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The Tories can’t attack Labour without undercutting their own arguments

27 June 2013

27 June 2013

One thing that was noticeably absent yesterday was Tory crowing about Labour having signed up to the coalition’s current spending plans. Instead, George Osborne’s response to Balls concentrated on whether Labour would borrow more.

Given the Osborne-Balls relationship, you might have thought that the Chancellor would have relished the idea that Balls had been forced into an intellectual surrender. But the Tory leadership is acutely aware that going on about Labour having accepted their spending limits undercuts their argument that it is the same old Labour party, addicted to spending and borrowing. So instead they’ve chosen to argue that Labour’s pledges of fiscal rectitude simply aren’t credible.

The Tories faced a similar dilemma over their personal attacks on Miliband. As one senior Tory puts it, ‘Ed Miliband can’t be a bastard who killed his brother, and weak too.’ Given how much their focus groups show that the weak charge resonates, they’ve decided to stop mentioning that Miliband ran against his brother. Although given how much the Flashman in Cameron relishes bringing up the elder Miliband at PMQs, it remains to be seen if Tory discipline can hold on this point.


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  • HJ777

    I don’t think that they really need to attack Labour, do they?

    Everybody knows that Miliband isn’t leadership material and Balls is doing an excellent job of making a fool of himself.

    As Wellington put it – never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake.

    I am not over-impressed with the current government, but the idea that labour would be better is laughable. Labour’s only real hope is that they scrape back in thanks to the bias in their favour in the electoral system (i.e. they hope to get more MPs even if they get fewer votes than the Tories).

  • pinkgunnergirl

    Labour is back up to 42% in the polls, with an 11% lead over the Tories.

    Keep on keepin on Gideon, you will deliver a Labour Government yet.

    Only 22 months to go………..

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      And thus 34 months before the IMF arrive.

    • 2trueblue

      Yes and if Liebore get in you can kiss your future, your childrens, and you grandchildrens future goodbye.

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      Why do you want a Labour government?

  • Chris lancashire

    Any Labour pledge on “fiscal rectitude” isn’t credible. Brown claimed he was “matching Tory spending plans” in 1997 and two years later went on the biggest spending spree ever seen in Britain. And you can tell that Balls is just itching to let the spending rip again.
    Same old Labour: they know how to spend taxpayer’s money. They just haven’t a clue how it’s earned.

    • telemachus

      Last time there was a legacy. The magnificent investment in the NHS.
      Were it not for Lehman all would have come good

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Yes we have some really shiny buildings. Sadly, the people in them allowed 1,200 people to die needlessly at mid-Staffs under Labour’s watch. Meanwhile, the PFI deals used to finance those hospitals were negotiated on ruinous terms and now many health authorities are facing insolvency. The reason we are in such a mess is that Brown spent and borrowed like a madman when we should have been paying off debt. Nothing to do with Lehman who, incidentally, were not bailed out by the BritishGovernment.

        • 2trueblue

          Tele has been taking too many pills, and like Burnham and Balls have no memory of the facts.

        • HookesLaw

          No its not that they were negotiated on ruinous terms – its just that there were so many of them and the govt did not differentiate between the money needed to pay for them in its general sums paid to the NHS.

          Without the buildings the work could have still gone on in old and no doubt substandard and inefficient buildings but in the PFI buildings the costs were contractually fixed and could not be ignored. Without PFI a health manager would have said ‘replace this or that or paint it? No, we will make do’

          But under PFI its contractually agreed to maintain the structure.
          This is good in theory but in practice all this activity is ring fenced.

          The plain fact is though that this old policy of saving cash by running down the infrastructure can only go so far. the NHS did need new infrastructure and did need a coherent way to procure that infrastructure. And PFI includes servicing and maintaining it as well.

          The scale of building allowed by Brown has left a problem for the NHS, made it less flexible.
          Ultimately Brown felt spending money was the solution he could not see beyond that.

          • HJ777

            Unfortunately, “there is no money”. The Labour government left us with a deficit of more than the entire NHS budget.

            It would help if the NHS wasn’t one of the world’s least efficient medical systems, of course.

            The OECD says that, were the NHS as efficient as the best systems, we could spend 3% of GDP less for the same benefits (or, alternatively use the savings to provide better services). More money is not necessary.

            In the OECD’s words, we spend about the average but the quality and quantity of services is below average.

            http://www.oecd.org/eco/healthcaresystemsefficiencyandpolicysettings.htm

            • HookesLaw

              The NHS is going through 20 billion of efficiency savings. The problem with PFI is they are contractually locked in. This may be good in the long run because it maintains the quality of the estate which traditionally has been allowed to run down, but in the short run it places limitations on where savings can be made.

              Relative efficiencies?
              The French health care system is going broke…
              http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-01-03/frances-health-care-system-is-going-broke
              ‘The health system exceeds its budget by billions of euros each year,’ ‘€11.6 billion in 2010.’
              ‘Even as Spain and Greece gut their own costly health-care systems in an effort to control government spending.’
              ‘France’s health system now requires doctors to reduce the number of drugs they prescribe’
              ‘The government is also putting the squeeze on free taxi rides for patients in rural areas…a cabbie in the Burgundy region, says 95 percent of his business comes from shuttling patients’

              http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3423159.stm
              ‘French healthcare is ‘badly run”

      • HJ777

        Most of it wasn’t investment – it was just spending.

        Derek Wanless (who Brown commissioned to recommend lots of extra spending on the NHS) produced a second report in 2007 funded by the King’s Fund (Brown didn’t want to know) on how that extra money had been spent. In it, he found that nearly half of all the extra money had gone on paying existing staff more.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6987695.stm

        This gave us the best paid medical staff in Europe, of course. In 2007, let me remind you, NHS waiting times were, on average, longer than they had been in 1997.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nhs-treatment-waiting-times-rise-under-labour-791334.html

        • telemachus

          A major report into the future of the NHS says it should continue to be funded by general taxation, albeit at higher levels.
          The interim findings of a study into the future of the health service, by former Natwest bank chief executive Derek Wanless, published Tuesday, suggests the NHS will face growing financial pressure in the coming 10 to 20 years.

          However, he argues that continuing to fund the health service through general taxation is the most cost effective and fairest system for the future.

          Mr Wanless believes the biggest sources of pressure on the NHS over the next decade will come from technological innovation and rising public expectation.

          I would welcome views on this interim report from as many people as possible

          Derek Wanless
          But he played down fears that an ageing population will adversely impact on the health service, saying that the pressure will not be as high as expected.

          “It is possible the effect of an ageing population will be to postpone rather than increase health service costs,” he wrote.

          But Mr Wanless added that patients will want much shorter waiting times. “For months, read days or weeks and for weeks read hours or days.”

          He said patients will also expect comfortable accommodation – “not the Ritz, but not the YMCA” – and will reject a “one size fits all” NHS.

          The report entitled “Securing Our Future Health …Taking a Long-Term View”, commissioned last year by Chancellor Gordon Brown, will be used by the government to develop a long-term funding strategy for the NHS over the coming decade.

          Mr Wanless said many of the NHS’s current problems stemmed from “a history of under-investment over 50 years and a long-term lack of capacity”.

          • telemachus

            Please note the final paragraph
            Gordon corrected that

          • HJ777

            Unfortunately, “there is no money”. The Labour government left us with a deficit of more than the entire NHS budget.

            It would help if the NHS wasn’t one of the world’s least efficient medical systems, of course.

            The OECD says that, were the NHS as efficient as the best systems, we could spend 3% of GDP less for the same benefits (or, alternatively use the savings to provide better services). More money is not necessary.

            In the OECD’s words, we spend about the average but the quality and quantity of services is below average.

            http://www.oecd.org/eco/healthcaresystemsefficiencyandpolicysettings.htm

      • Chris lancashire

        The legacy was a healthy economy, strong industry and a balanced budget that was bequeathed to Brown. Remember Brown’s typical ungenerous response: “what do you want me to do? Thank them?”

        • arnoldo87

          In 1997 John Major left Labour a Golden Economic Legacy, or so it is claimed. The economic factors at the time were as follows:-
          Inflation 2.34%
          Unemployment 7.5%
          Structural deficit 3.5%
          Debt 42% of GDP
          Now I’m not sure if this was a Golden Legacy, but here is another set of figures for a different year and a different government:-
          Inflation 2.85%
          Unemployment 5.3%
          Structural Deficit 2.2%
          Debt 36% of GDP
          Even better wouldn’t you say? Of course you would!
          These were the figures that applied in 2007/8, just before the Banking Crisis.
          Which exposes the absolute tosh that we have been hearing for the last three years about the need for a Labour apology.

          This also appears on another thread, but no apologies. The truth can’t be repeated often enough.

      • HookesLaw

        So stable and long lasting was this NHS investment that Brown went into the 2010 election promising 20 billion of efficiency savings. If 20 billion was available why did he spend the money in the first place?

  • HookesLaw

    If Labour are saying they accept tory spending limits after years of opposing them and saying they were too strict and restricting recovery somehow, then they are guilty of a U-turn.
    Judging from Balls’ shouty rant yesterday its he who does not know how to react.

    The fact is that since new figures show that we did not have the double dip that Balls was all shouty about in the first place and the Labour recession we had to recover from was even deeper than thought, then its Osborne who is justified and Balls discredited.

  • David Lindsay

    The Tories have in fact accepted that Labour has been right all along – http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/06/there-new-consensus-about-economy-and-%E2%80%93believe-it-or-not-%E2%80%93labour-called-it-first

    As even Milton Friedman once bitterly put it (under Nixon), we are all Keynesians now.

    • HookesLaw

      Well Labour are not Keynseyan – otherwise when we had a period of growth between 2001 and 2008 they would have paid off 212 billion of debt instead of adding 212 billion to it. Thus in 2008 when a massive recession hit our debt would have been at least 425 billion lower and would have been in a much better place to react to the crisis of 2008.

      • David Lindsay

        They are now. Blair is gone.

        And there was no recession in the United Kingdom on the day of the last General Election.

        Meanwhile, the Irish Republic, poster boy for austerity, is back in recession. It doesn’t work. As even this Government is now beginning to grasp. Even this Chancellor, who is not very bright.

        • Chris lancashire

          Weak.

          • David Lindsay

            Yes, Osborne is. Very.

            Oh, well, only another two years.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          You are an epic fantasist. Labour gain – why not?

        • HJ777

          I hardly think that you have the necessary intelligence to judge how bright or otherwise George Osborne is.

        • HookesLaw

          No recession? No there was 160 billion deficit. A mass of unsustainable spending whose sole purpose was top prop up Labour until the general election.

          Brown was the Chancellor who spent when he should have been following Keynesian policies of repaying debt. And Balls was his adviser and Balls is now shadow chancellor.

  • IanH

    Ed Milliband doesn’t demonstrate strength by standing against his brother. He will have been instructed by the union barons to do so

    • telemachus

      Tired jibes
      There are those on other threads who decry my support of Balls but in truth he is currently being monumentally clever
      He knows well that the current Osborne plans are weak and do not address the deficit and therefore he shouts until red in the face at the despatch box but commits to nothing
      It is apparent that Osborne has failed to deliver the actual raison d’être of the coalition
      A failed government when folks are feeling under economic pressure is a loser
      Ball has just won the next election for his party

      • pinkgunnergirl

        Totally agree, I love the way Ball’s is underestimated because it will make 2015 when he is Chancellor all the more sweeter.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Well it will only be for a year or so. A few months of that fiscally incontinent lunatic will see Britain safely in the hands of the IMF who will manage Britain’s bankruptcy/bailout. With the IMF in charge we can finally start reducing the amount of GDP wasted on the public sector, rather like they did when Denis Healey was Chancellor.

          • telemachus

            I think you are correct that it will be a year or so before he takes the mantle of leadership

        • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

          ??? How is he underestimated? You sound tribalist with no thought of the country and its people.

          “all the more sweeter”…how old are you?

  • alabenn

    One thing that was noticeably absent yesterday was Tory crowing about Labour.

    Could it not just be that crowing would be seen as not gentlemanly, and that would not resonate with voters.

    Surely you do not need to come up with these tortured methods of getting from A to B.
    Labour’s pledges of fiscal rectitude simply aren’t credible and Labour party addicted to spending and borrowing, both of these are true, just say so and add the Labour Party is multi faced so two diametrically opposite policies are the normal mode of conduct.

    • HookesLaw

      Forsyth cannot avoid being pejorative in his final sentence.

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