Corbyn’s plans are certainly eye-catching but Johnson’s are straightforwardly destructiveby Jonathan Lis / November 22, 2019 / Leave a comment
You may have noticed some negative headlines this week about Labour’s spending plans: that they are too expensive, require too much state interference, or risk damaging our economic reputation. You may have heard that the party is irresponsible or hostile to business. They are legitimate questions recognisable to anyone who has witnessed an election campaign in the last 40 years. The unusual element this time around is that they are originating from a party which has pledged to cripple trade with its closest international partners and whose central policy will reduce future prosperity by up to 7 per cent.
It is useful to remind ourselves of a few key facts. The government spent over £8bn on preparing for a no-deal Brexit. Given that we always had the power to revoke Article 50, that money was entirely voluntary. It was used to buy favourable headlines in the right-wing press, and no more. The reality of the deal is even worse. The respected economic think tank NIESR has estimated that it will cost the country up to £70bn over the next ten years, compared to staying in the EU. That equates to around £1,100 per person. Nobody knows precisely how many investment plans might otherwise have been made or how many jobs created, because they will never exist. The government, of course, knows Brexit will be damaging, which is why it has refused to produce full economic impact assessments.
The Conservatives always ask how we can afford a Labour government but never, ever ask the most basic question: how can we afford Brexit? We have, in effect, reached the point where the economy only matters when it is being weaponised against the Labour Party.
Labour’s top lines are certainly eye-catching. Alongside the abolition of tuition fees and the introduction of universal broadband, the party will implement a 5 per cent pay rise for public sector workers, spend £75bn on new council and social homes and create a new National Care Service.
It may well be that Labour has over-reached in its spending plans (even though, as the Times itself pointed out, government spending as a share of GDP would still be lower than in Sweden, Denmark or Finland). The fundamental point, however, is that citizens are not separate from the economy. Labour’s plans will lift…