Monday, 22 September 2014

Pensioners beware Labour

It's simple logic. Labour has pledged to keep within the ceiling on welfare spending set by the present government. They have also pledged to restore virtually all the cuts imposed since 2010. The only intended reductions they announced this week were in child benefit and in the winter fuel payments for richer pensioners, not nearly enough to counter the increases in social security spending they are committed to. Half the social security budget is accounted for by the state pension. Labour has been silent on this. Conclusion: the triple lock is under threat if Labour comes back to power.

One or two sweeping statements in Ed Balls' conference speech caught the eye.

after 18 years of neglect, we reformed the NHS, we invested in the NHS
It would be truer to say that Gordon Brown, for PR reasons, threw money at the English NHS with too little of it going to the sharp end. The result was increased bureaucracy, a salary award to GPs which embarrassed even the BMA and initiating the deficit which is only gradually being edged back now.

And Conference, while it was the banks which caused the global recession, and it was the global recession which caused deficits to rise here in Britain and around the world, the truth is we should have regulated those banks in a tougher way.
As I never tire of saying, it was not a global recession, it was an Anglo-American recession. The Canadian economy was hardly touched and the tiger economies of south-east Asia motored on. The banks and financial institutions which were the cause of the massive loss of confidence leading to the slump were head-quartered in New York, London and Edinburgh, and they failed because of loosening of controls both by the previous Democrat administration in the US and by Labour in the UK. At least Balls was honest enough to own up to his part today.

But three years of lost growth at the start of this parliament means we will have to deal with a deficit of £75 billion – not the balanced budget George Osborne promised by 2015.
Labour has consistently and deliberately blurred the distinction between the Conservative manifesto and the coalition agreement. Liberal Democrats - and Labour, too - recognised in their 2010 manifestos that eliminating the deficit within one parliament would be too destructive. The coalition economic programme of the first budget in 2010 was pitched between the LibDem and Labour proposals. By criticising this, Balls is also criticising Alistair Darling - and arguing that the "austerity" was not severe enough.

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