Gordon Brownâ€™s â€œtractor production statisticsâ€ do not persuade a country which is unhappy about the current situation to suddenly break into joy and applause when he recites the â€œachievementsâ€. The latest list on the Labour party website is instructive, as it shows just how big the gap is between what we are all experiencing, and what Labour thinks we ought to be grateful for.
The top fifteen items on Labourâ€™s list of â€œachievements” is given below, along with a commentary on why they do not bring â€œfeelgoodâ€ with them:
1. â€œThe longest period of sustained low inflation since the 60s.â€ This is presumably based on the heartily distrusted European measure of the CPI. Have they visited a petrol pump, been to a food shop or read a council tax bill recently? At least indexed contracts are still linked to the RPI which gets a bit closer to the galloping price increases we are experiencing on day-to-day items.
2. â€œLow mortgage ratesâ€. They donâ€™t mean people feel better off, because those who have mortgages have to pay them on much inflated house prices, while those who would like them are finding they are now severely curtailed by the Credit Crunch. Either too much of your income goes on the mortgage, or you cannot afford your first flat.
3. â€œIntroduced the National Minimum Wageâ€. Because there is â€“ and always was â€“ a catâ€™s cradle of in work benefits, many people on the Minimum Wage are little or no better off â€“ especially after the tax increases hitting the lower paid. It is popular with some trade unionists, but it did not transform the lives of those on low incomes, because it did not give them more spending power.
4. â€œOver 14,000 more police in England and Walesâ€. These have been needed â€“ and more besides â€“ to handle all the extra paperwork and to tackle the political correctness agenda which has been Labourâ€™s hallmark in office â€“ and , oh yes, needed to offer security to certain Ministers when they want to go to the shops or visit their constituencies.
5. â€œCut overall crime by 32%â€ – but not some of the types of crime people fear most.
6. â€œRecord levels of literacy and numeracy in schoolsâ€ â€“ as assessed in the endless tests Labour has introduced, so pupils now are good at passing tests but have little time left over to receive an education.
7. â€œYoung people achieving some of the best results at 14, 16 and 18â€. Why then is the proportion of state school pupils going to the elite universities still so poor, when those universities are falling over backwards to welcome more state school pupils of a suitable standard?
8. â€œFunding for every pupil in England has doubledâ€ Gordonâ€™s favourite lump of money fallacy. What matters is what you can buy with the money. Gordonâ€™s public sector pounds have been devalued by rotten spending.
9. â€œEmployment is at its highest everâ€. Yes, the government has been very good to the large number of migrants that have arrived to work. Pity there are still 5.5 million people here who have lived here for longer of working age living on benefits.
10. Written off up to 100% of debt owed by the poorest countries. A good thing, but done by further huge increases in the UK debt.
11. â€œ85,000 more nursesâ€. You need more nurses in part to cater for the growing population, but more are welcome. All governments employ more nurses.
12. â€œ32,000 more doctorsâ€. Is that all? These would be needed to compensate for the reduction in doctors hours.
13. â€œBrought back matrons to hospital wardsâ€ Why then do so many people die from MRSA and C. diff in our hospitals?
14. â€œDevolved power to Scottish Parliamentâ€. Is that why we now have an SNP administration in Scotland seeking full independence?
15. â€œDevolved power to Welsh Assemblyâ€. A further part of their policy of breaking up the Union, creating a lop-sided devolution which is grossly unfair to England.