What did Labour do for me?

There were not many positives in the replies about what the Coalition government has done for you. So let me see how I can do an equivalent for the past Labour government, where I found plenty to criticise, particularly in the later years of credit crunch and crisis. There were things about the Labour government that I thought were good:

1. Accepting the Eurosceptic view that we should not go into the Euro, and using the opt out the Conservatives had negotiated.

2. Cutting standard rate income tax to 20% and keeping top rate tax at 40%

3. Controlling public spending in the first Labour Parliament, and paying back some debt.

4. Cutting CGT to 18%

5. Providing incentives to enterprise and business

6. Launching Academy schools

7.  Making some improvements in hospitals and health care

8. Widening the M25 and improving J 11 on the M4

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  1. Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    We dont need any government. Why is it governments want to reform everything except politics. I know like turkeys voting for Christmas, but with technology people DONT NEED to “represented” (not that they are). It’s a system that hasnt changed in hundreds of years because it’s all about the gravy. A delusion that they work for us when in fact they do as little as they can to screw as much £ out of the system as they can. Proof 52% of MPs needed to pay back expenses. By most peoples standards they rest still got too much anyway, like their grocery bill paid. No government ever dont anything for me or any one I know. They make me vomit!

  2. Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Looks like a good list compared to Cameron’s government so far. Income tax at 50% CGT at 28% (& no indexation) and VAT at 20%. No personal allowances for many, no sensible bank lending to business, gender neutral nonsense insurance laws, enforced daft pensions, money down the pigis drain, more employment laws and EU, over priced religious energy policy & Clegg wanting everyone to work part time and flexibly and be given chocolate and flowers every day I think …………..

    Can we have a greater Switzerland or Norway please asap.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      It is probably not by accident that John lists the achievements in that order with European and economic achievements taking precedence. The Labour Party doing things in government which a Tory led government cannot do in office and is in fact backtracking on these very areas or has, at least, done very little to ameliorate the situation……I also see that Cameron has put back his great Eurosceptic speech/vision until the New Year on the advice of the Foreign Office in case he upsets the Germans/French or any other European….Now you know why I call him ‘Cast Elastic’…



  3. Posted November 14, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, it appears your site, or just this post has been compromised. There are several spam links and html characters that should be interpreted and not displayed. The post appears incomplete too.

  4. Posted November 14, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Are you sure Gordon was subsidising Cialis for the masses? Not a bad electoral ploy though.

  5. Posted November 14, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Apart from the wars in the Middle East, borrowing too much and PFI, removing indexation from CGT has been the most damaging. All of these have been continued and made worse by the Coalition.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Err, PFI was first implemented by the Tories in 1992, so if PFI is bad then it is the Tories who are to blame! But I agree, it would have been better had PFI not been used, had the state built and run these schools and Hospitals etc.

      I seem to recall a war in the middle east, directly involving the UK, back in the Thatcher era too, and some say that had the USA and UK not meddled then the 2003 war would never have occurred. Oh and of course had the USA (with support from the UK) not backed and armed one side of the Iraq/Iran war then the 1990 war would not have happened.

      The selective and partial quoting of history can be make one look rather biased at times…

      • Posted November 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        “PFI was first implemented by the Tories in 1992, so if PFI is bad then it is the Tories who are to blame!”

        You may want to blame the innovator for the sins of all who follow the same practice, but that does not mean it is a sensible policy.

        Why don’t we blame M Thatcher for the stupidity of all the PMs that have followed her?

        Sorry, it’s been done already!

        • Posted November 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          PFI didn’t/doesn’t work under the Tories either, its all Smoke and Mirrors, all it does is hide the debt off the current account balance sheets whilst actually increasing the total debt.

  6. Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    4.7 trillion of state pension debt.

    Ho hum.I wonder what that will be up to when you’ve finished.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      Did you get that figure from the NAO report from April 2012? Is that the figure for which you’ve been asking for confirmation?


  7. Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Have we been at the Châteauneuf-du-Pape? 🙂

  8. Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t sound too bad the way you have listed it. Pity they took us to the edge of bankruptcy.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      @Brian Tomkinson: Actually it was the financial sector that did that, of course the Brown Government could have sat back like good free market capitalists and allowed the banks to crash, be even more of a run on the banks, for the markets to crass in response as everyone tries to convert to hard cash and zip-up matrices and thus send the country into a depression that would have made the 1920s look like a holiday camp knobbly-knees competition…

      • Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

        It wouldn’t necessarily have happened like that. The banks could have been taken over and restructured and the Government/BoE could have maintained liquidity….


        • Posted November 15, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          @Zorro: Isn’t that what happened?! But on the point of solvent banks taking over insolvent banks, one or two banks might have been in such a position perhaps, but most banks were up to their necks in their own mess or were otherwise in no position to take over a failing competitor – think of the problems caused by the merger of ‘unhealthy’ HBOS by ‘healthy’ Lloyds TSB (now Lloyds Banking Group) and what happened next…

          Just be thankful that Mr Browns Labour government wasn’t Socialist, as Mr Darling said at the time, (paraphrasing) ‘The government doesn’t want to be owning the banks system’, a truly Socialist government would have given their right arm to do just that and would not have run them at arms length or planed to sell them off at the earliest opportunity.

          • Posted November 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

            I wasn’t talking about nationalisation, I meant that they could have been taken over by other private banks and restructured accordingly.


          • Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

            @Zorro: But there were no other banks that were either able to or wanted to take over the failing banks, nationalisation was actually the last chance saloon before liquidation and an even greater run on the banks and financial institutions as confidence dropped through the floor and people started to (try and) convert into hard cash. Even had the free market idea of letting these failing banks fail what would have happened to current accounts, would the government/BoE not have had to protect those anyway, if for no other reason than to stop disorder and riots in the streets?

            The country (if not world) was facing 1929 all over again, of course some would have seen that as an “opportunity”, most would have seen it as another Great Depression…

      • Posted November 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        “… of course the Brown Government could have sat back like good free market capitalists and allowed the banks to crash”

        The Brown/Blair Government DID sit back and allowed, in fact encouraged, the banks and much of the financial sector and (many) individuals to borrow beyond their means, abolishing risk with his:
        “No Boom and Bust” mantra
        Borrowing money in a boom!
        Selling GBP for Euros! What an (expensive) joke it all was!

        What Brown should have done was to do his job as Chancellor, and put in place effective (which also means not too many) rules and regulations and signalled that there is a down side to taking risks.

        The last government highlights the fact that Socialists do not understand the free market. It is not “completely free”, it requires structure and rules but the participants need to know what they are, be free to predict the consequences of their actions and, most importantly, the freedom to take decisions for themselves.

        • Posted November 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Forgot keeping interest rates too low!

        • Posted November 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          What are you suggesting, that Blair/Brown should have been more Socialist?! Yes they might have taken their eyes off the ball but wasn’t that what the free market wanted, light-touch regulation, we can regulate ourselves, small government and all that. Seems like some on this blog want it both ways, when it all goes well its the Free Market, when it all goes wrong it’s all the governments fault – especially if it’s not a Tory majority government, no doubt if the governor of the BoE dire warnings of yesterday come about then it’ll be the fault of the LibDems…

          • Posted November 19, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

            This is exactly what they want. Socialise the losses and privatise the profits.

  9. Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately the Labour government was short on positive results as well.

    All it seemed to do was get us into a massive amount of debt, screw those who attempted to provide for themselves, give government more control over our lives by raising taxes and benefits, and allow unfettered immigration.

    Perhaps this is the reason why an increasing number of people are getting turned off of politics altogether.

    I see Mr Osbourne (if this mornings press reports are true) thinks that the Conservatives will lose the next general election, if they do not push through gay marriage rights.

    What a deluded man !

    An expensive education wasted.

    Is this man really going to be in charge of your next election campaign, if so, prepare to lose.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      “…Mr Osbourne (if this mornings press reports are true) thinks that the Conservatives will lose the next general election, if they do not push through gay marriage rights.”

      He keeps in touch with public opinion by listening to the BBC I guess.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      “An expensive education wasted.”

      Hardly, if it enabled a nincompoop to become Chancellor of the Exchequer and another to become PM.

      As the Frankfurt School is about turning normality on its head, is an extreme leftwing Marxist revolutionary philosophy, is evil, absurd and deliberately destructive of society, it would behove anyone of a conservative bent, to eschew voting for a party with this particular bunch of cretins in charge.

      If Osborne wants to understand why the Republicans lost, he should request an audience with Ron Paul, who could expain how the winning formula for conservative success is hidden in plain view; all that is needed is to jettison those policies which are unpopular and damaging but which unaccountably, the three main parties refuse to part with.

      • Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

        Its acolytes are also busy within the Civil Service…..


  10. Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    1. Accepting the Eurosceptic view that we should not go into the Euro, and using the opt out the Conservatives had negotiated.

    That might be so John but let us not forget which party/government put us in such a position anyway, if the UK had no belief in the Euro then why did it even bother to ratify the Maastricht Treaty that brought about the EU/Euro – and until Black Wednesday the Tory government had every intention to join the Euro, eventually…

    Oh and before anyone tries to make this a John Major issue, don’t forget that Mrs Thatcher’s government signed and ratified the Single European Act that started the the process that would change the old (trade based) EEC into the (political based) EU.

    So should there be a ninth item on your list of Labour achievements John?

    9. Being far more sceptical about the EEC/EU than the Tories ever have been.

    Whilst it is true that the Wilson Government of 1964-1970 had also held negotiations with the then EEC about joining, and mentions in their 1970 manifesto the wish to carry on with these negotiations if they won the general election, it was far from certain that a Labour government would either agree terms or agree as a government to joining, and let us also not forget that it was a Labour Government (and a truly socialist one to boot) who gave the electorate the only referendum on the EEC/EC/EU.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Harsh, but oh so true….


  11. Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget the expansion of the Police State – still being expanded as I write.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      @Atlas: “the expansion of the Police State

      That started under Thatcher, remember Orgreave, remember Hillsborough…

      • Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

        I don’t agree, that definitely started in earnest under Blair…


        • Posted November 15, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          @Zorro: Certainly in the case of Hillsborough, Government, Parties, individual MPs, news print titles, editors and individuals all appear to think differently…

          There is also mounting evidence, not least due to the finding of the court case at the time, that similar issues with regards to policing occurred (first) at Orgreave during the NUM 1984-5 strike.

  12. Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I dont agree with your point #2, the top tax rate of 50% was levied under Gordon Brown’s government, as a poison pill left for the incoming Conservative-led coalition.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and Cameron/Osborne/Clegg all being dopes swallowed it whole.

  13. Posted November 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    As you say, Labour controlled public expenditure only during its first term. In 2001, public expenditure was 36% of GDP. When they left office in 2010, it was 49% of GDP. And in spite of the 2008/9 recession, GDP in 2010 was higher in real terms than in 2001. The only sector where the public had demanded an increase was in health care; they got that with a vengance – health care costs in 2010 were double what they were in 2001.

    Why, therefore, are we making such a meal of attempting to reduce public expenditure? As the leader of the Republican majority in the American House of Representatives says: “If you’re spending too much, spend less.” There are plenty of candidates for healthy cuts.

    • Posted November 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      I seem to recall that Labour went into the 1997 election promising to stick to Tory economic plans for the first two years so as not to frighten off potential voters. They managed to stick to that promise but then started to plan to spend more by ‘investing in the NHS’…….


    • Posted November 19, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      As long as they personally do not effect you of course.

  14. Posted November 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Actually, while on the subject, I dont agree with point #6 in spirit either. Yes, Labour created Academy Schools – but Tony Blair, on gaining office, first abolished Independent Grant-Maintained schools in 1998 so as to fulfill a manifesto promise. Those Independent Grant-Maintained schools were, as the name suggests, independent of LEA control, and thus were identical to the “Academy” status schools that Labour re-created a decade later.

  15. Posted November 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately the cut in the standard rate of income tax was accompanied by various fiddles with N.I. in terms of rates and thresholds so that earned income is now taxed at a vastly higher rate than income from capital. Odd that they should favour income from capital above income from labour.

  16. Posted November 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    To your list, Mr Redwood, I would add;

    Geoffrey Robinson’s improved ISAs

    Freedom passes for pensioners ( they really do make us freer).

    A low-level minimum wage (good for taxpayers).

    I would like to have added “a clear inflation target outsourced to an independent Bank of England” but it only worked in fair weather and the accompanying FSA was poor from the start so it is hard to express great enthusiasm just now.

  17. Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    You forgot introducing minimum wage, something that low paid worker are thankful for. sadly the apprentice wage is undermining it.

  18. Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    9) Continuing John Major’s Northern Ireland peace process towards (more or less) a successful conclusion.

    • Posted November 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      @Richard1: Indeed, and I suspect that it actually became more possible to achieve, not only because Labour had less political baggage but through the shear personality of Mo Mowlam.

  19. Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    My only real thought for a what the past Labour government did for me was protect the NHS. They really did improve it to what it was previously. It needed the investment badly. The only downside is they allowed all and sundry to use it and give the taxpayers the bills they refused to pay. Running now at some £55 million. This cannot be allowed to go on. UKIP have tackled this problem head on and would make treatment only for British citizens, and those who come here for treatment pay up front before treatment commences. Sensible idea; its a pity this government does not adopt the same stratergy.
    They did keep interest rates low, which helped homeowners. Other than that there are more what they’ve done to hurt this nation than good thoughts. Immigration is another area I’m really angry about, and feel betrayed. Yet, this coalition is doing very little to return illegals, yes, they’ve attempted to tackle it, but we all know from this weeks saga, there’s nothing they can do while they have the Human Rights Act. Why tell us otherwise. In all we are disappointed by the past and the present, and that is why people are beginning to think of voting for others.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      Keeping interest rates too low also stoked an unaffordable credit boom inevitably followed by a bust. This government is struggling with immigration and has a lot of structural changes that it still needs to work through….


      • Posted November 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Is government struggling with immigration, surely it is struggling with the economy, that in turn is causing (very) weak employment prospects. When the economy was strong only the racists were worried about immigration, everyone else were happy to leave the low paid, menial or physically demanding jobs to the migrants (farming in the UK would have ground to a halt, the harvest left in the fields for the want of people prepared to do the work)…

        That is not to say that there are not those who abuse our hospitality. 🙁

        • Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          ‘When the economy was strong only the racists were worried about immigration’…..I must take issue with this point. Plenty of people have pointed out the economical and social unsustainability of high levels of net migration over the last 15 or so years. The economy was not strong. It was an illusion, a credit boom which has crash landed.

          It is only unthinking people who describe people who identified these issues earlier than others as ‘racists’…..

          As I always say, the call of ‘racism’ is the last refuge of the modern day scoundrel….


    • Posted November 15, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      @Barbara Stevens: During the Labour years, yes indeed the NHS improved but it also has become ever more bloated, management and back office became more important that front line (core) activities. Mr Hunt, please, can we have Doctors and Matrons back in charge…

      UKIP face two basic issues with that policy, first need to get elected but more importantly, what will happen to their policy when the first non insured “Jolly Foreigner” collapses in the street, does the NHS leave the person to die or do they treat first and then seek payment (if at all possible)?

  20. Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    The review of regulatory behaviour (which led to the establishment of the regulators code) and the subsequent legal infrastructure which was developed to give organisations the rights to force their regulators to abide by if they behave in damaging ways.

  21. Posted November 14, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    “Geoffrey Robinson’s improved ISAs”

    Didn’t Labour remove the dividend tax exemption from ISAs?

    Which means that Share ISAs are virtually worthless, bearing in mind that everyone already has an annual CGT exemption of 10k+ (and capital gains on stocks are few and far between for the small investor nowadays).

    • Posted November 15, 2012 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      You are right Bob that the tax advantages on Isas invested in the stock market are now minimal for most people, though they are still valuable for cash Isas. The key advantage of Isas is that you do not have to account for your investments to HMRC. No keeping dividend cheques and working out gross purchase prices, sale prices and commissions. And that is especially valuable for those who do not normally have to fill out self-assessment forms but would have to in the absence of Isas. It just makes savings much simpler.

  22. Posted November 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Nope, doesn’t do it for me. I’m still happy they are not in. The fact that Ken Livingston and Gordon Brown have disappeared makes me happy. A minister who called himself an abstract democrat and parallel pluralist or those that talked about a post democratic era are people who should be sectioned not given power. All very satisfying.

  23. Posted November 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    I would add Working Tax Credits to the list. This eases the path into self-employment for people otherwise trapped on benefits.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      Tax credits are a trap and were created to get more people dependent on them and their creator…


      • Posted November 15, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        @Zorro: These people were dependant on him anyway, at least working tax credits gave a possible way out…

        • Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

          But strings were attached…..if you don’t vote Labour, you might lose them, and, of course, a lot more people became ‘poor’ and dependent on tax credits….


          • Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

            @Zorro: Tax credits could be claimed by anyone, even Tory voters, shock horror.

  24. Posted November 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    The bridging of the Cumberland Gap.

  25. Posted November 15, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Brown’s keeping public expenditure to Tory levels in the first two years was a ploy to lull the electorate into a false sense of security and then to turn the taps on. I am astonished at Mr Redwood’s generosity. I don’t think the captain of the Titanic got any congrats for the smooth journey before hitting the iceberg.

    Reply: I made many criticisms at the time of the boom and bust policies, the bank nationalisations, the wrong headed monetary policy and all the rest that took us over the cliff in 2008.

    • Posted November 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      @Reply: Just a pity that the culture that took us over the cliff was ever allowed in the first place then, pity that some didn’t speak up when the Tories started to do away with the checks and balances that the government, the BoE and the markets had put in place over the preceding 50 to 100 years, all swept aside in the name of deregulation. The mini boom-to-bust of the early 1990s [1] should have been warning enough that something was going wrong yet neither the Tories in the remaining six years in power nor (New-)Labour who followed were able (or perhaps were not willing) to see the writing scrawled on the walls of Threadneedle Street. 🙁

      Labour were just unlucky that the roulette wheel stopped on ‘Red’, just as the Tories have been unlucky that the News International scandal has stopped on their watch, had Blair lost the 2005 election I’m not so sure that the Tories would have changed much in the way of regulation, the tax-take from the City was just to dammed seductive…

      [1] and even before the 1990s, many people from the City quite in the 1980s because they could see that the champaign and Porches were unsustainable in the long run

  26. Posted November 20, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink


    I think that you missed the best: The Freedom of Information Act. They should be commended for bringing this in.

    I think you’re wrong about the reduction the basic rate of income tax to 20%. At the same time they increased National Insurance contributions and failed to increase the income tax allowance in line with earnings, effectively nullifying the reduction to 20%. That was the problem with Labour: much of what they did was done for purely presentational reasons with little (or negative) effect.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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