It’s time to change the narrative

Since this is a 5 year fixed parliamentary term, we are experiencing the longest election campaign in modern British politics. It started heating up during the 2013 party conference season when Labour caused a stir with its energy promise and the Conservatives sparked controversy with its welfare policies. If one was to assess the campaign run by Labour so far, the outlook would be fairly positive. As I called for, Miliband shook up his shadow cabinet, (although not enough if you ask me) and embraced left wing populism to connect with voters. Labour have succeeded in pushing ‘cost of living’ to the heart of politics and dictating government policy on recent issues such as energy, payday loans and fixed odds betting machines. Labour has asserted a strong stance on welfare, which has struck a chord with the public, and their jobs guarantee shows a commitment to get people off the welfare bill and into employment. Polls have shown the electorate trust Miliband on the cost of living crisis more than Cameron, and that Labour are the favoured party of the voter at present. Nonetheless, opinion polls studying economic credibility show Labour lagging behind the Tories. The reason for this is the Tory narrative about the economic crisis of 2008.

If someone didn’t have much knowledge of politics and economics, and just tuned in to various Conservative Party speeches, they would immediately be convinced that the credit crunch crisis was caused by ‘reckless Labour spending’, ‘fiscal irresponsibility’, and of course ‘Gordon Brown selling our gold reserves’. The issue is, Labour have failed to effectively respond to these accusations. Everyday voters have been conned into believing Labour is at fault for the crisis, partly thanks to Cameron repeating week after week during PMQs that Labour is the party who ‘got us in the mess in the first place’, while the Tories are ‘cleaning up their mess’. They assert that their primary objective is to work down the deficit caused by Labour. Leaving aside the broken promises they have made on the economy and the deficit (‘balanced books by 2015’), why haven’t Labour, and particularly Miliband, responded by telling the voters the truth?

The 2008 credit crunch was caused by a global economic crisis, not a Labour economic crisis. The old mantra ‘America sneezes and the world gets a cold’ couldn’t be more apt. A US housing bubble burst and Wall Street crashed thanks to sub-prime mortgages gift-wrapped in derivatives being traded willy-nilly by irresponsible investment bankers. As we live in such an interconnected global economy, the repercussions of this of course reverberated around the world, Britain included. Nonetheless our electorate have been led down the garden path to believe that Labour caused our crisis. Ignoring the Eurozone crisis and the worldwide shocks that Wall Street triggered, the Tories and the right-wing press, particularly the highly respectable publication the Daily Mail, have brainwashed the people to believe that the economic downturn the UK suffered was down to reckless spending by the Labour government. This message has been repeated constantly by the government, and consequently it has become part of the household lexicon and caused voters to doubt Labour’s fiscal credibility.

The truth is a very different story, but one that Miliband has been reluctant to tell. Instead of fighting the perception of Labour’s economic irresponsibility by opposing the picture painted by the government and opening the eyes of the electorate to a novel concept in politics – the truth – he has chosen the route of claiming economic advisors have studied Labour’s plans and deem them fiscally credible, as well as promising not to raise day-to-day spending in government, and even pledging a budget surplus by the end of the next parliament. I see this as an error, and think Labour’s cause will be helped by reversing the Tory narrative about the economic situation we find ourselves in. So since Miliband won’t tell you the truth about Labour’s ‘reckless spending’, I will.

This myth about Labour’s fiscal irresponsibility is in utter confliction with true events. Little known is the fact that Labour ran a budget surplus throughout its first and into its second term in parliament. Throughout its second and third terms Labour did run a budget deficit, as public spending was required to improve health care and education, two areas neglected by previous Tory governments. It was promises of spending on the NHS and ‘education, education, education’ that got New Labour elected, so this deficit was clearly legitimised by the people. Labour succeeded in slashing surgery waiting lists, improving services and providing better hospital infrastructure. In education, New Labour made significant cash injections into state schools in an effort to increase social mobility. New buildings took place, better facilities, school specialisation was advanced and the gap between private and state schooling was reduced (nowhere near enough in my opinion, but progress was made). Even with this high level of public spending, the deficit Gordon Brown ran from the Treasury was relatively small, in fact, much smaller than the deficit presided over by John Major’s administration. The deficit was entirely manageable, and far from concerning. The economy was booming, and Labour provided us with the longest period of consecutive economic growth in British history. The deficit only inflated to alarming levels after 2008. More specifically, after the US led global economic crisis, Brown was forced to bail out the banks. Why? The human cost of the too-big-to-fail banking giants was far too high; we had to keep out economy alive. Shockingly, nationalising major banks put us into dangerous levels of debt.

Herein lays the hypocrisy of the Tories though. The reason Britain was affected so deeply by the global recession was because of the deregulation started by Thatcher. Financial deregulation started as dogmatic monetarism but soon became an area of political consensus, thus was embraced by Blair, advanced by Brown, and voted for by the Tories. If anything is to blame for Britain’s recession it’s not fiscal irresponsibility, but financial deregulation, a principle greatly projected and consented for by the Conservative Party. It is time to change the narrative. The electorate cannot go on adhering to the Tory rhetoric. The money Labour spent was paid for through taxation. This Conservative led government have in fact borrowed more in 3 years than Labour did in 13. Labour only worked up an unmanageable deficit when it had to bail out the banks due to financial deregulation, banker irresponsibility and a global crisis. These are the facts, and they must be asserted by Mr Miliband. If Labour can change the economic narrative, they can change the voter’s minds on their economic credibility, and secure electoral victory in 2015.

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16 comments

  1. In 2008 the credit crunch which caused havoc in some economies around the world and sparked a banking crisis which was overseen by Labour in the UK. They have to take responsibility for that. They were the one’s that had overseen banking regulation for 11 years before. “Reckless Labour borrowing” is fair too. Labour ran a structural deficit not from 2008 like Labour wants us to believe but from 2002 onwards. Labour spent more than it took in revenue every year from 2002. 2002 was 6 years before the ‘credit crunch’. Labour have to take responsibility for that too. As we were in deficit before the crisis, as our public finances were in a fragile state before the crisis especially when a lot of our tax revenue came from the City and finance. Let’s not forget manufacturing as a % of GDP declined heavily under Labour. We suffered a huge contraction, one of the biggest in the world and our budget deficit widened – this was despite Labour stating we were best placed to weather the storm. Thirdly, unemployment. I want to focus particularly on youth unemployment. There has been around 1 million youth unemployed since the 2008 crisis. However, youth unemployment is partly a structural problem that started under Labour. From 2004 onwards youth unemployment grew at a rapid pace that was despite Labour proclaiming our youth were more educated than ever before therefore work ready. Gain Labour must take responsibility for the problem of youth unemployment.

    I think voters want politicians that take responsibility and clearly show how they have learnt from that. Labour have failed to do either. It is rare you hear a Labour politician tell us anything that went wrong in the last 13 years. I don’t remember it being so blissful and the voters certainly don’t either.

    I’d also like to mention spending too. Like I have said above, Labour ran a structural deficit from 2002, they simply couldn’t keep within a budget despite inheriting and overseeing a growing economy. Labour regularly state they refuse to apologise for spending lots of money on building hospitals and schools. This is an absolute deception in the strongest terms. When Labour built hospitals and schools they used private funding via Private Finance Initiative. PFI was used to build schools and hospitals. PFI debt doesn’t appear on the balance sheet. Schools and hospitals have been effectively mortgaged. Therefore Labour didn’t run a structural deficit to pay for new schools or hospitals, this is deception. A running theme for Labour.

    You argue Labour spent money to improve education and health. England has fallen in the world’s PISA league tables and youth unemployment has been growing since 2004, where is the concrete evidence that Labour spent money wisely in education? As for the NHS, yes spending doubled but was it spent wisely? Stafford hospital is a shameful indictment of how Labour spends money and manages the NHS. You also argue that money was spent to increase social mobility. Social mobility stagnated under Labour. Where is your evidence that social mobility grew under Labour? People from working class/under class backgrounds were just as disadvantaged, in not more so than for a very long time.

    You do admit Brown ran a deficit but then go on to compare this to John Major’s era. You can not possibly compare. John Major went into deficit because of the 1992 recession. Most people accept the need for a deficit when falling into a recession but the deficit must come down and it did, fast. Labour went into deficit during an economic boom. Labour inherited a balanced budget in 1997. That is the major difference.

    You argue Labour ran a budget surplus, it inherited in 1997 a budget that was in balance, after the 1992 recession was over the budget deficit went down rapidly. Labour pledged to stick with Tory spending plans in the 1997 general election and as a result the budget was in surplus. It is well known that Labour’s first term was not very satisfying for most people in Labour party. The money taps had not been turned on. After the 2001 general election, that’s exactly what happened with a budget deficit from 2002 despite consistent economy growth from 1993. By the end of 2009-10 our annual deficit had ballooned to £170.8 billion.

    You argue Britain was affected by a global recession and Labour doesn’t appear to have any responsibility for that. In fact it’s Thatcher’s fault. Of course it is. When isn’t it her fault? The electorate knows Labour don’t responsibility. Labour over spent way before 2008 so it was spending money not generated through taxation. So when you argue all the money Labour spent was paid for via taxation is simply not true and you even mentioned Brown ran a deficit. Both can’t be right. Tories have borrowed more in 3 years than Labour did in 13 years. Yes they did. However, the context for both are so different. This comparison with borrowing is absurd. The Tories inherited a massive budget deficit in 2010 of over 160 billion so by definition the debt will go up by 160 billion a year unless spending cuts are made. Remember Labour planned to halve the deficit therefore it would of more than doubled the debt Labour did from 97-10 too.

    The reason why Labour are so reluctant to tell the truth because the real story of what they did because it requires them to admit some truths the electorate know all about. They spent more than they got back in tax from 2002 onwards. They lied about this and pretend it’s all America’s fault. Despite Labour presiding over banking regulation for 11 years before the crisis it all appears to be Thatcher’s fault. Vast sums of money were spent during 13 years of Labour and the electorate don’t think value for money was at the core of Labour spending. The electorate are not stupid and will not forgive Labour until it recognises its own problems. Blame Thatcher, blame the Daily Mail, blame the weather, blame gay marriage, blame anyone but Labour. That’s Labour at it’s core, it’s always someone else’s fault and this is why Labour won’t win a majority in 2015 because the electorate are not stupid.

  2. I accept that the banking regulation overseen by Labour was lax, but there was great pressure from the city and the opposition benches to roll back the red tape, it is a regret of mine that they listened. Deregulation was started by Thatcher and as I said, it became a political consensus, I’m sure you had no issue with it when it made us money (I personally did). Labour succeeded having less national debt in 2007 than when they entered Whitehall in 1997. We did suffer a manufacturing contraction, a further regret, however the city, FDI, and services sector all boomed, and we were provided with the longest period of uninterrupted growth since economic records began in Britain.

    Youth unemployment is a long standing issue, I accept, however the Coalition have compounded it, failing to provide jobs or training for the unemployed, instead, threatening them with the removal of benefits, as well as overseeing a rise in tuition fees! In terms of the PISA tables, other countries improving doesn’t mean Britain’s got worse, and keep in mind the latest PISA report was on the back of Gove’s wacky reforms. I do not condone PFI, but at the same time I reject the notion that all Labour education and health spending was conducted through that medium, and thus question your accusations of deception.

    Perhaps you haven’t been following the news, because Labour politicians have been lining up to take responsibility for various mistakes of their reign. Miliband said they got it wrong on Iraq. Blunkett and Straw have apologised for miscalculating the number of incoming immigrants. Ed Balls apologised for the lack of banking regulation.

    Labour was fiscally prudent in the first term, running a budgest surplus after a full Major term of deficit. The recession recovery took place by the end of 1992, so the ‘deficit in a recession’ argument is a cop out. Labour chose to spend high in their second term because key public services had been neglected under the Tories and there was voter demand for education and health care spending, that was the mandate that won Labour a second landslide victory, and I don’t recall the Tories calling for deficit management in opposition, I recall requests for tax-cutting.

    And when I said that Labour’s spending was paid for through taxation I should have clarified, I meant in comparison to the coalition. Yes Labour ran a deficit, but the Coalition came into power promising to ‘balance the books by 2015’ and have proceeded to slash taxes for the rich, thus their spending isn’t paid for by taxes as proportionately as Labour’s was. Instead, this Tory-led government have borrowed more money in 3 years than Labour did in 13. I make the comparison because Osborne promised to pay off the debt.

    As touched on above, Balls recognised these mistakes and apologised for them in 2011. This being said, the moral high ground cannot be occupied by the governing party, who were calling for more deregulation!! Finally, it was UKIP who choose to blame gay marriage not Labour, it was Labour who helped David Cameron get it past the Tory backbenchers! Replace ‘Thatcher’ with ‘Brown’, ‘Daily Mail’ with ‘Guardian’, ‘weather’ with ‘Royal Marriage’, ‘gay marriage’ with ‘backbenchers’ and ‘Labour’ with the ‘Conservatives’ and you’ve just summed up the Tory premiership.

  3. Labour were ultimately responsible for banking regulation in this country, they were the one’s in charge. Labour did make a major change to banking regulation though. They introduced the tripartite regulator system where three bodies had some control and I say control in a very loose sense of the word, of the banking system. This, many argue, led to no control at all and therefore the banks did what ever they pleased. To be fair, my argument against you isn’t really about the banking crisis. It undoubtedly happened, it wasn’t just labour’s fault, although they should take responsibility for it. My argument against you is Labour’s claim we were in good shape to weather the storm. Whether it was our budget deficit, youth unemployment or over reliance on financial services, Labour failed to take responsibility for most of this. You argue Labour succeed in having less national debt in 2007 than in 1997, that would be expected considering there was uninterrupted economic growth. However, what you have failed to mention is that debt started to grow again from 2002 for 6 years prior to the economic crisis. And this happened during an economic boom. Labour inherited this economic boom, they didn’t implement any of the reforms that were needed to provide for boom. But Labour certainly spent the proceeds of this but had to go that one step further and spend even more borrowing and as a result they gave us a structural deficit, which means our public finances were in a bad shape in 2007 before the recession. IMF and even Tony Blair said we had a structural deficit in 2007 and had done so for many years. This is why our public finances are a mess.

    Youth unemployment has always been an issue but a particular issue during labour’s reign despite what labour proclaimed was their number 1 priority… education, education, education. Why did youth unemployment go up and up from 2004? We were in the middle of the boom and apparently education standards were very high – according to labour. BTW, when it comes to benefit sanctions labour introduced many of these and claim to support the additional sanctions now. As for tuition fees, Labour are first degree lairs when it comes to lying to students. In 1997 Labour promised not to introduce fees, they introduced them. In 2001 labour promised not to introduce top up fees, labour introduced them. Labour in 2006 (the year top up fees came into force) set-up the Browne review with a view of increasing fees and there was even talk of unlimited fees. The report was due to recommend after the election. It’s very likely Labour would of supported what their own review had said. Again. Labour’;s record here is one of deceiving the electorate.

    PISA exams were taken in 2012…. two years into the coalition but this accounted for kids that had spent their entire time of education under Labour so I think Labour need to take responsibility here. We fell in the league tables despite record investment in education and more students than ever getting A grades. This is a dreadful record.
    “I do not condone PFI, but at the same time I reject the notion that all Labour education and health spending was conducted through that medium, and thus question your accusations of deception. “ Who said all of labour’s spending on education and health was through PFI? I said spending on schools and hospitals I.e. the buildings was spent via PFI. Therefore when Labour refuse to apologise for spending money on building schools and hospitals, they need to stop deceiving the electorate because it hasn’t been paid for yet. PFI is paid for over 30 year period.

    Labor were arguably ‘fiscally prudent’ during their first term because they stuck with Tory spending plans and that is why the budget went into surplus. Labour backbenchers were so so eager to turn on the spending taps. The 1990s recession resulted in a deficit, before that there was a balanced budget (1989 budget for instance). After the recession was over the deficit came down at a quick pace and by 1997 it was almost eliminated. I don’t argue the electorate wanted more spending on public services, I think they needed it too but it should have been done in a fiscally responsible way. Not by running a deficit during an economic boom.

    “And when I said that Labour’s spending was paid for through taxation I should have clarified, I meant in comparison to the coalition.” This is an extraordinary comparison! Labour inherited a growing economy and a balanced budget. The coalition inherited a 170 billion deficit. The coalition have missed their deficit reduction targets just like Brown cheated his way through his economic rules too. I am not here to defend the coalition’s record as such, I am here to argue Labour have a lot to apologise for and why the narrative the coalition had made of Labor is true.

    I was being ironic when I suggested Labour would blame gay marriage on the state of the economy. My point was it is very rare you hear Labour say sorry for anything they did and your piece perpetuates this. You have defended Labour’s deficit and other areas too. Until Labour apologises and shows, this is more crucial, shows they would do something different than the electorate will not change from the narrative that Labour messed up our economy. Blame the mail, gay marriage or anyone else for that matter. Labor needs to own up and show the electorate they can be trusted again.

    1. Brown may well have dabbled in hubris by claiming Britain was in best shape to weather the storm, but don’t be naive, there was a reason he made that statement, and it wasn’t because he believed in it, it was to ensure business confidence didn’t plummet and compound the impending crisis faster. You claim that you agree the public spending needed to take place but say there shouldn’t have been a deficit during a boom. How else could this spending have taken place then?

      Youth unemployment likely went up because of the number of people going to university rising. More university graduates obviously increases post-grad competition hence higher youth unemployment. And the party that has a real track record of lying to the electorate over tuition fees is the Liberal Democrats.

      As for PISA, I could write an entire article denouncing its latest findings. For one, you cannot judge the entire education system of a country by one set of exams. Also, you just pointed out that we had the highest number of A grades ever, thus admitting that our education system has improved, and like I said, just that other countries have improved more. Without the investment, we would find ourselves even lower down the PISA rankings. Besides, the schools that lead the league tables like China, South Korea etc. have curriculums that train students for exams like robots, making them undynamic in the workplace. Also, highly ranked south korea has a disgustingly high rate of student suicides due to work-related stress. I refuse to recognise the authority of PISA to judge our schooling, our improvements are evident in our facilities, our sports, our technologies, our specialisations, our vocations etc. not just a score on a PISA test.

      If Labour are to apologise for their economic record why aren’t the Tories doing the same? They are missing targets, breaking promises, and hitting the poorest hardest to achieve this so-called ‘recovery’. And you have completely ignored the numerous examples of Labour apologies I just laid out for you…

      Finally, I noted your irony but saw a chance for a dig at the Tory backbenches and couldn’t resist. Labour has not only apologised on several occasions for its past mistakes, its proven its learned from the past and won’t bow to city pressure again by taking an entirely new economic direction, challenging vested interests and monopoly powers, and suggesting stricter bank regulation. This isn’t New Labour anymore, that’s been and gone, and its flaws have been accounted for. The electorate will trust Miliband’s Labour.

  4. Brown didn’t just dab into political hubris he was layered in it. Remember his claim of abolishing the economic cycle? Ah, you’re claiming Brown didn’t believe we were in a good position to weather the storm? – That’s a new one. Was it because we had a budget deficit before the financial crisis, an over reliance on the city, growing youth unemployment… a few examples.
    If only he admitted to that. Yeah I do think public services needed more money, the electorate on the whole agreed with that, there was a political consensus with that too. However, it needed to be properly paid for and this is my point of contention. If you partly pay for it using a structural deficit then that is not very stable and honest with the electorate and will result in cuts later on. If you want more money for schools and hospitals during a boom you increase taxes or cut spending elsewhere. In other words, pay for it.
    Your reasoning for youth unemployment doesn’t make sense. If there were a growing number of jobs in the economy from 2004 why did the number of youth having no job grow too? Ha, you’ve completing dismissed the argument I made of Labour’s deception with students. Yeah Lib Dems did make one hell of an error but they are paying for it now. Labour lied in 1997, 2001 and at the last election too. Labour’s record is nothing but deception when it comes to university fees. And to top it all off, by your argument had nothing but unemployment to look forward to. Students really did get a poor deal from Labour.

    I did say we had the highest number of A grades but I don’t necessarily think that relates to the quality of our education system. We have a system where subjects are broken down into modules and these modules can be resat an unlimited number of times until the desired grade is achieved. Education spending doubled and what did we have as a result? Youth unemployment growing and England’s league table rankings sinking. That is embarrassing. You claim without investment we would be in an even worse position. The problem we have demonstrates that money doesn’t necessarily yield the results you want. Structural reform and culture is most crucial. And I don’t mean replicating what many eastern countries do. I mean getting rid of modular exams, getting rid of great swathes of coursework. Getting back to learning and enjoying learning rather than constantly trying to remember facts for a January or June exam and forget about it thereafter.

    The Tories can apologise too. But my argument is with your article. You don’t agree with the narrative in the political discourse right now. But I do. I think it’s the right one and is true of what labour did to this country. Don’t talk about breaking promises, targets etc… all political parties have done that, what’s new? And as for hitting the poorest hardest that goes to Labour. I remember in 2008 when Brown implemented his abolition of the 10p tax band and doubled the tax rate for the poorest workers in the land. At least the coalition have taken all of these people out of tax now. The apologies you claim Labour have made are not believable. Balls to this day refuses to say Labour spent too much during their period in office despite presiding over a budget deficit. Show me a quote where he apologises for this and I’ll let you off for that one.

    You claim the electorate will trust labour yet I fail to sense any evidence for this. Labour has not fundamentally apologised for the mess it got us in. For the budget deficit. For the cuts that have to be made. The reason cuts are being made is partly to do with the deficit labour created before the crash yet they refuse to admit that. Labour wants to fool the electorate and create a narrative that if they ere in power cuts would be made but no one would be affected by them. There would be no austerity. There would be no marching against the cuts. What utter tripe. What fool believes this rubbish?
    The electorate won’t trust labour again until it properly apologises and proves it is credible with the economy. They clearly have your support but not the electorates. Ever heard of preaching to the already converted? That’s Labour’s strategy.

    1. Don’t misinterpret me, I’m not suggesting Brown didn’t believe we were equipped, but he certainly didn’t believe we were ‘best’ equipped, Germany was always going to weather the storm better because they weren’t as reliant on services as us, residing over a strong manufacturing industry.

      I agree that public spending should be paid for through taxation, which is clearly in Miliband’s plans via the 50p tax band pledge.

      As for the youth unemployment, I was merely suggesting that the demand for graduates was overtaken by the supply of them, because under Labour more working class background students attended university than ever before, inflating the intake and so ramping up employment competition. And you cannot blame Labour as a whole for the tuition fees, there was major infighting over it, Blair was almost deposed from within over top-up fees, and Brown was ideologically opposed, agreeing merely to maintain political stability.

      Having gone through the school system recently I find your sweeping analysis of it to be highly insulting. a) not all subjects are modular. b) there is a limit to the number of resits one can take, and students who wish to take them have to pay for them. c) as of last year there are no more january resits at all. d) coursework, while prevalent in some subjects, isn’t what it used to be, it’s conducted under exam conditions and called ‘controlled assessments. I’ve heard enough adults tell me how much more difficult school was in their day, a common misconception played on by Gove.

      You just suggested getting rid of modules and coursework, which would just leave exams in June, providing the exact scenario ‘constantly trying to remember facts’ for a June exam, that you denounced, and Gove embraces.

      I accept, as does pretty much everyone, that the 10p tax change made under Labour was a mistake. It was even apologised for by Balls, but you said public spending had to be paid for through taxation, and if any party hits the poorest hardest its the Tories with their bedroom taxes, granny taxes, welfare cuts, tax cuts for millionaires etc.

      The apologies that you ignore can be found in the article below:
      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2011/sep/26/labour-why-ed-balls-apologised

      The only narrative fooling the electorate at present is the one projected by the Tories, stating that the economic crisis and ballooned deficit is all down to Labour, to excuse their ideological cuts.

  5. I didn’t misinterpret you, I merely repeated what you had said which was that Brown didn’t think the UK was best to weather the storm. Where is your evidence that he didn’t think we were best placed to weather the storm? He certainly believed he had abolished the economic cycle – an insane claim to make.
    If you believe the 50p tax is a good way to pay for public services why does the IFS claim it doesn’t raise anything? If Labour believes in taxation to pay for public services why did Labour stick with 40p tax rate, therefore ‘cutting tax for millionaires’ for 13 years? If Labour believe 50p tax will be used to fund public services why are they claiming it’s only a temporary measure? That means Labour are eventually going to to give a tax cut to ‘millionaires’ doesn’t it? And therefore, by cut public services to fund tax cuts to ‘millionaires’. I think Labour want to reintroduce 50p for political reasons only and is why Labour is not trusted with the economy.
    But you miss my fundamental point, in 2004 there were more jobs in the economy than ever before yet youth unemployment started to rise. Why is that? Surely if there are more jobs in the economy there are more opportunities for students…
    The rise in the number of working class kids going to uni continued to rise, it was a trend that started in the early 1990s. The trend has continued despite the lies and absurd claim from Labour that working class students would be deterred from coalition financial package but they wouldn’t be deferred from Labour’s top-up-fees package. I can blame Labour alone for university fees. Labour introduced fees. No blaming the Tories now. Labour introduced them with their huge majority. It was Labour that introduced them and lied to the electorate about it. You can’t be a fan of Gordon Brown can you? Now you’re claiming he voted for fees in England (despite being a Scottish MP where fee’s wouldn’t apply) despite being against them.
    Most A Level subjects are modular. There was no limit to the number of resits one could take, there is a limit now. Introduced recently. Who pays for resits? Depends what school/college you go. My college paid for my resits. January resits, yes abolished recently. I am talking about Labour’s record here…! Labour were against abolishing January resits. Coursework for some subjects like Sociology was at least 60% coursework, this is what I am talking about. None of it was controlled assessment. It was merely essays and certainly not under exam conditions. Come on, you’re 18 aren’t you? I am 25, the system I went through was very similar to what you’ve experienced/experiencing. I’ve had enough of young people being cheated by our education system.

    Yeah the 10p tax was a mistake and the coalition have rectified this by cutting their tax by 100%.
    bedroom tax – this was introduced in the social sector by the current government but introduced by labour in the private sector in 2008. Labour stated in their manifesto they were going to reform housing benefit. ‘Bedroom tax’ – it’s not a tax it’s a subsidy – would have been introduced under Labour for social housing tenants too. Granny ‘tax’. Again misusing the word tax. You’d think Labour were against taxes! The personal tax threshold elderly people are hit by before they start paying tax is to be frozen in-line with the rest of us. When we have a huge deficit, I think this is acceptable. Of course Labour wouldn’t of done this would they….. we saw tiny increases in the income tax threshold under Labour and some years none at all, despite s growing economy. And Labour were the one’s that increased state pensions by 75p. Welfare cuts… be more specific. Labour introduced ATOS and gave them the contract until 2015. reducing the highest rate of tax from 50p to 45p is not a tax cut for millionaires. There is a fundamental difference between someone earning 150k, and would be affected by the 50p tax and someone who is asset rich like Ed Miliband who is a millionaire.

    Your link doesn’t state Balls admitting there was a structural deficit before the financial crash.
    The economic crisis emerged under Labour, the deficit started under Labour and grew massively under labour and Labour promised biggest cuts than Maggie Thatcher after 2010. This is why I and the electorate blame Labour.

  6. These claims were made for the benefit of business confidence, and they succeeded in ensuring investment didn’t plummet earlier than necessary. You are exaggerating the report compiled by IFS in your favour, the 50p tax rate when it was in place raised billions in additional revenue, was supported by Cameron in opposition and was higher under Thatcher. Labour had a low top rate of tax during boom years, we are now in times of economic struggle, a time when we should be asking those with the ‘broadest shoulders to help the most’ in the words of Mr Cameron, not cutting taxes for millionaires and punishing the poor and vulnerable.
    Youth unemployment is a genuine issue that the previous government should have addressed better, I am not a purely partisan writer, I accept that issue, but am more concerned at the rapid hike it has seen under this government and the failure to provide more jobs but rather to threaten the young and unemployed with the removal of benefits!
    And let me assure you that I am the first to lambast Blair for introducing tuition fees, but that doesn’t excuse the Lib Dems for reneging on their key manifesto promise or the Tories for overseeing a trebling in the cost of university education.
    You misunderstand my stance on Brown. My point is that he and a significant section part of the PLP were ideologically opposed to top up fees (evidenced by the backbenches rebelling) so you can’t blame Labour as a whole for that policy. Brown meanwhile voted in favour of it anyway for the sake of the party, choosing to prioritise party stability.
    I am undertaking 4 A levels and not a single one of them is modular. Gove has a vendetta against the current educational system, which I do to but for very different reasons. Under the current system students must pay for their own resits, perhaps you went to a private school? And as for abolishing resits, do you not believe in second chances? Exam conditions are very stressful and used at a young age, people in work rarely have to go through the same experience. Sociology, fine 1 subject, the subjects I took with coursework were History, Geography and English, all of which were conducted under exam conditions as ‘controlled assessments’. I am 18 making me more in touch with the current education system. Most adults and especially the Westminster Village show a complete ignorance of the current system and particularly the environment within state schools. Ofsted rock up, give poor recommendations and tell the school to get better, while the government offers no assistance – financial or otherwise – to improve. Instead threats of academies are held over the heads of schools which increases pressure on teachers who face the threat of losing their jobs which translates into pressure on students and thus lower standards of care and education. Blair’s educational funding was a plus, his reforms were a big negative, and Gove’s are unspeakably damaging.
    Note the Coalition cut the 10p rate. It was a Lib Dem policy which Cameron described as a fantasy in the Leaders debates which was implausible.
    Labour have said that they will scrap the bedroom tax when they return to power. Labour isn’t against taxes, just unfair ones. The Coalitions only legacy will be a series of high-profile U-turns. Cigarette packaging, taxation, pastygate, and of course Cameron promising to tackle alcohol-related diseases by raising the price of alcohol a week before Osborne knocking a penny off the pint.
    Fine but the link does address the other issues you brought up, a point you’ve overlooked, and as you previously stated Blair – along with Darling – already admitted the structural deficit so why should Balls repeat the point?
    The economic crisis was the legacy of Thatcer, deregulation, and banker irresponsibility. The economy was a ticking time bomb thanks to those factors and just happened to go off during Labour’s reign. The cuts made by the Tories have been higher than those proposed by Thatcher and Labour thanks.

  7. I simply do not believe the 50p rate will bring in the revenue to justify it being in existence. Could you please show me the source of your claim the 50p rate ‘raised billions in revenue’? Cameron may have ‘supported’ it in opposition but it is OK to change your mind in politics. I welcome politicians changing their minds based on new evidence. Labour had the 40% top rate of tax for almost all of their time in office but ran a structural deficit, surely if the 50p rate raises billions of pounds why did Labour decide to run a deficit instead of introducing 50p rate? Why did Labour prioritise millionaires in this case?

    At least under this government almost all working people have seen a significant tax cut year on year, this never happened under Labour. I do remember Labour punishing the poor and vulnerable, in particular when they abolished the 10p tax rate, effectively doubling the taxes on the poorest working people in the land. To be fair to this government, the poorest workers punished by Labour are not paying any tax what’s so ever so can now keep all of their earnings. I think this is a good thing. Oh and BTW, can we get something straight here? Having a 45p tax rate as opposed to a 50p tax rate is not cutting taxes for millionaires. If you wish to frame it like that then we can also talk about how Labour wants to cut taxes for millionaires after the deficit is eliminated – as labour claim the 50p rate will only be temporary’ and how Labour cut taxes for 13 years for millionaires too, then.

    I am glad you have admitted youth unemployment became a huge issue under the last Labour government. It started to go up in a more worrying fashion in 2004 and thereafter. There was a further rapid hike after the 2008 recession and it stabilized thereafter at around 1 million mark, it has now started to come down. You claim the government is threatening to remove benefits from youth who are unemployed, could you be more specific?

    I am not excusing the Lib Dem’s for their betrayal, which is was, on tution fees. It was clearly stupid of Lib Dems to go into the 2010 election promising to bring fees down in 6 years. However, Nick Clegg did want to remove this as a Lib Dem manifesto pledge in 2008 but it was blocked by Lib Dem members. On the other hand, the Labour party has continuously lied and cheated to students. Fees may have ‘triped’ under this coalition government but the new system is merely a graduate tax really so the tuition fee amount could be a million quid a year – it doesn’t necessarily matter because repayments are based on earnings and earnings after 21k too. Furthermore, what also matters is how much money students have to live off at university. The new fee system forces universities to offer better financial packages for poorest students and I have taken a look at many universities financial packages for someone from my background and it’s a lot better than when I was at university (2007-2010).

    Your argument that ALL of Labour cannot be blamed for fees because a minority didn’t support fees is completely ridiculous. These very same people voted for fees and voted to triple them in 2004 and continued to support Labour thereafter. It was Labour that introduced tuition fees and tripled them but promised the electorate the complete opposite. Brown did indeed vote for fees, you claim he chose his party rather than students in England (who did not vote for him). This is typical of the Labour party – putting the party before the country and its people.  Your example is a perfect one to showcase this thinking.

    Listen dude, when I was at college some years ago, about 9 years ago almost all A Levels were module. That might have changed this academic year but for most of us who went through the education system under Labour, A levels were ‘modulised’. It was introduced in early 2000s, there was a big controversy over it because Labour messed it up big style! I certainly didn’t go to a private school, I was educated in a rough state comprehensive and I was born and bred on a council estate. And you must of noticed my poor spelling and grammar? If I were privately educated I’d ask for my money back!

    Yes I do believe in second chances and resits, but not unlimited number of resits. Don’t get so bloody hung up on it man. You say exam conditions are stressful… mate, you’re 18 and I am 25… I have been through what you’re currently going through so don’t you patronise me!

    The coalition have increased the tax threshold to nearly 10k, it will be 10k this April. This means, those who would of been taxed at the 10p tax had Labour not abolished it would now be paying no tax whats so ever because the 10p rate covered smaller incomes only. It’s been introduced by a Tory Chancellor, voted by all Tory and Lib Dem MP’s – Labour voted against – and yeah, it was in the Lib Dem manifesto… and?

    It took Labour a very long time to decide they would scrap the room subsidy for social housing, they were waiting to see how electorally viable it was I bet. Labour will continue with the bedroom tax in privately rented accommodation though…. I wonder why? I think I know. It was because Labour introduced the bedroom tax in 2008 in the private sector. Why do you think a two tier system is justified?

    You claim Labour are against unfair taxes… like what? The ‘bedroom tax’ is clearly not a tax so you can’t include this one. And your definition of unfair is someone else’s definition of fairness.
    Under 13 years of Labour I remember the 40p tax rate staying in place but Labour removed the 10p tax rate from the poorest in the land, doubled council tax, put up national insurance and allowed the richest in society to use loopholes to avoid tax. Labour’s record on tax is nothing to be proud of if you’re a red blooded socialist. It’s shameful.

    U-Turns… mate, a little lesson for you here….. U-Turns wasn’t invented by this government, every single government has u-turned a 1,000 times. Labour, god for bid, if they ever get back in power, will make lots of U-Turns too.

    Darling and Blair after 2010 did admit Labour had a structural deficit but they won’t form the next Labour government. Darling clearly doesn’t like Miliband’s direction and Blair certainly doesn’t either. That is why it’s important Ed Miliband and Balls admit to the structural deficit and tell us why they ran a deficit from 2004. It’s not Darling that could become the next Chancellor, it’s the ex city minister Ed balls, that’s why it’s so important Balls does the talking.

    You claim the cuts have been higher under this government than what Labour proposed. Er, no, this isn’t true. Labour promised to halve the deficit, Osborne hasn’t even managed to do that, therefore, if Labout would of stuck to their manifesto pledge and I’m sure they would because Labour never breaks manifesto pledges, Labour would of made deeper cuts than Osborne.

    The economic crisis was Thatcher’s fault you claim… this argument is so piss poor. It goes back to my origional point of Labour and their supporters admitting little and blaming other people. I wouldn’t expect anything different. Labour doesn’t believe in personal responsibility after all, it’s always someone else’s fault. Luckily the public blame Labour and rightly so.

  8. The shadow DA made the claim on question time, which was completely unopposed, even by ken clarke, who merely opposed it on principle. There is something i must make crystal clear to you, i am a supporter of Miliband’s One Nation Labour, i far from agree with everything New Labour did and won’t wholeheartedly defend their record. In my eyes they were 50% social democrat and 50% neo-conservative, and made many mistakes. Their tax policies and cushiness with the city is certainly included in these, howver that doesn’t excuse the Tories undergoing the same tactics, especially since you criticised Labour for doing it.
    Cutting the top rate tax does cut taxes for millionaires since it is the top tax band, how cancyou deny this? Labour haveadmitted the 50p tax band would be temporary in order to cut the deficit fairly, and once they return us to economic stability they would reduce it again, because a 45p rate may be fair durimg times of economic stability, not in times when those with the broadest shoulders are supposedly supposed to bear the heaviest load according to Cameron! The New Statesman recently acquired Treasury data that shows the bottom 10% are bearing the most load bar the top 10% in this ideological age of austerity. The tories are punishing the poor for the mistakes of the rich.
    I do accept youth unemployment as an issue the last government failed to address, but in the tory conference cameron said if anyone under 25 was out of work or education he would revoke their unemployment benefits, how id this going to help? Threats without job creation? Thats just imposing poverty. Labour’s job guarantee pledge will solve the youth unemployment problem, amd give them a living wage.
    Frankly that doesn’t get Clegg off the hook, he still ran his campaign on tuiton fees, and his core voters were students, he betrayed the country, and if he didn’t agree with it he shouldn’t have stood for leader and campaigned upon it. The lib dems deserve to be exiled to opposition for a very long time, rennard,donor rolls royce bribes, allegations of sex abuse, huhne’s imprisonment etc have turned them not only into a spineless party that reneges on its central manifesto promise, but also the new party of sleaze. Lest we forget the tories voted with blair on tuition fees.
    Frankly, the Tories have ignored the problem, Miliband’s promise pf a graduate tax will replace tuition fees and ensure people from poorer backgrounds gain access to top universities.
    Partisanship aside, i believe in modules. Your future shouldn’t be decided by a 2 he exam at the end of your course, people freeze and their true ability isn’t fairly reflected. Also, how often do you need to do exams in the real world. In the real world ita about the hard yards you put in day in day out. Thats why modules, or better the new zealand system of 50% exams 50% work put in throughout the year is better than gove’s ideological reforms.
    And i’m not patronising you, but exam conditions are stressful, for some more than others, and particularly in struggling state schools where blair and now gove’s threat of academy statuse puts teachers on edge who fear for their jobs who in turn pile more pressure on students, which creates a more stressful environment a degrading mental health effect.
    My point about cameron opposing the tax change initially speaks to his utter lack of principle. He blows with wind and makes more u-turns than your stamdard PM. Observe http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/may/31/coalition-u-turns-full-list
    Once again, New Labour got it wrong on tax, but that doesn’t excuse the coalition doing the same. One Nation Labour oppose the granny tax, the bedroom tax, the 45p cut which cameron wants to cut again to 40!
    Apologies have already been made by current labour figures, and those at the centre of new labour have admitted there was a structural deficit (albeit smaller than john major’s) so what more do you want!? Labour have moved on, they under a new brand, a new leader, they have apologised for mistakes of thr past and are offering the real solutions for the future, don’t be reactionary, look forward, and accept the true facts of the crisis.
    And don’t be selective in your memory, osborne promised to balance the books by 2015, so if the tories stuck to their maifesto pledge their cuts would be twice as deep as labours. The tories were in favour of those that caused the crisis, and now punish the poor for the mistakes of the rich. They are benign of principles, and are unashamedly biased to the rich. Pickles latest funding cuts for poor inner cities and funding rises for middle england shires is further evidence of this. Mo principles, no fairness, no real recovery, thats what the electorate see in this government, and thats why One Nation Labour will win in 2015.

  9. Where is your evidence that a 50p higher rate of tax will raise tens of billions? You can not be serious with your Question Time claim of evidence….? There is an awful lot of bull shit said on that programme. I would like to see real and concrete evidence that suggests the 50p rate will raise tens of billions of pounds in revenue. Ed Miliband’s One Nation Labour is just as bull shit as Cameron’s Hard Working Families. I can’t stand these slogans and I think the public can’t stand them either. They just empty slogans and can mean anything to anyman or women. The reason why I am attacking your arguments about Labour is because you intially wrote an article defending the last Labour government and how apparently the Tories have made up a lie that Labour created a big fat financial black hole. I am arguing against you, I am arguing Labour did make a big financial mess, the narrative out there that Labour is to blame is absolutely correct. You claim the opposite. This is why I am arguing with you. It’s you who is defedning New Labour.

    The top rate of tax affects a few thousand millionaires, the tax has msot impact on those who earn 6 figure salaries. So framing it as a millionaires tax cut is just playing politics, pure and simple.
    So Labour say the 50p rate will be temporary and they also claim it will raise billions of pounds. So by 2020 what cuts to the poor and vulnerable will Labour make to give tax cuts to millionaires when they abolish the 50p rate?

    I would like to see the source of your claim that Cameron said he would remove unemployment benefits for under 25s if they’re unemployed. Please so show me, because it’s news to me. Labour’s job gaurantee is another bollocks policy too. Where are these jobs going to come from? What jobs? Who gets what? How long are these jobs for? I hope they’re full time, generously paid permanent jobs or else it’s another crap policy from Labour. Anyhow if Labour have the answer to youth unemployment why did it rise massively under 13 years of their government? Why did youth unemployment rise so dramatically from 2004?

    Clegg did betray his student vote but Labour have betrayed students many more times and should never ever get away with it. 1997 Labour lied, 2001 Labour lied and 2005 Labour lied. To be fair to the Lib Dems they haven’t been in power for donkey’s years, no excuse though. What’s Labour’s excuses for lying and deceiving students three times? You have listed many Lib Dem crimes if I can call them that, it’s so so tempting to start typing Labour’s crimes here too because you write Lib Dem’s crimes as though Labour are whiter than white… oh I remember John Prescott saying Laour would be whiter than white….. Then what did we get? Cash for honours…. and let’ not forget Bernie Ecclestone’s £1 million donation to Labour and as a result formula 1 is excempt from anti tocacco advertising… – One Nation Labour that was! oh I must stop, I must stop. But you’re encourging me. Labour = biggest crooks out there. Why? Because they pretend they’re whiter than white when the Labour party is sleaze central.

    You claim Tories voted with Blair in the tution fee vote. No they didn’t! Do your research pal! Tories voted against fees both in 1998 and in 2004, Labour introduced fees in 1998 and then tripled them in 2004. They did they all on their own.

    When did Miliband promise a graduate tax? I thought Labour’s ‘policy’ on higher education was to cut fees by 3 grand = 6 grand by using the bankers bonus tax… haha he’s using that tax again (think he’s used the banker’s tax about 20 million times now) at the same time he wants bankers to stop paying bonuses. Labour economics for you! Labour’s policy, the reducing fees one, is absolutely silly and will have zero impact on the poorest students and will only benefit parents who can pay fees for their little darlings to go uni. How will Miliband’s supposed ‘graduate tax’ – I’m not aware he has proposed this as Labour policy – ensure people from poorer backgrounds gain access to top universities? Could you explain that to me? In my view, what will ensure poorer kids get to the top uni’s is if they can afford to live there… I.e generous loans and a gernous grant from the uni and the coalition tution fee policy encourages universities to do this. As a result we have more students from poorer backgrounds at uni than at anytime before.

    Stress is part of life, get used to it man. School is preparing you but stress will get even worse. The real world is a dangerous place and school should prepare you for this so you can fend for yourself.

    Do you honestly believe Ed Miliband has any principles?
    Doesn’t One Nation Labour oppose everything?
    John Major’s structural deficit went down and down and down because the economy started to grow after the 1990s recession. Why did Labour run a strctural deficit from 2002 when there was no recession? Why? Why? Why? Man, you gotta stop comparing deficits the way you do, it has to be like for like. Labour’s deficit when during a boom! Before the 1990 recession there was a surplus, after the recession there was a deficit then it was cut and eliminiated. Labour created another deficit on their own back – they didn’t need a recession to help them!

    “Labour have moved on, they under a new brand, a new leader, they have apologised for mistakes of thr past and are offering the real solutions for the future, don’t be reactionary, look forward, and accept the true facts of the crisis.” I am actually pissing me self laughing at this. Man!!!! I don’t want to be so cynical but man you’re going to be so disappointed with politics.

    “And don’t be selective in your memory” – have I? Where?

    Osborne promised to balance the books by 2015 – indeed he did and he’s going to fail, miserably. The cuts were too far, too fast ;-p As Labour planned to halve the deficit by 2015 and by then Osborne would not of achieved this and as Labour keep to their manifesto commitments….. can we both agree then that Labour would of made deeper cuts than what Osborne made during this Parliament?

    “The tories were in favour of those that caused the crisis, and now punish the poor for the mistakes of the rich. They are benign of principles, and are unashamedly biased to the rich. Pickles latest funding cuts for poor inner cities and funding rises for middle england shires is further evidence of this. Mo principles, no fairness, no real recovery, thats what the electorate see in this government, and thats why One Nation Labour will win in 2015. “
    Is Labour going to make any cuts? If so why are these cuts? Balls has promised to eliminate the deficit by 2020…. so can you tell me how he is going to do that without hurting anyone? Let’s leave out bankers bonus tax it’s been spent probably 30 million times now. Oh and the 50p rate until you can tell me how it will raise billions of pounds. Like I said, One Nation Labour is a big pile of crap.

    1. It did raise billions when it was in law! And even if the amount isnt huge, at least its fairer than the current form of austerity! One Nation l labour is a nod to the 19th cetury to acknowledge the unjust inequality of capitlaism and the need to reunie the classes and bridge the gap. My article was defending the spending record of New labour, not all of their policies be fair! This tory narrative is a joke, and no ones laughing.
      Stop trying to deny that its not a millionaire tax cut, it is, and even if it affects those on y figure salaries they find themselves in the top percintiles and will be taxed on income after. 150’000. My source about cameron, haha just watch his latest conference speech and hear it for yourself, his idea is to punish the vulnerable. And frankly, if it was a Tory jobs guarantee you ‘d love it, all will be explained in the manifesto. And you forget that this is a different era of labour, a new direction, stop living in the past.
      The point is clegg was much more reliant on the student vote than labour. And frankly as a tory supporter you ‘ve got no leg to stand on if you want to start a sleaze contest, lets just accept that MPs across the chamber have dealt in ‘crook’ deals. And that was new labour not one nation labour. I may have been wrong with the toriy voting record but do your research a hraduate tax is a labour oolicy now. Are you ignorant? Reducing fees will help the poorest students by increasing social mobility and stradddling them with less debt. For a critic of labour fees you’re now against dropping them? I agree but stupid education refrom creates unneccessary stress, lower quality of teaching, lower care and surprise surprise lower grades that we now have to live with, thanks gove and blair.
      You’re lying to yourself if you think miliband has no principles or policies. His policies have cameron on the run and haveset the gov agenda in recent months. The deficit was not dangerous until the banks went bust you surely realise this!
      You are truly desperate if you are clutching at straws and dealing with hypotheticals. IT IS NOT MY FAULT IF CAMERON And osborne renged on all their promises the fact is if you compare manifesto promises tory cuts wld be deeper, who knows if labour would have stuck to their plan without considering changing economic circumstances. P.s sorry for the poor grammer in this response

  10. Oh you didn’t answer one of my questions on my previous reply….

    Do you support One Nation Labour’s policy of a two tier housing benefit system whereby housing benefit will be paid for spare rooms in social housing but slashed under Labour’s 2008 housing benefit reforms in the private sector?

    1. And yes i support their stande on spare bedrooms, how can you make more cuts tothose on benefits when a million+ children are in poverty due to insufficient welfar. PAYMENTS?

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