Friday, 2 June 2017

The 'Magic money Tree' Tory Manifesto

You will hear lots of talk of costing at this election. As always, debates have ensued about which party is best fit to run the economy and whose policies are the most cost effective. I am going to do another blog post about the specific policies, but needless to say the Tory’s accusations that Labours ‘sums don’t add up are nothing short of ridiculous.

It is extremely ironic that the Tory’s spent days attacking the Labour Manifesto with accusations that ‘their sums don’t add up’ only to release a Conservative manifesto with absolutely no sums in it whatsoever. If your party rabbits on endlessly about being sensible with economics and then chickens out at the first sign that you might have to do some actual maths, then how can you expect anyone to take you seriously on fiscal credibility? Even the Lib Dems managed to produce a manifesto with costings, but the Tory’s produced an absolute farce of a document filled with 50 uncosted policies.
The uncosted Tory manifesto pledges include planting more trees and investment in infrastructure. Perhaps the worst example of this though is their £8bn for the NHS pledge (a plan that was in their last manifesto that they haven’t carried through yet). The plan doesn’t even say whether it is supposed to be a significant annual increase (£40 billion over the five year period) or just £1.6 billion a year, which would be a tiny fraction of what is needed to undo the damage done to the NHS through seven years of funding cuts at a time of increasing demand. In the end the Tory’s admitted it was neither, but rather a policy of spending £8bn more in the last year of the government than they are spending at the moment. What happens in between is a complete mystery; is this money just a recycling of George Osborne’s £8bn pledge from 2015? Is that £8bn adjusted for inflation? Where is that money even going to come from? To have so much uncertainty and mystery in your spending plans is clearly not the action of the party of economics.
On to the Labour manifesto, they have provided a separate document where Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has outlined his spending plans. It is obviously impossible for these costings to be 100% accurate because to do that would involve equipping the shadow chancellor with the ability to predict the future. The UK could be struck by a massive terrorist attack or a natural disaster at any time over the next five years, which would throw the calculations out of sync with one another. The UK will definitely be hit with a Brexit recession and we don’t know how big that will be (except to say that a ‘no deal’ strop would obviously be significantly worse than a negotiated settlement). The difference here was that at least Labour tried. They said where the money would come from and put their sums out there to be scrutinised. The Tory’s seem to think they can avoid this simply by not bothering to do any!
One of the most extraordinary things is that both Labour and the Lib dems have managed to pull together fully costed manifestos at such short notice. The Tory’s on the other hand, who let me remind you announced the bloody election, have cobbled together an absolutely farcical document. So given that the Tory’s haven’t explained where the money is going to come from for literally dozens of their policies, surely those voters that generally toll the Tory line, should be having the time of their life shouting ‘magic money trees’ at the conservatives? But no! They have all gone quiet! They blabbered on about magic money trees when Labour announced their fully costed plans to provide free school meals and scrap tuition fees to primary school children. Yet when their beloved Tory party releases a manifesto so full of funding holes it is almost laughable, they have all suddenly disappeared into hiding.  
Perhaps they are all trying to rote learn the Tory HQ response to the accusation that the Dementia Tax is an absolute abomination. Who Knows? At least the magic money tree hypocrites have all shut up for a little bit.

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