“The lie of the land”

Alastair Darling used a strange phrase when describing what he needs to do on public spending. Maybe he has a sharp sense of humour. He promises to tell us more about the lie of the land: more than the PM wishes to tell us, less than a full scale public spending review which would need the PM’s permission.

Perhaps he did have in mind that the “lie” of the land is the false choice between Labour investment and Tory spending cuts. Apparently the Chancellor does not use the crude language on this topic which emanates from next door, perhaps because he realises that it does not resonate with the public any more than it represents reality. The Chancellor seems to know they are running out of money fast, that they have to rein in public spending, and turn their attention to doing more with less.

We learn that £170 billion of public spending is beign examined around the proposition that it cannot increase so they had better find better ways to spend it. That’s a sensible start, but we are going to have to do that with most spending. We agree across the Parliament that we do not want cuts in schools and hospitals, certainly not in their front line services and professional staff, but no budget can be immune to the question can we do this better and for less? If we can save money on what we buy to run a school by better purchasing , or can adminster it more cheaply to a good standard, we should do so.

I invite readers to blog in with their view on what are the great lies in the land. For my part the great lies revolve around the refusal of some in the government to accept that some of the increased spending has been wasted, the stubborn wish to interpret anyone who wants better value for money as a health cutter, and the denial that we do have to take action now to control the massive deficit. Borrowing is just deferred taxation. Poeple will pay tax for worthwhile services, but they are fed up with paying tax to finance Labour’s bloated and inefficient public sector. Any public sector which can offer £9.7 m to a CEO of a loss making bank, and can press on with “voluntary” ID cards has not begun to understand the need to control spending.


  1. Demetrius
    July 11, 2009

    Back in the 1960’s the then New Labour were writing open cheques to support declining industries, throwing money at dubious projects where there were marginal constituencies, and engaged on a frantic building boom, a la Poulson and T. Dan Smith to keep the employment figures up. In the real world of the private sector it wasn’t easy to get decent credit or investment funding for those sectors that could and should have grown to meet foreign competition, notably in the engineering and textiles sectors.

    Guess what is happening at the moment? Forty years on, when afar and asunder, and all that. Only this time around there is much North Sea Oil or Gas left to find.

  2. figurewizard
    July 11, 2009

    Since the start of the banking crisis Gordon Brown has taken every opportunity to pledge his support for small business, which after all accounts for a huge number of jobs in the private sector. Here however are four lies of the land in respect of these that he gave as Chancellor during four successive budget speeches:

    Budget 2004 – I have cut the rate of small business tax
    Budget 2005 – I am not cutting small business support – I am enhancing it
    Budget 2006 – It is right today to back our enterprise culture
    Budget 2007 – I shall take action in a way that will not raise the tax burden on small business

    The reality is that in his 2005 budget he scrapped the zero% rate of tax for companies with taxable profits of £10,000 or less, abolished marginal relief for those with profits between £10,000 and £50,000 and further announced that their tax rates would rise from 19% to 22%.

    As a sop to his critics he increased capital allowances but in such a way that a small business with the financial resources one would expect them to have would be unable to justify the expenditure required to actually take advantage of them.

    The result of this has been a huge increase in taxation on these; in extreme cases of over 1000%. How many jobs, especially part time ones this has cost the economy is anybody’s guess but it is undoubtedly very substantial.


    1. Lola
      July 11, 2009

      I am small business. The last thing I want from Brown is ‘help’ What I want him to do is to go right away and leave me well alone.

  3. Jon
    July 11, 2009

    I seem to remember when the Inland Revenue spent billions on a new computer they then doubled their staff. Can you imagine that in the private sector, its back to front.

    I’m not an IT person but struggle to comprehend the size of spending on IT in some of these areas and the project timesscales of many years. Granted tht you may need to employ 200 programmers to develope a piece of software over maybe 18 months but after that you farm that one piece of software out. How can it go on for years and cost billions?

    I recon the development spend is probably more than Microsoft and Apple put together.

  4. Josh
    July 11, 2009

    Anything that comes from Brown’s mouth

  5. Colin D.
    July 11, 2009

    School and health must be immune from cut backs
    Cut backs to schools and health must affect ‘front line services’
    The vast expenditure on schools has raised standards
    That throwing money at schools ‘n hospitals MUST result in better standards and quality of service
    Leaving the wasteful EU will cost jobs
    Purchasing private health and schooling is ‘unfair’
    Quantitative easing will not cause inflation
    That at 0.5% interest rate is necessary, fair or even realistic
    That we can possibly afford public service bonuses and unfunded public service final salary schemes
    That the EU financial regulation proposals are anything other than a grab for control over The City

  6. Richard
    July 11, 2009

    The greatest lie is that deficits don’t matter and might even be virtuous – even seemingly now supported by some hitherto sensible economic commentators like Sam Brittan. History shows that any state which has the power to defer tax by borrowing without limit and then to engineer inflation through money printing to reduce the value of the debt will always do so – in order to buy off special interest groups. This government has tested this theory to destruction, running huge deficits even before the crisis and at the peak of boom-time tax receipts. We need urgently: 1) a properly independent Bank of England committed to price stability (not to a low rate of inflation); 2) balanced budgets asap and 3) full and frank disclosure and acknowledgement of public sector debt. Then we need some system to ensure permanent constraint on another Brown-type government bankrupting the country. (I’d rather see us in the Euro than that).

    1. jean baker
      July 12, 2009

      Nulabor’s borrowings, to date, have incurred three generational levels of debt; ‘socialist totalitarianism’ – state controlled PFI’s, quangos, public services are facilitated by Blair’s abolition of economic financial control on his arrival – Clause 4.

      Mandleson, reportedly, envisages abolition of sterling and most likely Federal Europe – Brussels based dictatorship – mindful of their refusal to accept the democratic vote of the Irish !

  7. Mark
    July 11, 2009

    I’m a GP and see the potential for major cost savings in the PCTs through slashing the ludicrous number of middle managers and data gatherers/analysers employed to count and check the performance of others. Normally, when they visit my practice they come in threes.

    In the case of the GP Contract there is an army such people employed to nit-pick over the “coding” of clinical data and compliance with the performance-related part of the contract. Slashing those jobs would result in big savings. In my experience the vast majority of health professionals are motivated by the desire to the best possible job for their patients, so whilst a lighter touch supervision of the contact might allow GPs and their staff to let some aspects of their measurable performance to slip (such as whether we regularly ask life-long non-smokers whether they still don’t smoke), the important bits of care would not suffer. Furthermore the IT systems and culture have all changed since the introduction of the new GP contract, so the habit of bringing people in for review and making sure their care is optimised is engrained and will not slip much.

    There are major savings to be made here. Countries with enormous debt to pay off can’t afford such a tightly controlled public service, at least not in those sectors where it can rely on the values and ethics of professionals to maintain core standards.

    I dare say the same principle applies to many other professional groups in the public service.

  8. Michael
    July 11, 2009

    Here is an example of Labour “investment” in health and social care: £23m on leases for empty offices; £700,000 on payouts to departing executives.

    In yesterday’s Health Service Journal there is a report on the Care Quality Commission: “minutes revealed April’s merger between the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and Mental Health Act Commission has led to more than £23m being spent on leases for empty offices and more than £700,000 on payouts to departing executives.

    They also show it has inherited an IT system, valued at £17.5m, with “a number of major malfunctions”.

    See http://www.hsj.co.uk/5003807.article

  9. Span Ows
    July 11, 2009

    No more Boom and Bust whilst KNOWING of the massive bust he was covering up (nothing to do with ‘global’).

    The spending figures that when questioned change each week.

    To be honest he’s spent 15 years lying.

  10. Acorn
    July 11, 2009

    “If we can save money on what we buy to run a school by better purchasing , or can adminster it more cheaply to a good standard, we should do so.”

    JR, you could replace the word “school” with many other nouns found in the titles of public sector organisations. The trouble is, you, me and the rest, don’t really have a clue where all the money is going. Even you JR, elected to high office, can’t even find out.

    I would surmise that most of your regulars on this site are minded toward free market systems. Free market systems, at times like these, have a nasty habit of showing up inefficiency in brutal ways. Governments feel compelled to intervene in the process for various reasons including self preservation. They mostly delay the inevitable to a future date at great cost to the taxpayer.

    The following could not happen in the UK, but it does illustrate what should happen, if only to expose just one of those hidden cost systems. Some will know that the organisation referred to is being buried by its own current and legacy employment contracts, it is not alone.


    Likewise the Captain’s take on US higher education is actually applicable to the UK. That is, if you have wondered about all those useless degrees coming out of, so called, UK universities. (I do not recommend surfing this link, definitely not the “Gulp” post).


  11. Django Reindhardt
    July 11, 2009

    I did a brief teaching course in a suburban high school a couple of years ago. I was shocked to see that every classroom had some kind of magic whiteboard which projected on to a whiteboard something which responded to a pointer in the shape of a pen. Very expensive and totally redundant. The whole system did nothing that a whiteboard and pen didn’t do. This is the reality of Labour’s spending hikes. They spent it on useless tat. It should be easy to trim it down.

    1. Adrian Peirson
      July 12, 2009

      Yes but think of the Govt supply and Maintenence grants, and the Public can hardly refuse can they, I mean surely they are all for Education and having the best equipment available for our children, and kittens, and babby fur seals, and Baby ducklings, and chicks.

      I’m sorry labour have not used baby chicks and duckling etc as a means of extracting money from us, but I’m sure they are working on it.

  12. Richard
    July 11, 2009

    My then 89 year old mother was admitted to hospital following a fainting attack. The initial diagnosis was that her pacemaker was underperforming. She was kept in a specialist ward somewhere between intensive care and the normal cardiac unit. After a couple of days it was decided that everything was OK but she required a simple, not complex, scan.

    At 4.40 on a Wednesday afternoon whilst I was visiting her, they said they were going to take her for the scan. I left and phoned at 8 pm for the result to be told it had not happened because the scan operator had gone home at 5. When I queried that a bit of overtime could have saved a lot of money by facilitating her early discharge, I was told no one could authorise overtime.

    The scan did not happen the next day despite several promises it would. Late Friday morning the Consultant said during the rounds that the scan would not happen that day, so she would be kept in over the weekend, occupying a specialist bed in a ward where there were more nurses than patients. Twenty minutes after the Consultant left the ward, they came to give my mother the scan . Everything was OK but it was too late to discharge her and she was kept in the ward for a further 3 days until the Consultant came to authorise discharge.

    Eighteen months on she remains active, although she has been admitted to hospital since following a fall. My considered view having observed her generally excellent care is that the left and right hands of administration are unco-ordinated and there is a serious deficiency in management effectiveness. There are a lot of “suits” wandering around but they do not seem to be involved in front-line patient care.

  13. Freddy
    July 11, 2009

    If you want great lies, nothing beats the global warming scam.

    1. Freddy
      July 11, 2009

      For example, according to today’s deliberate government leaks – see here :


      … where it says …

      “The Renewable Energy Strategy, to be published on Wednesday, will state that more than £100 billion will have to be invested in renewable energy infrastructure, including 7,000 wind turbines, by 2020.”

      And further :

      “Household energy bills will rise by more than £200 a year under the Government’s low-carbon strategy being announced next week.”

      Do you believe it will only be £200 p.a. ? I don’t. I think it will be the most hideously regressive tax in history.

      Catastrophic anthropogenic global warming has been a pack of lies from the beginning. The Conservative Party is running out of time to start undoing this madness.

      1. Adrian Peirson
        July 12, 2009

        Veg Oil, grown by our own farmers, remember we still have some Nth sea oil so its not like we would need to produce all our requirement this way.
        also I’m sure we could Grow Trees, blant 100 billion trees, that’s what I’d like to see in my childrens Country.
        If each tree weighs ten tonnes, then that’s 1 Trillion tons of Carbon fixed from the Atmosphere, although I understand Global Mcstalin has come up with an even better idea, Carbon Capture technology, all paid for through taxation of course.
        Let me Guess, some false Boffin in a White coat stands next to a fridge bought from Comet, at the back of which is placed some Soot from someone chimney, and they claim look at this carbon we have captured from this latest british invention, think of your children, You do want clean air for your childrem kittens, baby chicks, seal pups etc etc.
        Now hand over the Taxes or we will get the Bailiffs in, resist and the Privatised fully armed ACPO police paramilitaries will shoot you.

        Converted Fridge and a few shovels of soot from someones chimney are not going to fool me.

  14. oldrightie
    July 11, 2009

    “The Chancellor seems to know they are running out of money fast..”

    They ran out of money in 2005.

    1. John Moss
      July 12, 2009

      They ran out of money in 2001, when we went back in to deficit budgets.

      Brown spent £200bn more than he got in from 01-02 to 07-08. Then he really got going!

      I was watchng the cricket over the last two days, concerned that England did not have a sensible plan of attack. Bowlers changed their line/length, came over and round the wicket. Strauss changed the fields and the bowlers, all far too often. The pitch wasn’t good for bowlers. The batsmen needed to be bored into making rash strokes by persistent line and length bowling or spin attacking the same spot over and over again.

      The Conservatives ought to have done the same over deficit budgets. We had a brief flurry – and an effective one – when Osborne started attacking Brown for “failing to fix the roof when the sun was shining”, but that has faded away.

      We need six months of repetition. “The Prime Minister, who as Chancellor ran up debts of over £200bn, …….

      1. oldrightie
        July 12, 2009

        Thank you, John. I was using 2005 as a benchmark for when Labour’s and Browns deceit began to be obvious to most intelligent people. Their losses at that election and Michael Howard’s success were all buried by Howard’s immediate stepping down.

  15. David Belchamber
    July 11, 2009

    The first point you make – about spending money prudently and not wasting it – should exemplify the fundamental difference between a conservative and a Labour government. We must demonstrate that we can manage things so much better, so that the same amount of money goes much further.

    For twelve years now Brown has tried to deceive us: he will not accept many facts: that his tripartite regulatory system failed us when we most needed it to work, that the BoE was required to control interest rates based on the CPI, rather than the RPI, the fact (as Mark Field pointed out yetserday on ConHome) that Brown stoked up a consumer debt and housing bubble that burst before the global downturn hit us, that he denied, just before it came into force, that the abolition of the 10p rate would affect anyone adversely and, most reprehensible of all, that he was responsible for sending our troops to war on a peacetime budget.

  16. John Moss
    July 11, 2009

    The greatest “lie” of the land is the belief that things always have to be done the same way as before, that doing things differently, or not doing them at all is impossible and that every new Government has to accept the “landscape” bequeathed it by its predecessor.

    I wrote about Social Housing policy with Stephen Greenhalgh from hammersmith & Fulham Council. (http://www.localis.org.uk/images/Localis%20Principles%20for%20Social%20Housing%20Reform%20WEB.pdf) It is clear that the way the building of new social homes is funded and the way homes are allocated is contributing to social division and breakdown and increasing the poverty of those in social housing.

    The attacks from the left are predictable, yet we argue for change which could lead to a doubling of the number of new homes built and the breakdown of the “estate” culture which does so much harm, all with no more public spending.

    Perhaps, It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it, ought to be the Conservative election anthem – things certainly didn’t get better by doing it the Labour way!

  17. Beacon
    July 11, 2009

    The lie of the land would be that this government believes that it can tax and spend its way out of debt. You cannot!

    With tax payers paying the highest tax in British history, all they are doing is further harm to the economy.

    The concept of ‘Reaganomics’ and that of Thatcherite economic policy completely escapes them.

    The deep embedded Marxist ideology that drives Labour from the core, cannot accept that capitalism drives the economy and innovation, not the government.

  18. Neil Craig
    July 11, 2009

    One of the lies is, as you suggested, to call the running spending of government “investment”. It is only investment if the money goes into creating something new 7 productive.

    I also consider it a great lie that we live in a primarily free enterprise economy (& hence that the recession is the failure of free enterprise). We live in an economy where government regulatiionsdestroy 50& of economic capacity (electricty 4 the free enterprise price, houses ditto, & the burden of the inspectors which are 20 times higher on the economy than they cost government). On top of that the government spending equals 50% of the economy. Put them together & the free enterprise including almost all wealth creation, amounts to only 25%.

    I consider the claim that we are suffering catastrophic global warming (rebranded climate change) or that there is any actual evidence that we will to be a great lie used to give government more power irrespective of the immense harm it is currently doing the nation & the destruction of 80% of our economy that is inevitable if the programme is driven on. I consider every other large scare story produced by the eco-fascists to be the same sort of lies.

    On social points I would consider it a great lie that we live in a democracy so long as we have an electoral system thatr prevents choice.

    Also a major lie that our media is in some way more free & trustworthy than that of China, Russia, Iran etc. You don’t get the Russian media pushing the warming lie.

    I do largely believe “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”Henry Louis Mencken

  19. Denis Cooper
    July 11, 2009

    “The Chancellor seems to know they are running out of money fast”

    Not so; the Bank of England has already provided him with over £100 billion since March 11th, and can provide him with another £100 billion, and another, and another … the limit will only come when gilts investors take fright, and refuse to play on the money-go-round any more, even though they’re being bribed to do so.

    If or when those private investors finally say “Stop the money-go-round, I want to get off”, that’s when Darling will run out of money.

    Unless he can find an alternative mechanism for exchanging gilts – which his Debt Management Office can produce in unlimited quantities – into money – which only the Bank of England can issue.

    Or if the Bank itself decides that it will no longer invite the private investors to play the “We’ll take some of the gilts you’re holding in exchange for money, and then you can give that money to the Treasury in exchange for new gilts, but you can keep something for your trouble” game.

    In California the state government has run out of money; and as California is not a sovereign state and doesn’t have its own central bank with the legal power to issue money, California’s own currency, the state government has resorted to trying to pay creditors in IOU’s, registered warrants, denominated in US dollars.

    Now most of the main banks in California have said that they will no longer pay out US money in exchange for these Californian state IOUs:


    which will have dire consequences for the economy.

    Forget the official claims here that “quantitative easing” is about “injecting liquidity into the financial system”; it’s about making sure that the Treasury can get money in exchange for its bonds, and continue to pay its bills in money, rather than having to follow California by trying to pay its bills in bonds.

  20. Mike Stallard
    July 11, 2009

    I reckon the lie of the land is that Queen Victoria still rules over the British Empire.
    People then, in the working class, worked. Today there are something like 5,000,000 not in work. Our manufacturing industry and now our banking industry are under threat. Civil Servants and public payroll employees grow fast.
    We were the workshop of the world; today we are living off other people. Immigrants do the dirty jobs. Chinese make our stuff. Americans defend our shores. Europeans run our legal system, both legislative and, increasingly, the judiciary.
    The poor old C of E has morphed into something else. Protestantism is dead.
    And our welfare state has gone crazy. It is a magnet that draws all sorts of people in and it has wrecked our economy. Multiculturalism has replaced cohesion and patriotism.
    We are no longer an imperial nation. But we pretend we are.

  21. Arthur
    July 11, 2009

    The great lie we will all come to regret most of all is that immigration is good for the country.

    It is worth debating on the extent of that immigration but the extent of immigration over the last 50 years is nothing short of catastrophic. Not because all immigrants are bad themselves, but that they inevitably break up the cohesion of the country.

    For the full effects of different peoples competing over the same land see: Former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Sudan for starters.

  22. brian kelly
    July 11, 2009

    Virtually the whole Labour Party is lying – continuously and consistently – and has been since 1997 [there are many, of course, who are simply stupid and slavishly followed Blair and Brown whatever they said or did]. It didn’t matter for a long time because the country was utterly fed up with Major and the Conservative party by 1997 AND because the Conservatives left such a ‘golden’ economic legacy which took some time before Brown’s malign and destructive policies began to alarm the more percipient – it took much, much longer for the general public to start sensing a rat. It now seems that Darling and King have decided to make some sort of a stand against the lunatic denials and ludicrous lies coming from Brown and his ‘gang’. All the above posts state the more egregious lies of Brown & co – but there are literally hundreds – one day someone will encapsulate the insanity of the last 12 years in a brilliant, concise, devastating and totally irrefutable piece so that everyone can say ‘yes, that’s it exactly’ and we can begin to move on from our deep anger and frustration at what they have done. Just a very small thing in the totality – Harriet Harman at PM questions stated – in an answer to Hague – ‘…we are paying down debt…’. Lunatic Asylum, or what! In 1997 we were the 4th. largest economy in the world with that economy healthy and growing. Now we are a broken society with a broken constitution, riven by discord, more under the thumb of the EU and totally and utterly ‘broke’ – a basket case. Compare and contrast.

  23. eeyore
    July 11, 2009

    “He may not know that he is ignorant; but he cannot be ignorant that he lies. I think the speaker was named Smith. He is a discredit to the numerous family of that name.” Substitute Brown for Smith in this bone-crushing quote from the Victorian radical John Bright, and no more need be said about the statesman presently at the helm of the ship of state.

  24. Jeffy
    July 11, 2009

    I saw Brown on the television the other evening boasting that they had just spent £1bn on 1000 military vehicles – which works out at £1m per vehicle. Either it is a lie, or they aren’t very good at spending money.

  25. Bazman
    July 11, 2009

    The great lie of the land will forever be the myth of privatisation. Oh! and Free markets.

    1. John Moss
      July 12, 2009

      To which I would say – British Leyland!

      We have an excellent industry making and selling cars now. The only bit that failed was the nationalised bit. Cars are better and cheaper in real terms, because there is a free market.

      Would that it could be extended to health, education, housing etc etc.

    2. Lola
      July 12, 2009

      Nope. Freedom and markets have done for totalitarian leftyism. The Bif Lie is that the current problems are the fault of fre markets. No they aren’t. This is freedom and markets passing an accurate judgement of the fiscal, monetary and economic policy failures of US, UK, and European governements. Freedom and markets are also revealing how the protectionist and mercantilist policies of for example China are equally bound and certain to impoverish the Chinese.

      At the same time the two remaining UK statist monopolies, health and education, continue to exploit their employees, delivera bad service and overcharge heir customers.

      Of all the Big Lies used by New Labour totalitarians the ‘market failure’ mantra is probably the biggest. It is straight out of 1984. Lies are Truth. This continuous deceit is what will foevere eventually condemn them to oblivion. If you tell lies the truth will eventually catch up with you.

      1. Bazman
        July 13, 2009

        The idea of private healthcare is a sick joke when most businesses are run on the basis of ‘What can we get away with and how long can we get away with it.’ Business. The exploitation of people and resources. Would you not agree?
        The banking system really just produced rent and forced the rest to pay rent. It did little if anything to improve operations.
        What about when there is a natural monopoly? If you go and create a market you are in effect going against the free market by creating absurdly complicated contracts to which the governments gets kippered every time.
        The free market of the car industry is much of a lie to. Secret subsidies to manufactures. Collusion between manufactures. In France most of the cars are French same in Germany and Japan.
        This simplistic free market dogma is out of date a lie and for the birds. You are trying to put the town market which has always worked and been free, to complicated world markets. Thatchers main trick.
        Be aware of anyone offering simple answers to complex questions.

        1. Lola
          July 13, 2009

          Your own logic defeats you. Cartalisation exists all over the place. Along with its companion sin of mercantilism and protectionism. The problem is not that freedom and markets have failed it is that they have never been properly freed from political opportunism and the favouritism given to special groups.

          In a properly free and competitive market no business will survive 1 day if it operates on the ‘What can we get away with and how long can we get away with it.’ principle you advocate. My customers don’t buy from me because they love me. They buy from me because I give them the product or service they want and like at a price they think is good value. Similarly I don’t love my customers because they are nice people, which they are, I love and care for them because they pay me, and I enjoy the satisfaction of providing an excellent product and service that means they come back and buy from me again.

          In regards to health care it is the statist model that is the sick joke. Essentially what we have is a bureaucratic rationing system that manages to be at the same time massively poor quality and very expensive. I fully recognise that the NHS is alledged to do things cheaply, and it does. It does this by exploiting its employees. Exploiting employees and overcharging customers is exactly what monopolies do.

          If one thinks about it there are many free market models on which health care could be supplied, many of which are not directly commercial. What we are confusing is a desired outcome with provision. It matters not to anyone just who does the healthcare, what matters is that you get the treatment that sorts you out.

          In regards to the French (and German) car industry it is mainly actually or quasi nationalised. It is not manufacturer collusion it is state protectionism and cartelisation. Both Renault and PSA have been technically bust for years but kept in being by the state. Freedom and markets would have seen them gone and the wealth they have destroyed wouldn’t have been and other businesses that have suffered losses consequential on the subsidies would have been profitable and been able to expand. What the French have done is export unemployment and reduce the wealth of their own citizens.

          Japan is the same. So is China. These are not in any way economies based on freedom and markets. Neither come to that is the USA. The USA is massively protectionist and interventionist. It has also run the same unsound money policies as Gordon Brown, which is why it is nearly as bust as we are.

          There is no such thing as a natural monopoly. Even the military can operate on the free market model, if you are happy to employ mercenaries (we call them Gurkhas) as many armies do.

          Lastly it is the business of business to exploit opportunity, not resources. A good case often quoted as to how businesses are destructively exploitative is the wanton logging of the Brazilian Rainforest. I happen to think that this is a Bad Thing and needs discouraging, althought plenty freedom and markets philosophers wouldn’t agree with me. It is a failure of the rule of law that permits gangsters to carry on a trade of ‘illegal’ logging, not business. If the forest was properly policed and the rule of law enforced business would find alternative ways of making plywood to satisfy the demand.

          Before you carry on arguing about markets and freedom I suggest you do some self education and be sure of your facts. There are any number of sound textbooks you can start with, I suggest Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt and build on that.

  26. Steve Tierney
    July 11, 2009

    How long have you got? These days I think it would be significantly quicker to list the TRUE things than the Lies. We are surrounded by falsehoods, illusions, smoke and mirrors.

  27. steve-roberts
    July 12, 2009

    OK, John I will take up the challenge.

    The public sector is blighted by “goal confusion” which inevitably leads to budget bloat and huge waste.

    In the private sector we go to work to make money for the shareholders. How we go about that can be complicated, but the aim is simple and universally understood.

    In contrast, public sector organisations are loaded down with multiple, often conflicting, goals. For example, you may think the goal of your local Primary Care Trust is something like “to help sick people get the treatment they need as quickly as possible”, but if you enquire you will find it has a portmanteau of goals including “to reduce healthcare inequalities” (*).

    In order to reduce these inequalities it must grow a bureaucracy to research the inequalities, and then take action to reduce them. The rub is that such actions must be in conflict with the commonsense primary goal of “helping sick people get the treatment they need as quickly as possible”. After all, if the actions to “reduce healthcare inequalities” were actually necessary to the purpose “to help sick people get the treatment they need..”, those actions would already be being done.

    Whatever actions arise specifically to “reduce healthcare inequalities” must therefore be in conflict with the primary goal, either directly, or by competition for staff time, management attention, facilities and money.

    How did we get into this state ? My view is that a succession of ministers, during their brief tenure of the revolving chairs of government, have sought to ‘make their mark’ one way or another, and have gone for the soft option of adding yet another goal to their department’s agenda.

    There is a fantastic opportunity for improvement in the whole public sector by pruning goals back to simple clear fundamentals, which will allow whole bureaucracies to be eliminated, and in addition allow staff to focus on the primary goals.

    It will however require a different mentality in Ministers, civil servants and management throughout the public sector. Are you and your colleagues up to this, John ?

    * for another example, you may think your local primary school board of governors is there to make sure the children get taught the basics as well as possible, but it also has a legal duty to “promote community cohesion”.

  28. alan jutson
    July 12, 2009

    Just back from a glorious week in Devon, so where do we start.

    Many bloggers have already listed many of the lies of the past 12 years.

    So the Labour list reads:

    Immigration is good for the economy (at almost any cost).
    We are in charge of our own laws. (nothing to do with the EU). The Human Rights act is working well.
    We can win in Afghanistan, perhaps without firing a shot.
    The economy is in great shape.
    We are paying off debt.
    Investment by borrowing is great.
    Investment in printing money is even better.
    Weapons of mass destruction are only 45mins away.
    My Party did not get any cash donations for Knighthoods.
    We are deporting more and more unlawful Immigrants.
    Investment in the NHS results in a better service.
    Stealth Taxes, what stealth taxes?
    We have introduced many new laws to help the poor and needy.
    The Bank of England is independent.
    Its a Global recession.
    Its all the bankers fault, regulation is not to blame.
    We are helping the motor industry (with more taxes on it)
    We are helping the Airlines (with more taxes on travel)
    We are helping the Banks (with debt insurance at our cost)
    We need a transparent system of expenses (redacted)
    Global warming is a threat. (so we need more taxes).
    Carbon offset is a good idea (so it matters not what I do)
    Education standards are rising.
    We need to think the unthinkable (before sacking Frank Field)
    We need to simplify the Tax System.
    We need to simplify the Benefits System.
    What Tax on Pensions ?
    There are no savings to be made by Government Departments.
    We invest, the Tories Cut. (fewer policemen, nurses, teachers).

    I could go on, but there seems no point, people will still vote for this lot no matter what they say, and so they will not change.

    1. Bazman
      July 12, 2009

      I will go on.
      To much regulation.
      Hedge funds are good.
      Entitlement is the way forward.
      More of the same.
      Fools and roads.

      1. Lola
        July 13, 2009

        I will go on.
        To much regulation. = nationalisation lite = wealth destruction
        Hedge funds are good. Yep. They keep managements honest.
        Bonuses. are very good but because the banks are now a state cartel they bear no realtionship to performance.
        Entitlement is the way forward. Nope. Enitlement is exactly the problem.
        More of the same. ?
        Fools and roads. ?
        Thatcher… A genuine leader.
        cuts. Yes. Lots of them please.
        poverty. Hate it. Let’s have more freedom and markets to get people out of it.

        1. Bazman
          July 14, 2009

          Crony capitalism is what you advocate. Communism for the few. Are you so naive to think that companies do not exploit and do what they can get away with especially in the areas they have most control of. ie employees and customers.
          Bankers now want to be paid a fortune to continue their foolish practices. Was it to much regulation that caused the crash?
          To think that large multi nationals and banks have their customers, workforce, shareholders interests at heart is naive. Who’s interests do they uphold. It’s a good question. Who owns these companies? Shareholders? Nope. Who gains. Lets think, have a bonus for the right answer and bear in mind who will bear the brunt of all these cuts you advocate. Would they rally work? I don’t thinks so. During the 1980’s tax and unemployment went up not down.
          Over the last ten years the middle income people have done very well and much of the wasted money went into their pockets via government contacts and government jobs for the chaps and gels, on top of a trebling of house prices. Cutting the income of a hospital cleaner and the like, is not the way forward or acceptable.
          Russia suffers from only two problems, so the proverb goes, the fools and the roads. You don’t need to be an economist to see that. Maybe they just did not believe enough?

        2. Lola
          July 14, 2009

          Nope I do not advocate crony capitalism, or more accurately oligarchism. That’s what YOU say I advocate. Standard lefty debating trick. Say what you wanted me to say and which I didn’t say, and then set about destroying the argument I did not make.

          If you bother read what I write you will note that I am entirely against cartelisation, or crony capitalism in your terms. And what I have advoacted will more likely result in the increase in pay for hospital cleaners, not its reduction.

          I agree entirely about governemnt jobs for government cronies. It is disgraceful how Brown has both inflated the pay and the numbers of non-productive wealth destroying state non-jobs. But there you go, that’s totalitrian socialism for you.

          Furthermore if you read what I have said I have advocated the breaking up of large international banks. I have stated and will do so again that in the UK the retail banks are an out of control cartel supplier of a monopoly product. But the answer is not nationalisation, especilly not of failed banks. The answer to banking failure is to let them go bust. It would be less costly to do that and for the taxpayer to recompense depositors who lost money, than to pump money into the banks to keep them afloat. Which of course also exponentially increases the moral hazard. Witness the £11m package of the new RBS boss. Of course the biggest and most fundamental banking failure was that of all central banks throughout the world. They and their crony masters in national Treasuries and Government’s have so destroyed national currencies by forever tinkering with interest rates and money supply in complete contradiction to market signals that they are the primary precipitators of the retail and wholesale banking mess.

          And yes an excess of regulation did cause the crash. The financial regulation and consumer protection policies increased the moral hazard and when combined with ludicrously lax fiscal, monetary and economic policies of various hopeless governments, including ours absolutely ensured that we would head straight to a fall. Note, the FSA rulebook when printed out stands 8.5 feet high. No-one reads it, least of all the FSA. It only knows it by section. It is in reality nationalisation by regulation. It is fundamental in promoting the crash.

  29. Lola
    July 12, 2009

    Do you know what? I can’t answer your question with any sort of perspective. And in reality it doesn’t admit of an answer in the way you’ve phrased the question.

    The issue is that the whole New Labour project (Oh how I loathe being part of someone’s ‘project’) is founded on a central deciet and then implemented and marketed by the use of a whole load more of smaller deceits. The thing itself is just a Big Lie.

    I have no objection to anyone holding any political view, in fact I will support to the ultimate their right to hold their views. But the quid pro quo for my support is that you hold and espouse those views honestly and expose them to thoroughly testing argument. New Labour’s whole game plan was not to engage in the debate, but to shut down the debate. This is essentially deceitful.

    So why should they operate like this? Maybe they have realised in their heart of hearts that Socialism just does not, never has and never will work. If so how do you gain power? As after all is said and done that is what politics is about, power. Clearly they could never ever again achieve power by having an honest debate about the choice between Socialism and Freedom so what could they do?

    They hit on a combination of half truths or semi falsehoods and the use of ad hominem arguments and the diversion of the debate from the Lefty/Righty debate to an argument based on false choice that was not an argument at all. This was then fronted by one of the best reps. I have ever seen – how I wish he had worked for me. And backed up by the core deceit of epic stealth taxation based mainly on the spending of capital. Which latter point as I know you will know, is the surest way to penury. Essentially it was the Grand Deceit of buy us off with our own money.

    So there you have my ‘Lie of the Land’ – New Labour in all its glory. The Big Lie machine incarnate.

    (BTW – Did you see the classic from Diane Abbot on This Week? ” Labour came into power and we really didn’t understand markets, you know. And I still don’t think we do’. Well, really what can one say? It just left me speechless at such crass stupidity. And I quite like Ms Abbot. I admit she does need some re-education but there is definitely potential there).

    1. Bazman
      July 15, 2009

      Now you are getting it. A ‘Labour’ government coming to the end of its life having done little to make up the gap between rich and poor and unable to take on the financial system it saved. Carrots for the rich without any stick.Helping elite people wreck the system for their own gains and then helping them to do it again. In real terms socialism for the rich and capitalism for everyone else.
      You could not make it up.

  30. brian kelly
    July 12, 2009

    Did I not hear from Ed Milliband, speaking on the Andrew Marr show this morning, something to the effect that nuclear power stations would start to be built around 2017 after 9 years in ‘planning’? I know anything labour say is moonshine but wasn’t it, just a few months ago, stated by Labour that they would start coming on stream around 2017? As a comment on the interview I thought he came out with a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end – and he is considered one of the brighter sparks.

  31. TimC
    July 12, 2009

    The big lie?
    There is a single cake and it can and must be divided fairly.
    You only have to look at the effect of falling wages for the employed- by the definition of child poverty relating it to a percentage of average income this means that as the ‘rich’ get poorer the effect is to reduce child poverty.

  32. David Belchamber
    July 12, 2009

    “I invest, you spend and he wastes”

    “I make efficiency savings, you reduce spending, he makes cuts”.

  33. Bazman
    July 12, 2009

    Hedge fund contribute to the economy?

    1. Lola
      July 14, 2009

      Yep. Next?

  34. Adrian Peirson
    July 12, 2009

    The Greatest lie, and the one at the heart of all our problems is that Westminster and Whitehall work in the Best interests of Britain or the British people.
    With a few notable exceptions of course.

    public borrowing is necessary to pay for Public services like the military, nurses, police etc, it’s not, we could coin our own money free and issue that into the economy.

    that muslims carried out 9-11 and 7-7, madrid and Paris, Not accoring to Ex italian PM Francesco Cossiga.


    So many Lies, so little time.

    Global warming is caused by man, actually I haven’t looked into this one too much, but if 20 thousand scientists can put together a petition arguing against man made global warming then I’m prepared to doubt what Westminster says, especially since they seem to be still proposing mass mass immigration which will exascerbate the problem, not to mention landfill and congestion problems, housing shortages.
    Trees not taxes thats what I want for my children.

    Oh yes, another Lie

    Swine flu is naturally occuring

    Michael Shrimpton

    A Weaponised flu variant

    1. Adrian Peirson
      July 13, 2009

      Blimey, I didn’t think you would allow that one Mr Redwood.

  35. David Belchamber
    July 13, 2009

    It might not be quite a lie but Brown regularly accuses the conservatives of proposing cuts now while the country is in recession. He therefore implies that he is not cutting back on public services but:

    * Sir Hugh Orde said recently that forces were feeling the strain from having to make efficiency savings of about seven per cent during the current and next financial year.
    * the prison service has had its budget cut.
    * the probation service has had its budget cut.
    * some rural post offices have been cut back.
    * some rurial surgeries are under threat.

    There are probably other examples.

  36. Andrew Duffin
    July 13, 2009

    “If we can save money on what we buy to run a school by better purchasing , or can adminster it more cheaply to a good standard, we should do so.”

    “We” should not be running schools at all, if “we” means the central state leviathan. Head teachers should be running schools, preferably accountable to the parents and nobody else.

    “We” should not be administering the schools at all. Let the schools administer themselves.

    Get rid of all the parasites and pen-pushers in the LEA’s.

    I went to a school that had a head teacher who actually taught lessons, a sort of Business Manager chappie who was basically the accountant, three ladies in the office, and that was it. Seven hundred children, excellent results, NO bureaucrats. Why can’t the State do it that way?

    1. Adrian Peirson
      July 13, 2009

      Because as children they were weaklings and were presistently bullied, had their sweets and toys taken off them, now it’s pay back time.

  37. no one
    July 13, 2009

    i went to a state school, 2000 kids, and the headmaster did teach lessons…

    certainly i see no need for budgets for things like books to be filtered through a LEA which eats at least 40% before the school ever gets a books budget

    like healthcare schools need to be changed radically so that the power is in the hands of the customers, real power so that if nobody uses a poor school or poor hospital department they dont get any money and have to shut

    easier than youd think to do

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