Well, three of them, at least.
First, the team examined the Zombie Chancellor’s claim that living standards have doubled since 1979.
The chancellor is right that living standards have doubled since Margaret Thatcher became prime minister in 1979.
But he’s wrong to suggest that this date marked a turning point, with an increased rate of improvement. In reality, it has now slumped.
The official measure of living standards, dating back to 1961… shows there was no significant change in living standards after 1979. Living standards remained on roughly the same trajectory all the way up until the financial crash of 2008. Since then, under the Conservatives, living standards have failed to catch up with the pre-recession trend. The IFS described the growth in average income as “very weak”, post-recession.
Oh dear! So standards have slumped under the Conservatives – and Mr Hammond tried to pretend they’ve improved hugely! Shame on him.
Ah, but how about the claim that Mr Corbyn wants to turn the UK into a regime similar to (stop laughing at the back!) North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Zimbabwe?
There seems little grounds to compare Labour’s policies to those of authoritarian regimes. It is true that these countries exert high levels of state control; and it is also true that Mr Corbyn’s agenda would see a bigger, more active state in the UK. But the two things are on a completely different scale.
Many of the key policy pledges in Labour’s election manifesto are already in place in numerous modern western democracies. These include free tuition fees, nationalised railways, higher corporation tax and rent controls.
So Mr Corbyn’s policies are more mainstream than the current Conservative government’s, then.
Doesn’t that make Mr Hammond the extremist?
Finally, the FactCheck team moved onto Mr Hammond’s claim that Labour wants to “demolish our successful modern market economy and replace with a back-to-the-future socialist fantasy.”
I think by now we can all tell who’s the fantasist, but for the sake of completeness:
He is accusing Mr Corbyn of completely opposing free market capitalism. But opposing neo-liberalism (which is associated with freer markets and deregulation) does not, in itself, mean that Mr Corbyn is opposed to market economics – merely that he is against that particular form of it. He makes no mention of scrapping “market economics,” but instead simply suggests there should be a bigger role for the public sector.
You’d think the humilation would have ended there, but no! There’s a sting in the tail for the mendacious Hammond: After all his claims about Labour wanting to end free-market economics, it turns out that the Tories aren’t all that keen on such a system either – in fact, they manipulate it to suit themselves.
Indeed, the Conservative Party itself does not believe in a completely unrestricted free market – a belief which was spelled out in its manifesto.
“We do not believe in untrammelled free markets,” it said, adding that the government could make “consumer markets work more fairly”.
“Markets need rules and these rules need to be updated to reflect our changing economy.”
Dismissed, Mr Hammond. Go back to your grave and mull over your transgressions.
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