the Liberal Democrats, the SNP etc. must really confuse you.

    It is possible to distrust Labour without trusting the Tories - it might surprise you but a large section of the population do just that!

  • Comment number 51.

    Excellent blog.

    Is this the best Labour can do after 13 years - unlucky for all!

    Perhaps Darling could explain where the 3.5% growth he is forcasting is going to come from? Rather than making up facts about Tory proposals.

    This Chancellor, PM, Govt. and political party are a busted flush the worse in living memory.

  • Comment number 52.

    21. At 3:07pm on 01 Apr 2010, Caledonian Comment wrote:
    Labour felt they had to bring Lord Mandelson in this morning to prop up Alistair Darling. David Cameron should go one better and replace George Osborne with Ken Clarke. Caledonian Comment

    Clarke will have a significant amount of input in running the economy should the Tories win - his expertise will be needed to sort out Brown's mess - it won't all be left to Osborne he will just be the figurehead.

  • Comment number 53.

    34

    But this is not the first rise in NI is it? We have been here before it's this drip drip of tax and regulation that is holding us back - cut tax, slash regulation and watch the economy flourish.

  • Comment number 54.

    Does Stephanie ever actually read these comment? If so, well done Stephanie. Your blog is right on the button.

  • Comment number 55.

    #37
    "It is blindingly obvious that the Conservatives are following the same strategy that won them the election in 1979 and 1992..."

    =====================================================================

    Hardly surprising. If you have no policies offer bribes.

    We are stuck in 'hung parliament' territory which is more of a threat to the Conservatives than Labour as the incumbent PM has first crack at trying to form a government (with that nice Mr Clegg). Whether a significant gap opens up depends on 'clangers' and bribes; its going to be dirty and entertaining.

    To think the Conservatives had a 17% lead back in December.

    Whoever wins will tax and cut; one party will do it more effectively than the other.

    The truth is our problems as a nation go back to the post war period and none of the parties have a clue how to sort it out.

  • Comment number 56.

    Good article Stephanie. I can't take Lord Mandelson or Liam Byrne seriously. The former is trying single-handedly to win Labour a 4th term and the latter is light-weight, but saying all the right lines to curry favour for high office in the future. To be honest I thought today's session was a knee jerk reaction which has misfired anyway. Do we really need a 181 page dodgy dossier? Let's stick to sound-bites - Tony Blair was good at this - education, education education.

  • Comment number 57.

    Looking at today where Government ministers again saying everybody else is wrong.

    Do I detect a whiff of desperation in Labour ranks. Mandelson calling business chiefs 'deceived' has to go down as an April fool's joke on himself/government. Oh the irony.

    What with Steph actually questioning Labour. Worm seems to have turned.
    Wheels finally coming off that cart (which actually had no wheels on it anyway).

    I see news of the recovery grows as manufacturing up. Hooray everybody says (well onward-ho, anyway).

    But why hasn't Mandelson et al been praising this. Well simply manufacturing employment continues to decrease.

    Heard any new employment announcements recently? Came across one yesterday about Corus recreating 150 having made 2000 redundant last year, so it counts little.

    At the frontline I see very little change, if anything things getting tighter. So I'll be interested to see 1st Quarter GDP since this plays such a big bearing on reducing our tax deficit and debt in turn based on future forecasts..........

  • Comment number 58.

    Thanks for this.

    Lucid and free from obfuscation of the facts - exactly how journalism should be, I suppose.

  • Comment number 59.

    oh do we really have to put up with the comments of these armchair economists when at the end of the day we all know that the tories will make their chums in business richer and the poor saps who do the work poorer & less cared for.

    Why do they dress it up?

    People making such statements and sending letters to the Times should have to disclose their political allegiances so that there comments can be put into context.

    So that would be 25 tory supporting captains of industry then??

    Me? I wouldn't vote tory if they were the only party to vote for.

  • Comment number 60.

    The most important point is that the economy is now recovering strongly enough to enable us to discuss efficiency savings at all.
    That change in topic confirms the really good news:
    Following the Second Great Contraction caused by Bank failures on Wall Street, the UK economy has much lower unemployment and a faster rate of recovery than predicted by the OECD and IMF a year ago. And much lower unemployment than in Euroland.
    If uncertainty about our election outlook were spooking the financial and stock markets, neither is showing that. So all that waffle about downgrades and big interest costs was just waffle.
    What matters to markets and voters alike is that the government stimulii are working as expected. Moreover, the Tories no longer consider 'the deficit' to be a problem worth discussing.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm really not interested in the figures bandied about by either party. No party that tells the truth will get elected as the electorate will vote to try to keep their own job. So what is the point of this analysis really? I doubt that uk finances are anywhere close to the figures we are being given so the figures are pretty meaningless and the promises empty.

    All any party can do is give us a rough guideline of "tax, borrow and/or cut". We all know thats whats going to happen, so tell us the truth...and stop wasting our time on this war of "my number is better than your number"

  • Comment number 62.

    11

    "Well done. People were beginning to wonder about the objectivity of the BBC."


    Have you read Peston's take on this? Stephanie has definitely shown real class in exposing Labour spin and smear tactics which have been used to hide their lack of ideas. The left wing numpty brigade won't be happy though.

  • Comment number 63.


    The way this event is unfolding should alarm the Tories. There are some observations to consider.
    • There is a danger that the general public will think that Tories are with and for big businesses. An impression that will damage David Cameron’s efforts to promote his party as an all inclusive party.
    • David Cameron’s strong anti-union sentiment expressed on the recent BA strike will reinforce this notion. The idea that there is resurgence in union power is a fantasy entertained mainly by the very core Tory supporters.
    • In the NI debate, there seems to be an implicit assumption that Business leaders’ judgements are infallible and in the interest of the country. I am not sure if most people accept this.
    • Until recently (and probably still) the term, “Businesses” also included banks such as, HBOS, Lloyds, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley. The judgements exercised by these, “big businesses” almost pushed this country on the verge of a depression and the entire country is paying a heavy price for their folly.
    David Cameron should be very careful not alienate a lot of people who are asked to make massive sacrifices because of “big businesses” disastrous mistakes.

  • Comment number 64.

    The hub of the argument appears to be the elusive efficiency savings and the question as to whether the Tories can cut taxes and the deficit.

    The answer has to be yes - simply the cuts in expenditure must be greater than the cuts in taxes.

    As a businessman, paring costs within a financial year where business has declined is a normal challenge. But there is a difference in costs in a business (many of which are variable (in the form of labour which is difficult to cut and bought in goods and services which are usually easier) and government where costs rise normally where business (or economic activity)declines.

    The logic of the NI tax position of the Tories depends on whether companies retain labour. I suspect that the benefit of the NI proposal will be marginal, demand for their goods will be the main driver. But, if the NI cut aids sentiment, then it could be a force for good in creating demand.

    As far as cutting costs go, the paranoia of many reflect their ignorance of the real world. A few percentage points of cost reduction (and 1% is after all equal to around £7 billion on my estimate across all departments - ring fenced or not)is achievable by looking for productivity increases (add a couple of children to each school class perhaps, defer recruitment, cut out unnecessary meetings and trips, spread out investment plans, slow down wage increases etc)

    If there are some who feel that too tough, then the only alternative is to solve the deficit by (a) achieving the highest, consistent growth rate in modern history (a la Darling GDP estimate) or (b) adding to the tax burden of the populace or industry whilst protecting the public sector from the real world.

    It's hard to meet a budget - and it's going to be a tough twelve months ahead - belt tightening, industrial unrest and a nervous finnacial market.

    Why do they all want to be chancellor?




  • Comment number 65.

    Why is moderation taking 2 hours?

  • Comment number 66.

    Interesting article as always. Just proves that labour's mantra is to spend, spend spend and cover that expenditure with yet more taxation. During the last 13 years labour have introduced roughly 110 new tax rises resulting in very significant extra revenue.
    Yet why are our armed forces on the brink of becoming irrelevant due to lack of funding? Why are many in our society namely the skilled and semi-skilled poorer than we were back in 1997? Where has the money gone?.
    You may fairly criticise the conservatives for not doing enough to help those from poorer backgrounds or perhaps for having an "inexperienced" leadership and the like but to put it bluntly we've never been bankrupt in the monetary sense under them and in fact it is nearly always tory policy that drags us back from the brink as in the late 70's from labour's economic mismanagement. I at least certainly know who I'd rather have managing the nation's strained finances in the years to come as it seems do businesses.

  • Comment number 67.

    This is a totally sterile arguement, since all three major parties either understand, or won't come clean on the task ahead, if they are seriously interested in putting the public finances in order.

    All three want to make "efficiency savings". Jim Hacker (Yes Minister) tried, but what ever meaningful ideas he came up with were torpedoed by civil servants far cleverer that the politicians, so thats probably a non starter in reality.

    Labour want to raise some extra cash by increasing NHI (I'd rather call it income tax, cause that is what it really is!) but won't make any serious proposals to cut spending.

    The tories want to save money (efficiency savings) in 2010 - then instead of using the money to cut the defecit they want to squander it on tax reductions.

    The businessmen who signed the letter in the Torygraph this morning are a little like turkeys - they won't vote for Christmas. They'll also the same same people to said the national minimum wage would damage the economy (it didn't) and who would preferably deny reasonable employment right to us plebs!

    I we really want to attack the defecit I propose the following:-

    1. Impose VAT at the loer rate of 5% on all food. Based on a rather unscientific poll (our familiy expenditure) the average person spends £ 16.67 per week on food. 5% VAT would raise 84p per person per week. 52 weeks = £ 43.42 per annum, and x 60million people is £26.05 billion. The average family would only be £ 150.00 worse off per year.

    2. Impose higher rate VAT (say 25%) on luxury items (cars over 2.5 litres, Plasma TVs, and other high value domestic appliances). Iv'e no idea how much revenue that would produce, but since virtually all of them are imported it wouldn't seriously hurt UK manufacturing.

    3. On the other side reduce VAT on travel and tourism related businesses to the lower rate (5% to make the UK less unaffordable to foreign tourists) and encourage holidaying at home - again improving the UK balance of payments.

    4. Quickly get rid of the feather bedded public sector pension system that rips off the wealth creators in the private sector with unnecessarily high taxes to pay for them.

    I wouldn't expect to get elected on such a platform, since 50% of the population seemingly doesn't begin to grasp the enormity of the problem, but I think it would be a darn sight more honest if one of the parties proposed such radical ideas rhather than treating us all like 5 year olds that can't stomach the truth!

  • Comment number 68.

    As an attack strategy for Labour,to present 181 pages of promises by the conservatives is just foolish.It`s like giving people a telephone directory,no-one will read it,nothing in it will be remembered.

    On the issue of the NI reduction,it is clearly a tax increase although Labour`s, proposal is for the next financial year when it is hoped the recovery is more solid.

    Despite reservations by the IFS,I favoured the change on Keynesian grounds, thinking iot unwise to reduce consumption at such an early stage of the recovery.

    My proviso was first the conservatives did not redact progressive changes like tax credits,the minimum wage,EMA and the winter fuel allowance. My second proviso, that the cuts in spending did not increase unemployment.Either policy would have similar effects to a NI increase.

    To do this it would be necessary to reduce investment programmes,these are long term and can be managed over the economic cycle so as not to impact on employment in the early years.But "Efficiency savings" are a euphemism for sacking people.In my opinion the effect of increasing unemployment would be worse than the NI increase through its effects on welfare spending,tax revenue and consumption.

    In periods of crisis,the virtuous circle of increasing consumption and investment ends with more jobs.

  • Comment number 69.

    #33. Kevinb wrote:

    "13

    Surprise surprise....Same old post.....yet not answering my question

    Nobody shows much interest, as it is down the pecking order in terms of importance"

    You seem as economically illiterate as usual - all your inane questions have been answered several times - just read the replies. The problem is that you have not shown that you can either be bothered to read the replies or understand the economics - I can't help that much - I just feel sorry for you.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think you have to look beyond promises of "efficiency cuts" and consider who you really think is going to get on top of our ballooning public spending.

    There. I am sure you have the answer.

  • Comment number 71.

    #50
    "It is possible to distrust Labour without trusting the Tories - it might surprise you but a large section of the population do just that!"

    =====================================================================

    Exactly. Good post. Circa 50% do 'just that'.

  • Comment number 72.

    That bosses who have large numbers of low paid workers are coming out in favour of, yes you guessed it, a tax cut for them, is not at all surprising as yes, they would rather that lower and middle ranking taxpayers paid even more than themselves, but I am a little surprised that no one has pointed out their blatant conflict of interest and financial pecuniary interest in this!

    However the greed and general lack of morals is not something I find at all surprising in them.

    As for George Osborne, his CV is even lighter than David Cameron's (ie non existent) but he sure knows how to operate politically and has more cunning by appealing to greed and vacuity.

    Since George Osborne has never run anything in his life and has lived on his trust funds since birth, and has never had to cut anything, I would ask frankly:-
    So what taxes is he going to put up INSTEAD? Is it Income Tax, VAT or Death/Inheritance taxes, George?

    As a Tory it will be VAT as then it hits the lowest paid and poor and doesn't touch the wealthy and rich like himself, his wife and his mates.

  • Comment number 73.

    '55 Richard Dingle The truth is our problems as a nation go back to the post war period and none of the parties have a clue how to sort it out.'

    So nothing to do with 13 years of Labour and Brown's economic (mis)management? Funny that, now that years of tax and waste have brought us to the brink of bankruptcy - the blame lays elsewhere?

  • Comment number 74.

    59

    I think you will find it is the Labour Party that has been making us all poorer

    Have you been in hibernation for the last 13 years?

  • Comment number 75.

    #60 leftie - keep taking those magic mushrooms!

    I see we've got a few (numpties) now trotting out the 'nasty business' line in backing the non-increase in NI.

    Can the numpties please just stop and understand how the economy works. Can't you just rollover and see the socialist utopian dream is in tatters.

    Thanks Mackem Man #59 for your great contribution - just to show that 'the village idiot' is alive and well.

    I know a number of you are in denial but it is extremely boring to keep trotting out prejudiced excuse after excuse rather like the current government.

    It must be at least a few days since somebody blamed all the current woes on Margaret Thatcher etc.

    Very predictable. I've no problem if you want to add something evidence-based to the debate otherwise will you please start your own 'tw*tter' page and 'tw*tter' with each other with whatever logic-defying rubbish you can twaddle......

  • Comment number 76.

    69

    You have never answered the question....you don't understand what you are talking about

    You want 5.00% BOE NOW, and a 40% depreciation in house prices now

    You confuse corporate debt with personal debt and have as much economic understanding as a cheese mite

    Nobody is interested in your theory as it is Garbage

    Suggesting unwinding private debt PRIOR to Sovereign Debt shows a complete lack of understanding

    No need to feel sorry for me, you should console yourself

  • Comment number 77.

    59. At 6:19pm on 01 Apr 2010, Mackem_Man wrote:
    oh do we really have to put up with the comments of these armchair economists when at the end of the day we all know that the tories will make their chums in business richer and the poor saps who do the work poorer & less cared for.

    Why do they dress it up?

    People making such statements and sending letters to the Times should have to disclose their political allegiances so that there comments can be put into context.

    So that would be 25 tory supporting captains of industry then??

    Me? I wouldn't vote tory if they were the only party to vote for.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Sorry to disagree Mackem_Man but I dont think many people are feeling very wealthy under Labour but the reality is we ARE already poor and its the boom that Gordon Brown stoked up and rode and his deregulation of the banks made them too important too fail. How many conservative governments had to bail out the banks to the eye watering sums that have been used? Howzat for bailing out the rich!

  • Comment number 78.

    67

    Vat on food or children's clothes is a really bad idea

    Firstly because it hurts the poorest more, and secondly because once it is on, it will rise in the future

    The devaluation of Sterling by about 25% has already made it much cheaper for most tourists coming here in any case

    Osborne tried to spell out the difficulty, then got attacked by Brown Darling and Saint Vince(I am not a fan) for trying to scare the electorate and talking the country down

    People can't have it both ways

  • Comment number 79.

    Re=electing Labour would be like asking King Herod to look after your creche

  • Comment number 80.

    #73
    "So nothing to do with 13 years of Labour and Brown's economic (mis)management?"

    =====================================================================

    It certainly did not start in 1997.

    Browns policies have been largely successful in averting the worst of the recession. Lower unemployment despite this recession being the worst since WW2 is just one example.

    Browns policy of high public expenditure during the good years rather than setting aside for a rainy day is questionable. Not every decision in life comes off.

    Public services, very popular with the electorate, need to be paid for, and in my view this should be done via higher taxation rather than borrowing.

    The deficit is very serious and needs to be dealt with - that I accept. But to use it as a 'recruiting sargent' to rubbish everything that Labour have done in the past 13 years and peddle right wing free market drivel is pathetic. It was free market dogma (reaching its crescendo in the Thatcher era) that got us into this mess not Brown or New Labour.

    The real problems of the UK which I have listed on other posts go back to the post WW2 period.

  • Comment number 81.

    To be honest most of what this article is looking at is a load of rubbish.

    Anyone with a 1/2 decent memory (like I have) has during the last four years (since DC became tory leader) heard them launch dozens of initiaves which will be paid for by "cutting waste and beaurocracy"

    A simple net search and a calculator will show you that not even 1/2 those promises will (by tory estimates at time of launch) cost more than they think they can save.


    The tories refuse to say which of these policies they will scrap, simply saying "we'll try and implement them"

    Like you say labour can't have it's cake an eat it, well neither can the Tories, and they are having and eating a lot more cake than labour. They are still very difficult to pin down on policies other than trite comments like "we are for familes" wonderful David, how are you for them? He won't say.

    Of course he does have a problem, the moment he reveals his policies the media will actually have to look at them (instead of simply assuming they are better than labours) and many will be panned, he wouldn't have this problem had he not been the driving force behind the attack on the 1992 "shadow budget" which has stopped opposition parties commiting to just about anything ever since.

    I for one am sick of his constant slipperyness and how patronising he is when talking about our problems. He says that raising NI will harm the recovery, but apparently laying off tens of thousands of public sector workers and twice that in the private sector by cancelling contracts (and that's at a minimum!) won't! Does he think we are stupid!

    If he were serious about reducing the deficit he'd cut what he says he would without reducing the tax. But by saying cutting the tax will "risk the recovery" he is also admitting that Labour has steared us through the recession, and having lived through the last one the Tories "steared" us through they'ved done it a lot better.

    I'd like to vote Tory, I'd like to be rich enough to vote tory, I'd like to know what the tories stand for besides cutting tax and sacking tons of civil servants. But with DC in charge I'd never vote tory.

    Now were someone reasonablly honest like Ken Clarke or William Hauge in charge i'd think again.

    DC is just a poor mans tony blair. He once even called himeself the "heir to blair" any anyone who doesn't like new labour should certainly not vote for the guy who said that new labour had good idears but just poor implementation!

  • Comment number 82.

    Stephanie I watched the three NuLabour "wise men" this morning and the body language said it all - we've been found out. They were evasive and Mandy didn't look straight at the camera. There is now clear water between the parties and it revolves around cuts and incentives.

    Darling I think stated there are 3 issues:
    - Cutting the deficit ( i.e. public sector spending)
    - raising taxes
    - ensuring the recovery

    The problem at a high level is simple. Raising taxes and ensuring the recovery are not mutually compatible. Osborne at one stroke with stopping the NI on incomes has pointed out that we have to INCENTIVISE business and the consumer by not continually milking them for taxes.

    The deficit will be erased more quickly if we get Government off the backs of businesses, who do create the wealth of this country. Bashing them with the mantra they must take the pain as well, is not very constructive. We need their wealth generating capabilities.



  • Comment number 83.

    Stephanie, did the Labour Party fully fund this analysis and publication, or did I pay for it as a taxpayer?

  • Comment number 84.

    Well done, moderation has caught up!

  • Comment number 85.

    I find one aspect of this quite ironic

    Several people have had a go at Cameron/Osborne have never run anything

    Yet when people who DO run Next, M&S, Sainsbury's to mention just three, they don't like it because these are just 'rich Tories' even though 2 have had preety strong links to Brown....

    So they do run companies employing 500,000 people, yet they don't know anything either

    People earning more than £45K will still pay the NI increase, Osborne is not cutting anything, he is basically saying that he won't add Labour's tax on jobs

    To those who think there is nothing else to worry about, and that the £6bn NI is a lot....some facts for your contemplation

    1)Within three to four years based on Darling's numbers, we will be paying huge amounts in interest on the debt alone...almost £100bn at the end of the forthcoming parliament...makes £6bn look like a 'cab fare'
    That is £100bn a Year!!!

    2)This would mean that 10% of the tax take will be going in servicing the debt...usually credit rating downgrading territory...so we get nothing back for 10% of the country's income, due to this government's incompetence

    3)Currently we spend 28% of our income on welfare..so that will slightly increase due to Brown's depression...making it 40% of our income which is going out the front door....before we pay for a school/hospital or a single paperclip

    4)PFI is not on the balance sheets...that's another £9bn est

    5)The deficit in 1997 was £6bn a year...Brown derided this and said he would never run such a big deficit himself! What a porkie pie

    6)He also said a weak currency was the sign of a weak economy, and a weak economy was the sign of a weak government (I agree)

    7)Where is my referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?

    8)No more boom and bust

    9)Gold...

    10)Iraq

    Sorry the last ones are well known...don't forget how bad they are though

    In the last two weeks or so, we have seen the 'untruth' filled evidence re Iraq, smearing of our Military, Immigration, it is just endless

    So, by all means vote Labour, just do it knowing what a hole we are in, and how they will just jkeep digging, as they are addicted to spend spend spend, tax tax tax

    Major won in 1992 because he was a decent man, and Kinnock was....well, Kinnock

    Those comparisons do not hold water with now

    Brown is damaged goods and incompetent

    Relying on Mandleson and Blair for 'moral' support is just crazy

  • Comment number 86.

    #76 Kevinb:

    "You have never answered the question....you don't understand what you are talking about

    You want 5.00% BOE NOW, and a 40% depreciation in house prices now

    You confuse corporate debt with personal debt and have as much economic understanding as a cheese mite"

    Is this a personal spat with JFH or can anybody join in?

    I agree with most of what JFH has posted here for probably years now - the bit I am at odds with is the blame he puts on Mervyn King. I would give Mervyn the benefit of the doubt on the grounds that if he pushes too hard against his masters they will just give him the heave ho and he won't be able to do anything. By staying in post, he does manage to do some good, whereas a puppet replacement would almost certainly be worse.

    Now for the unanswered question: Yes, putting up interest rates so that people are plunged into negative equity is something that anyone would want to avoid. BUT leaving rates low is enticing more people into the same debt trap, so when the day of reckoning comes (and we will all be extremely lucky if it doesn't) the numbers facing disaster will be greater still. If we reach the point where interest rates rise due to external effects, then the consequences will be just as bad and the situation will be outside of anyone's control.

    What you seem to ignore is that there is a question here for you to answer and that is, what do you propose instead? What is your proposal for deflating the housing bubble in a controlled way? Because even if it's Zimbabwe style inflation that "solves" it, it will undoubtedly work itself out one way or another.

    JFH is undoubtedly right about the desired end point - reasonable interest rates and affordable property prices - it's just how to get there with the least pain that's in question.

  • Comment number 87.

    #80 Richard Dingle:

    "Browns policies have been largely successful in averting the worst of the recession. Lower unemployment despite this recession being the worst since WW2 is just one example."

    I wish I shared your optimistic view that the worst of the recession has been averted. I agree that the recession so far has been largely negated by borrowing huge sums of money from the future and propping up everything in sight. This hasn't avoided the recession, it has merely deferred it.

    Shortly, now that the stimuli are being withdrawn and the short-term training courses for the unemployed are finishing, we are likely to see the real state of the economy emerge in the next few months.

  • Comment number 88.

    I refer to Barry White's comments (No.6), which are totally misleading and inaccurate. The debate was held immediately after the announcement of the Budget and it was Jeremy Paxman who questioned/seriously quizzed at length, the Treasury Secretary for the inclusion of precise efficiency savings (£555m) to be secured from staff costs due to 'leave of absence arising fromsicknesses' within the NHS. In fact, it was the Shadow Treasury Secretary, who claimed and successfully critiqued the Labour argument that - unless the staff were removed and not switched to other areas - it would lead to cash savings. The Treasury Secretary's argument was that it would come out of savings by cutback of temporary staff (true to some extent, but not wholly credible argument!).

    Qaiser Zaman

  • Comment number 89.

    Tell you what

    Yes we will cancel the rise in employers NIC but in return lets abolish ANY tax relief or allowances that firms can set various expenditures against tax and see how they like that.

    Tax reliefs have to be paid for from somewhere - one firms tax relief is anothers extra tax bill.

    How many of those that have signed these letters have askled for various tax reliefs or any form of helo from the state?

    Oh and how long ago were various firms saying they need government help and contracts?

    Where on earth do they think this ££ comes from?

    They can't have it both ways!



  • Comment number 90.

    Mackum man. You really are a poor soul. Surely those selfish business Men would support NL, After all they have become richer as a result of 13 years. Education, education, education - should have gone to specsavers !

  • Comment number 91.

    86

    His arrogance in telling me I know nothing, and telling me I know nothing etc...has led to me replying in kind...

    To deal with your points

    My main point,which he has refused to answer, is that he wants 5% BOE Base Rates NOW and 40% off of house prices NOW

    I have explained to him that this is ridiculous..only to be abused

    If we did follow that course of action, it would destroy the economy, not rescue it

    He said that with lower property prices, they would be bought by those that could afford it

    I pointed out that this would simply create an even bigger crisis and where would the repossessed people live?

    I got told I knew nothing, and he made irrelevant comparisons with previous depressions going back to 1870

    Irrelevant because in previous depressions personal debt was not an issue, and this is something your 'friend' was/is unable to grasp

    I tried to explain the difference between money and wealth etc...just more abuse

    I have asked him directly if he would raise rates now...never answered

    People are not being enticed into anything. Most sensible people buy a property to live in it

    The other option is to pay rent.....

    So not sure I understand what you are trying to say?

    I would have cut the base rate sooner and said so then

    I do not think Base Rates should rise whilst there is any possibility of further QE

    Due to pricing issues, most mortgages are now far higher than the margins used to be

    Presumably you are aware of this?

    King should have cut sooner, he did warn about the nice decade being over...what more do people expect?

    I get the impression JFH is anti-property ownership full stop,and this is the manifestation of those views

    Interest rates are not set to influence the housing market, they are set to control inflation. Due to the economic depression, quite rightly the MPC have taken a sensible view on inflation, and kept rates low

    There is no doubt that house prices have risen due to supply and demand factors, and are likely to remain static from here on in, or start to reverse

    What would I do to deflate the housing market in a controlled market?

    Not much

    Too much interference messes markets up

    I would remove Stamp Duty permanently on the first £150K...1% up to £250K 2% to £500K and 6% £1M+, although I would take the distortion out of the market, by making it fairer eg £270K would be 1% on £250K-£150K (£1K)plus 2% on £20K (£400) Total £1,400

    This will take the false distortions out of the market

    The housing market should be allowed to find it's own level from a pricing perspective

    I don't see hyper-inflation, I believe the inflation and deflationary pressures will largely cancel each other out

    The only outside pressure regarding interest rates is IMF intervention

    Is that what you mean?

  • Comment number 92.

    Why are some writers talking about Tory tax cuts when discussing the expected LABOUR RISE in National Insurance?

    How can you cut a tax that has not yet been imposed? Why ask how you are going to pay for it when it has not yet happened?

    My vote will go to the party that tells me the truth - we all know there will be tax increases on pretty much everything AND huge spending cuts in all directions. Belts will have to be tightened. There will be huge industrial unrest and much hardship. The country needs an inspiring leader who can hold the Nation together through the hard times ahead, and keep the ship of state on course through the storms to the quiet harbour ahead.

    Where is that leader? That is the question.

    It is not Gordon Brown, that's for sure.

  • Comment number 93.

    Stephanie - your illustrious father would be proud of you.

  • Comment number 94.

    72 Nicky

    "That bosses who have large numbers of low paid workers are coming out in favour of, yes you guessed it, a tax cut for them, is not at all surprising as yes, they would rather that lower and middle ranking taxpayers paid even more than themselves, but I am a little surprised that no one has pointed out their blatant conflict of interest and financial pecuniary interest in this!"

    This is completely and utterly false. Workers earning over 44,000 will not be affected by the 'cut' in NI.
    The rest of your blog is a load of prejudiced twaddle. Keep your incorrect statements and poisonous invective to yourself and spare us the effort of having to reply.

  • Comment number 95.

    86. At 9:56pm on 01 Apr 2010, croydo wrote:
    #76 Kevinb:

    "You have never answered the question....you don't understand what you are talking about

    You want 5.00% BOE NOW, and a 40% depreciation in house prices now

    You confuse corporate debt with personal debt and have as much economic understanding as a cheese mite"

    Is this a personal spat with JFH or can anybody join in?

    I agree with most of what JFH has posted here for probably years now - the bit I am at odds with is the blame he puts on Mervyn King. I would give Mervyn the benefit of the doubt on the grounds that if he pushes too hard against his masters they will just give him the heave ho and he won't be able to do anything. By staying in post, he does manage to do some good, whereas a puppet replacement would almost certainly be worse.

    Now for the unanswered question: Yes, putting up interest rates so that people are plunged into negative equity is something that anyone would want to avoid. BUT leaving rates low is enticing more people into the same debt trap, so when the day of reckoning comes (and we will all be extremely lucky if it doesn't) the numbers facing disaster will be greater still. If we reach the point where interest rates rise due to external effects, then the consequences will be just as bad and the situation will be outside of anyone's control.

    What you seem to ignore is that there is a question here for you to answer and that is, what do you propose instead? What is your proposal for deflating the housing bubble in a controlled way? Because even if it's Zimbabwe style inflation that "solves" it, it will undoubtedly work itself out one way or another.

    JFH is undoubtedly right about the desired end point - reasonable interest rates and affordable property prices - it's just how to get there with the least pain that's in question.

    >>>>>>>>

    I think I'll join in this debate. I don't disagree about the need for affordable housing - also interest rates ARE too low but this is a political bonus for the government at the moment since it stops too much pain (for the moment) but it will end when inflation stays stubbornly high.

    Now, MY SOLUTION for the housing price bubble has been done to death by me before, so I'll have to do it again.

    CAPITAL GAINS TAX on ALL house sales with TAPER RELIEF.

    This will:- stop lots of people moving just to climb the ladder - they'll only move when they really have to.

    Prop up the first time buyers market - first time buyers will have no capital gains and the construction industry will have a more stable market rather than the boom bust.

    The taper relief will allow people who have lived in the same property for X years or more to pay less or no capital gains tax so there is a clear incentive to keep property for longer periods of time.

    If the level of capital gains tax is carefully set, then house prices might just stay where they are more or less to allow salaries to catch up thus making property more affordable simply through inflation.

    I know.. I know ... It'll never catch on because we are all suckered into the idea that if we live in an appreciating asset we are somehow wealthy even though we are not actually doing anything to it.

  • Comment number 96.

    I wonder which of these parties is telling tarradiddles? They can't all be right.
    Having seen rather too many elections and their promises come and go, the answer is ''the lot of them''
    Alternatively, some are deluded half wits who believe what they are saying, or maybe, heaven forbid they are just pursuing self interest.(Surely our politicians wouldn't do that?)

    In any event you can bet your bottom dollar that nobody wishing to be elected will be telling the truth.

    I think a smart party would stand down at the next election and let the opposition pick up what is definitely a mess, and sink with it !

    Good analysis Stephanie, but I think you are wasting your effort if you are trying to uncover and present facts from what is being issued from the leading parties at the moment.

  • Comment number 97.

    81 Laughing devil

    "Does he think we are stupid!""

    If he read your blog, I would probably say yes.

    "Of course he does have a problem, the moment he reveals his policies the media will actually have to look at them"

    The proposed non raising of NI has been very well received by business leaders including former Labour Trade Minister Digby Jones. A lot of ignorant people have attacked Cameron and Brown on these blogs, but not many people have come out saying how good a job GB has been doing.

    "He says that raising NI will harm the recovery, but apparently laying off tens of thousands of public sector workers and twice that in the private sector by cancelling contracts (and that's at a minimum!)"

    Wow, you really have done your research there. Or, is that just your in your humble opinion? Are you blinkered enough to believe that there won't be job losses in the public sector if (god help us) Labour get back in?

  • Comment number 98.

    Stephanie is a typical Brown Broadcasing Corporation Worker, scared of losing a lucrative public sector job, many of her negative comments about the Tories prove this. Good look when reality takes over Steph. Now you have shown your hand, many of the bigest employers in the country will give you a very wide berth

  • Comment number 99.

    95

    I see where you want to go with your idea, although I don't see why?

    If someone buys a property, does it up, sells it, not sure why you see that as problematic?

    It improves the housing stock

    Why shouldn't people move up the housing ladder?

    Your point about 'freezing' house prices is already happening for the reasons you state

    From a personal perspective, I view my house as my house, not an investment

  • Comment number 100.

    A 'reasonably' well-balanced report and an encouraging start to election discussions. Hopefully this glimmer of impartiality will also translate to equally unbiased reporting when on the air - although past experience suggests otherwise. For example, I was once again 'amused' at SF's narrow and biased focus when discussing conservative proposals for NI reversal on BBC news earlier this week - in fact she completely missed the point such was her negativity. Come on Stephanie, you now have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that you really do understand economics.

 

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