I am indebted to Professor Vernon Bogdanor, who among other things was David Cameron’s tutor at Oxford, for drawing my attention to a recent report by the LSE Growth Commission. Anyone who looks at the mix of academics, business leaders, economists and banking experts on the Commission will be unable to dismiss them as Labour stooges.
Professor Bogdanor had read my recent blog suggesting Labour need to do more to rebut the Tory attack on the so-called ‘mess we inherited,’ and so thought I would be interested in the Growth Commission’s overwhelmingly positive view of the economic performance of the Labour government between 1997-2010 – and, in particular, between 2007-10. Indeed I am. Among its conclusions:
– British economic performance was strong throughout the period of Labour government, and GDP per head grew faster in the UK than in France, Germany, Italy or Japan.
– Productivity growth in terms of GDP per hour was second only to the US, and improvements in employment rates were better than in the US.
– This success, they say, was NOT due to an unsustainable bubble in finance, property or public spending. From 1997-2007, finance contributed around 0.4% to a 2.8% productivity growth.
– They also dispute the view that this was all due to Thatcherite reforms which were then accepted as a norm. Instead, they point to improvements delivered by Labour changes to competition policy, a major expansion in education – remember ‘education, education, education’ and – wait for it – immigration.
– On education, they pointed out that by 2007 the UK was spending more on education as a proportion of GDP than Germany and the US, and the percentage of the relevant age group going to university was higher than in France or Germany.
– Furthermore, they believe this had a positive impact in the fight to reduce crime and illegal immigration.
– Crucially, they make clear the crash was an international phenomenon which cannot be blamed on Labour policies, and that Labour did not leave Britain more vulnerable once the crash occurred.
– They say the structural element of the deficit was 1% of GDP in 2008 – it rose to 5% by 2010 because of the crisis in consequence of the fall in tax receipts. So the increase in the deficit was a consequence not a cause.
– They praise the Labour government’s counter-cyclical policies post crash, pointing out that these went some way towards limiting the fall in output, and say Labour ministers were right to recapitalise the banks and maintain demand.
– Where they are critical of Labour is in relation to skills, especially at the bottom end of the social and economic scale, and not doing enough to cut regional inequalities.
But overall the picture is a good one, and totally at odds with the dominant ‘mess we inherited’ narrative, uttered every time coalition ministers open their mouths.
And even if they do not say so explicitly, it is pretty clear the Commission believes that on the big choice of the last election – retrenchment under Labour, or austerity under the Tories – that GB/Darling were right, and DC/Osborne wrong.
This is all relevant to the current debate.
The only way to counter the Tory Big Lies is by fighting back with the truth, even if it means doing so belatedly, and at the risk of the Tories screeching ‘mess we inherited’ ever more loudly.
We see the same in their approach to the NHS. Another ‘mess we inherited,’ they say, to justify changes for which nobody voted and for which they have no mandate. What they actually inherited was an NHS with the highest satisfaction ratings in its history, which are now sliding as waiting lists grow, health workers are deliberately demoralised, and Jeremy Hunt talks up failure wherever he can find it to open the doors to a new system geared to those who see healthcare purely as a source of profit.
The same approach in education, where Michael Gove casts around for schools doing badly amid the thousands doing well, and deliberately distorts Blairite reforms aimed at helping those at the bottom of the educational pile to justify changes aimed at ushering in private providers at the expense of standards and enough school places. And in welfare, where the truth that the big bills are going on pensions for an ageing population is twisted to feed a hate agenda against the poor, the disabled, asylum seekers, all wrapped up as the ‘scroungers’ who in reality make up a tiny fraction of Iain Duncan Smith’s budget.
The Britain the coalition inherited after a decade of Labour in power was fairer, better off, with improved and improving public services, stronger cities wand regions, a vibrant culture. It was not a mess. The mess is happening now, with living standards falling, NHS crises returning, unprecedentedly low morale among teachers and police, power shifting back to a few at the top. Britain, far from booming, as the cheerleaders would have you believe, is recovering more slowly than had they followed the Brown-Darling approach that was beginning to deliver the jobs and growth we needed.
The Tories are planning to run the line that the country should not give back the keys to the people who crashed the car. The truth is the car ran a lot better under Labour, and can do so again.
Funny I can’t see any mention of the plethora of PFI projects now crippling some hospitals. As for not having a mandate to do things, that can be applied to all governments. I am sure we never voted to allow the Labour government to give away some of our EU Rebate for nothing. All is not rosy with the Coalition but neither was it all rosy under the previous Labour administration.
Knew this anyway. Some are not susceptible to the Tories look into my eyes let me reinvent history for you brainwashing what has been going on by Cameron and co. since May 2010, with the fip-flopped Lib Dems sandal wearers in cahoots on the Tory shirt tails backing them shamelessly.
Well done Prof for pointing out the bleeding obvious to the blind dumb and deaf amongst us.
As a natural Labour voter I have some sympathy with your arguments, Alastair, but I don’t think it is credible to say that Labour had no responsibility for the situation the economy was in when they left power. They had been running the country for over 10 years after all.
The economy was in a mess when they left office – that is a simple statement of fact. I’m certain it would have been in a mess had the Tories been in office as well – they would equally have not regulated the financial service sector sufficiently, and allowed the private debt that funded consumption to escalate to unsustainable levels.
Surely Labour’s economic strategy should be to articulate a positive economic strategy for the future that highlights differences between choices they would make and decisions the coalition are taking – consistent with responsible management of the economy. The problem is they are not doing that in a clear and consistent way.
Swooon, some facts that matter at last, some like for like comparisons …….
The media seems to have forgotten about the trolley deaths scandal of the early-mid 90s, a situation we are surely heading towards again with the dreadful pressures on A&E depts.
This 30m programme about the similar mismanagement of what WAS a wonderfully effective telephone service is really worth the time to listen from iplayer :-
It’s horribly shocking to think its ‘organisers’ really thought that temps and clerks and algorithms and time-consuming drop-down computerised questionnaires could EVER be a good replacement of the nurse-led service that NHS Direct used to be.
Glad to see & hear the voice of Alastair Campbell, spelling it out like it was under Labour – a fairer & better economy, compare Darling with Austerity Os & economically illiterate Cam Bring Alastair Campbell back & there’ll always be a voice of informed rebuttal. More useful to Lab than Crosby to Cam
Back again and on an extreme tangent but I’ve been annoyed about this one for a few weeks (mainly as I’m such an ardent fan of R4 despite the past 18m or so of Beeb misdemeanours and a particular one of 10yrs ago).
One really shouldn’t attack partners unless they are being taken seriously about flummery and I’m sure SamCam is charming, just as Dave is smarmy and I’m sure the Beeb was right to have been charmed or smarmed when it decided to run a 30mins programme about her a few weeks ago.
Another spouse, Mrs Gove (education columnist, conflict of interest eh what?) was an interviewee about her husband’s boss’s wife and waxed lyrically about what a ‘grafter’ SamCam is (despite the household staff of 6 way back in the Notting Hill days eh?).
She swooned about Sam’s ‘originality’ in her role as a designer, mentioned her first handbag for Smythson was quilted leather, something Mrs Gove had never seen before, stated had never been done before..
Not even by Chanel in 1955?
I hope Mrs Vine researches more carefully for her newspaper column but seriously doubt she does.
I’m nasty, shoot me 🙂
But we genuinely want to know, Mr Campbell, what you would do, quite specifically, on a number of issues. Part of the problem for the NHS was that you bound them into unaffordable PFI contracts. This eats into their annual budgets. Will you accept that this was a mistake? It’s a bit like someone going to see their mum and dad (in this case the Government) for a low or no interest loan and being told to ‘stand on their own two feet’ by taking out a loan from Wonga.com at 4000% p.a. If you were back in power would you take the chance to pay them off? Will you buy back the NHS services that have been sold off? Will you rescind the Health and Social Care Act (2012) and restore democratic accountability to our health service? Will you allow the NHS to use its proper expertise to determine what changes should be made to improve the service? (In consultation with government, staff and patients). In short will you reinstate the NHS to the service of its founding principles, which is not exclusively about free at the point of delivery but about universality, high quality care, equality of provision and central funding, all centred on a truly national co-ordinated vision in which the market has no place. Because that is what we want. Tell the Tories they are liars (they are). Tell them they are bullies (they are). But please tell us that you are committed not only to defending your record, but also to putting things right.
The media ignored this but Andy Burnham made clear his vision for health care: http://www.labour.org.uk/andy-burnhams-speech-to-the-kings-fund-whole-person-care
It is a compelling argument since there is a whole litany of achievements that Labour delivered in office which are being too easily forgotten.
But, and there was always going to be a but I’m afraid, how does Labour do this whilst accepting changes necessary where we got this wrong?
You might argue that the time for self-flagellation is over but I’m not talking about message, I’m interested in tone.
Contrary to what Campbell states, the report actually finds that the Coalition did in fact inherit a bad economic situation, yet it was not as bad in terms of social factors as the one inherited by Labour in 1997: “The net effect is that the Coalition had, on the one hand, a better inheritance than Labour – less poverty (especially for children and pensioners) and expanded public services – but on the other, a long way still to go in a much tougher economic climate, with increasing demographic pressures. Even more so than Labour coming into office, it started its period in government faced with a large structural deficit and high public sector net debt to pay down.”
In fact, the actual report clearly states that they do not “[a]ssess Labour’s overall macro-economic policy or comment on its role in the evolution of the world financial crisis that unfolded in 2007/08. Engage in detailed analysis of Labour’s management of the public finances – its general taxation and borrowing policies for example”, therefore limiting the scope of criticism of the Labour government and not fully assessing the causes of the financial crisis. In fact, the report focuses on social issues and still finds that the Labour government had “an expensive agenda” and “there remained a long way still to go towards a more equal society after all the spending”.
On top of this, the LSE report finds that “Overall income inequality fell slightly as a result of the crash but had not been falling before that and remained high by international standards, as did overall relative poverty rates. Large socio-economic gaps remained on most indicators. International data on the change in the UK’s international position are disappointing for health and inconclusive for education. One conclusion from this could be that “spending doesn’t work”.” Providing income equality was a major Labour platform, one of many that they failed to deliver positive results for, along with addressing poverty in the UK. According to the LSE, “Poverty for working age people without children rose. There was no real change in levels of income inequality. Wage inequalities grew and disparities in regional economic performance persisted.”
It also notes that the Labour government did not react fast enough to signs of economic failure and maintained a high-spending strategy (increased over 60% – 39.5 to 47.4 percent of GDP – since the Major government). Also, it states that “evidence about whether Labour’s model for market reforms and strong central performance management drove up quality is currently mixed, perhaps with more positive evidence for health than education”.
The report concludes that “Taxes did not rise as much as spending, leading to an increase in the budget deficit and national debt” which “left the UK in a weaker financial position
than it might have been before the crash” and notes that “Taxes must go up, or spending come down, or both, in the future.”
Oh … I left a comment which was being ‘moderated’. It’s completely disappeared.
Nope, you left a comment that was still available for you to edit but which had not yet been posted in to the queue.
The blog is pre-modded, that’s the only way it can avoid being swamped by the likes of scooke and fellow spooks.
It’s trying at times but none of us have been threatened with violence yet :-s
thsts just what i,ve been saying all along. people forget just what the last tory government did to this country. and the tories are just distroying everything labour has done
First there needs to be some willingness amongst the Labour leadership to tell the truth when it isn’t compatible with the neo-liberal consensus. If Labour won’t confront reality then it won’t get back its lost support. There are literally millions of people desperate for political representatives willing to stand up for real people in the rel world. That being the real world outside of TV studios, newspaper offices, and the Palace of Westminster.
Without that it still just seems like the well off asking the rest of us to choose between being screwed over by either the red team or the blue team.
I do always welcome blog posts from AC whether I agree with them or not. I do agree very much with this one.
I am hoping that right now Ed M is putting together a very good strategy for winning the next election and that he is getting approval from all the others in the cabinet and who matter for the good strategy.
Central to that strategy would be to address this “mess we inherited” rubbish that the Conservatives have been putting out.
It is curious that this has not been addressed before. I don’t understand that. I’ve read that some thing they wish instead to appear different from the previous Labour government and not be defending that government, rather to present themselves as a new operation.
Personally I would be happier to see the “mess we inherited” thing properly addressed.
The “One Nation” business was absolutely spot on at the previous party conference. I will be watching this coming conference closely to see what will be said at it.
The country has been and is being fed a pack of lies about Gordon Brown’s chancellorship and premiership – I’ve no doubt about that at all. The question is, though, why is the current Labour leadership acting as though this argument has been lost? Why will they not defend Brown’s record and take the fight to Osborne? Even granted the overwhelming hostility of the press, Ed Miliband could surely get these points across if he fought harder to do so. The prolonged silence is mystifying to me.
Ed Miliband had no loyalty to his brother and more recently has shown none to the union system he exploited to arrive at where he is.
Where was he more wrong?
In using them or in now dumping them?
Labour is suffering at the moment because nobody wants to give such an exploitative wannabe another leg up he will kick away once used.
Our representative ???? Do me a favour :-s
And your solution is what exactly?
The easiest way to deal with this issue is to remind Tories that there was a nasty recession in the early 90s when they had to deal with the mess that they inherited – from themselves.
The fact that a blog needs to written almost 2 1/2 years after Labour lost power highlights just how poorly the message has been delivered.
These facts are widely known and yet there has not been a single, consistent, coherent strategy to deal with these charges in a systematic and persuasive manner.
So MPs are being are being criticised for not tweeting much during the summer? Maybe it’s just that they don’t quite know what to say if they did?
Phrases like ‘One Nation Labour’ are crap and should have been laughed out of the room the minute whichever Muppet who suggested it had finished the sentence. They don’t cut it with me and I doubt they cut it with the public at large.
Ed M seriously needs an ECI.
The Miliband/Balls axis has not gripped the imagination as one would hope. Therefore Ed needs to be bold and ruthless. He needs to demonstrate the same level of ruthlessness that led to him standing against his brother in the first place.
Sack Ed Balls. Reinstate Darling who could then spend the next 18th months or so waxing lyrical about how the economy was in sustained growth when he left office.
Get some new blood on the front bench. We can’t just keep on seeing Chukka every time.
It really shouldn’t be left to Alastair Campbell to detail the strategy for the remainder of this parliament. Where’s the ‘new’ Alastair Campbell? Isn’t this their job?
After this year’s conference we will only have one more before the next general election is called. A sobering thought, eh..?
I’m sick of hearing people going on about the burden of PFI arrangements.
I don’t know about the whingers but I am ecstatic that our hospitals and schools are no longer dumps that one feels ashamed to be seen entering.
I happen to be in the neighbourhood where, doubtless for political reasons (rather than any re efficiency), inner-cheek-chewing Hunt has been trying to close down OUR A&E to pay off the PFI debts of another PCT. Yes, really.
He was finally beaten a couple of weeks ago when a judge (a judge) told him it was illegal to do so (only repeating what protesters had been pointing out for nearly a year).
Soooo, will a whinger explain to me what’s the big disadvantage between
– doing the most very essential things on loans as opposed to
– wait till the capital is in hand but inflation has made the amount needed that much more.
Do the mathS.
As for the crippling interest rates that some of these PCTs are going on about, WTH are they not protesting en masse to the Ombudsman (or the equivalent for bodies of their type) about what must surely be exploitative contracts that need re-negotiating.
For ***’s sake what sort of business people are they?
I’m glad to hear from Alistair with his side of truth. I am a loyal labour voter. I am at the moment in a battle with DWP and Atos, I was on long term Incapacity Benefit, with Cervical Spondylosis, after doing my Neck in at last Job, after 6 months I was deemed Medicaslly Retired due to injury. When ESA came in 16 years later I went to an assessment ( by this time I had more health issues affecting everyday life) I was deemed fir with 0 points, on appeal i was awarded 6 points, I am now awaiting the tribunal. I e-mailed a letter to my MP 5/6 months ago and never had a response, oh and yes she is a conservative, she didn’t even turn up to the coomons debate on Atos, Conservatives are a total waste of space, and the sooner they are gone I hope Labour will take a look into Atos and then change the rules as those that are being targeted by IDS and the DWP are the ones who should be given all the help, the ones who need to be booted out of it know every trick in the book and are laughing inside and out!!!!!!! I would so be glad if you could pass this info on to the labour members and any others that you recieve……
Commiserations … I’m lucky to be uber healthy despite keeping stupid hours and don’t know if I could cope if I had physical limitations that were assessed and allowed for (or even ignored if profitable) under one system and ignored under another.
With more cynicism than WD40 the car does need to be booked in for its MOT.
About bloody time too!
Mere details, mark.
No. We live in an age in which sadly and for may reasons (good and bad) political parties are tainted and mistrusted. So if a party can get endorsement for its view from an impeccably non party source that may just be what it takes at the margin to impress enough people to swing a seat or two. Its called not looking gift horses in the mouth. If you are a Labour man and want the party to win don’t fight it!
Of course they are. To be an MP these days and try and work for “The People”, you might as well dance with the fairies – it would do just as much good.
Anyway, been offered to move to Texas, outside Austin, an anthropological selling business that me and my online friend is planning to set up, that is an easy winner. Well arty, in a particular way – cards held close to my chest poker like.
So a few more grey braincells Cameron’s UK has lost…
Hard to get your message across to the wider British public in a way that is clear and fair, when the majority of the press in the country, which are centre right-wing, will muzzle/distort your messages.
Thats why its vital to have some support from Murdoch, surely? Without that Labour will always struggle and the good work will never get done.
It’s hard to stay on one side of a line isn’t it?
There’s so much manipulation and unfortunately some of it is by those we have always deemed good ‘uns.
Do the ends justify the means and do we always know which end we’ve reached, the final end or a partway one?
We (as in HoP) sprang to action when the Guardian told us that Murdoch people had deleted messages on Milly Dowler’s mobile, would we and HoP have been so ardent if we’d known they’d not done so and had ‘merely’ listened in and the messages had simply expired automatically or been pushed off the filled queue?
It’s the Guardian again that is distorting facts to force a reaction from its public, complaining about secrecy in state matters and yet also that its own confidentiality has been invaded with the apprehending of David Miranda …
….. so when is a desire for confidentiality OK and (lost positive warning) genuous vs when is it not?
The Police’s detention of Miranda was overt and in public whereas his (successful) departure was to have been covert.
Hard to decide who is decent honest and open in all this vs who just sets themselves up to be judge and jury.
Necessary tag – mea culpa by default.
I think that ship has sailed and I can’t say I’m sorry. Pandering to right-wing media will not bring about the kind of society the Labour Party aims for. Rather than change our message we need to take a long hard look at the way the media conducts itself and the extent to which it is actually serving our democracy.
There are no consequences when media outlets misrepresent or lie deliberately. It’s as if it’s perfectly acceptable for voters to be deceived but if we take our democracy seriously we have to challenge that. More insidious, especially in the broadcast media, is the way issues, comments and speeches are just ignored. It is no surprise that the Government is backtracking on the Leveson recommendations as the Tory Party is wholly dependent on a partial media to hide and twist the truth.
As we have a publicly funded broadcaster, which is a major source of information for millions of people, it makes sense to ensure their practices reflect the best journalistic standards possible. Currently their Charter is being flouted on a regular basis and there is a great deal more they could and should do to ensure voters are informed properly. BBC journalists interviewing other BBC journalists is completely perverse and political opponents are rarely allowed to debate with each other directly preserving journalists’ position as political players. There is more news airtime on the BBC than ever before but only a few carefully selected news items are being reported. In a very critical piece on Newsnight last night they complained, among other things, that Labour’s position on welfare isn’t clear. Yet how much coverage did they give to today’s speech from Liam Byrne? Just a few minutes on News 24 (which included a government rebuttal) and none at all on the 10 P.M. news.
There is no reason why online reporting of any speech shouldn’t routinely include a link to the full text and political speeches aired in full wherever possible. The BBC’s Democracy Live section of its website and BBC Parliament are very welcome but they don’t go far enough. Political debate doesn’t stop during recess and isn’t confined to Westminster and I’ve also noticed journalistic opinion is creeping into BBC Parliament coverage lately, suggesting a shift in its original remit.
Ed Miliband has rightly highlighted a number of aspects of our society that need a fundamental rethink if they are to have any chance of serving the needs of the population as a whole. Hopefully, along with banking, employment practices, housing and taxation, reform of the media will get some urgent attention.
” If you repeat a lie loud enough and long enough it will become the truth.” Joseph Goebbels. I think that Joseph would be very proud of Cameron, Osborne, Clegg etal.
Alastair Campbell, why do you need to “Fight” the Tory Big Fat Lies you would get a lot more respect by focusing on how to ensure our great country gets over one of life’s inevitable hurdles and comes out better the other side
Why have we let the Tories get away with the BIG LIE.
Who started shouting it’s all Gordon Browns fault? That’s what I want to know. It happened before the Election and woke me up from my” leave politics in the hands of politicians “comfy life.All those “I know everything” sods who know nothing drive me nuts!
Why didn’t we fight back!
how is it not being heard then, it is so frustrating, great article
My word you’ve had a busy day, scurrying hither and thither here and elsewhere ‘assessing’ others’ quality and always as if from on high 😉
You must have not noticed or been too obsessed with yourself to understand either the first line of my post or its second para.
As they say in less salubrious places …… ‘get over yourself’..
…. and if Peter Lilley whistled a number out of thin air it must be more accurate than what has become the actuality?
Peter Lilley eh, him with the little ditties …. and big fat wadges from OIL. It might be fun to write a little ditty about Lilley himself.
Re the Sunday Times I don’t think people go in to benefit offices and come away with decisions, they come away with forms.
It seems natural (even human by gum!) to me that if a liar tells a Benefits Officer that as well as being unemployed they are long-term sick the officer should show empathy and give them forms that would doubtless require medical evidence as support before ICB would be awarded. don’t act like a blindfolded donkey.
Of course people who are screwing the system should be caught out but there’s a big gulf between being fit for work (for the type of work of which no vacancy exists – as in that which requires only the ability to walk 6 steps) and thereby being UNfit for the vacancies that do. Being able to walk 6 steps is NOT ‘fit for work’ in my book.
Please don’t suggest what I should protest about, you seem hyper-active, maybe you should calm down.
Please show your sources or it could be no more than your opinion.
This source :
(surely reputable enough?)
makes me ask where are all the leavers off to?
Yes and pigs can fly. I am fed up with the Oxbridge economists after all those who do , do and those who don’t teach
Does the report mention the levels of government borrowing when Labour came to power and left? It is easy to say things got better when you leave debts for future generations – thanks for that by the way Al.
The party that is nearest to this list will get my vote, at present it is the Greens, I hope that will change if Labour starts to listen to the people
Abolish the bedroom tax, zero hour contracts,
workfare and unpaid internships
Reinstate free Legal Aid for those who cannot
afford to pay
Introduce a living wage
Stop pay day loans, bankers bonuses, cap
Reverse all limits on the freedom of the
individual to protest
Build affordable social housing
Regulate the gambling industry
Increase taxes for those who can afford to pay
Cancel Trident and destroy all nuclear and
Stop contributing to war
Bring back into Public ownership energy, water,
transport and postal services
Insure all new buildings have solar panel and
are built to German energy standards and Upgrade existing property to make them
Make political manifestos legally binding unless
circumstances force change
Limit Parliament to a maximum of five years
If there is no overall majority any coalition
must put the new manifesto to a referendum
Dear reader, i am so glad to find this blog, a small light in the encroaching darkness, does that sound over dramatic?
Dream on!! The absurd, corrupt, perverse right wing that currently sits on its un-lawfully won side of the parliament, testament to a failed and now forgotten 3rd branch of uk politics, (yes that means you Clegg) view a second term as a given.
Those of us who can see are now witness daily to the faintly disguised propaganda being poured out from the BBC etc, they speak as if the outcome of the 2015 is a foregone conclusion, its a hideous undercurrent designed to subliminally infect the minds of the masses, who in their ignorance….and yes GREED for another tory style sell off see this outcome as the best.
So whats my specific point? my observation is thus: I am on the outskirts of your, supposedly “our” society, i am what is commonly referred to as an itinerant worker in agriculture, to others a gypsy, to others still words that i will not post here, uk born, uk bred, but make NO mistake at the fringes of society, may I inform those that have a mind to read this that the oppression, the wave of intolerance subjugation and ostracisation has begun again as it did before in my memory and suffering under Major?
As before so again? Whilst most readers will share as i do outrage as we watch the NHS being sold off via the back door, the obscene wealth gulf and the legislation being formulated to enshrine tory politics for evermore in Whitehall by the dis-empowerment of the regions Wales, Scotland etc disguised as empowerment, can any of you imagine what it is like on the front line of this division in the uk?
The tories deem the 2015 election to be a foregone conclusion, not whilst i live and breathe, may we all do our best part to rid this wonderful country of these parasites once and for all.