Labour and Conservative parties trade insults on deficit plans

Alistair Darling today set out a detailed 148-page dossier setting out a £34 billion “credibility gap” in the Conservative party’s spending plans. But a Conservative party protest outside the Labour party’s headquarters set out “17 questions for Mr 17%”, a reference to Tory estimates of what Labour’s spending plans will mean for “departments outside the ‘protected’ areas” of health, schools, and police numbers.

The Darling dossier set out that Conservative party tax cuts, tax reversals, and spending promises add to £14.2 billion in 2010/11 rising to £45.5 billion in 2014/15. Tax increases and spending reductions sum to £9.7 billion in 2010/11 and rise to £11.7 billion in 2014/15. The result, claims the Chancellor, is a “credibility gap” of £33.8 billion by 2014/15.

Lobby journalists at the event challenged some of the figures, including the £2.4 billion cost of abolishing the 50p rate of income tax. Labour had previously claimed that the policy was a temporary measure. But Liam Byrne outlined that every claim was backed with a quote from a Conservative party figure and used figures from publicly available documents including the Conservative party’s own costings. According to Joey Jones of Sky News, the Conservative party claim the report contains “£16.1 billion of Labour lies.” David Cameron called the report “junk”.

Using the figures in the report, the Chart below shows what the uncosted Conservative commitments would mean for deficit reduction.

To make up the £33.8 billion shortfall (or £17.7 billion according to the Tory response) and go “faster than Labour”, the Conservatives could look to right-wing think tanks for inspiration. The TaxPayers’ Alliance and Institute of Directors suggest that £1.5 billion could be saved by abolishing Sure Start. Reform have advocated abolishing universal child benefit at a saving of £7.1 billion.

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11 Responses to “Labour and Conservative parties trade insults on deficit plans”

  1. Will Straw

    Darling cites £34bn "cred gap" in Cons. spending plans. Tories say £16bn is "Labour lies". Do they accept an £18bn gap?

  2. Ged Robinson

    RT @leftfootfwd: How will the Tories pay their spending promises & go faster than Labour?

  3. Mark

    “Lobby journalists at the event challenged some of the figures”
    It says something when political hacks can rumble the frontbench Treasury team within minutes.

    We can see just how difficult the 2010 election will be for the government. Once a big campaign platform for Labour, the economy has become a weak spot.

  4. Roger

    Link? – can’t see anything yet on the HMT site

  5. Anon E Mouse

    Will – Did the Labour Party pay for this bogus report themselves (it has to be bogus since the Tories haven’t actually announced any detailed pledges apart from Inheritance Tax yet and Labour quickly jumped on that bandwagon) or have they used the civil servants at the treasury at taxpayers expense?

    Personally I say Labour should have ignored this silly Cameron “The general election starts here” because they simply cannot afford a protected battle and the election starts when the Prime Minister announces it and not before.

    With the current deficit in this country of £180 billion quite why Labour wants to fight any battle on the economy is beyond me.

    Watching Brown on Andrew Marr yesterday making up stories about investment and cuts and being rude to the interviewer made me realise just what a mountain we have to climb even if the electoral system acts in our favour.

    Like Mark above correctly states regarding journalists rumbling government members it shows how just weak the Labour position is.

    Last year I said the Labour Party would start this year being reactive to the Tories who will set the agenda and run rings round them.

    So far I’ve been proven 100% right and it’s only four days into the new year…

  6. Roger

    So the Guardian finally got round to linking to the report itself at:

    So what is the point of producing a 148-page report and then hiding it away on a non-site?

    And the Labour party’s own site has clearly not been properly updated since November.

    If this is the quality of Labour’s media work three or five months from an election then we really are screwed.

  7. Roger

    I partially take back the charge that Labour has failed to properly release the report – all too clearly it has just been composed using word or Open Office and hastily formatted into pdf with little or no thought about design or layout – so the fewer people who get to download it in its current state the better.

    To make it look even semi-professional I’d estimate it needs another couple of days re-editing work – was there really nobody in Labour HQ with the (rather basic) skills required to do this?

    Perhaps I’ve been watching too much In The Thick Of It but this really does look like a draft report that was suddenly rushed out for no other purpose than to spoil the Tories Draft Health Manifesto launch today.

    Pity as clearly a huge amount of work went into compiling it (much of it obviously done by civil servants and made available to Labour through artful FoI requests).

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  11. Werbegeschenke

    I agree with Roger, a very interesting debate though with both sides having valid points! Extremely informative! Thanks!

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