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z30billionausterity

Why do anti-Labour cultists keep ranting on about assumed crimes against the people that have never taken place?

Last night, This Writer had to endure the ravings of SNP cultists who were adamant that Labour signed up to £30 billion of Tory austerity cuts when the Party supported the Charter for Budget Responsibility. This simply isn’t true, as an examination of the Charter itself will prove. It’s only 20 pages long, and many of them are blank, so it isn’t exactly hard work.

The trouble is, the critics are as this blog has defined them – cultists. They’re not interested in the facts; they want to publicise the lines they’ve been fed by their leaders. Nicola Sturgeon said in last week’s televised leader debate that Labour supported £30 billion of austerity cuts, so to the cultists it must be true.

They are like the Catholic Church, when it imprisoned Galileo for claiming the Earth revolves around the sun. Fortunately for their sanity, the Catholics realised their mistake; it is doubtful the cultists ever will.

Last night, one of them claimed (wrongly) that in the Scottish leaders’ debate, Labour’s Jim Murphy had admitted that Labour has accepted the disputed amount of cuts: “OMG you obviously didn’t see tonight debate they admitted it ! Live on TV Jim Murphy had to admit it because LiBDEms And tory leaders made him… He got pulled up by all parties on his lies.”

This Writer hadn’t seen the debate (was at band practice instead), so had to check the news media for the facts – and found them in the Irish Times: “The Irish Times says he pulled Sturgeon up for lying about it: ‘You might get away with that in England but not here in Scotland.'”

Another cultist then took up the baton and tried quoting from the debate on the Charter for Budget Responsibility – the source of the claim that Labour supported £30 billion of austerity cuts (the claim is that, in supporting the Charter, Labour supported the Tory cuts). It is impossible to bring you a direct quote from this person as they have now blocked This Writer – a common tactic among those who can’t accept their mistakes.

This writer’s response was: “Try reading the charter instead… no mention of ‘£30 billion’ or ‘cuts’… The £30 billion does not exist outside of George Osborne’s own plans… If you read the Charter, you will see that is absolutely correct to say the charter could be supported with no problem.”

The Charter itself – in the version debated in Parliament on January 13 – is available on the web here. It states:

“The Treasury’s objectives for fiscal policy are to:

  • ensure sustainable public finances that support confidence in the economy, promote intergenerational fairness, and ensure the effectiveness of wider Government policy; and  
  • support and improve the effectiveness of monetary policy in stabilising economic fluctuations.

The Treasury’s mandate for fiscal policy for this Parliament, announced in the Budget on 22 June 2010, is:

  • a forward-looking target to achieve cyclically-adjusted current balance by the end of the rolling, five-year forecast period.

At this time of rapidly rising debt, the Treasury’s mandate for fiscal policy is supplemented by:

  • a target for public sector net debt as a percentage of GDP to be falling at a fixed date of 2015-16, ensuring the public finances are restored to a sustainable path.

To ensure that expenditure on welfare remains sustainable, the Treasury’s mandate for fiscal policy is further supplemented by:

  • the cap on welfare spending, at a level set out by the Treasury in the most recently published Budget report, over the rolling five-year forecast period, to ensure that expenditure on welfare is contained within a predetermined ceiling.”

No money figures are mentioned at all.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls capitalised on this in his speech during that day’s debate: “Let me explain what is going on here. It is a three-year rolling target, so in 2015the three-year target presumably refers to 2017-18, but in 2016 it is rolled forward to 2019 because that is three years later. In 2017, it rolls on to 2020 and in 2018 it rolls on to 2021.

“It is a three-year rolling target, so it rolls on, which means that the Chancellor could come back to the House in 2020 and say, ‘It is okay. Consistent with the charter, I am meeting the aim because I am balancing the current budget in 2023.’ That is what this says and it is utterly ridiculous. It does not even sign him and his party up to balancing the current budget by the end of the next Parliament.

“The fact is that for all the boasts, the rhetoric and the talk of traps, in this new charter before the House it is not targets but aims; it is not balancing the overall budget but the current budget; it is not an absolute commitment to deliver a surplus in the next Parliament, but an absolute commitment to a three-year rolling five-year target.

“The Chancellor has spent all of the past nine months telling everybody what a clever wheeze this is and, once again, it has totally backfired. It is less of a trap and more of a load of complete pony and trap.”

A “load of complete pony and trap” is exactly what all the talk of Labour supporting £30 billion of cuts is.

So what is Labour’s plan? This blog has already outlined it, but for clarity here’s the relevant information from the Vox Political article:

“The ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ is highly elastic: it’s not based on a firm commitment to reach balance in 2017-18,” states the Resolution Foundation… “Instead it represents a rolling ‘aim’ of planning to reach current balance three years down the road.” The article adds: “Most economists are sceptical about how much difference it (the charter) will make.

“So what if Labour targets a current balance in 2019-20 instead? Based on current OBR assumptions this could be achieved with as little as £7 billion of fiscal consolidation in the four years to 2019-20 (including the cost of extra debt interest).”

Labour has made it clear that it plans to make only £7 billion of cuts. As this coincides exactly with the Resolution Foundation’s figures for a 2019-20 budget balance, logic suggests that this is most likely to be what Ed Balls is planning.

So now you know. Anybody suggesting Labour is planning huge, Tory-size, austerity cuts should be sent to this article and told to get a clue.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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