Despite billions of pounds having been pumped into the health and education systems during the past 12 years by the Labour Government, the quality of service in both areas remains unsatisfactory. Two stories which show the wastefulness of the Labour era have been highlighted this week. The first is the failure of 340 000 children to attain 5 GCSE grades A-C including English and maths with one in seven schools, a total of 440 failing to ensure that at least 30% of their pupils got five A*-C GCSEs. The education education education mantra has been assigned to the dustbin as far too many children continue to receive an inadequate education.
The second is the news that Britain has fewer hospital beds per head of population than almost any other European country, with half as many as Lithuania and Hungary. This is a terrible indictment on Labour’s wasteful spending. Most people didn’t need to see official statistics to know that hospitals are always short of beds – their personal experience will have confirmed this. But it is a deeply worrying and depressing statistic that shows how reckless this Government has been in dealing with the health service.
Value for money isn’t something this Government has understood. It has spent like an addict without ensuring the appropriate increases in the delivery of services. Bureaucracy has been bloated and we are now left with so much Government debt that it will take this and the next generation to pay it off without having the high quality services that the borrowed money should have delivered.
The Labour Government is going to borrow a mind boggling £118 billion in 2009 to help it pay for the economic mess that it has got us into. That is the long and short of today’s pre-budget report. This figure is sufficient to understand the trouble our nation’s finances are in and why the promised stimulus was such a letdown and more worryingly, why Labour will significantly raise taxes in the coming years.
Everything else that the Chancellor announced pales into insignificance when compared to next year’s borrowing figure. Bearing in mind that borrowing figures for this year have had to be revised twice upwards by the Chancellor, the estimated borrowing figures cannot be accurately relied upon.The borrowing figures for the next five years are;
£78bn in 2008/09
£118bn in 2009/10
£105bn in 2010/11
£70bn in 2011/12
£54bn in 2012/13
The promised fiscal stimulus to stave off a deep recession was nowhere to be seen. A £20 billion giveaway including the cutting of VAT from 17.5% to 15% for 13 months was off set by a £40 billion tax rise including a 0.5% increase in national insurance contributions for employers and employees alike from April 2011 and a new 45% tax rate for those earning £150 000 or more.
Today we saw the return of Old Labour. The politics of taxing everyone as much as possible but taxing the rich until the pips squeak returned with a vengeance. Prudence, stability and other such sentiments espoused by the PM for so long were all binned for a tax and spend binge and it was shame that it fell to Alistair Darling to deliver the Pre-Budget Report and not Gordon Brown as it would have been pleasing to witness him contradicting everything he has said previously about the economy under his watch. The Chancellor blaming global problems for the state of the UK economy at each and every turn was frankly embarrassing.
George Osborne gave an excellent and perfectly pitched response by heavily focusing on the hypocrisy and sheer incompetence of this Government. It was a very hard hitting rebuttal of Labour’s and especially Gordon Brown’s profligacy and the reckless tax and spend policies that have left the economy in such a mess and the country facing a national debt of £1 trillion.
If the measures in the pre-Budget Report were what this Government thought would get the economy moving again, then it is badly mistaken. If it thought that these measures would win the next general election then it is surely living in cloud cuckoo land.
Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats thinks David Cameron not matching Labour’s spending plans is ‘economic madness’ adding that this was ‘the surest way to push this recession into a slump….of course you have to borrow money for long term investment so that Britain comes out as a fairer and more sustainable economy…To say now…that we should take lots of money out of the economy would be a way of sending us from recession into full blown slump.’
This shouldn’t surprise us. The Lib Dems need to maintain their reputation for financial incompetence and what better way to show it than supporting Gordon Brown’s plans for binge borrowing and ensuring we all face huge tax bills later!
‘Isn’t it the case that Labour’s borrowing bombshell will soon become a tax bombshell? And let’s be clear about what that means. Borrowing £30 billion now will mean an income tax bill for the average earner of nearly £1,500 later.Everyone knows the prime minister is planning a Christmas tax giveaway, but tax cuts should be for life, not just for Christmas. We need real tax cuts not tax cons.’
(David Cameron in the commons responding to Gordon Brown)
Whether Gordon Brown calls it a ‘fiscal stimulus’ or simply ‘additional borrowing’ the taxpayer will have to pay it back with interest in due course. But our PM doesn’t care as long as it gives him a chance of winning the next election.
Any wonder that the public regards politicians with contempt? The Chief protagonist of political lies has to be our Prime Minister himself. I
am was of the view that we shouldn’t refer to the PM of our country and others who hold high office as liars – not in public at least. It isn’t very British and a it’s more than a tad disrespectful. But having heard Gordon Brown recently as he pretends to have the solution to the worlds economic woes, I find it very difficult adhering to this belief.
Recently our PM has been telling bare faced lies which he is undoubtedly aware of. Take his big foreign policy speech on 10 November 2008 and his press conference on 11 November, in which he repeats the lie that borrowing has been kept under control by his Government and is currently at 37% of GDP. This has been repeated by other Labour politicians such as the Chancellor and John McFall MP, Chairman of the Treasury Committee who recently appeared on Newsnight.
Brown adds that when he took over as Chancellor in 1997 borrowing was 44% and now it is 37%. Why does he say this? To allow him the chance to say especially on the world stage that (1) he has been prudent in reducing the UK’s debt when times were good, and (2) that by borrowing to cut taxes and increase spending now, he will not be putting the country’s finances at risk as alleged by the Tories.
The truth is somewhat different. In 1997 when Brown took over at Number 11, borrowing was 43.4% as the country was moving out of a recession. This has conveniently been rounded up to 44% by Brown. According to the ONS figures borrowing in September 2008 was 43.4% and not the 37% Brown is claiming. Brown arrives at 37% by removing the debt of Northern Rock which should still leave him with a figure of 37.9% – but he deceivingly rounds this figure down as opposed to rounding it up as he does with the borrowing figure under the Tories.
Not including the Northern Rock debt is simply ridiculous as the taxpayer is responsible for this and which is confirmed by the ONS. If we add in what Brooks Newmark MP has listed in his excellent pamphlet for the CPS then the debt becomes worryingly huge.
John Major in a recent article for The Times sums up his deceit succinctly:
‘When Mr Brown claims that national debt is lower than many such countries, he is being less than candid. He knows he is excluding long-term liabilities such as £100 billion of private finance debt, our unfunded public sector pensions and the debts of Network Rail and Bradford & Bingley. Once these are taken into account, our true debt is nearly three times higher – at a shocking £76,000 for every household. The figures the Government uses to reject the charge of financial incontinence are as bogus as a fourpenny bit.’
Gordon Brown is therefore telling bare faced lies when he repeats that current debt is only 37%. If he continues to borrow in trying to get the economy out of the impending recession, he risks doing lasting damage to the country’s finances which we will all have to pay for and which will send Sterling down even lower than the 30% it has devalued recently.
Cheerfully stating on the world stage that a fiscal stimulus is required and borrowing must go up in a recession isn’t sensible or responsible for the UK economy in its current state. This course of action has come far too late to save the economy from experiencing a deep and severe recession. But as a result of his reckless borrowing and spending policies, he sees this as the only way out of the economic strait jacket he finds himself in and which gives him any chance of saving Sterling from collapsing even further.
Our PM may be enjoying himself in all this economic gloom, but his days as PM are surely numbered.