Reeves: Tories “may be attempting to deliberately mislead the public” over stats and government’s record


Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves MP (Labour, Leeds West), has written to Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority over David Cameron’s claims in a Tory party political broadcast that the government was “paying down Britain’s debts”; here is her letter in full:

Dear Andrew,

I am sure you will agree that it is vital that public debate is informed by accurate use of statistics.

David-Cameron-Party-Political-Broadcast-January-2013However, in a Party Political Broadcast by the Conservative Party last night, the prime minister said:

“We are now halfway through the coalition’s time in government and in two and a half years we have achieved a lot but I know people don’t just want to hear from me, they want to know the facts…

“So though this government has had to make some difficult decisions, we are making progress. We are paying down Britain’s debts.

As you will be aware, figures from the Office for National Statistics published this week show that the national debt is not being paid down, but is actually rising. Since this government came to office, public sector net debt has risen from £811.3 billion (55.3 per cent of GDP) in the second quarter of 2010, to £1,111.4 billion at the end of December 2012 (70.7 per cent of GDP).

The Office for Budget Responsibility has also forecast that public sector net debt will continue to rise and the government’s target to get it falling by 2015-16 will not be met.

This is not the first time government ministers have made similar claims about the national debt. However, last night’s party political broadcast is the first occasion I am aware of when the prime minister has made such a claim in a scripted broadcast. This suggests that the Conservative Party may be attempting to deliberately mislead the public about these statistics and the government’s record.

I would be grateful if you could bring some clarity to the situation and advise on how we can ensure that in the future debate on the national debt is accurate and based on the facts.

Yours sincerely,

Rachel Reeves MP

See also:

Borrowing is rising after allJanuary 22nd, 2013

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  • LB

    So what about Ed Balls and Milliband?

    Ho hum. Debt = deficit. Tick

    Debt = Borrowing. Tick.

    So come on, lets have a little look at just how much debt you’ve run up. In particular the debts that you’ve hidden off the books.

    So people can’t complain, lets use the government’s own figures for the extent of the off the book accounting.

    In summary, the estimates in the new supplementary table indicate a total Government pension obligation, at the end of December 2010, of £5.01 trillion, or 342 per cent of GDP, of which around 4.7 trillion relates to unfunded obligations.

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_263808.pdf

    It’s two years out of date. The current figure exceeds 5,300 bn, on top of the 1,100 bn borrowing. There are other debts too.

    How the heck are you going to pay that?

    What does that say about Ed Ball’s financial competence when he thinks the defict (the overspending), is the same as the debt?

  • http://twitter.com/Kingbingo_ Kingbingo

    Yes Cameron is a typical lying politician and us traditional Tories hate him with a passion, but since this is a lefty site, I can’t not point out that Miliweird and his Balls are equally as conniving and deceitful in their messages and language.

  • Strags

    We all know that politicians lie – it’s in their DNA, it seems. But, for a politician to lie in a pre-scripted presentation, knowing the statement to be untrue, surely is deplorable. For that politician to be the Prime Minister is reprehensible.

  • TomSparc

    Quick! Ignore the facts that show Cameron and the Tories are shameless liars, their economic policies are failing, and write some nonsense about Labour.

    A pathetic attempt at distraction.

  • Eddy Boyband

    How about this for a lie WMD………………..

  • celia

    For “mislead” read “lie to the”… If a politican tells the truth all first born baby boys will die!

  • LB

    Of course they are failing. Just because Ed Balls doesn’t know his arse from his elbow (deficit from borrowing from debt), or perhaps he is lying, doesn’t mean that Cameron must be telling the truth or is economically competent.

    He isn’t. He’s just as incompetent as Ed Balls, and just as much a conman too.

    The basic problem that governments have is that they have run up massive debts, and hidden most of those debts off the books. Those debts are too large for taxpayers to pay. They are 14 times tax revenues. They can’t pay, not they won’t pay. Since those debts are pension debts, its going to be you and me that are screwed.

    Neither the Tories or Labour can solve it.Just as you can’t square a circle, you can’t service 7,000 bn of debts, on taxes of 550 bn, particularly when you are spending 700 bn a year.

    So Labour and the Tories can’t solve it, and they will damage the economy in the process.

    e.g. Labour’s standard mantra, repeated on the doorsteps is that growth will solve it. However, you can’t get growth in taxation, which is what it really means, of the level needed to pay the debts.

    Its taxes that pay the debts. Printing for example doesn’t work, since its inflation linked debts. Print and you get inflation.

    Borrowing doesn’t work, it just postpones the inevitable. No one has lent to the state since 2008. QE = 375 bn. QE assets? 375 bn of Gilts. Deficits? About the same. Its only the state lending to the state that’s mean the spending continued. ie. The same as printing.

    So why critises Labour? It’s a left wing blog. When it comes to having a go at the mess the Tories are making, I go after them on their blogs. For the same reason. To point out the idiotic ideas they have. Applies both ways.

  • ollieclark

    Tee hee. He said “Balls”.

  • Newsbot9

    Really? I thought his nose got longer…

  • Newsbot9

    No, he’s just a copy/paste troll

  • Newsbot9

    You are refusing to pay yes, Tory.

    Pension debts in the UK are not excessive, of course.

    Keep fighting growth, too. Can’t allow a recovery in your world, your permanent depression is far more useful for crushing the poor and justifying your fiscal contraction (austerity).

    And you’re still under the delusion that Labour are left-wing…

  • Newsbot9

    Why are you talking about Labour and the left in the same rant?

  • uglyfatbloke

    Obviously no politician ever lies; not even about about the military value of trident – or the cost of it either – and none of them would ever lie about WMD or going to war or about the true extent of national indebtedness. Similarly only half a dozen or so stole money via the expenses system and no politician would ever take advantage of their position as MPs to get well-paid sinecures in industry or get public sector appointments from their buddies or avoid prosecution because they are important people…Equally none of them would conspire to suppress a report just because it might have adverse effects on their electability and none of them get £300 a day in the Lords as a retainer once they have been chucked out of office by the electorate. None of them would ever sell access to business interests or give a monopoly to a company in exchange for a fat donation and absolutely none of them run scared of the Daily Mail.
    Glad we are all agreed on that…….

  • TomSparc

    What I did read of that was complete nonsense.

    Ed Balls is not in government. The lying, cheating, stealing, incompetent Tories are. Duh.

  • mags

    how can we get this corrupt government out I despise david Cameron and his cronies

  • uKip alot Ian

    When Rachel Reeves & Labour talk about benefit cuts we should all be
    aware that Labour introduced the so called ‘bedroom tax’ which is really a
    benefit reduction or ‘spare room subsidy.

    Surely this amounts to misleading the electorate & the usual Labour hypocricy.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo011219/text/11219w19.htm#11219w19.html_spnew5

    Hansard Parliamentary Record19 Dec 2001 : Column: 376W

    Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what was
    the figure for expenditure on the housing benefit under occupation pilot that
    was not specified on page 103 of the 2001 Departmental report. [18917]

    Malcolm Wicks (Labour MP now deceased): The under-occupation pilot
    encourages housing benefit recipients living in under- occupied social housing
    to move to smaller and cheaper accommodation in order to make more efficient
    use of housing stock. The pilot is expected to run until 2003.

    (scroll up a little from the link to find this quote)