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Diane Abbott’s car-crash Sunday Politics interview shows the depth of Labour’s denial

21 June 2015

3:12 PM

21 June 2015

3:12 PM

The Labour leadership contest is compulsive watching for conservatives with a taste in schadenfreude. Jeremy Corbyn’s inclusion reminds everyone how the party may have succeeded in expelling the electable Blairites, but not the unelectable lefties. Corbyn pulled out of being interviewed by Andrew Neil for BBC Sunday Politics today, citing a last-minute emergency. But we were treated to Diane Abbott instead. It was a case study in Labour’s denial of reality.

“We should be making sure that the people with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden,” she said. That’s precisely what George Osborne did when he cut the top rate of tax (below). The best-paid 1pc, 0.1pc and 0.01pc are all shouldering a greater share of the burden than at any time under Labour.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 14.48.04She then claimed to speak for the people. “There were 250,000 people out in London yesterday,” she said, referring to the anti-austerity march. “Do you know why they’re there? They think this current round of cuts is unfair.” Last month, this question was put to the public in a general election. The result was that a coalition Conservative government was replaced by a majority Conservative government: the people on the streets yesterday were, in effect, protesting against the British public’s choice.

She was asked: how much do tax cuts to the wealthy cost the Treasury? “Too much,” she said. But she couldn’t say how much, because she was making it up. The tax cut actually raised cash (see graph above). It was more effective squeeze on the rich than anything Labour did.

Then she moved on to jobs.

“Anyone with a young child going into the job market now knows that the jobs are insecure and relatively low-paid: that’s if you can get a job at all.”

If they can get a job at all? Em…..

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 15.03.51

And most of the new jobs are full-time…

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 15.02.15

And Citi recently found (pdf) that pay is rising at the fastest level for six years…

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 16.15.26


When challenged, Abbott spluttered about how she meets real people and knows things are not good. An important point: I’ll wager she moves almost exclusively in circles where likeminded people tell each other that things are not good, and the economy is not recovering. The echo-chamber that Ed Miliband inhabited, with the result we saw last month. Only Liz Kendall seems to be rooted in reality (and being pilloried for it): the others remain in denial. For those hoping for ten years of Conservatism, the Labour leadership race really is shaping up nicely.

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