“At what point can we stop talking about “what we inherited from Labour” it’s been 7 years #PMQs” she asked.
Let’s ignore the obvious and all-too-familiar left-wing bias, and assess the question, shall we?
Thankfully, the data is readily available online, and I eagerly encourage Ms Goodfellow to take a look at it.
When the Tories took power in 2010, the budget deficit – the amount the government had to borrow simply to service existing spending commitments – was £153.6bn, or about 10% of GDP. To put that in perspective, the entire Department for Health budget at the time was £102bn (it’s over £120bn now.. damned Tory cuts, am I right?)
The interest payments to service the existing debt pile were over £30bn/yr. That’s more than the entire spending of the Department for Transport, the Home Office and the Department of Energy & Climate Change combined, and with the budget deficit causing an ever-increasing pile of debt, by 2010/11 debt interest payments had increased to £43.9bn.
This is what Liam Byrne meant when he left the note in the treasury saying “I’m afraid there is no money.”
And remember, this is just one part of the monumental mess that Labour left behind. We also had the PFI scandal that we will be suffering from for decades to come, 50% of kids going to uni but nowhere near 50% of jobs being graduate-level, an out-of-control welfare system that trapped people on benefits and robbed them of hope, soaring unemployment, a housing crisis, and of course the act that lead to our inevitable exit from the EU – the signing of the Lisbon Treaty without a referendum. And so much more…
So, after being forced into opposition and with the Tories and Lib Dems frantically trying to get the public finances in order, what did Labour do? Did they put the good of the country first and work together with the government to fix things?
Did they hell.
They opposed every reduction in spending, every measure to try to fix the problem, every reduction in the tax-burden designed to increase employment and investment.
They set out to scare the vulnerable with outright lies about Tory plans to “privatise the NHS”.
They moaned about the increasing pile of debt, while failing to mention the deficit that they handed over.
And perhaps worst of all, they started to perpetuate the myth that actually, fiscal responsibility isn’t important. Government can just magic money up and spend it however they want. All they had to do was borrow more and spend more, and the deficit and debt would disappear! The word ‘austerity’ started doing the rounds, and an entire generation of young voters started soaking up their lies.
This rhetoric was bad under Miliband, but then they went and put Jeremy Corbyn on the leadership ballot, resulting in a self-confessed Marxist sitting as Shadow Chancellor. A man so incompetent, he was sacked from the Greater London Council by Ken Livingstone for being too left wing.
So where are we now, 7 years on? We’ve had steady economic growth, have historically low unemployment, and a record number of people in work. We have record spending on the NHS including record numbers of doctors and nurses, we have 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools and on top of that, in 2016, the budget deficit was down from 10% of GDP to 2.6% of GDP.
You would think a party called Labour would celebrate the employment statistics, wouldn’t you? But no. They push even more lies about all of the new jobs being ‘fake’, ‘insecure’ or ‘zero-hour contracts’. They can not help themselves, and young voters who have heard nothing but ‘Tory austerity’ for most of their teenage years soak it all up.
So to summarise – not only did they leave us in the sh*t, they conspired to keep us in the sh*t and now try desperately to return us to the sh*t.
Have the Tories been perfect? No, of course not. Have they made mistakes? Sure they have. All governments do. But when should we stop blaming Labour for the mess they left and their past 7 years of ineptitude, lies and deceit from the opposition benches?
I hope this helps, Mollie.