Cameron cuts back on truth

David Cameron delivered his first party conference speech today as Prime Minister. His text was littered with errors as Left Foot Forward exposes.

David Cameron delivered his first party conference speech today as Prime Minister. His text was littered with errors as Left Foot Forward exposes. We’ll continue to update throughout the evening so do send us any other ‘deliberate mistakes’ that you’ve spotted.

“first let’s remember where we’ve come from. Three defeats.

Although Labour lost the election, the Tories did too. They came 20 seats short of an overall majority so technically it’s four defeats on the bounce.

“At its best this party always puts country first. We’ll leave the vested interests to others. And no, we’re not about self-interest either. This is the party of the national interest and with this coalition that’s what we’re showing today.”

Why then did Nick Clegg say that the Conservatives, “are the party of choice for rich bankers, and no wonder when their major tax policy is to give tax breaks to double millionaires. They even have plans to cut taxes for the banks and raise them for solid British manufacturing companies. They will never change Britain for the better because they are only interested in helping people at the top.”

“200 new academies.”

Only 32 academies have opened so far.

“50,000 apprenticeships.”

But this only tells part of the picture: £320million has been cut from support for unemployed young people, and £50milion has been cut from training for employees and greater cuts made to higher education.

The jobs tax – axed.”

An outright lie. As The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson has pointed, “Cameron spoke with forked tongue when he said on the election trail that he’d ‘get rid of the tax on jobs’. What he is doing is forfeiting some £3bn of revenue by raising employed thresholds to neutralise the effect of this Labour-created NIC increase on the lower paid.”

Immigration – capped.”

With howls of anguish from British business.

“[The release of Lockerbie bomber, Al-Megrahi] was wrong, it undermined our standing in the world, and nothing like that must ever happen again.”

Would Cameron have over-ruled a decision taken by the Scottish Executive?

“we will renew our nuclear deterrent based on the Trident missile system.”

Was Cameron bouncing the Liberal Democrats? As top Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson tweeted: “Has Cameron just bounced the Lib Dems into renewing Trident live on national TV?”

“The big society is not about creating cover for cuts.”

But the public don’t think so. This week, a meeting was abandoned after the first event ended in “acrimonious exchanges” over spending cuts.

“But do we have to cut now, and by this much?  Isn’t there another way?” I wish there was another way. I wish there was an easier way. But I tell you: there is no other responsible way.”

This is a political judgement. Alistair Darling’s halving of the deficit in four years is one alternative approach while Left Foot Forward has set out its own responsible deficit reduction plan which follows Darling’s timetable but focuses more on taxation than spending cuts.

“This year, we will borrow more money than we spend on the NHS.”

The critical point about the deficit which Cameron fails to acknowledge is that the vast majority of it is down to the financial crash as the chart below shows. By attacking the size of the deficit, Cameron is effectively attacking bailouts for the banks, automatic stabilisers such as unemployment benefits, and claiming that the Government could have prevented the fall off in tax revenues.

UK-deficit

“This year, we’re going to spend £43 billion pounds on debt interest payments alone.”

But the OBR project that the Coalition will only lower debt interest payments by £4.2 billion over the course of the Parliament (Table C14 of the Budget)

“That’s why we have acted decisively – to stop pouring so much of your hard-earned money down the drain. And it’s stopped us slipping into the nightmare they’ve seen in Greece, confidence falling, interest rates rising, jobs lost and in the end, not less but more drastic spending cuts than if you’d acted decisively in the first place.”

Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, is among those who have said that Britain is nothing like Greece. But if we cut too soon we could end up like Ireland who despite attempts to rapidly reduce their deficit have ended up with the deficit spiralling.

“The International Monetary Fund, the G20, yes even the EU. They support what we’re doing. There’s just one group of people who don’t: You guessed it, the people who mortgaged Britain to the hilt in the first place – Labour.”

Except that the IMF were against it before they were for it. The OECD are concerned by the pace. President Obama urged a different approach. A series of leading economists oppose the plan and Keynes biographer, Robert Skidelsky, has outlined how the great economist would have opposed Osborne’s plans.

“And here I want to say something to the people who got us into this mess. The ones who racked up more debt in thirteen years than previous governments did in three centuries. Yes you, Labour.”

This is an absurd comparison which doesn’t take inflation into account. As the chart below shows, Labour reduced public debt and it has only risen by a modest amount in comparison to most of Britain’s recent history.

UK-debt

“But it’s fair that those with broader shoulders should bear a greater load.”

Why then has IFS said that the Budget is “regressive” and will hit the poorest hardest?

“For too long, we have measured success in tackling poverty by the size of the cheque we give people. We say: let’s measure our success by the chance we give.”

What metric are they going to lose? Will the Coalition abandon measures of relative poverty and income inequality? Ex-Lib Dem MP, Evan Harris, has already warned of taking a non-statistical approach to these issues.

“Let’s support real routes out of poverty: a strong family; a good education; a job.”

But as Left Foot Forward showed this morning by the end of 2011 there will be 4.6 unemployed people for every vacancy.

“When you stood up to show how angry you were about the injustice of some low paid single mothers going out to work and losing 96p for every extra pound they earned? Well after months of hard work, I can tell you Iain Duncan Smith has found a way to end that system.”

Unfortunately for Cameron, George Osborne’s approach to means-testing child benefit produces a marginal tax rate which means a £1 wage rise could cost a parent of three £47.10 a week.

“But if you can work, but refuse to work, we will not let you live off the hard work of others.”

This has been seen by one tweeter as a “Nice argument for 100% inheritance tax”

“Big infrastructure projects like high speed rail, super-fast broadband, Carbon Capture and Storage.”

If this is true, it’s a relief but press reports have suggested that these policies could face cuts.

“And there’s another way we’re getting behind business – by sorting out the banks. Taxpayers bailed you out, now it’s time for you to repay the favour and start lending to Britain’s small businesses again.”

Vince Cable and George Osborne have made similar demands in their conference speeches but the Government’s July Green Paper ‘Financing a private sector recovery’ had very little detail on how they would achieve this.

“Health inequalities got worse.”

But in May 2009, despite press reports to the contrary Alan Johnson showed that “infant mortality is at its lowest ever level, and it has fallen fastest among routine and manual groups. Life expectancy has risen by 3 years overall for men and 2.1 years for women. The gains amongst the poorest are proportionally larger that any other groups.”

“Almost four in ten children left primary school unable to read, write and do maths properly.”

This is a statistics that says nothing of how education has improved in recent years. As David Miliband said during the leadership contest, “England is well above average compared to our competitor nations in English at the end of primary school and Maths in years 6 and 9. We are just off the top of the table in Science in year 9.  In education, as in health, 13 years of Labour government brought Britain back into the European mainstream.”

“Million violent crimes per year”

David Cameron is borrowing from the Chris Grayling book of dishonesty on crime numbers. As Left Foot Forward has repeatedly shown, crime fell by 43 per cent during Labour’s time in power.

“There are 150,000 people in Britain today who get their heroin substitutes on the state, their addictions maintained by the taxpayer.”

But there are very strong reasons not to axe the drug treatment budget

“So let’s scrap the health and safety rules that put people off.”

Which ones? Most tabloid health and safety stories are either fabrications or based on over-zealous enforcement rather than wrong-headed rules.

The speech also failed to mention climate change. Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “With not a mention of climate change, this was not the speech we would have expected from the Prime Minister of the self-declared ‘greenest Government ever’.

UPDATE 18.13:

Full Fact have taken a sceptical look at Cameron’s claim that “We have police officers who spend more time on paperwork than they do on patrol. It’s here that reform is needed most.”

Meanwhile, Anthony Painter has linked to an old blog by BBC’s Mike Baker who has challenged the stat about “four in ten children” before.

152 Responses to “Cameron cuts back on truth”

  1. Andy Hudson

    @WeAreTheMags Poor argument. //j.mp/dusLbn Maybe this will answer some of Cameron's bullshit for you.

  2. Garret

    RT @psbook: David Cameron's speech was riddled with errors. Read @wdjstraw's fisk here //is.gd/fO7xJ #cpc10

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