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.


“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.


“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.

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155 Responses to “Cameron cuts back on truth”

  1. Seph Brown | It is dangerous to be right…

    […] Straw has written an excellent and complete run down of Cameron’s other gaffs and untruths. They may make you cry, but not with […]

  2. Mr. Sensible

    Will that is what I call a detailed analysis.

    Demolition job on Cameron’s speech.

    The first thing to say is that I completely agree with what is said here.

    Lets just remember what Cable said in his conference speech when he gave us a lecture on ‘basic Keynes.’
    “Economic recovery will not happen automatically, by magic. Government has a key role. It has to sustain demand. That is basic Keynes.”

    Cameron said ‘your country needs you.’

    For this speech, I award nul points.

  3. Will Straw

    Many thanks for all the comments. A few responses:

    Matthew – Table C14 looks at the difference between the Coalition’s plans and Labour’s. It’s double counting to add up all the totals. The aggregate difference of Coalition plans by 2014-15 is £4.2bn as I said.

    Sam Wright – You’re right that there was a modest deficit prior to the crash but this was primarily in relation to the capital budget (not the banks). But during this period (as the second chart shows) debt was fairly static.

    Alex – The %GDP ratio is what the ONS use. It’s the important measure because it’s the sustainability of debt and not its level which matters.

    william – Don’t presume to know where I’ve worked and where I haven’t. I’ve worked in the private, public and voluntary sector and am now running my own business employing two people.

  4. Billy Blofeld


    How about you write a list of Labour’s achievements in government.

    People keep banging on about “defending the record”. What was it?

    The Labour Party put a crappy list of achievements a couple of years back, but pulled it when people started laughing that one of the main achievements cited was “free fruit” for infants.

    I don’t think anyone has the bottle to pull together a list of Labour achievements, because it would be embarrassingly feeble….

  5. Richard

    There is the selective quoting of Ed Balls on free schools, that there would be winners. He actually said “winners and losers”. Blatant half-truth. Cameron also said he’d been “banging on about the Big Society for years”. Well it only came to the public’s attention in the lead-up to the election. When was the first time that he actually talked about this publicly?

  6. yorkierosie

    @Paulflynnmp Much of the speech was. See Ch 4 website Factcheck and < excellent

  7. yorkierosie

    @MikeGapes < excellent >>>>Try this!

  8. Matt

    One note, Will.

    The PolHome link for the speech is subscriber only – could you use public ones or put a warning on the link?


  9. Anon E Mouse

    Will – As a Labour supporter are you not embarrassed that it took a Tory government to stop the obscene situation where a minimum wage shelf stacker pays taxes to give to Eric Clapton for his daughter?

    Regardless of the criticisms in your article, which is primarily about your disagreements with the government not a serious critique, I thought there was to be a new politics according to Ed Miliband last week.

    Seems very similar to the last one to me…

  10. sam

    RT @tweetminster: "Cameron cuts back on truth" – Left Foot Forward

  11. BenM

    Anon E Mouse

    Why is the payment of a universal benefit seen as obscene? It hadn’t been particularly high on anyone’s radar until this week.

    Unlike ill tempered, selfish, “what’s-in-it-for-me” Tories, most people in Britain readily accept the civilised way in which we all pay into a pot and the government funds various policies based on some generally accepted priorities.

    Child Benefit is one. Bus Passes for the over 60s is another. Both are eminently affordable.

  12. Will Straw

    Will Straw

    Matt – Good suggestion. I’ve linked to the Conservative party website which has the speech.

    Billy, Anon – I don’t see that it’s my job to defend Labour’s record. I am proud of some of the things that they did (investment in health and education, mininum wage, peace in Northern Ireland and Sierra Leone would be top) but I also have serious problems with some of the other policies (Iraq, 10p tax, top up fees). I see my job as ensuring that David Cameron doesn’t get away with such a flagrantly partisan speech in the name of the National Interest.


    ps Thanks Anon for your kind remarks the other day about Any Questions.

  13. Northern TUC

    David Cameron's speech yesterday included quite a lot of 'mistakes'.

  14. Highlander

    RT @northerntuc: David Cameron's speech yesterday included quite a lot of 'mistakes'.

  15. Natan Doron

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts back on truth – @wdjstraw fisks the PM's speech

  16. Right To Work

    RT @northerntuc: David Cameron's speech yesterday included quite a lot of 'mistakes'.

  17. Pam Smith

    RT @northerntuc: David Cameron's speech yesterday included quite a lot of 'mistakes'.

  18. elgan

    RT @northerntuc: David Cameron's speech yesterday included quite a lot of 'mistakes'.

  19. Anon E Mouse

    BenM – It’s obscene because it is morally wrong whether the money is available or not. It is wrong to take money from poor people who would benefit from a tax cut to give it to rich people who don’t need it.

    There was a time when Labour used to hold those values BenM… seems like a whole different time now. I seriously do hope Ed Miliband doesn’t share your views.

    Will – I think Labour did some strategically big things that I fully approve of – this country feels better with our tolerance of homosexuality and different ethnic peoples but for some reason Labour activists just don’t seem to “get it” and constantly try to claim black is white.

    (I could write a more persuasive speech regarding Labour achievements than any I’ve heard for months)

    What’s worse is that the old Labour values of looking after the poor seem to be both justified and acted on by the coalition and yet gets condemned by Labour activists. Why can’t Labour supporters be more discriminating?

    The current excusing of unfair practices where the poor get hammered to pay for unnecessary benefits for the rich just to knock the Tories is pathetic.

    Socialism is over – it never worked. Karl Marx was wrong. Castro was wrong. Grow up and start thinking about the poor instead of people in your own middle class demographic you lot.

    (I’m not including you here Will – it’s aimed at the likes of Chris, Fat Bloke on Tour, Mr.Sensible, David Taylor and their narrow minded ilk…)

    Labour lost the last election and of course the PM will be partisan at a Tory conference. We’ll agree to disagree dude…

  20. BenM

    Anon E Mouse

    It’s obscene because it is morally wrong whether the money is available or not.

    This is your – rather skewed I may say – opinion and as I showed it is not necessarily shared, nor is it necessarily logical.

    Children are something all of society has a stake in, whether rich or not. It is not therefore beyond anyone’s imagination – except perhaps yours – to see why it is acceptable to pay a universal allowance like Child Benefit
    no matter what personal circumstances happen to be.

    Worth noting too that it certainly does not follow that tax cuts always benefit the poor. That is simple rancid dogma. The poor often rely on services paid for out of general taxation that they could barely afford themselves. Health care is a prime example.

  21. GRS-ONE

    RT @northerntuc: David Cameron's speech yesterday included quite a lot of 'mistakes'.

  22. geoff1


    proud of labour’s “investment in health and education”. and you don’t think the conservatives would have invested in these things? or maybe labour invested more? anything labour invested over the tories came from borrowing. the economy (less private and public borrowing) has been in recession since 2000.

  23. Cameron's speech unraveling fast | Left Foot Forward

    […] our line-by-line fisking of the prime minister’s speech yesterday, more of David Cameron’s claims have come […]

  24. James Cowley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts back on truth

  25. yorkierosie

    RT @CllrCowley: RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts back on truth

  26. Anon E Mouse

    BenM – Firstly it is a benefit. Why should the rich “benefit” from their desire to procreate or anyone for that matter?

    Why should exercising a desire for children mean a differential in the “benefits” or the reduction in taxes one pays.

    Whilst I don’t accept your minority view on this matter (83% in the YouGov poll support it) surely you cannot be so rancidly dogmatic to believe that a reduction in tax doesn’t benefit those with less than those with more (assuming a baseline to live comfortably).

    If you do believe that all “benefit” equally, rich or poor, then you won’t care about the increase in VAT then.

    From your response in this blog I think I can fairly conclude that you voted Labour at the last election and (probably) supported Gordon Brown on his “10p won’t affect the poor”.

    Socialism is over BenM and the easy way to sort this whole thing out is to scrap child benefit and put the benefit or otherwise into the individual tax allowance one gets.

    And I will always think it is morally wrong to take poor peoples money and instead of spending it on schools and hospitals to give it to rich people who don’t need it.

    Your attitude displays all that is wrong about Labour at the moment – thank god for Ed Miliband with his change agenda I say…

  27. Shamik Das

    Hi Anon, everyone, there’s more on the headline 83% figure here –

  28. Bangor Uni Labour

    Errors, miscalculations and lies in David Cameron's conference speech.

  29. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik Das – Thanks for the link. It is interesting I admit.

    What worries me is that of that poll 21% of Labour supporters oppose the idea, compared to 9% of Conservative supporters.

    So I conclude that over twice as many Labour supporters oppose the idea of taking unneeded benefits from wealthy people and support taxing the poorest paid workers to give that very benefit.

    Like I said Labour no longer seems to care about the helping poor in our society and Socialism is dead…

  30. BenM

    Anon E Mouse

    Why should the rich “benefit” from their desire to procreate or anyone for that matter?

    Like I said, normal human empathy, compassion and willingness to support others seems to be well beyond your wit to understand.

  31. Anon E Mouse

    BenM – Please explain why giving Eric Clapton child benefit for his daughter, from a proportion of the wages the shelf stacker on nights at Tesco’s can be considered empathetic, compassionate and a willingness to support others.

    Regardless of whether it is beyond my “wit to understand” please answer what I’ve asked. Let me put it more simply BenM where you can have a go at a simple answer (You won’t though).

    Q. Is it fair to take taxes from poor people (who would be better off with more of their own money to spend)and give them to wealthy people who don’t need them? Yes or No.

    (And please do not smear me by claiming I am uncaring – to me it is you who cares more about rich people at the expense of poor ones…)

  32. Rachael

    RT @CllrCowley: RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts back on truth

  33. CheshireKaz

    Big Dave spins like Alastair Campbell –

  34. Martell Thornton

    Cameron cuts back on truth | Left Foot Forward: As The Spectator's Fraser Nelson has pointed, “Cameron spoke with …

  35. Michael Ellis

    Cameron cuts back on the truth –

  36. Lee Dent

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts back on truth

  37. Juderobinson

    RT @michael__ellis: Cameron cuts back on the truth –

  38. Natalie Allen
    Really good article in response to the lies within Cameron's speech.

  39. Ruislip

    The half truth re:ED Balls ‘academies’ quote made for hilarious TV last nite on Newsnight. Ed Balls clearly says they will be winners and losers but somehow Cameron & all the kings men missed that. Makes you wonder what other half truths we are being fed out there!

  40. Quietzapple

    Re Labour’s Achievements: On Twitter 50 are set out by @LabAchievements, based on the blogs of Lord Toby Harris well before the election.

    How many will remain in effect after a year, two years of Chameleon lying to us about their project to cut wages by increasing unemployment?

  41. Peter Parslow

    I was curious to hear that the achievements Cameroon claimed for his first five months in government amounted to three tax cuts & a public sector pay rise (well, soldiers’ allowance). Hardly the things he claims need to be done.

  42. Look Left - Lies, damned lies and David Cameron | Left Foot Forward

    […] tax, health, education, drugs, and much, much more – as reported by Left Foot Forward’s Will Straw within an hour of the Tory leader’s speech. Channel Four News’s Cathy Newman also […]

  43. Peter Dixon

    Cameron's lies for the week part 1 –

  44. Hazico_Jo

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts back on truth

  45. Tom Sheppard

    Good article from @leftfootfwd – Cameron cuts back on truth

  46. Kevin Richards

    More evidence of Cameron's misrepresentations in his 1st speech as PM -RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts back on truth

  47. Paul Abbott

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts back on truth – @wdjstraw fisks the PM's speech

  48. Link Me Up 16/10/10 « We Left Marks

    […] Cameron Cuts Back on the Truth from Left Foot Forward, taking apart the anomalies in Cameron’s rousing conference speech last week. […]

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