TODAY THE TORIES are concentrating on attacking Labour for promising to spend money without, they say, being able to identify where they will get the money from. It’s a somewhat old fashioned attack, which has been used by both parties at most of the last few elections – as an attempt to undermine the other party’s promises.
This year, however, the Tories have updated the way they have presented their argument. To put across the allegation that Labour will have to raise taxes in order to fund its spending plans, they have issued a new poster – headlined “Labour’s tax bombshell”, illustrated with a small missile. It is hard to think of a more tactless and inappropriate message to broadcast, at a time when real life (funded) missiles are killing innocent civilians in so many places. Is this really the first image the Tories think of when they go into attack mode? Oh dear.
Nor would the Tories get good marks for their homework on the “tax bombshell” campaign. Over the last two years, Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Cabinet members and the Labour Party have made several general statements about the need to increase public spending. Many of these statements overlapped, or referred to something which had already been announced on several months earlier. Now that we have an election, all the parties will be choosing their policies and presenting them in a manifesto.
Once we have the manifesto, policies can be criticised – but the Tories are not waiting. They have traced all Labour’s announcements and added up the announced or assumed spending behind each one, and called this Labour’s commitment to irresponsibly high levels of spending – except that it clearly isn’t. Oh dear.
Labour has responded to Tory questioning by insisting that it has costed all its spending pledges and has identified the income which will pay for them. The Party has promised that these details will be revealed in their formal Manifesto, due out in a few days.
Perhaps Labour should consider turning the tables on the Tories and asking not where they will get the money for their spending plans but rather if they have identified the human cost of the outgoing Government’s lack of spending.
•Not enough money for the NHS? What’s that worth? How many pensioners will die this winter – can we afford those deaths? Probably, because we’ll save on the pensions too.
•Are schools getting too much money? Let’s cut a bit off. Education is wasted on the working classes anyway: they don’t need degrees to work in call centres, so why bother spending all that money?
•Are disabled people just too comfortable? The human cost of winding down welfare handouts is just that they will be stuck at home unable to travel without their mobility allowances, or unable to find work they can do without aids and adaptations. Surely we can bear the cost of that?
•And as for pensioners – well! We could cut back on them. It’s not only the incessant annual increases in their pensions, they also guzzle so many other public services. All this free travel, what do we get in return?
•We really can’t afford all this public spending. We have to rein it in – or else we’ll have no money left to buy ourselves new nukes – and where would we be without our Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Everything has a cost, either a financial one or a human one – and voters will have to decide which balance sheet they will back on 8th June.