Chancellor Philip Hammond challenged the UK public, during his ‘Spring Statement’, to
Judge me by my record.
Mr Hammond should be careful what he wishes for.
When Labour entered government in 1997, it inherited a national debt of around £350bn. After thirteen years of Labour government, according to Office for National Statistics figures, at the end of the 2009-10 financial year just before the Tories moved into Downing Street, the debt had risen by just over £700 billion.
Sounds bad, right? But this figure includes the cost of bailing out the UK’s banks to prevent their collapse during the huge, global financial crisis.
That cost? £850 billion.
In other words, during thirteen years of government, including a period of huge investment in the NHS that took the health service to record performance and patient-satisfaction levels, Labour reduced the ‘ordinary’ national debt by around one hundred and fifty billion pounds – or around forty-three percent of the Tory ‘mess they inherited’.
In less than half that time – up to the end of the 2016-17 financial year, during a period of draconian cuts to benefits and our social infrastructure – and resource-starvation that has pushed our NHS into a state of collapse and have sent A&E performance to its worst levels ever in spite of the advance cancellation of over fifty thousand operations in January – the Tories made took not a single pound off our national debt.
On the contrary, they added almost £700 billion to it:
And let’s not forget that ‘Spreadsheet Phil’ once told the BBC ‘There are no unemployed people‘ – and reeled off stats to a heartbroken nurse in anguish about being able to feed her family:
Painful listening to out of touch Hammond robotically citing stats at this nurse worrying about feeding her family. https://t.co/4Esm4ZAfl6
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) May 17, 2017
And Hammond has just taken back over £800 million that was supposed to be spent building affordable homes.
How’s that record looking now, Phil?
In thirteen years of government, Labour invested billions of pounds more in the NHS, set up Sure Start centres for children and conducted a massive investment programme in our national fabric – and reduced the underlying national debt by almost half.
In half that time, while cutting everything they could get their hands on and degrading everything from our healthcare to our road services to our humanity, the Tories increased the debt by about seventy percent – and were so incompetent that they had to cancel or push back their promised financial performance milestones.
And all Hammond can offer now is misdirection, bluff and bluster about ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. It’s not a tunnel, Phil – it’s a pit.
Judge you by your record? Yes, we’ll take that bet.
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