Labour now say they want to cut the deficit

According to the Labour Manifesto they now buy into a policy they criticised as being a policy of austerity . They seem to wish to cut the deficit from £90 billion to £30 billion by 2019-20. Their tax increases are modest in terms of how much revenue they will raise, even on their own figures. Some of their tax proposals may end up losing the Exchequer revenue if Labour won and implemented them. It must mean they are planning a lot of what they used to call “spending cuts” to achieve their goal.

The single main message of their Manifesto is that the last government was right – the UK government  did need to get the deficit down, and we do need to finish the job of getting it down. Labour leave it to the Greens and the SNP to make the case for bigger spending and more borrowing. Labour give us the headline that they will get rid of the deficit, and suggest the debt will be reducing. If you examine the numbers more carefully you see that in practice they will push up borrowing by considerably more than the Conservative plans, and will not be cutting the stock of debt by 2019-20. They will carry on borrowing to finance investment.  Debt  may be falling as a percentage of GDP, depending on how much growth is left. The detail does not back up the headline.

Some of the high level rhetoric of their Manifesto is often inoffensive or sensible. They want “hard work to be rewarded” – who doesn’t. They want more “high skill high wage jobs” – who doesn’t. They want more new homes. The problem is the policies to bring them about may be counter productive.

They now mention immigration.  They wish to curb EU migrants from getting any benefits for the first two years here, compared to the Conservative four years. They think all public service workers should be able to speak English.

Perhaps the dearest ( and entirely uncosted)pledge in the whole document  is their wish to remove all carbon (dioxide?) from electricity production by 2030 and to set more demanding whole economy targets for carbon. They offer little to England, with no English votes for English issues in the Commons, and no detail on how the finance would be negotiated once Scotland has more of her own tax raising powers.

The Manifesto is full of proposals to intervene and regulate business more. Their proposals on energy are especially complex,  and could be dangerous given the overriding need for more investment in more capacity as soon as possible to keep the lights on.

 

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90 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    I see they are using the Gordon Brown trick to fiddle the figures, as borrowing for so called capital investment is now removed completely from their figures.

    Just like the PFI contracts of old were off the books, it now appears that “good borrowing” does not count either.

    Perhaps it should be highlighted that whilst some borrowing may be for better reasons than another, it all still has to be paid back.

    They are also using the Conservative trick with regards to reducing the debt against GDP, by not actually reducing the real numbers, but assuming more growth will make them appear smaller in percentage terms even though the debt itself will be larger.

    So there we have it, another manifesto, another fake account of promises and bribes.

    I wait to see what fudges and bribes the Conservatives will produce today !

    • Hope
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      What is depressing is that Cameron stated he would match Labour’s spending in opposition (deficit at £90 billion, debt at £1.4 trillion) and has gold plated Miliband’s energy policy, originating from the EU! So for all the criticism of Miliband, why has Cameron followed his lead and still does? You might also recall Osborne talking about funny money and that he would build an economy on sound money. Osborne’s £200 billion of quantative easing slightly more than Labour? Osborne has followed Darling’s economic plan, suspect it is a Treasury plan in reality, almost to the letter. We saw in 2012 his pasty tax and caravan fiasco that he was doing exactly what the civil servants wanted while he was on a jolly in Obama’s 747 plane to watch a basketball match instead of focusing on the budget which is his job! In the next breath Cameron and Osborne want to put us all in energy poverty to cut C02 emissions! You could not make their stupidity up.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        Darling’s was £200 billion, Osborne’s was £175 billion. Yet despite those two episodes of (hastily legalised*) rigging of the gilts market, leading to about a quarter of all the gilts in issue now being locked away safely in the Bank of England where they can no longer do any harm, the UK has still lost its AAA rating. I won’t be surprised if the next government finds it necessary to embark on a third episode, especially if Labour takes power but possibly even with the Tories.

        * Or possibly not legalised, as the secondary legislation rushed through cannot overturn the primary legislation to approve the EU treaties and there must be doubts about the legality of QE under those treaties.

        • Hope
          Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          You are correct. I seem to recall the duo also asked us to judge them if they lost the triple A rating, which of course they did. Was this also part of their long economic plan!

          I saw the Tory Culture minister savaged on Daily Politics yesterday, he was pitiful to watch.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

          I wouldn’t worry too much about any so-called credit ratings. Those ratings are issued by the exact same people who gave Enron a AAA rating just before it collapsed.

          Secondly, a currency issuing government doesn’t seek credit in the way you or might if we were short of money. They actually sell their debt. I used to think that was a very odd phrase until I started to look into what it actually meant.

          I was wondering if I could sell mine but I didn’t see why anyone would want to buy it!

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted April 15, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

            It’s confusing terminology but in fact they sell bonds which constitute new debts that they owe; the purchasers of those bonds may well then sell that debt on to others. If you have creditors they could sell your debt on in the same way, then for example you could find that the mortgage you took out with one lender, say a High Street bank in this country, has been transferred to another lender, say a bank in China.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        Is it green to take a 747 to a basket ball match or ih his greenery as usual a case do as I say not as I do?

    • stred
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      The fudge over the omission of borrowing to fund ‘investment’ spending was shown up in the interview with their spokesman and Andrew Neil. However, no-one has asked any of the contestants whether they will use more QE to borrow by money printing.

      The HS2 investment is costed at £50bn, the civil engineering costs have already overrun by 86% and there will be no possibility of it earning enough to even pay the interest. At least the Greens would cancel it as they have caught onto the fact that it will use much more electricity just when the other arm of government is telling us to use less.

      Other Brown type ‘investment’ will include such items as schools, hospitals, council offices and foreign made police cars- all to be paid for by taxes and none providing any return. Presumably the two aircraftless aircraft carriers will also count as investment?

      At least the huge increase in wind and American wood pellet generation, double cost French nukes and smart meters at £480 per customer will be put on the bill. Customers who do not will be cut off automatically by the smart system and be able to contribute to population reduction through hypothermia.

  2. formula57
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    We can perhaps overlook the gaps and failures in Labour’s economic plans as after all it is the party that recently thought it had “abolished boom and bust” when it only managed one of those. But how reprehensible to come up with the blatentently racist policy where “They think all public service workers should be able to speak English”. I for one am shocked.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      Remind us again which party came up with “They think all public service workers should be able to speak English”
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/11327504/Boris-Johnson-Public-sector-workers-must-be-able-to-speak-English.html
      Are you wrong or is it lying fantasy?

    • Thomas E
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      How can the policy that all public sector workers should be able to speak English be racist? People of all races and nationalities can learn English.

      Also… I’m a little confused by most of John Redwood’s post. Maybe I’m just dumb, but my recollection was that Tory policy commitments before the last election were to cut spending in real terms, end the deficit, and do so by the end of this parliament. Did the Tory government meet the spending commitments they made before the election?

      Is it untrue that the last government borrowed more money in the last five years than the first thirteen years of the last labour government?

      • Narrow Shoulers
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Had the Conservatives cut the deficit to zero in year one the outcry would have been huge and the impact on demand considerable. The Coalition was always going to borrow a lot of money due to the opening position. Asking how much they borrowed is spurious. The better question is why did they not shrink government influence and the number of departments in five years. The only real way to only spend 35% of output is too shrink government and reduce dependence.

        • Narrow Shoulers
          Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          to shrink government not too

      • Richard1
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        The comparison is irrelevant. Labour inherited a budget heading for balance and foolishly started running deficits when all prudent govts around the world were in surplus or balanced. By the time they got the boot the deficit was over 10%. You can’t change that overnight. There were bound to continue to be high – but falling – deficits, meaning an increase in the stock of debt. The eurozone crisis made recovery slower than it would otherwise have been. No doubt the LibDems have blocked some cuts which could and should have been made. Of course the Conservatives have also freely wasted money on items such as green crap. But aggregating the debt incurred by the last govt and comparing it with labour makes no sense outside the context of the situation in which those respective govts took over.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        England is, or at least was, the land of the English, who have English as their native tongue. So it is not unreasonable to expect that people who come to live in England should learn the local language, English, with some exceptions allowed for special cases. As for the other parts of the UK, well, English may or may not be considered the native tongue, but it is by far the most widely used and it would usually be daft for an immigrant to learn Gaelic or Welsh or Irish in preference to English.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Its been Labour’s policy in Wales for years.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      I think not only public sector workers but anyone claiming benefits should speak English.
      I would also make it illegal to translate documents and provide interpretation at taxpayers expense.
      Then again I support UKIP which makes me a closet racist and fruit cake.

      • Narrow Shoulers
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        There are family members entitled to benefits so the disruption caused by not translating might be large. No reason to provide assistance after the first year in the country though.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 14, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          Yesterday when Nigel Farage had what the Telegraph decided to describe as an “embarrassing” conversation with a Hungarian in a factory in Clacton the latter had been here for five years but was still far from fluent in English.

          • Qubus
            Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

            I cannot see why that conversation should be embarrassing to Nigel Farage.

          • Narrow Shoulers
            Posted April 14, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            Thus making my point

    • Narrow Shoulers
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      @F57

      The most shocking aspect of that policy is that the public sector is employing people who don’t speak English. How do they take instruction to peform their duties unless their manager or supervisor is favouring their own kind in recruitment? Public sector uses health and safety to hide behind on all manner of instances. Surely this is a real risk.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Why are you shocked? Do you want to walk into a hospital and find the doctor who is treating can’t speak English? What on earth is the point of that?

      That’s not a ‘racist policy’. People like you really worry me – you see racism lurking everywhere. It is common sense that we all speak the same language.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        I think he was being satirical, or ironic, or sarcastic …

    • Bill
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      I assume this is intended to be an ironical comment? There is nothing racist about asking someone to learn another language.

  3. JoeSoap
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    I will be more interested to hear your critique of the UKIP manifesto.

  4. JoeSoap
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Interested also to see your reasoning behind selling Housing Association houses on the cheap. These were firstly subsidised by private buyers in the locality, then by taxpayers through low rents, and now the government is selling these at below market price. Will this cash be funnelled back to build more? If so, will as many houses be built as are sold off?

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Joe – The idea is to lull those who yearn for Thatcherism into a nostalgic sense of security.

      Of course, the council house sell offs of the ’80s got us where we are today. A nation of housing obsessives prepared to max out our credit cards on rising – and purely notional – house equity. The commercial banks created the great mountain of debt out of such lending to be splurged on hot tubs and Chinese TVs.

      So where will the latest sell off of housing association properties get us ?

      Well. That will be the last time such houses are affordable.

      The government will then spend the meagre profits on sales on building new houses.

      Will they be sold off cheaply too ?

      How many times can this trick work ? Especially if the profits diminish each time it is done.

      It’s a con. And an insult to the intelligence – of which the polls suggest there isn’t much about these days.

      Repeat after me:

      This is not a Thatcher government

      This is not a Thatcher government

      This is not a Thatcher government…

    • zorro
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, this is quite frankly disgusting potential bribery and a kick in the teeth for people who do not live in housing association accommodation. The latter will have been trying to save for a deposit (if lucky) and will see people in subsidised and safe rented accommodation be able to buy accommodation at a huge discount. I would think that some in certain London properties would be offered prices on the private market to move on and take more housing stock out of the public/charitable sector.

      No, no, no…. This is profoundly unfair and will not solve the housing shortage. Figures show that newly built houses do not make up for the loss of stock from this sector. How could aspiring, hard working people vote Tory when they are going to be discriminated against in favour of housing association tenants?

      zorro

      Reply People not in a HA housing can get a 20% discount on their first home if they are under 40 under another scheme.

      • zorro
        Posted April 15, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply – I think that you are referring to ‘Help to Buy’. Even so, the reduction is 20% compared to 70% and there is the hope that this will be repaid in time. We need more houses and less people to try and bring some social stability and expectation back to life.

        zorro

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      David Davis, who says he suggested a similar policy to right to buy for housing association tenants in 2002, is defending the plan from the attack by the National Housing Federation. He said:
      “The very fact that housing association tenants are on low rents in secure housing means these people are the least likely to move. The housing stock they occupy will never be released for people on the housing waiting list. So these are the very people who should be encouraged to buy their own home. This would increase home ownership and free up the financial capital to build or buy social housing for those who need it most.
      We currently spend billions on subsidised rents in social housing. Housing associations should focus not on the stock of houses that they own, but on the amount of housing that they can provide for those on the housing waiting list. The extension of the right to buy will increase available social housing as the housing associations will be able to build and buy new houses as they sell the ones they own.”

      To which I would add:
      That housing stock once released into private ownership can only ever be sold to other buyers eligible for social housing. (This could be written into the deeds under pain of forfeiture of the property if abused.)
      The future selling price can only ever be up to the same market value to purchase price ratio of the original sale where the sale price is above the original purchase price ( This allows the purchaser to make (or lose) money but ensures other social purchasers in the future can benefit).
      The funds released by the sale are used to build new social housing stock for rent and eventual sale.

      The above ensures that social housing stock will grow substantially.

  5. Bazman
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    The Tories are now the party of the working people? Supported by rich donors with a charge sheet of attacks on the average person as long as your arm.
    Not one post on this site is in support of the right of the workforce, the poor, the disabled or anyone else who is not a white rich middle class person oppressed by the state.
    It’s laughable. Working in an office on 15k a year does not make you part of the elite or even middle class.

    Reply Not true = taking people on low pay out of Income tax altogether, skills and education agenda, ways to home ownership etc

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Bazman, the rights of the workforce are comprehensively covered by the Working Time Directive whatever party is in power in the UK, if you employed one other person you would know that.
      What is a rich middle class person to you (where does the rich threshold start is it family earnings or just one individuals earnings for example if one house has four workers in it bringing in £60,000pa is that a rich middle class home?) and why just rich white? There are plenty of Asian and black successful business people in the UK you should read more business magazines many are available on-line. Is all entrepreneurial activity wrong to you? Birmingham is being hailed as the start up capital which helped convince the HSBC to move its UK head office here brining in jobs isn’t that what you desire too?
      Aren’t you the slightest bit impressed that people who drag themselves up and out of Council homes developing successful business can afford to buy Jaguars that then pump £450k into plant and help to provide startling new job figures for skilled trainees.

      • Cliff. Wokingham
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        In my experience, those of the left aren’t actually interested in raising the poor and disadvantaged up, merely putting the more wealthy and successful down.

        Their mantra….Boo hoo hoo, they’ve got something I haven’t got, take it away from them Nanny.

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 15, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

          I read that we should be concerned about the number of GPs planning to retire in their 50’s, the only reason they can is because they were allowed to stay in the State worker pension scheme even though they’re self-employed, what people really should start worrying about is the number of 80’s entrepreneurs that will be getting ready to retire, because all of this social cost burden being placed on business, the yoke being placed around small business owners necks with regards to never being able to ask people to retire without sacking them, the negative press and the likes of Bazman constantly carping without doing anything about his utopian visions himself, the constant expectation that you can do more with less and pay more whilst holding prices is unsustainable.

    • Richard1
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      2m new jobs against a forecast by leftists of 5m unemployed! The fastest growth in Europe! Face it, the Conservative economic policies have delivered growth and stability after the near death experience of the Labour govt. leftists are in denial, but people will have the sense to see through their ranting.

      • Qubus
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        … but why don’t they shout it from the house tops?

    • Edward2
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      “Not one post on this site is in support of the right of the workforce, the poor, the disabled”
      This is a ridiculous claim by you Baz.
      The most basic right for “the workforce” is to have a job.
      And this Coalition has produced over 2 million new jobs.
      And only a small percentage are casual jobs, before you start.
      Which is how you help the poor.
      And in the last 5 years there has been numerous pieces of extra legislation improving rights for employees.
      And who on here does not support a fair deal for disabled people?

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Bazman – All of those issues: labour rights, the disable, the poor… are covered by the Tory Party’s desire to remain within the EU.

      You are not morally superior.

      You do not have the monopoly on compassion.

    • Bill
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      My mother-in-law was divorced and left with two small children to bring up, one of whom became my wife. My wife received a free uniform grant and free school meals. She has consistently voted Conservative because she wants to make her way in the world by hard work and merit. Baz needs to understand that poor people do not want to be condemned to a cycle of dependence on the State.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 16, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        She is voting to have her benefits cut?!

    • libertarian
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Bazman

      More of your deluded ramblings. I’m wealthy supposedly middle class now and disabled . As I also work, 2 out of 3 of your whines relate to me. Cheers

      Oh and who do you think enables there being such a thing as “workforce” That would be the people creating jobs.

      Have you ever tried to think through anything you post?

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted April 15, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      So Bazman wants us to be like Western continental Europe, with lots of ‘workers rights’ and inflation linked benefits and a 12% unemployment rate.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 16, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Usual bleating about the middle classes being hit and I agree, in the last 3o years they have been hit the hardest, but again it is the usual nonsense that there is no poor in this country and they are all protected. Cliff. wokingham my taxes have increased and my tax credits have been taken away to give tax breaks to the rich, so don’t start telling me about how I wish to drag the rich down. Having a worthless job is not any use to anyone edward and if you think the rich create job in a demand economy there is no helping you Libby. Dinosaurs did not create evolution no matter how many time you tell us they did.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        Just who are you to decide what is a “worthless job” Baz?
        That extra few pounds into a home may be just what is needed.
        We have now moved on from only the head of household male doing manual jobs to support the whole family.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 18, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          You are claiming that there can be no such thing as a worthless job?

  6. forthurst
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile, the Conservatives continue to create clear blue water with their Labour opponents by stealing policies from the Fruitcakes, Loonies and Closet Racists as CMD announces ‘their’ new policy of no tax for minimum wage workers, the Conservatives are the ‘party of working people’, you see. CMD like the other liblabcon leaders is in favour of uncontrolled immmigration from a Europe extending to the Urals and including Turkey, our laws being made in Brussels and our manufacturing industry being squeezed out of existence by ‘carbon as demon’ lunacy, so fundamentally, he is as intend as his fellow leaders in destroying this country. Perhaps he needs to start taking political advice from someone who does not hate the English and hate this country.

  7. Richard1
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Excellent summary, that saves me reading it. Labour with the Marxist inspired Miliband want to spend and regulate at every turn but don’t quite have the courage of their convictions, so they now claim to be in favour of a policy they have previously castigated as ‘austerity’ with a whole lot of foolish interventionist policies thrown in.

    Meanwhile Labour spokespersons continue to refuse to admit any fault on the part of the last Labour govt for all the borrowing. Their silly line is ‘Lehman didn’t go bust because Labour invested in schools’ (note how for Labour all spending equals ‘investment’). No but Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley, RBS and Lloyd’s did go down due to Labours foolish monetary and bank regulatory policy. Labour took us into the crash with a 5% structural deficit – at a time when most developed countries were in budget balance or surplus – and ended with a deficit over 10% of GDP, worse than Greece. It’s a pity – but not a surprise – that BBC interviewers don’t challenge labour on this. But Conservatives must do so relentlessly. Labour will bust the economy again if they get the chance.

    • Richard1
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      2 corrections: LLoyds not Lloyd’s and Andrew Neil should be exempted from the general criticism of pusillanimous BBC interviewing of Labour spokespersons on economic issues

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Indeed Andrew Neil a excellen middle of the road interviewer.

        So to balance BBC interviewing up all that is needed is about 50 to the right of him. There seem to be none currently.

        • Qubus
          Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          Unfortunately, Andrew Neil’s programme, “Daily Politics”, is at the wrong time of day. Perhaps the BBC should show a selection on Newsnight now and then.

  8. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Anything in the Labour manifesto about Council Tax? Labour will double it again if they get into power.

    A freedom of information request recently revealed councils employ a large number of people in ‘communications and PR’. Yet they say they have to cut front line services. I’d like to see local MPs investigating and holding their local councils to account.

    We need meals on wheels. We don’t need PR men. But councils will cut meals on wheels rather than get rid of the ‘Head of Communications’ – on, no doubt, 100k a year. Why is government so useless. This nonsense just seems to go on and on and on.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Exactly

  9. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    “Perhaps the dearest ( and entirely uncosted)pledge in the whole document is their wish to remove all carbon (dioxide?) from electricity production by 2030”

    That is an absolutely incredible pledge. Never mind that the cost of doing that would likely be bigger than any other item of government expenditure it is probably not even technically feasible, the only way to do it is mass building of nuclear power stations which would take far longer than 15 years. Given Labour are also planning to profit-cap energy companies it will be hard to get any private sector companies interested so I suppose the taxpayer will have to fund the whole thing.

    It is an interesting fault-line between Labour and the SNP though, the SNP are fully-committed to maximum exploitation of a high-carbon fossil fuel (crude oil) at the same time Labour are promoting this nonsense.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      It is not only expensive but totally impossible and also very undesirable.

  10. Bert Young
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    There was no mention of what our relationship with the EU should be or , how Labour would deal with the Scottish threat .These two issues are paramount to me and will influence the way I will vote . The personality case of Ed vs Dave is of little concern , equally who women are most likely to support . The sad truth is both lack experience of real life experience . If only there was a “Maggie” around again !.

  11. Johnnydub
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Or those nasty (people ed) at UKIP who suggest tackling health tourism, decried by Tory a Liberal alike, only to be announced as government policy days later…

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Johnny – Everyone will need to get a passport for health treatment now. Even those who no longer travel – such as the aged.

      Health tourism must be stopped (why has it only become an issue now ?) but is this the way to do it ?

      Most countries I visit require the production of insurance.

      Yet again the majority are being inconvenienced to prove their innocence over the minority.

  12. Tad Davison
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Labour’s manifesto is indicative of the cynical way political parties treat the public. It’s got more holes than a colander, doesn’t stack up, and even the King’s Fund is pulling it to pieces. Yet Labour trust in the ignorance of the average voter, hope few will notice the party’s manifesto is basically weak and laced with ambiguities, and make their choice purely on personalities and rhetorical, catchy slogans as they did with Blair.

    Labour will do and say anything to get elected, and a drowning man will clutch at straws. The trouble is, this time, there could just be enough straws to keep the drowning man afloat.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • Qubus
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      I think that the point is that all this is just above the head of the average man-in-the-street. Pity!

  13. petermartin2001
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I would say that most economists would want to cut the deficit too. But, the question is: How?

    I’ve tried to explain how the simple minded approach which is to cut spending and raise taxes simply doesn’t work. If the object of the exercise is to create high levels of business failures and high levels of unemployment , then that is the way to go. That’s what you’ll get with economic austerity, but the deficit won’t improve.

    The best way of cutting the deficit is to ensure the economy is functioning at close to full capacity. That increases taxation revenue, as everyone who wishes to work finds that work. Instead of being supported by the taxpayer as an unemployed person, as an employed person, they will be contributing to the general well being and paying in to the system. Even if there is a debt, no-one will be be too concerned. A well functioning economy will be able to support that debt. Creditors will know they can take their money out of the UK plc at any time the like.

    Having said that, I’d just question the conventional wisdom that our deficits are something that we should be over concerned about. The usual argument is that we are leaving a problem for our children and grandchildren.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t like awake at night worrying about about how we are going to pay off the debts incurred by our parents’ and grandparents’ generation. They ran some large deficits during the wartime years. They had to. But, that hasn’t caused the post war generation any problem at all. We’ve all be very lucky.

    So, why would our children and grandchildren have to worry about our deficits?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Because we are already paying over 40 thousand, million pounds a year in debt interest. And that’s at record low interest rates. What’s to happen when that goes up to a hundred billion a year?

      This is why we have high immigration – they are desperate for growth and have no idea how to get it – other than by constantly increasing the population.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Your last paragraph is part of the truth. Another part is that the politicians we elect don’t think much of us, to say the least, and they have deliberately set out to improve the quality of the population, in their eyes, by importing large numbers of supposedly better people from abroad. It’s not quite the full “dissolve the people and elect another” of Brecht’s poem, but it’s along those lines. That is their attitude, across all of the old parties.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_L%C3%B6sung

        “The Solution”

        “After the uprising of the 17th of June
        The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
        Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
        Stating that the people
        Had forfeited the confidence of the government
        And could win it back only
        By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
        In that case for the government
        To dissolve the people
        And elect another?”

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted April 15, 2015 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

          Denis – I no longer feel that I am wanted or that I belong here.

          It may well be the case that better people than me are being imported – in fact I know so. But this wasn’t the deal when I was growing up.

          If I had known so I would have left for one of the commonwealth countries when I was younger and more eligible.

          I find it deeply offensive to be called a xenophobe when I am, in fact, a claustrophobe (I dislike overcrowding.)

          David Cameron gets angry when people say the Tories are the party of the rich.

          Well what does he know of being fully exposed to the rigours of globalisation ?

      • petermartin2001
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        If you look up Wiki’s page on the UK’s National debt you can see that its historically quite low. Interest payments on the debt are running at about 3% of GDP which are also much lower that the 20th century average.

        All the focus is on the amount of money the Government borrows. There’s next to no scrutiny on the levels of private debt in the economy and it’s that which causes all the problems of boom and bust. Yes, Gordon Brown was very foolish to ever claim those had been abolished.

        Booms and busts aren’t caused directly by government – at least they haven’t been for several decades now. They are caused by the large variations we see in bank lending. When banks overlend, when they are busy persuading their customers to borrow as much as possible, that naturally leads to higher levels of spending. Unemployment falls, tax revenues rise, government deficits reduce.

        On the surface everything looks good. That’s because no-one is looking at the extent of private borrowing. When the lending stops, so does the spending and that’s when everything starts looking far from good.

        And then what happens? People blame the government for over-borrowing of course !

        Reply The govt/B of E were responsible for encouraging the banks through regulatory relaxation and low interest rates to lend too much, then they brought a couple of major banks down by suddenly changing their minds and reining in without keeping the markets liquid enough.

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted April 15, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          Our recent boom was caused through housing speculation – the one-trick fix that the Tories are trying to reprise now with HTB and RTB.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      ….because we lack the unsubsidized productive capacity to generate the income required.You almost seem to be suggesting a Soviet style command economy where you can create full employment and wonderful tractor production figures and still impoverish the population.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      What annoys me is the £38 billion (ish) that goes out each year in debt interest…

      Imagine what could be done with that…

      • Will H
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Yes,also it would be interesting to know how much of that goes abroad adding to the balance of payments deficit.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 15, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          The last time I looked about 30% of all gilts were held by overseas investors. That may have been somewhat reduced in recent weeks as apparently some of them have been pulling out.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      The government debts built up during the wars became more manageable not just because of economic growth but also because their value was eroded by periods of high inflation, which brought another set of problems and which in any case may not be repeated in the future.

      More to the point, your utopian vision of a country where anybody who wants a job can find one is totally incompatible with the present policy of allowing and encouraging mass immigration.

      How much money do you think the UK government would have to borrow, or arrange to have printed, so that an international workforce potentially running into billions could all be assured of jobs? Bear in mind that only those earning well above the average wage actually make a positive net contribution to the Treasury, taking into account the cost of the public services provided to them, and the majority of people are in fact being subsidised by a minority.

      And yet when asked whether he saw any limit to immigration Miliband dodged the question as “hypothetical”, basically following in the footsteps of other Labour politicians who had openly said that they saw no limit; and we know that will be the view of the Liberal Democrats as well, while Cameron faffs around pretending that restrictions on benefits will be effective in reducing immigration.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        More to the point, your utopian vision of a country where anybody who wants a job can find one is totally incompatible with the present policy of allowing and encouraging mass immigration

        Does JR have a Utopian vision too? I doubt if he’d want economic failure to be the only way the UK has at its disposal to control levels of immigration.ie Create levels of unemployment and business failures in the UK such that more people will leave than arrive.

        Unemployment levels in his constituency of Wokingham are low. It doesn’t make Wokingham into a Utopia. It will still have its problems like everywhere else. It’s perfectly possible to have low levels of unemployment in a successful economy. Of course, unemployment is never going to be zero. There are always going to be those in between jobs. Young people looking for their first job. Then there are a small percentage of people who are going to be very hard to place for a variety of reasons. So in practice I would say something like 3-4%, (on a fair count which we don’t have at present) can be considered to be full employment.

        When we get that we can focus on what to do about those 3-4%. I don’t believe we should just forget about them when we do.

        Levels of immigration in the UK are a problem because of the UK’s commitment to the free movement of labour within the EU. That’s a fine ideal and wouldn’t be a problem if movement was equal in both directions, but because the of the EU’s crazily unsuccessful economic policies, that isn’t likely happen any time soon. Ironically, those in the UK most critical of the EU, are usually also those who are advocating the exact same economic policies which have failed so spectacularly there, and are leading to a large net inward migration into the UK.

        That large net inward movement is indeed a problem. If the EU insists on imposing those problems on the UK, we should leave.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 14, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          Of course we should leave the EU, but while freedom of movement is a very important reason for leaving it is not actually the most important in my view. However even if we left the EU the kind of politicians we have now would still want to allow and encourage mass immigration from outside of the EU, and that is simply not consistent with full employment. Indeed that is the main reason why some want mass immigration, to make sure that we will never have full employment and the workers are kept down. Others have different, ideological rather than economic, motivations.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      The right policy is to cut State spending and reduce taxation so citizens have more money left to spend.

      • Alan Dean
        Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        That also means getting a slew of people (especially the middle class white-collar non-jobs) off the state payroll and into the private sector, thus earning more for the economy. At the same time, a major reduction in the state bureaucracy would improve efficiency at the sharp end of the state sector. As Del Trotter would say, everyone’s a winner. Apres moi, le deluge.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Weasel words, calculated to deceive and persuade. It will probably work with the large postal vote that Labour will have mobilised. Many hundreds of thousands of postal ballot papers, I imagine, will have been stuffed and posted before the week is out. The Conservative manifesto is almost too late to catch this first wave of voting.

    • Alan Dean
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Those people would vote Labour, come hell or high water. It’s time postal voting was abolished, except for the very most pressing circumstances.

  15. Atlas
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    … all parties seem to have ‘magic money tree’ growing in their back gardens …

  16. Mitchel
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Neither party is giving any indication of how the spending cuts necessary to get anywhere near a balanced budget are going to be achieved,because,I suggest,they won’t happen unless or until the financial markets force them on us.The Establishment parties are probably too frightened of the possibility of further riots erupting if proper cuts in entitlements were attempted and furthermore lack the backbone to deal with such disorder effectively (as I witnessed myself when during the last riots the centre of Birmingham was abandoned by the Police and left to the looters,resulting in people like myself being left to find their way across the city centre to the rail station at our own risk).

  17. Kenneth
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    IMHO, in the context of most capital spends by government, using the word ‘investment’ is misleading and many prove to be quite the opposite.

  18. DaveM
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Con Manifesto:

    Devolution is mentioned regarding Scotland, Wales, NI. That word not even mentioned regarding England apart from when talking about elected mayors which no one wants.

    Our MPs get a ‘veto’ at the third stage. Which means the rest can still vote on the final reading. Not English Votes at all then.

    On one hand I’m tempted to quote a Welsh professor: “You’ll recall that the traditional view in Plaid Cymru was that they should say yes to anything that recognised Wales as a unit as that would lead – inevitably – to more. They weren’t wrong!”

    One the other hand I’m tempted to scream in frustration and pray for the revolution to arrive.

    Time to start campaigning for a referendum on English Independence….and I’ve always been a unionist at heart.

    I also wish “Manifesto” wasn’t such a funny word; I’m struggling to turn it into a pun which essentially means: “A load of empty promises designed to win votes but which will be reneged on amidst a flurry of technical parliamentary jargon including the terms ‘no majority’ and ‘coalition'”.

  19. David Price
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    At the 2010 election things were pretty clear cut, Labour had bollixed everything up and the task was to fix things, to right the ship and make it seaworthy again.

    You do not have that luxury this time, you have to offer a course that provides leadership and encourages people to support you.

    I agree with DaveM, frankly this manifesto is an utter disappointment and encourages me to not vote Conservative. Clearly I am in a demographic that Cameron & Co believe they no longer need.

    My question to you is why should I vote for you if this manifesto is the direction and ambition of a government you will represent that intends to miss the target on the EU, England, Energy, Business friendly policies, Savers, etc etc?

  20. Qubus
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Dear JR,
    Suggestion for a Conservative poster or billboard:

    Why not make a copy of the original note left in the Treasury by Liam Byrne, which, as far as I can remember, said “Sorry, there is no money left chum”?
    I am sure that the original must still exist, and include it with a critical remark about Labour’s economic competence.
    I feel sure that it would be a success.

  21. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    The Labour manifesto is designed and presented on the basis that, if you are going to tell a lie, it may as well be a whopper. A few facts:

    – When in office, Labour failed to curtail current public expenditure, even after the financial crash. Only public capex took a hit. In their final year, the fiscal deficit rose to £159 billion in 2010 prices. That’s getting on for £180 billion in 2015 prices. We were at half of that in FYR 2014/15.

    – In opposition, Labour has opposed just about every cut in current public expenditure that the Government has made.

    – Labour has not been nearly as vocal in opposing capex cuts, which have been modest under the coalition Government, much less than those made in Labour’s final year in office.

    – Labour has promised the following tax increases:
    – Increasing the banking levy
    – Raising the top rate of income tax to 50p in the pound
    – A mansion tax on homes valued at over £2,000,000
    – Ending the winter fuel allowance and free television licences to pensioners earning more the £150,000 per annum
    – Reducing tax relief on the pension contributions of high earners
    – Ending non-dom status
    – Getting multi-national companies registered overseas to pay more corporation tax on their UK profits (this will involve regulating internal company pricing to ensure profit transfer)
    – Bearing down on tax avoidance and tax evasion in general
    These are mainly taxes on ‘the rich’, who are more quick witted and nimble than most civil servants – and who can afford good tax lawyers. Labour will be lucky to raise £10 bn from them.

    – Labour’s promise on deficit reduction is that the fiscal deficit would be reduced in each year. Deficits of £75 bn, £74 bn, £ 73 bn, £72 bn and £71 bn would be compatible with this promise. Not very constraining.

    – An HMRC budget made in 2014 of capex in FYR 2015/16 itemises the following
    Capital support for local government £11.4 bn
    Capital grants to persons and non-profit bodies £3.6 bn
    Capital grants to private sector companies £6.4 bn
    Capital grants abroad £0.8 bn
    Capital support for public corporations £0.8 bn
    Gross capital procurement £20.9 bn
    Income from sales of assets -£0.5 bn
    Net lending and investment to the private sector and abroad £17.6 bn
    Other £0.4 bn
    Unallocated funds in capital DEL £0.6 bn
    Total capital budget £61.8 bn
    Labour has said that it is prepared to ‘borrow to invest’. We can be sure that at the very least the £20.9 bn of gross capital procurement will be treated this way (remember the hospital PFI funding programme?). Would this be within or in addition to the annual deficits I have outlined above? Place your bets.

    We can now be reasonably sure how Labour would behave in office. They would fail to curtail current public expenditure. They would fund a proportion of capex by borrowing. They would flounder around trying to raise taxes from ‘the rich’. Eventually their antics would cause a run on the pound and they would be forced to tax ORDINARY people in order to stem the bleeding. Debt interest would rise, leaving less money for useful spending.

    I ought to finish by explaining George Osborne’s assertion that the total public sector debt will start to come down in 2016/7. Total UK GDP is about 1,700 bn. To finance economic growth and inflation requires about 2.0% plus 2.5% = 4.5% of GDP in money printing each year. 4.5% of £1,700 bn is £76.5 bn. This is roughly the same as the UK’s current annual deficit. However, we have to reduce the annual deficit below this in order to pay down the debt.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted April 17, 2015 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      Still awaiting moderation?

  22. fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh, please John. Can we get real here? The Tories have done nothing to stop the onslaught of wind farms and solar farms across the UK. What is happening in Scotland regarding wind farms is an abomination. With the announcement that millions of householders are turning off their heating to save money and opening the oven door to heat the room after cooking is disgusting and I am amazed and incensed at the audacity of our politicians from all parties still intent on going down this road. With reports from Germany saying that many of their fossil fuelled power stations will be closing due to lack of profit and the worry that the lights will go off why oh why is Cameron not doing something about a similar situation in the making in the UK?? The Contracts for Difference have made no difference at all. We are still paying sky high subsidies for wind and solar. Scotland will soon have a situation where the infrastructure is not capable of exporting the energy to any other country and will have to dump it or turn off the wind farms and pay vast subsidies to the developers for not producing anything. I just think the whole thing is utter madness. There is no other way to describe something that is ludicrous and just playing to the tune of the Greens for votes. How many engineers and professors etc have to tell you that this renewable stuff is pie in the sky and a load of cods wallop? I despair.

  23. fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I am just listening to Scottish Labour in the background talking about capping energy prices. What a joke when it is government policy pushing up prices. Sticking a carbon tax on gas and coal and paying out subsidies not to produce wind power when the wind is blowing too much, giving developers large sums of money for poor amounts of energy is the trouble and could be sorted very quickly. Just drop the renewables crap and get back to a sensible energy policy the likes of which we used to have and was the envy of the world.

  24. fedupsouthener
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Talking about dearest and uncosted policies. This is what is happening in Scotland which is at the moment part of the UK and therefore energy here is being subsidised by all in the UK. The situation regarding renewable energy is dire. Look at an article published by the Sunday Times this week.

    THE Scottish government’s green energy dash will generate massive amounts of wasted electricity that cannot be used, sold or stored and will cost the taxpayer billions of pounds, according to a new report.

    The Scientific Alliance Scotland (SAS), a branch of the independent Cambridge-based body, warns that by 2020, wind farms will produce far greater levels of heavily subsidised power
    than needed. A lack of infrastructure will prevent excess energy from being exported to other countries but generous compensation payouts for wind farm owners who cannot find a buyer for their energy will continue to be borne by the consumer via their energy bills.

    Last year a record £53.2m was paid out to wind farm companies to switch off their turbines because their electricity was not needed or would have overloaded the grid.

    Professor Jack Ponton, from SAS, warns that the dash for Scottish renewables is creating an “economic cuckoo”, which threatens security of Scotland’s energy supplies because no conventional, dependable generation is being built. He predicts Scotland’s largest dependable generator, Longannet, will be forced to close due to lack of profitability. “This crisis is entirely the consequence of reducing Scotland’s ability to balance electricity demand by rapidly increasing the variable supply from wind generated power,” he said.

    “How long will it be before the Scottish government finally acknowledges the truth: that the blind dash for wind is pointless, it will be hugely expensive, and that degrading even more of Scotland’s landscapes will be futile?”

    The madness must stop. How long will it be before all politicians from all parties recognise the damage they are doing????

    • fedupsouthener
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      This nonsense was brought in by none other than Ed Miliband and he says he wants to freeze energy prices. He’s having a laugh aided and abetted by Ed Davey and taken to extremes by the SNP. God what a shower.

  25. ChrisS
    Posted April 16, 2015 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    This is yet another example of Miliband’s ineptitude in office.

    Question is, why aren’t the Conservatives making hay with all these examples ?

    Most voters don’t know that Miliband was Brown’s principal adviser before becoming energy minister. Then of course we have Balls who was also up to his neck in the running of the Treasury during the crucial years when Brown was Chancellor and the spending spree was at its most reckless.

    The only Labour Treasury minister who has any credibility is Alistair Darling and he’s wisely left the scene. He’s obviously well aware of the mess that Miliband and Balls would make of the economy and wants no part of it.

    I was expecting to see a Conservative poster of Browns Treasury team. Voters need reminding that these two are directly responsible for the deficit and the mess that is our energy policy.

    When the lights go out through lack of reliable energy production, consumers, given the lead time it takes to build power stations, will be able to trace the blame directly back to Miliband’s time as energy minister.

    If Cameron is returned to office he needs to ensure that the energy brief goes to a commercially minded Conservative minister and not a LibDem dreamer.

  • 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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