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The Conservatives' invitation

Stephanie Flanders | 14:14 UK time, Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Labour and Conservative manifestos are very different. Labour's was big on words - and detailed promises and commitments which we had heard before. It put government at the centre. The Conservative version is longer, but lighter. About a third of its 118 pages actually contains written text - the rest is made up of pictures, fun facts, and (yes) blank pages to give readers a rest. Their focus is on the private sector - and on individuals.

David CameronBut the two documents have one important thing in common: neither of them makes any further contribution to public understanding on how Britain's £167bn budget deficit is going to be cut. And they both leave plenty out.

This, I suppose, was what we expected. But it is still surprising to me, given the state of the public finances, that of all those 118 pages, the Conservatives decided to dedicate precisely four to macro-economic policy.

They will say that is as it should be. The manifesto says, time and again, that the Conservatives want a bigger private sector, and a "bigger society" to take the lead role in Britain's future, not the government.

But, assuming they don't agree with Engels and Lenin on this one, the state isn't going to just wither away. There is no new detail in those 118 pages on how, exactly, that is going to be done. There is not even any more detail on how fast they would do it.

Once again, we are told that a Tory government would "eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over the next parliament". Once again, we are left to draw our own conclusions about the definition of the word bulk. All we are told is that it will be bigger than the "bulk" of the deficit that Labour plans to get rid of over the period.

As I've said before, the government has made it easy for the Conservatives by not doing a spending review for after 2011. It would be completely unreasonable to expect a party in opposition to offer more details on future departmental spending than the party that now sits in the Treasury.

But many would say that it was not unreasonable to ask for a concrete target for reducing the deficit from a party that has put the the deficit at the centre of its agenda.

Outside observers - the OECD, the IMF, and many others - have criticised Labour for not providing a more "credible plan" for reducing the deficit. The Tories have understandably leapt on that criticism.

Once again, the party in power can and should be held to a higher standard on this. But I wonder whether those same observers would say you can build a credible deficit reduction plan on the definition of the word "bulk".

What detail do we know? Well, once again, this manifesto has the cuts in tax credits, public-sector pay freeze and other measures which Mr Osborne announced last autumn, which he said would raise £7bn a year by 2014-15.

Now, not all of that is in addition to Labour's plans - the public-sector pay freeze, for example, will raise less money now that Labour has its own plans to cap pay rises in the public sector. But assume, very generously, that most of it is - maybe £6bn.

Yes, there is that extra £6bn a year in efficiency savings, starting this year. But remember that from 2011, they will be spending almost all of that on preventing Labour's National Insurance increase next year, and freezing council tax for two years.

The Conservatives' own costings of those proposals suggest they will cost £5.4bn a year by 2013-14. But the Treasury, and the IFS, have said the true cost of the council tax measure will be a bit higher, due to the vagaries of the Barnett formula - perhaps £1.4bn a year rather than £1.1bn suggested by the Conservatives.

So the chances are the £6bn have been spent after 2011-12. That leaves a one-off reduction in borrowing of £6bn - the equivalent of just over £1bn a year over the course of the Parliament - to add to that previous £6bn.

That means that, on the basis of this manifesto, the Conservatives would cut borrowing by - at most - £7bn a year more than Labour by 2015-16 - a difference of half a per cent of GDP.

Do we think that this is the extent of their deficit-cutting zeal? We are given the strong impression that it is not. For those who wonder what might come after the election that has not been signposted in this manifesto, I would note that the Conservatives, like Labour, have left themselves plenty of room for further cuts.

Notably - there is not a single reference to child benefit in this manifesto.

Mr Osborne said last October that he would "preserve" it. But (and I would be happy to get corrected on this), it's not clear whether that rules out means-testing it, which the IFS reckons could save £5-6bn a year. Freezing benefits and tax credits across the board would save £4.1bn a year from 2011.

The manifesto does commit the party to "protect" the winter fuel payment, free bus passes, free TV licenses, the disability living allowance and attendance allowance, and the pension credit.

Mr Cameron said recently, with regard to most of those, that he would keep them, as he inherits them. But that is not repeated in this text. But you can surely "protect" allowances, while you freeze them.

You can play the same guessing game - for both Labour and the Conservatives - when it comes to VAT. (As far as I can tell, VAT isn't mentioned either.) But I do worry that it's counter-productive. At best, the media ends up cornering politicians into making promises they shouldn't really make.

But, to end this post as I ended the last one, it would have been good to have some more details today, from the party that wants to be in government next month, of the fiscal upheaval we face in next five years.
.
Update 16:00: I said I would be glad to have clarification of the Tories' policy on child benefit. Clarification has been duly given: George Osborne's commitment last year to "preserve" the benefit does indeed rule out means-testing.

It seems odd that the Conservatives did not choose to clarify this major promise in the manifesto - or, indeed, mention child benefit at all. Their explanation is that the manifesto "can't possibly deal with the position on every benefit".

That may be true. But the manifesto lists five benefits which they will "protect", four of which cost significantly less than child benefit. If you can find a line in your manifesto for free TV licences, which cost just under £600m a year, you might have thought you could find a space for a benefit that costs £11bn.

Then again, Labour didn't mention child benefit in their manifesto either. Apparently it is the Great Unmentionable.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    It's all toilet paper - a bit like our currency will be soon!

  • Comment number 2.

    The problem is that few extra votes will be won by telling us the truth about where the cuts will come. Suffice it to say, come they will and the conservatives will cut the most and soonest.

    I suspect 40,000 public sector jobs is just the beginning. Forget about ID cards and VAT will be increased to 20% and CGT will simply not stay at 18% flat rate for everyone.

  • Comment number 3.

    '
    But the two documents have one important thing in common: neither of them makes any further contribution to public understanding on how Britain's £167bn budget deficit is going to be cut.
    '

    Excellent comment. You can't really blame the Tories for following Labour's lead on ducking the issue - but surely any politician who can't answer this question should be laughed off stage?

    Political journalists take note instead of meekly following the big party agendas. We need to be told.

  • Comment number 4.

    Three card monty. I am always bemused by the proposals that public funds are used to spur private profit-making and it remains to be called private. Neither party appears to propose any new taxes for banking and financial services that caused the issue. If the bad notes the government assumed from the banks were returned to the banks much of this would be resolved. Holding banks and financial services accountable does not appear to be within the character of government.
    Both proposals are statements of futility: we don't know what to do but in the meantime....

  • Comment number 5.

    Based on the assumption that government spending in the next tax year is projected to be £175 billion higher than tax receipts.

    They can;

    1) Severely cut public expenditure = public & private sector job losses

    2) Try and borrow it by issuing gilts, but evidence suggests there isn’t the demand for £175 billion worth of them, and even if there was, the UK would end up in a compound debt trap.

    3) Substantially increase taxation, but then most would spend less in the private sector to compensate for it and the UK would fall into a compound tax spiral once the tax rate passes 50% of GDP, with more private sector job losses.

    4) Get The BOE to print another £175 billion to fund the shortfall, but then sterling’s value will fall further, and facing the problem is only delayed another year in any event.

    And that’s the dilemma.

    My bet’s on the BOE printing another £175 billion, whilst savage cuts are organised for the public sector, coming into effect in 2011.

    It really will make little odds who ‘gets in’, the problem is mathematical.

    Current politics is about making as much money as you can whilst feeding from the Westminster trough.

    The trough will still be there after this election, the MPs will gorge themselves in it, and plain old mathematics will solve the dilemma for them.

    Everyone will bleet and moan about how awful it all is, but the route cause of the problem will be ignored and our debt based system continue.

    Welcome to debt slavery, the preferred methodolgy for running a country.

  • Comment number 6.

    I challenge you to submit the party for which you have voted at the last 3 elections - so that your audience is aware of the natural bias in which you project your opinions.

  • Comment number 7.

    Very interesting comments, Stephanie, but did you seriously expect anything other than avoidance of the issue from either of the big parties who hope to form the next government? Both parties undoubtedly subscribe to the view, although they would never admit it, expressed by Dominic Lawson in The Independent this morning (13/4) , that if you drilled down into the views of the average Briton, you would end up with policy prescriptions requiring public expenditure of 50% of GDP with taxes at no more than 30%. Hence the parties "do not frighten the horses".

    On your point regarding child benefit, the Tories have form here, having frozen the benefit in the late 1980s on a number of occasions. I doubt if a commitment to "preserve" it is compatible with means-testing, which could mean the majority of current recipients losing it, or at best keeping it, while there are children for whom it's payable, at the current cash level. But there could be an overall freeze for all, although if inflation is only in the 2-3% range, it won't save very much in macro-economic terms - £20-30 a year for 12m. families, so around £300m.

  • Comment number 8.

    Stephanie
    Thanks. Presumably the Conservative Manifesto explains why they have now decided that tax cuts are its priority and that reducing the budget deficit and protecting public services are not that important after all. Crisis over? Phew. Amazing how things can change.

    As a political option tax cuts above all else might be fine, but not when the same political party is also saying that the budget deficit is unsustainable. Shouldn't the manifesto square this circle, either the deficit is unsustainable and should be reduced, or it isn't unsustainable and tax cuts can be made. They can;t have it both ways. Maybe they could have used one of those blank pages?
    I think we should be told.

    Otherwise, it looks like those blank pages are a metaphor for the blank cheque they are asking the electorate for?

  • Comment number 9.

    Its very clear why both the main parties are avague on the details of their deficit reduction plans - they will be unpopular and they want to get elected (I think) so they dont spell it out.

    VAT increases
    means tested benefits - child benefit
    increased retirement ages
    cancellation or delaying of existing programmes

    It is going to be very interesting in the months after May 6th when the new government has to do the dirty deeds. Time for my violet revolution maybe?

  • Comment number 10.

    Dave said in response to Nick Robinson's question that public spending cuts wouldn't hurt because people power would fill in the gap. I don't know whether he actually believes such nonsense or is simply not telling the truth. Either way, it doesn't fill you with confidence that he's done any proper thinking on the subject.

  • Comment number 11.

    #1
    "It's all toilet paper "

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

    But not the nice soft fluffy variety.

    Inspired setting Battersea Power Station. Rather empty, a bit like the Conservative Manifesto. Rather slow to evolve into someting useful, a bit like Cameron's election campaign.

    Where is Grayling. Was he there. Is he hiding.

  • Comment number 12.

    Couldn't help but be a bit inspired watching Cameron earlier. It was quite amusing in crossing to GBs opinion after the launch to show quite what a sneering sour man he is.

    The biggest problem with the rhetoric and message is that it won't be easily put into a 5 second clip which the media seem to love so I'm not sure how easy it will be to convey that to those who didn't watch.

    Also, whilst not being specific about it, surely the whole message of big soceity, small government clearly indicates that cutting the public sector size is their method of getting on top of the deficit.

    How many bureaucrats does it take to change a light bulb...hopfully under the Conservatives it might just be one!

  • Comment number 13.

    The Labour manifesto seems to be summed up by five more years of the same led by the people that got us into this mess in the first place.

    The Conservatives seems to be aiming to empower the public. Nick Robinson referred to Cameron's launch as harking back to Kennedy's challenge to "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country".

    To me it sounds more Bob the Builder, "Can we fix it? Yes we can!"

    Cameron seems to be emphasising the we part and enfranchising the populace. If the Conservatives get in it will be interesting to see how much of this survives.

    Labour seem to want more centralisation and diktat whilst the Conservatives seem to want to trust the public.

    Should make for some interesting debates.

  • Comment number 14.

    Perhaps they should means-test education, with those who can afford it being forced to educate their children privately. This would take some of the pressure off the state finances, and improve the standard of state education by reducing class sizes.

    Those on higher salaries would pay directly for their children's education, as well as indirectly for the state education system through the higher rate of income tax.

  • Comment number 15.

    The fact that the incumbent party in power has ducked the deficit problem by deliberately refusing to have a PSR before the election makes it very difficult for anybody to ask the tories for detailed plans on how they would address the problem. After all, Labour have the books. If they can't/won't give details, then who can?
    On a more general note, I was actually quite impressed with the concept of freeing people up to make their own positive contribution to society, mainly because my 16 year old daughter recently tried to volunteer to help out at our local old age peoples home. She gave up in the end as there seemed to be an assumption that she was either a paedo or a granny basher or a terrorist or an illegal immigrant as there were a mountain of forms to fill in. Still if it stops one 16 year girl abusing an elderly person, then I guess that it is worth it. The difficulty with this type of cynacism is of course that it stops people putting themselves forward. If the tories really are suggesting that straitjackets are removed and a can-do attitude replaces a no-you-can't do one, then this can only be good and as a floating voter I guess that I for one would be willing to give it a go.

  • Comment number 16.

    For better or worse one only needs to reflect back on the Conservative's budgets that addressed clearing up the mess Labour left in 1979 and their own mess after 1992. So we will see public service cuts and tax rises (VAT to 20%). Like it or not with a £167 Bn budget deficit such measures are essential.

    As an aside I was much amused by Gordon Brown yesterday saying that there were no new, big spending commitments in Labour's manifesto. With a 167 Bn deficit? Doh!

  • Comment number 17.

    Like labour's manifesto yesterday, devoid of real detail, far too much rhetoric.

    How much does the lack of a Comprehensive Spendign Review and late access to the Treasury's books effect the ability to be specific on details, numbers etc?

    I knwo the Labour Government has no excuse, they have all the information at hand. But can the Tory's realistically get away with doing the same?

    I guess we the electorate are to blame, too many voters are like turkeys and really dont want to vote for Xmas even though it makes no odds, as Xmas is undeniable!

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes, it is absolutely scandalous that neither major party feels obliged to disclose how it intends to address the single biggest issue of our times. It reduces to mere sophistry the laughable claim to involve the individual in government. Be in no doubt that the day after the election it will be business as usual in Westminster and Whitehall, whoever wins the election.

    It reinforces the case for party manifestos being legally binding documents to which government is restricted except in the case of emergency.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    Do the opposition have equality in seeing to state of the present government total finances?

  • Comment number 21.

    6. At 3:10pm on 13 Apr 2010, swoopingmantaray wrote:

    "I challenge you to submit the party for which you have voted at the last 3 elections - so that your audience is aware of the natural bias in which you project your opinions. "

    ....and are you going to do the same?

  • Comment number 22.

    Dear Stephanie,

    It crosses my mind that -- apparently -- the scope for manouver for the next Chancellor is so constrained that there will be little that is different between their respective emergency budgets.

    For perfectly understandable reasons -- no sane political party wishes to go into an election with the motto of "No Jam Tomorrow!" -- none of the manifestos talks about deficit reduction.

    However, a skilled, well-connected, economist ought to be able to put togther a fair approximation to the next budget, no?

  • Comment number 23.

    5 Dempster

    After listening carefully to what Brown has been saying I would go for the printing press.

    He has not spelled out any credible ideas for cutting debt this year which leaves QE as the only alternative. The coward's way out.

    He now knows how easy it is to manipulate an economy by printing funny money so why put up with the flack of cutting public services and a fight with the unions when he can just push a button and all his problems are solved.

    As far as inflation is concerned well that's a problem for another day but by then he would be firmly entrenched back in power.



  • Comment number 24.

    I share the views of those who have already observed that it really doesn't matter what is said in either manifesto since both parties will face the same problem and will have to resort to the same solution. whether it is half of one percent of GDP here or there doesn't make more than a ha'p'orth of difference.

    Why are we agonising over where of how the odd £6 billion is saved and/or spent when the deficit is over £170 billion: or somewhere in the region of 25% of Government expenditure. Sooner or later Government spending will have to be cut by £170 billion - unless the private sector gallops to the rescue and starts growing exponentially - and far faster than the public sector.

    This does not seem very likely at present - and will be no more likely when we are either taxed or cut to take money out of the system in order to pay down the debt.

    Speaking of tax, I still think it is misleading to talk about the debt and deficit as a % of GDP: as if all the GDP were available to service the debt. It would be far more revealing to describe them as a % of tax revenues. Thus the deficit is roughly 40% over and above tax receipts - and tax receipts would have to go up by 40% to bridge the gap.

    Hands up anyone who sees the private sector increasing by 40% relative to the public sector through "growth"?


  • Comment number 25.

    You say ".. of all those 118 pages, the Conservatives decided to dedicate four to macro-economic policy."


    You have already said that only 1/3 of the 188 pages is actual text.

    That makes over 10% of the manifesto text macro-economic policy.

    In truth, not so bad.

  • Comment number 26.

    Important though the economy is (I'm not that stupid!), the reality is that given the state we have been left in there is little scope for variance in how economies can or will be made, and so the issue boils down to which party will give us a better country to live in. To my mind it is very simple: you can't legislate people into model citizens or towards a perfect world however much socialism will say that you can; however, you can legislate to incentivise and motivate, and free enterprise will always win out in the end. Brown's (or Mandelson's) argument that a change will be bad news hopes to sweep under the carpet the inescapable fact that a truly prudent administration would have kept the larder better-stocked, and not had to use it for unproductive window-dressing.

    Labour has always spent other people's money until it runs out - they have never yet managed to make any.

  • Comment number 27.

    Labour has always been the party of tax and spend, remember the 70’s when they brought in the 103% top tax rate, 98% top rate income tax with a 5% surcharge on unearned income above £100.000.
    From 2000 to 2009 total public spending rose from 36.7% of national incometo 47.9% as government consumption rose rapidly even as the began to shrink.
    Since the turn of the millennium two out of ever three jobs created have been in parts of the economy dominated by the public services. With average earnings growth of 45% compared with under 40% for employees in the private sector.
    If sav ings are to be made it will almost certainly be in the overpaid overmanned public sector.
    Given that the government borrows £1 for every £4 it spends a problem that even it acknowledges growth alone will not solve, then the state will have to shrink.
    I for one dont believe that Labour is the party to sort this mess out. infact Brown was forced by his own party to confirm that cutbacks were inevitable.

  • Comment number 28.

    So which bit of the word "serf" don't you understand?

  • Comment number 29.

    #8
    "Presumably the Conservative Manifesto explains why they have now decided that tax cuts are its priority and that reducing the budget deficit and protecting public services are not that important after all. Crisis over? Phew. Amazing how things can change."

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

    There will be a rather nasty change if the Conservatives win on May 6.

    Savage cuts along ideological grounds with the NHS being in the firing line (it does consume £100BN per year) plus an increase in a tax that hurts the poor most - VAT. And of course they will blame New Labour.

    Plus more tax cuts for their rich friends.

    Cutting the deficit has to be a priority after the election and the Conservatives can't be trusted to do it in a way which harms the least number of people.

  • Comment number 30.

    An afterthought while my earlier comment was being moderated. Do you remember the PMQs after the banking fiasco when Gordon Brown was being taken to task for his direction of the FSA that it should concentrate on Solvency and not Liquidity? Acknowledging that, he was dismissive of the omission of liquiditiy as if it did not matter much.

    Liquidity is the ability to find the cash when you need it - the Companies Act definition of Solvency (I have not looked at it in a while) includes something along the lines of "an excess of assets over liabilities" AND "the ability to meet one's obligations as and when they fall due." So the financial brain which assumes to save the world overlooked an essential element of the task. How much better off we might have been had he stuck to the basics and got them right?

  • Comment number 31.

    an interesting overview....id be very interested to know how you think this compares to the lib dems though as Vince Cable is fast becoming the only person who seems remotely trustworthy and genuine but do the professionals think his financial policies stack up?

  • Comment number 32.

    #8 SwoopingMantaray

    "I challenge you to submit the party for which you have voted at the last 3 elections - so that your audience is aware of the natural bias in which you project your opinions."

    Would you care to expand on this to provide some of the evidence of bias. In what direction is this bias?

    I enjoy reading Stephanie's blogs for the balanced and informed opinion that she provides. It is also hilarious to watch the indignant allegations of bias towards either party. Anybody who dares to disagree with the Labour mantra is a true blue tory.

    You had better watch out Stephanie. You might become the target of a Labour smear campaign.

  • Comment number 33.

    #10
    "I don't know whether he actually believes such nonsense or is simply not telling the truth"

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

    I am afraid he actually believes it.

    'people power would fill in the gap' translated means 'my rich chums will line their pockets' just like they did under the last Tory government.

    It is an abdication of responsibility with a purpose behind it.

  • Comment number 34.

    I know that this mess is in large part down to Banks and their dealings in the Subprime mortgage market.(but not the UK banks)
    However as I understand it the both Northern Rock and HBOS problems came about by lending long and covering it with short term borrowings, and their crises was one of liquidity, when it dried up, due to fears of repayment.
    These two banks were until fairly recently building societies and should have been far better watched by FSA an animal created by Brown for this purpose, so in fact this part must be laid at the Governments door,
    RBS’s problems came about because it purchased AMB Amrose a Dutch financial institution, because this take over was contested ( By Barclays I believe) they were denied proper access to the books. Some 90% of RBS’S losses can be traced to AMB, so even this was not down to any trading in the subprime market.
    Lloyds’s problems are down to the take over of HBOS, a take over pushed by the government, most of Lloyds losses are down to HBOS, which in its self was a liquidity problem, which was down to a faulty business plan.
    It is time for the Government to come clean on its responsibility for this mess we are in, and not try to move blame onto the total UK banking sector, our other main banks had no need of Government help, so stop demonising them and lay the blame where it belongs, with the Labour party

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm sure this used to be an Economics blog - what happened?

    Is it no longer worth reporting on the negative swap rate on US 10 yr Treasuries?

    Is it not worth reporting that the Greek bailout merely alleviates the liquidity problems in Greece and does nothing for the fiscal / financial one?

    Is it no longer relevant that whilst the world has been watching Greece, nobody has noticed that japan is moving towards a possible default in 2011 simply because their domestic savings are running low but the export market has dried up completely - and that they are the 4th largest Economy in the world?

    Surely these things matter - or are we to all be distracted by the ramblings of middle aged men who have no idea what they are talking about.

    I had a 'canvasser' on my doorstep recently - I was appalled by how little they knew about the Economy and how it works (or rather doesn't) - and yet this person wanted me to vote for their party based on their 'Economic record' - but couldn't differentiate between what was actively managed and what simply 'just happened anyway'.

    The electorate are treated like idiots - fortunately there is hope - everyone I have seen interviewed on TV have come to the same conclusion.
    "None of the main parties deserve my vote"

    This is the second most sensible thing the general public have done - following of course the queuing up outside NR and ignoring the Government's advice to 'not panic'.

    You see when crisis really hits - the public suddenly act totally rationally.

    It was noticeable that Vince Cable and a flurry of prospective candidates for Twickenham met recently - he explained that a hung parliment would entail agreement, compromise and working together.

    Strangely the conservative representative made it clear that this could never work and that anything but full control would lead to 'dilly dallying in a crisis'.

    I would suggest her attitude and her desire for absolute power is a clear sign to anyone that politicians are prepared to destroy the country in order to ensure their own self interest (or their party's)

    Once again - the journalists missed this - maybe they're too busy chasing knighthoods or OBE's.

  • Comment number 36.

    The bottom line is that Labour, the Tories and the LibDems have adopted the same agenda - "deep cuts in public spending" as the only way to address the crisis we face so they are now only left to argue the minor details while pretending to offer a choice. Why is no one ever considering pretty major cuts in things we do not need (for instance the Trident system) and spending initiatives in things that will give us value long after the recession - public transport, high speed rail, renewable energy generation, additional public sector housing? We need to demand that the London-based parties break out of their narrow agenda and start to be a little more creative.

  • Comment number 37.

    11. At 3:40pm on 13 Apr 2010, Richard Dingle wrote:

    "Inspired setting Battersea Power Station. Rather empty, a bit like the Conservative Manifesto. Rather slow to evolve into someting useful, a bit like Cameron's election campaign."


    ...and something which used to have magnificent power - but now can't even power a lightbulb.

  • Comment number 38.

    Yes the VAT is a matter of importance so i was disappointed that not one political journalist pressed David Cameron on the subject. Being cynical the journalists selected by Cameron were the ones who were less likely to 'throw him a curve ball'

  • Comment number 39.

    12. At 3:44pm on 13 Apr 2010, U14350905

    is this your first election?

    It's not mine - and I can promise you every election has the same standard promises:-

    Increased spending without tax rises
    Massive public sector efficiency savings
    Less Government

    ...and not once has this ever followed. So save yourself some time and vote monster raving loony - it's the only party that actually makes sense!

    If you look back to the last conservative Government you will notice the only major action they took to make 'smaller Government' was to sell off all the nationalised utility and rail companies at great cost to the taxpayer - and subsequently further cost to the consumer.

    Can any die hard Tories list any policies Thatcher undertook which actually sensibly reduced Government?

    Simply cutting services is not reducing Government, it's removing a piece which will require putting back at some time in the future (again, a great cost to the taxpayer)

    ...or did we make a lot of money from taking the East coast line back under Government control????

  • Comment number 40.

    BTW - the only ideology which will take you to a 'smaller Government' is anarchy.

    It's not in any democratic Government's interest to disband Government - what do you bloggers always say? - Turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

    Caneron's idea is to reduce public services (which he calls 'goverment') and replace it with a bigger or more bloated parlimentary population (i.e. sack civil servants and pay MP's more money)

  • Comment number 41.

    Tory & Labour manifestos have dodged the elephantine post election deficit reduction we all know is unavoidable; both parties hiding the awful truth that we all know lies behind the fig leaf of first needing a post election public spending review.

    Each believes they must not frighten Labour's huge public sector employee client electorate. Labour because it's spent 13 years buying their loyalty and expanding their number by more than a million; Conservatives because, since 1997, they've been selling their conversion to compassionate competence.

    Perhaps the electorate aren't so silly chaps. A hung Parliament may just ensure that your economy with the actualite will work to our advantage; your mutually assured incompetence will cancel you out.

  • Comment number 42.

    Ubidenmark wrote:

    "It reinforces the case for party manifestos being legally binding documents to which government is restricted except in the case of emergency."

    Not sure we want that. There are only 2 manifestos that count, but that doesn't mean I agree with everything in either. We would have to have a clause-by-clause referendum.

    But coming back to the point - aren't we all waiting for growth to resume and take our debt problem away? Just so no-one has to do anything painful! Personally I think Mr Brown should be jailed for total incompetence. It was obvious we should not overspend in the 'good times' and try to hide some of the expenditure too.

  • Comment number 43.

    The Labour party HQ unveil two manifestos. A 78 page manifesto for England that promises more for English voters than the second class 75 page manifesto for Scotland.

    Some of the issues in the Scottish version of this 2010 Westminster General Election manifesto are not even within Westminsters' control?

    At the Glenrothes election for a new Westminster MP the Labour party shamefully campaigned on matters that devolved Scottish Government deal with. This manifesto proves they are going to campaign in Scotland with similiar unfair tactics.

    http://www.oilofscotland.org/scotlands_news.asp

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    The maddening thing is the UKIP economic recipe made much more sense for a right wing "trust the people" agenda then the Conservatives EXCEPT for all that crazy the anti European reinvent the Commonwealth "kith and kin" stuff of course!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    "As I've said before, the government has made it easy for the Conservatives by not doing a spending review for after 2011."
    As opposed to making it easy for themselves?! The absence of such a review is the biggest scandal of this election.
    The rest of your discussion of this issue deals with some of the consequences of this absence including some of the detail, but I regret to say that I think that this is all largely irrelevant at the moment.
    This isn't because it's "only £5 billion or £6 billion here or there", but rather because the whole debate about spending/deficit reduction/cuts etc etc is an inherently dishonest one in the absence of the spending review and a Tory response to it.
    This dishonesty is best displayed by Labour claiming credit for the economic mess they have created, manipulating numbers at every turn (£6 billion becomes £27 billion), borrowing like there is no tomorrow - hopefully there won't be for them - making a legion of promises in their manifesto that they know very well they can't pay for and generally behaving as if they have found some way of establishing an oasis in which the normal rules of economic activity cease to apply.
    I don't blame the Tories for being vague in these circumstances - everybody knows that after the election, whoever is in power, this Labour 'oasis' will cease to exist. Reality will bite big time. Somebody has to clear up the mess - and does anyone seriously belive that Labour, if elected, will halve the deficit within five years - please!
    As to child benefit/means-testing etc, I wouldn't have a problem with that. Same with family tax credits etc. I earn a decent living, I don't need child benefit, never have. I prefer levels of taxation, direct and indirect, to be decreasing rather than increasing. I believe that if you leave more money in people's' pockets, they work harder and you gain more revenue on higher income levels.
    I like those schemes that assist with nursery costs and I think the spirit of "encouraging the family" through the tax system is sensible (see Europe), but I am all for ALL benefits being much more discriminatory and targeted so that they again support people at times of need rather than provide the basis for an alternative, non-working lifestyle.

  • Comment number 47.

    After spending a week listening to these so-called "leaders" I am beginning to feel a little fatigued with their ya-boo verbosity and inability to answer a Yes/No question with a Yes/No answer -- and I blame some of our leading journalists for letting them get away with it.

    At present there's a good chance that I'll treat them all with the contempt they bring upon themselves and not even bother to wander pass the pub to get to the polling station.

  • Comment number 48.

    Dear Stephanie,

    It seems a little bit unfair that you haven't included the Liberal Democrats in your column, almost biased. They have at least identified how they would make the numbers stack up, but you don't seem to think it worth mentioning. Would you be kind enough to add a few comments or perhaps a new blog?

    I didn't vote Lib Dems in the last election, but I am getting fed up with so much media electing to support either the Tories or Labour. We could at least do with the BBC being unbiased.

    Kind regards,

    James

    Kind regards,

  • Comment number 49.

    I didn't like being called one of the "Great Ignored" by Cameron, it made me think of the "Great Unwashed", which is probably what he had in mind to start with.

    His idea of the "help yourself" society is genuinely interesting in parts, but but but…

    Firstly, it conjured up those destitute communities in places like Detroit who have been given up by the "state" and only have each other to rely on - for everything.

    Secondly, I would not be happy depending on "people power" to run local things, many people have turned selfish, xenophobe and nasty. I'm disturbed by the ugly atmosphere abroad these days and the intolerance of people who despise solidarity and civilized kindness.

    I think Cameron is right, this is a broken society, but not in the way he meant. Our common decent caused is lost, where public sector workers are regarded as sponging scum, just fit for job cuts. etc etc

    Grrr!

    I'm nearly 50, I have always been excited by General Elections, but this is the first where I feel sick at heart. Not just at the politics and the lack of clarity from politicians on the economic situation, but at so many of the electors. Our politicians reflect our society very accurately.

    I'll take more water with my pills tomorrow evening…

  • Comment number 50.

    I cant help thinking that the British Public gets the politics that we deserve,A few months back the Tories were very candid about the fact that it was essential to cut the defecit by very sharp and painful cuts that would have an impact on everybodys standard of living....I agree with this, it is critical that we do this as we are living way beyond our means and UK PLC is fast heading for bancrupcy
    The result of this candid message was that average Joe Public decided that the tories were not such a great idea and the polls started to swing back towards Labour
    The Tories have no option but to evade the question and even lie.....otherwise they wont get elected
    We tell our politicians that we want honesty, and then when we get it, we decide we dont like it and vote for someone else.....the same happens with transport policy and the motor car, any government that seriously tries to control car useage by price will get the boot instantly.....nothing will change....we get what we deserve

  • Comment number 51.

    14. At 3:57pm on 13 Apr 2010, MrTweedy wrote:
    Perhaps they should means-test education, with those who can afford it being forced to educate their children privately. This would take some of the pressure off the state finances, and improve the standard of state education by reducing class sizes.

    Those on higher salaries would pay directly for their children's education, as well as indirectly for the state education system through the higher rate of income tax.

    ========
    Lucky for Labour the Tories didn't put that in their election manifesto, the Socialists on here would have gone ballistic, along with the Parliamentary Labour Party, many of whom would then have promptly voted for the Tories and when they had to send their kids to private schools would have blamed Cameron. Then the myriad of Privater Labour MPS would have claimed they were just about to send their children to the local sink comps when the Tories stopped them. That would have been a Socialist killer, pity Dave didn't think of it.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm sorry but this is getting beyond a joke now.

    As a voter my principle voting issue is how each of the parties proposes to re-align the govenments spending and debt. If neither of the 2 front runners is giving me enough information to make a decision then how am I supposed to vote? More importantly, how to we force these plans out of them?

  • Comment number 53.

    Excellent and concise as usual, thank you Stephanie, we need you to keep on their respective cases. One issue that comes to mind is the NI row. Today I discovered, at the AGM of my local branch of a pensioner organisation I belong to as it happens, in the GAD report on the National Insurance Fund from the Government Actuary it stated that the £50 billion surplus(!) was invested in government securities and the interest earned was used to reduce borrowing requirements. So wither the increase or not as the case may be? Does this mean that the whole fund will disappear into the gaping maw of the Treasury? I think we should be told! Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 54.

    14. At 3:57pm on 13 Apr 2010, MrTweedy wrote:
    Perhaps they should means-test education, with those who can afford it being forced to educate their children privately. This would take some of the pressure off the state finances, and improve the standard of state education by reducing class sizes.

    ======

    The Class size is a red-herring, even if you only had 10 in a class (and I have had that in a sink comp as a supply teacher, when only 10 turned up out of 30) but if 5 of them were dross, it is still impossible to teach the 5 keen pupils. I'd vote for Dave if he made a law saying all Socialist MPs had to have a second job as teachers in their sink comps, AND they had to send their kids to the same sink comp too. See how quickly Grammar schools and discipline would come back into their reckoning! Not only can't labour run an economy, they can't run a schools system either.

  • Comment number 55.

    I was hoping that the present Tories had changed from their previous nasty incarnation when they doubled unemployment and increased interest rates to 15%. I am beginning to think that that was a forlorn hope. But the Tories still seem to have a hatred for anyone who works in the Public Sector and seem to wish to see British citizens unemployed. Employment was used in the Eighties by their predecessors as a tool to push down the working class and to make such workers touch their forelocks in respect to a fictitious breed called wealth creators. And people are still indoctrinated with this idea. The wealth creators are really the people who do the work not the ones who profit from that work.

    During the Eighties, we were also indoctrinated with words like Free Market when there never has been and never will be a Free Market. There are always rules operating that means the Market is not free. What they meant then, and appear to mean now, is lets have rules that keep the present rich rich or make them richer. They want money to continue to make money while hard working people are kept down.

    It seems unfortunate that in this country, the only political ideas that people are allowed to hold are extreme opposites - Capitalism or Socialism. We actually need something in between where remuneration is more equal and people can alter their relative position by working hard and money is an exchange tool and not a means of power over others. I can not accept that one person can earn 100 time what another one earns. There can be no justification for that or for the rules of a Free Market that produces that result.

    One of the priorities of a government after Defence is to ensure full employment as far as it can. It is more important to me that my fellow citizens are in employment rather than those who are in employment receiving a 'married couples' allowance.

  • Comment number 56.

    #6 >>I challenge you to submit the party for which you have voted at the last 3 elections - so that your audience is aware of the natural bias in which you project your opinions.

    None of the above, for the simple reason that I was working abroad and wandering around due to the demands of the job !! THERE !! HAPPY ??

  • Comment number 57.

    #14 >>Perhaps they should means-test education, with those who can afford it being forced to educate their children privately.

    Strange as it may seem, many of those who can afford it *ARE* educating their children privately !! Still hadn't done much to improve the quality of the state schools !!

  • Comment number 58.

    Convert government debt to private debt - force banks to drop interest rates on mortgages and business loans while holding the repayment amounts up to 90% of their monthly original. Simultaneously disallow leveraged asset speculation, while encouraging social lending projects.

  • Comment number 59.

    Until such time as people understand fractional reserve banking, and thus the creation of money as debt, they will be constantly misguided as to the true nature of hopelessly biased system in which the average Joe and Jane toil away their lives.

    Even in Mr R. Peston’s explanation of banking there is no mention of the fractional reserve system.

    The Reds-v-Blues argument is akin to a group of condemned men arguing who is going to act as their executioner.

  • Comment number 60.

    #35 >>I had a 'canvasser' on my doorstep recently - I was appalled by how little they knew about the Economy and how it works (or rather doesn't) - and yet this person wanted me to vote for their party based on their 'Economic record' - but couldn't differentiate between what was actively managed and what simply 'just happened anyway'.

    You shouldn't really blame that guy for not knowing about economics. If he was any good at it, he would be "advising" his party leaders on economics (or had he ?????)

  • Comment number 61.

    #36 >>The bottom line is that Labour, the Tories and the LibDems have adopted the same agenda - "deep cuts in public spending" as the only way to address the crisis we face so they are now only left to argue the minor details while pretending to offer a choice.

    You do have a choice - 2 and 1/2 NuLabour parties !! You can choose NuLabour or NuLabour or 1/2 a NuLabour !! Enjoy your wealth of choices.

  • Comment number 62.

    Labour's Manifesto is big on words - detailed promises and commitments - which we have heard before. But at least Labour is consistent and has a written plan that can be measured against performance.
    The Conservative version is longer, but lighter. And that my dear, Stephanie, you hit the nail on its Conservative head – longer, but so light it cannnot be measured. Probably the most profound pages of the Cpnservative Manifesto are those that have been left blank.
    Commonality: neither elaborates on how Britain's £167bn budget deficit is going to be cut.
    Difference: Gordon Brown knows the answer; he himself recommended the answer. He is now biding his time till after G-20 in June.
    The Conservatives want a bigger private sector, and a "bigger society"; it wants the public to work TOGETHER – doing exactly what he fails to say. David Cameron says Tory government would "eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over the next parliament". That’s nice. I’m comforted. Together, we will eliminate bulk. This page could have been left blank too and would've been the better for it.
    OECD, and the IMF have criticised Labour for not providing a more "credible plan" for reducing the deficit. The Tories have understandably leapt on that criticism – without offering alternatives. Blank, blank, blank.
    For the life of me, I just cannot fathom why the Conservatives have so little to offer. Are they keeping "it" to themselves till after the election?

  • Comment number 63.

    All parties are agreed on the need for measures to reduce the budget deficit. The Labour Party won't say more until they have done a spending review and the Conservatives have said that they will undertake a budget within 50 days of assuming power. That's about it I suspect.

    A hike in VAT is very likely whoever wins but it will push fuel prices up again which could become a controversial issue around the country particularly in rural areas.

  • Comment number 64.

    Question: Why is the Conservative Manifesco ONLY produced in Hard - Back form?

    Answer: So as to make sure it hurts us, once we have ALL been hit by it!!!

    However, we will ALL have the "Blues" by then anyway, as in China they once had a Little Red - Book, while today in the UK we have the now Larger Blue - Book, which according to tradition is not the longest Suicide Note in British Political History.
    So well done Cameroons, for you have now beaten the Labour Party's record upon Self - Destruction methods.

  • Comment number 65.

    Sad as it may be Conservatives means bigger cuts and therefore short term pain while Labour will only tinker thus significant inflation and long term pain. Pick your pain it can't be worse than the return of Chris Evans to TV.

  • Comment number 66.

    To Messrs Cameron and Brown:

    How is it possible that house prices can rise far in excess of the average wage?
    Where does the money come from that the banks lend?
    It must come from somewhere, mustn’t it?

    Perhaps there’s some great saver in the sky that deposits it with them.
    Well no actually, they just create it, and then charge you interest on it.

    Why does the average Joe and Jane’s income always lag behind inflation?
    Because the value of money is depreciating faster than their income appreciates.

    But why is the value of money depreciating so quickly?
    Because as the banks create it at a faster rate, than most can increase their earnings.

    So when you wonder why your son/daughter can’t afford a home of their own, you know why.

    And when the dust has settled on 7th May, we can all go forward in the full and complete belief that at least we managed not to vote for change.

    Let’s not rock the boat now, vote for the reds or the blues, or even the yellows.

    Long Live Debt Slavery.

    Last thing we want is people to start asking awkward questions.

  • Comment number 67.

    Since Magaret Thatcher came to power we have had three financial crashes, When did we pay off the debt for the other two? Who paid for them? What is the point when the whole world operates on debt as an instrument to correct exchange rates etc.,? Nothing in this Big Bang world relates to anything real, so why are we being conned into believing that this unreal debt can be cured?

    Why do we need Hedgefunds, Derivitives,the stock exchange, private Banks, when all are just operating as casinos?

    These are the real issues facing not only this country but the world and politicians do not have any idea of their relevance hence no policies.

    The Tories are using this crisis as an excuse to attack our public services so that their friends in business can mop up any opportunity to profit from essential services now provided by the public sector.

    The latest Tory big idea of everybody helping themselves is reminiscent of the thatcher period when they constantly cut expenditure in the public sector and encouraged everybody to help charities to fill the gap surprise, surprise, the economy stagnated until a change of Government who increased spending.

    A do nothing government is not worth electing.

    All the big ideas that Tories came up with have been massive disasters, Selling off the utilities, transport ie., Britsh Rail, Britioil just think what we could be doing with all those oil revenues now, Endowment Mortgages,
    selling off council housing, Big Bang in the City, creating gambling rather than manufacturing as a source of income.

    Same old Tories same old lies.

  • Comment number 68.

    54. At 6:32pm on 13 Apr 2010, DevilsAdvocate wrote:
    'Not only can't labour run an economy, they can't run a schools system either'

    My wife's a teacher and agrees with you completely, in fact she says she'll buy you a drink.

  • Comment number 69.

    /55
    "It seems unfortunate that in this country, the only political ideas that people are allowed to hold are extreme opposites - Capitalism or Socialism. We actually need something in between where remuneration is more equal and people can alter their relative position by working hard and money is an exchange tool and not a means of power over others"

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

    Look across the channel at the EU and it works pretty well. The stakeholder philosophy. Socialist Market Economy.

  • Comment number 70.

    Stephanie

    Could you mention in a future blog something about the weighting of the political system in favour of the older section of society?

    They are more likely to be better off, having done well out of the boom in house prices and also from final salary pensions, which were more numerous in their day.

    They also benefit from non means tested benefits such as the ones you mention - Winter fuel, Free TV Licences, and Bus Passes (they also benefit from free swimming now at my local pool).

    The younger section of society are faced with unaffordable housing, poor pension provision and now the prospect of higher taxes to bail the government out. And what's more, the benefits that apply to younger people (or at least those with young families) are the ones that are being talked of being cut (child benefit, Child trust funds etc)

    The reason? Well basically older people vote more than younger ones, so they have more influence.

    This bias is a disgrace, and what's more no political party is talking of re-adjusting this bias.

    I think it is the future fault line of British politics, replacing the left vs right, working vs middle schisms debates that we have since the Second World War.

    I would be interested of what you make of this as an economist.

  • Comment number 71.

    I just replied, 'tongue in cheek', to an email allegedly from David Cameron, offering me a place in Government, lo and behold someone wrote back within minutes, AND they were on topic and argued their case - wow! Better start worrying Gordon, I may believe Cameron is Tory Blair, but all I ever heard from Blair was soundbites, tosh and lies, this reply, although not totally to my taste, was a serious reply - none of wishy washy touchy feely dissembling c**p Blair was full of, or the repetitive soundbite dissembling monologues of Gordon (Team Player ha ha!) Brown. Answering questions, and even the one that was asked, wow, that is a bit revolutionary! Can't see Brown and Labour managing that, clever sods these Tories.

  • Comment number 72.

    55. At 6:48pm on 13 Apr 2010, Fairsfair wrote:
    I was hoping that the present Tories had changed from their previous nasty incarnation when they doubled unemployment and increased interest rates to 15%. I am beginning to think that that was a forlorn hope. But the Tories still seem to have a hatred for anyone who works in the Public Sector and seem to wish to see British citizens unemployed.
    ==============
    Just had my passport delivered by a Foreign Motorcycle courier - British Jobs for EU Workers!!! (That was what Brown promised wan't it?)

  • Comment number 73.

    No.54 DevilsAdvocate

    I sometimes get the impression that teenagers would rather be cool than clever. They want to be rich, especially the boys, but don't seem to make the connection between studiousness and better job prospects.
    This type is easily distracted by the small number of disruptive pupils in the class.

  • Comment number 74.

    #62
    "Probably the most profound pages of the Cpnservative Manifesto are those that have been left blank."

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

    You have hit the nail on the head.

    "Are they keeping "it" to themselves till after the election?"

    Don't they always.

  • Comment number 75.

    I have to admit I'm totally dumb founded by all these ignorant people which do not see that bailing out banks like 'Northern rock' was bad thing. I.e. surely if the Government had not done this then millions of people would have lost their 'life's' savings and this would have resulted in another round of 'Thatcher style riots'. If people really are dismissive of the fact that it was the Tories that Privatised all of these keys industries which are now mainly owned by foreigners then shame on you. For example, just look at the our key energy services like British Gas and the resources from North Sea Oil it’s not Labours fault that the prices are so high, it is the fact that these oligopolies are back handing the regulators that are meant to be lowering their prices.
    ...And look how George Osborne hasn't appeared on the news over this election, do you think the Tories feel he might make a hick up with his non-existent economic policies?
    ... Don't forget the Tories only look out for themselves as shown by 18 years of rule by Thatcher and Major. Just look how they funded there cuts in the 80s, they lowered income tax for the highest earners from 83% to 60% and introduced more indirect taxes like VAT on cigarettes and alcohol and I sure do know who that will have affected. So, don't believe them when there will be no consequences for lowering taxes to make up the lost money. Oh yeah they might just privatise Royal Mail like they were going to in the 90s. And don't forget with modernisation and efficiency savings in industries comes job cuts.

  • Comment number 76.

    David cameron mentioned few times that he will introduce Marriage allowance of £150 P.A but there is no mention about it in the notes. Is it mentioned in the Manifesto.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 77.

    62. At 7:49pm on 13 Apr 2010, BluesBerry wrote:
    Labour's Manifesto is big on words - detailed promises and commitments - which we have heard before. But at least Labour is consistent and has a written plan that can be measured against performance.
    The Conservative version is longer, but lighter. And that my dear, Stephanie, you hit the nail on its Conservative head – longer, but so light it cannnot be measured. Probably the most profound pages of the Cpnservative Manifesto are those that have been left blank.
    Commonality: neither elaborates on how Britain's £167bn budget deficit is going to be cut.
    Difference: Gordon Brown knows the answer; he himself recommended the answer. He is now biding his time till after G-20 in June.


    ===========

    Deer Mr Blueberri

    God has sent me to you to ask that you send me all your bank details so I can give you 6 trillion Great Britsih pounds, these are Gordon Browns pounds, I am giving thewm to you becaz I am so greatfull he saved the wrold.

    yours in the heavenly father

    THeresa 1 borneveryminit
    Burkino Faso

  • Comment number 78.

    The UK needs to out-compete its global competitors. The best way to clear the deficit is to boost the UK's sales and profitability.

    Therefore, stimulate the economy by cutting taxes.......
    Stop punishing hard work and success with taxation.

    Cut income tax and NI. Cut all taxes on employment and wealth creation.

    Increase tax on imports, by increasing VAT. Consumption needs to be reduced. You can safeguard the poor by charging little or no VAT on healthy food, clothing, energy costs, etc........
    Put high rates of VAT on designer clothes, Porsche cars, etc

  • Comment number 79.


    I still don't understand how either of the two main parties are going to rebalance the economy.

  • Comment number 80.

    77. At 9:20pm on 13 Apr 2010, DevilsAdvocate wrote:

    A very funny post.

    Well DA, at least your wit has not been hit by deflation.

  • Comment number 81.

    #35 writingsonthewall thank you. From you I have learnt that Japan's economy is at great risk and that USA potentially may lose it's AAA rating. It's so cheered me up I had to resort to listening to 5 Live just so I am reminded of the relative importance of football and other such frivolities.
    We lack leadership; someone prepared to throw a boot or two. I remember Kinnock's speech in Liverpool re Militant, redundancies and taxis. Fantastic leadership rhetoric. I remember Hague's babyish utterings as a boy at conference. And what of Thatcher at her last PMQ. We are so short of leadership talent. There is no leader to point us in any direction never mind the correct one. Someone we can all get behind; love or hate just so long as we respect. Here's an open challenge to everyone; name a good political leader. Someone with cojones.

  • Comment number 82.

    At 72 DevilsAdvocate wrote :

    Just had my passport delivered by a Foreign Motorcycle courier - British Jobs for EU Workers!!! (That was what Brown promised wan't it?)

    But there are also British workers in the EU countries and a number of people on Stephanie Flanders' blog have indicated that they intend leaving this country. I presume that they will work in the countries that they go to.

    But at least the motorcyclist was working. What about people like Lord Ashcroft who has not been paying British tax and has been living abroad but is trying to buy this election. This is worse that MPs asking questions for money because it is buying governments for money.

    The Tories used unemployment in the Eighties to subdue the working population and, unfortunately, I think that they intend doing that again.

    But the most important point I tried to make is the need for a 'New Economics' which is neither of the Right nor of the Left. One where people are paid for the work they do rather than for speculation. That way we would not have cyclic boom and bust. What we have is a form of Capitalism that pays some people 100 times what others are paid. That is actually insane. How can anyone justify that. We can have a different form of Capitalism in which people are paid for working rather than living off others.

  • Comment number 83.

    The Tory manifesto heralds the most devastating cuts in the public sector, probably far more devastating than many of those advocating public sector savings would want.

    His talk of volunteering and are euphemisms for a return to an era in which the poor are made to suffer and rely on the charity of the haves.

    His talk of empowering people to run services are euphemisms for doing things yourself (if you can) because the state will not. Nothing wrong with helping your elderly neighbour, but should your neighbour have to rely on your largess simply because the local authority cannot afford to do meals on wheels or collect refuse?

    Still if people are stupid enough to fall for it.......

  • Comment number 84.

    To: 67. At 8:15pm on 13 Apr 2010, unchangeable:

    They all look out for themselves, tories, labour, career politicians in general.

    Perhaps I should introduce you to the UPF (United Peoples Front).

    But then again perhaps not.



  • Comment number 85.

    Have I stumbled across an LSD users blog?

    What a weird set of posts

  • Comment number 86.

    Good analysis Stephanie and it's sad neither main party can really spell out the truth. Why? Because we are in a phoney situation. It doesn't feel like the crises of the past. Unemployment isn't climbing fast, homes aren't being repossessed at a high rate, house prices are holding up - we are defying economic gravity.

    Whether it's the government centrist view of NuLiebour or Cameron's power to the people, it matters not a jot. What matters are the measures needed to get our finances back on an even keel.

    I think for voters the real (but unspoken issue) is stick (tax rises) and more stick (Government spending cuts) - NuLiebour
    or carrot (tax cuts) and stick (Government spending cuts) - Tories.

    Whoever is in power we have to cut and savagely (unfortunately). So the real issue is more taxation versus less taxation to achieve growth to offset Government cutbacks.

    But it's not as simple as that because our highly polished Public Sector has had money thrown at it for at least 9 years, gobbling up more of our national resources. Yes, there was a need to rebalance the tight spending of the 80's to 2000 but at this horrendous level?

    Many of your bloggers think this is a failure of Capitalism or we are all doomed and we need a new system (what for pete's sake?).

    This isn't a Capitalism failure but a good old failure of myopic Labour politicians, who always fail to grasp that you have to live within your means - "no more boom or bust" - tosh!

    So we have to address our debt and get back to a society where people are rewarded and the society as whole benfits not this constant tax grab of NuLiebour. I am afraid only the Tories will deliver this like they've done before and no doubt will get blamed because it is going to hurt!

  • Comment number 87.

    85 Kevinb wrote:

    Have I stumbled across an LSD users blog?

    What a weird set of posts

    ---------------------

    Have you ever tried an LSD tab?

    It's great for seeing things from a different perspective.

    I tell you what...it would do wonders for the deficit...it would make it look really colourful!

  • Comment number 88.

    Just to be a bit basic here....I'm a teacher and won't be voting for a party that wants to freeze my salary to bail out mega rich bankers who are still having huge bonus payments.. Hopefully my family / immediate relatives will feel the same.

    As presumably will the families of nurses / firemen / doctors / council staff...and so on...none of whom were part of the banking scandal.

    Out of curiosity..are MPs taking a pay freeze...and does it matter to them...there must be another perk / expense claim in the pipeline somewhere.

  • Comment number 89.

    Well the deficit will likely be the primary focus of the Party that does get in. If it is debt will spiral and we will be hit with heavy interest payments. If we default we will not be able to lend.

    Its just whether we get hit sooner or later , the simple thing is we will all have to stick together and back whoever wins as the mess needs to be cleared up i think both the parties are literally saying the same thing. With David going back to Kennedy's famous speech.

    I guess the detail will be delivered soon after the Election..

  • Comment number 90.

    60% VAT WILL SORT OUT THE 167BILLION DEFICIT IN NO TIME

    Buy Two now or get one later plus vat

    The pound shops will soon be called the 2pound shops


    No doubt cunning Gordon the bank engines promice not to raise income tax will lead to a preelection sales rush to avoid the inevitable Vat rise which taken together with the extended till april tail end of the car scrappage scheme will produce the required temporary surge in economic activity that can be hailed as the arrival of the long awaited greenshoots sufficient to convince any doubting thomas the tank engine and assosiated Sodor maites .

  • Comment number 91.

    Please can somebody explain - how much of this £167 billion budget deficit is due to bank bailouts and other money spent due to the financial crisis, and how much is due to the government overspending (assuming no bank bailout, but lower than expected growth)? I recall growth forecasts for Brown's last budget weren't going to be met, so there was going the possibility of a deficit but that was before the financial crisis hit. Is there a web article that explains all this? There is a lot of finger pointing at the government about the deficit with the implication being that it is somehow unrelated to the bank bailouts.

  • Comment number 92.

    So depressing to see Middle England falling for this Tory claptrap.
    We have just emerged from a terrible world recession , and unlike the rest of Europe, are continuing to recover, and the thought..... that UK is sliding into a backward looking mire of Tory high interest rates, high unemployment and public unrest, crony contracts offering shadow versions of public services we won't appreciate until they have gone,and a new uberspin that makes Labour seem like boy scouts.... is really sad.
    Oh dear, is it really inevitable that this load of Tory twits are going to take over our wonderful country again?
    How sad for everyone who cares about what happens to our unfortunates.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    #91
    " Is there a web article that explains all this? There is a lot of finger pointing at the government about the deficit with the implication being that it is somehow unrelated to the bank bailouts."

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

    Check this out...

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/163850bn-official-cost-of-the-bank-bailout-1833830.html

  • Comment number 95.

    If I hear the words global and world recessions one more time I will go barmy. How many times can teflon Labour get away with using this excuse for frittering away the strong position we were in economically ? How stupid does the country haveto be for a democracy to be null and void ?

  • Comment number 96.

    Perhaps the reason that they are soft pedaling the question of cutting the budgetary deficit, is that someone has been giving them a few basic lessons on macro economics. Maybe they have realised that a much more urgent problem is filling the hole in the money supply caused by the continuing failure of the banks to advance credit on the scale that the economy had grown accustomed to. If something is not done about this, the economy will at best bump along at the present low level, and may slip back into recession.

    The something will involve continuing or even increasing the deficit and leaving it unfunded by using QE.

  • Comment number 97.

    Change is such a vague word.

    Choice is so much nicer... just a pity that the choices being offered are easier to make if you already happen to come from the higher earning better educated half of society. So what will happen ? Lovely new schools for the middle classes, and the poorest performing schools in (so often) the financially poorest areas will be left as they are.

  • Comment number 98.

    #95 - If I hear once more that Gordon Brown and Labour caused the American banking systen to take on ridiculous debts, and then sell the debt around the world, particualry in the UK and thus causing the collapse of the finacial system then I will go barmy !

    Obviously, since too little regulation of the system allowed this to happen then Cameron must have the right idea in further loosening the regulation. What could go wrong ?

  • Comment number 99.

    The real problem for the UK is the quality of the people that go into politics....in the main, they should have been accountants...they are people that know the price of everything but not the value of anything.

    The UK needs an inspirational and intellectually able leader who has what it takes to transform politics and therefore this country. Anyone see one out there...I can't!

  • Comment number 100.

    Did you notice how the "unbiased" BBC on the 5pm News 24 ran a caption under the news for 1 hour while they were discussing the Conservative Manifesto. It read that Alan Sugar had made a donation to the Labour Party. I have complained to the BBC however like pi***** in the wind. Wher is the fairness in that!!!!!

 

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