Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Tory Lies or Labour Cluelessness?

Three days ago I received a post on my Facebook news feed which was entitled 'Top Ten Tory Lies of 2013 and had been shared by a Labour supporter. I subsequently placed it on my timeline and added this comment - "I received this photo on my news feed yesterday. It is a shoddy piece of work by Labour supporters, not referencing any sources to justify either what it says are Tory claims or its supposed refutation of those claims. You're just supposed to take it all on trust. Well, while I'm no apologist for the Tories, I do think there are mistakes in this list and I was wondering if anyone who supports its claims would be interested in defending them with actual referenced facts. Perhaps we could then have a reasoned discussion / debate".  Since the post was just an image, I can't copy and paste the text it contains. I can't be bothered to type them all, so here's just the first five items, first the supposed claims and then the supposed refutations:

1 David Cameron: Royal Mail was making a loss when privatised
2 Grant Shapps: The Tories have cut the national debt
3 Esther McVey: Unemployment has fallen 400,000 since May 2010
4 David Cameron: House building is up a third under the Tories
5 Iain Duncan Smith: Child Poverty rose under Labour

1 Royal Mail doubled its profits to £403 million in the last full year of trading before being privatised
2 National Debt has climbed by £427,000,000,000+ under the Tories
3 Unemployment was up 23k at the time the claim was made (since down 00.08m)
4 House Completions have fallen to 89 year lows in most recent data
5 Child Poverty fell 50% under Labour. It's up 300,000 under IDS

I said on Facebook that the list didn't reference any sources. The reply I received there was that "the sources on the 1st list are clearly named". But by "reference" I don't just mean a name, I mean something which would allow me to perform a meaningful check. David Cameron, Grant Shapps etc. have said a lot of things over the years.

Googling "David Cameron: Royal Mail was making a loss when privatised" (without the quotation marks) didn't bring up anything relevant in the first page. All I can really say about the privatisation is that it is something which has been in the pipeline for well over a decade, and I'm pretty sure the coalition just completed steps which were started under New Labour. Whether it was a necessary step may be open to question, but it went remarkably well as privatisations go.

For "Tories have reduced national debt (Grant Shapps)" I've been searching for a while now without finding anything which would substantiate the Labour claim. I did find something from Grant Shapps about cutting the DEFICIT, though. The deficit, which reached insane proportions under Labour, is the amount by which our spending as a nation exceeds our income. It has to be cut all the way to zero and beyond before the debt starts going down. It looks like the author of point two doesn't even know the difference between deficit and debt, which might explain why both skyrocketed under Labour.

And so on, down the list. Is there anyone out there willing and able to defend just one of the points on the list with actual, verifiable facts?

Change the World


  1. Googling won't solve your dilemma Mike. What you need to do is to ask the initial poster to back up all these claims. If she can't then it was all pointless in the first place. Good luck with it all!

    1. If googling worked properly research would be an absolute doddle and just about anyone could be a researcher. Unfortunately it isn’t and you have to know where to look in order to uncover the facts.

      Here are just a few from what I would regard as neutral, non-political sources:
      With reference to point 1 some facts can be found if you go to royalmail.com where you can download a pdf document which states that their profits in 2011-12 increased from £39 million to £211 million. Also on page 7 a reported Group operating profit increased to £440 million in 2013. Such figures would need to be audited before publication.

      With reference to point 2. In July 2011 the National Debt was £940 billion or 68% of GDP. In 2012 it stood at £1278.2 billion or 86.8% of GDP. Our National Debt is currently increasing by a staggering £121 billion per annum. Approximately £2.3 billion each week. Source: Wikipedia

      Point 3: Unemployment. In 2009 it passed 3,000,000 due to the recession. It peaked at 2,500,000 in early 2010 and has broadly remained at that level since then. Esther McVey's claim that unemployment had fallen by 400,000 since 2010 cannot be substantiated. However neither can the claim that it had increased by 23,000 at the same time! Source: Office for National Statistics.

      With reference to point 4. “annual housing completions in England totalled 107,950 in the 12 months to September 2013, a decrease of 8% compared with the previous 12 months” Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/house-building-statistics

      With reference to point 5: “The late 1990 sand 2000s saw an increase in the fraction of children living in households with incomes from just above the poverty line all the way up to median household income. In other words, the big bulge in the number of children just below the poverty line in 1996 has not been replaced by a big bulge just above the poverty line. However , it is important to note that the increase in the relative incomes of households with children since 1996-97 has been substantially smaller than the reduction that took place prior to this. This means there are still more children in relative income poverty, and fewer with incomes around the median, than in the late 1970s.”It is reasonable, however, to conclude that there is an increase in child poverty due to falling incomes, rising prices, benefit cuts and rise in the use of Food Banks since the Coalition came into power.
      Source: Institute for Fiscal studies. Living Standards, Poverty and Inequality in the UK: 2013 Page 135

  2. It is a sad indictment of the standard of political debate when an internet search cannot support serious offensive claims which, in turn, result in further insult and abuse. I would be offended if someone put words into my mouth and then proceeded to insult me for it. I feel another blog coming on...

  3. Have to agree. Claims made should be supported by indicating references and sources. Having studied at both graduate and post-graduate level it is absolutely essential to do this. It would certainly improve the standard of and public interest in political debate & politics in general.