13 years of Labour failure
1. On economic growth
Longest and deepest recession. Gordon Brown has given Britain the longest and deepest recession on record (ONS, Time Series ABMI). Britain has had the longest recession in the G20 with six consecutive quarters of negative growth – more than any other major economy (Principal Global Indicators).
Record decline in manufacturing. Between 1997 Q2 and 2009 Q3, manufacturing as a share of GDP declined by 9.3 percentage points, from 20.7 per cent of GDP to 11.4 per cent of GDP – the fastest decline under any government since records began in 1980 (ONS Time Series QTPI & QVYR).
2. On national debt
Largest budget deficit. In 2010, the UK is expected to have the largest budget deficit of any major economy at 11.4 per cent of GDP (IMF, World Economic Outlook Database).
National debt has doubled – and is set to double again. Gordon Brown has doubled the national debt. In fact, on Labour’s own figures, by 2014-15 Gordon Brown would have quadrupled the national debt compared to 1997 (HM Treasury, Public Finances Databank, Table A7).
3. On jobs
Record economic inactivity. 8.16 million working age people are classed as economically inactive – the highest number since records began in 1971 (ONS, Labour Market Statistics, April 2010).
Youth unemployment rising again. Under Labour, youth unemployment reached a record high, and now it is rising again. One in five young people is unable to find a job (ONS, Labour Market Statistics, April 2010).
4. On government waste
Billions spent on quangos. There are now 1,148 quangos which employ 534,000 staff and cost the taxpayer £90 billion (Taxpayers Alliance, ACA to YJB: A Guide to the UK’s Semi-Autonomous Public Bodies, 26 October 2009).
NHS computer system has doubled in cost. The new NHS computer system was originally intended to cost £6.2 billion but costs have now doubled to over £13 billion (Public Accounts Committee, The National Programme for IT in the NHS, March 2007; National Audit Office, The National Programme for IT in the NHS: Progress since 2006, 16 May 2008).
DCFS contemplation suite and massage room. £3 million has been spent on lavish new offices at the Department of Children, Schools and Families, including a massage room and a contemplation suite (The Daily Mail, 29 September 2009).
5. On the NHS
More deaths from hospital infections than road accidents. There have been almost 44,000 deaths from MRSA and Clostridium difficile under Labour (ONS, 19 August 2009; Hansard, 10 September 2008, Col.1882WA). Hospital-acquired infections now kill more than three times as many people as are killed on the roads every year (Department for Transport, Road Casualties in Great Britain 2008, 24 September 2009).
Number of managers growing faster than nurses. The number of managers in the NHS is increasing more than five times as fast as the number of nurses (NHS workforce statistics, 25 March 2010).
Cancer death rates some of the worst in Europe. There are still more deaths from cancer in the UK than in most other European countries. Germany, for example, has almost 10 per cent fewer deaths from cancer than we do. And the gap between the number of deaths from cancer in Europe and the UK has progressively widened since 1997 (OECD Health Data 2009).
6. On schools
School standards falling. The UK has fallen down the world league tables in English, maths and science. Since the first OECD comparative study on education was conducted in 2001, the UK has fallen from 8th to 24th place in maths. In reading, the UK has fallen from 7th to 17th place, and in science from 4th to 14th place. We are now below countries like Liechtenstein and Estonia (OECD, Programme for International Student Assessment, December 2007).
Truancy and poor discipline. Every school day, over 1,000 pupils are excluded for abuse and assault and 67,000 pupils play truant (DCSF, Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusions from Schools in England 2007/08, 30 July 2009; DCSF, Pupil Absence from Schools in England, including pupil characteristics, 21 April 2009).
7. On crime
Over 100 serious knife crimes a day. In 2008-09, there were 38,082 serious offences involving a knife – including homicide, attempted murder and robbery – equivalent to more than 100 a day (Home Office, Crime in England and Wales 2008-9, 21 January 2010, Revised Table 3.10).
Violence against the person increased by 44 per cent. Recorded levels of violence against the person increased by 44 per cent between 1998-99 and 2008-09. These figures take account of changing recording practices over the period so the comparison is statistically valid (House of Commons Library Note, February 2010).
80,000 prisoners released early. Figures released last week show that between June 2007 and April 2010, 81,578 prisoners were released early on Labour’s controversial ‘end of custody licence’ scheme (Ministry of Justice, End of Custody Licence releases and recalls, 30 April 2010).
8. On pensioners
2 million pensioners in poverty. There are 2 million pensioners in poverty today (DWP, Households Below Average Income 2007-08, May 2009, table 6.3tr, measured after housing costs). This is a rise of 100,000 since the last election.
Devastating tax on pensions. One of Gordon Brown’s first acts on becoming Chancellor in 1997 was to impose a tax on pensions of £5 billion a year. Over 100,000 occupational pension schemes have been wound up or have begun the process of winding up since Labour took office in 1997 (Hansard, 11 November 2009, Col. 570W).
9. On poverty
Inequality growing. The income of the poorest 20 per cent of households has been falling for the past three years and is now £7 a week lower in real terms than in 2004-05. Over the same period, the richest 20 per cent of households have seen their incomes grow in real terms by £30 a week (DWP, Households Below Average Income 2007/08 Full Report, 7 May 2009, p.20, table 2.1ts).
Child poverty rising. Child poverty has risen for the third year in a row (DWP, Households Below Average Income First Release, 7 May 2009, p.1). There are now four million children living in poverty.
Doubled the tax rate for some of the poorest. In the 2007 Budget, Labour scrapped the 10p tax rate, doubling the rate for some of the poorest to 20p. The Treasury estimated that 5.3 million households lost from the April 2008 changes announced in the 2007 Budget (Hansard, 18 October 2007, Col. 1266 WA). While the IFS said that, even after compensation, there were still 0.9 million people worse off (IFS Briefing Note 77, ‘The 10% tax rate: where next?’).
10. On the Armed Forces
Misleading over defence spending. On 10 March 2010, Gordon Brown claimed that ‘the defence budget has been rising every year since 1997’ (Hansard, 10 March 2010, col. 291). A week later, on 17 March, he admitted ‘I do accept that in one or two years defence expenditure did not rise in real terms’ (Hansard, 17 March 2010, col. 869). Figures from the Ministry of Defence show that the defence budget fell year-on-year in real terms on four occasions in 1997 – in 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2007 (Figures provided by the Ministry of Defence for Channel 4 Factcheck, 10 March 2010).
Helicopter budget cut. In 2004, the MoD cut the 10-year projected helicopter budget by £1.4 billion, and cut annual helicopter expenditure by 75 per cent from 2001 to 2007 (House of Commons library; Hansard, 3 June 2009, col. 552WA). Lord Guthrie, former Chief of the Defence Staff, said ‘I have no doubt whatever that, with additional helicopters, some of the lives that have been lost would have been saved’ (Lords Hansard, 6 November 2009, col. 524).
11. On sleaze
Mandelson resigns – twice. First, for accepting a soft loan to buy a house in London, despite a conflict of interest arising as a result of Mandelson’s appointment as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in 1998. The second time, for helping the controversial Indian tycoon, Mr Srichand Hinduja, to secure British citizenship. Hinduja had pledged £1 million to the Millennium Dome project, with which Mandelson was closely associated (BBC News Online, 24 January 2001; BBC News Online, 23 December 2008).
Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One. In 1997, Labour’s manifesto pledged to ban tobacco advertising. But following a secret £1 million donation to the Labour Party from Bernie Ecclestone, Labour changed its policy (BBC News Online, 22 September 2000).
David Blunkett resigns – twice. First, for fast-tracking a claim for indefinite leave to remain for his lover’s nanny. For the second time, for failing to clear his appointment with DNA Bioscience, a company that was bidding for government work, with the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (BBC News Online, 2 November 2005).
12. On spin and feuds
Jo Moore. Jo Moore, Stephen Byers’s special adviser, sent a memo on 11 September 2001, suggesting it would be a good time to ‘bury’ controversial stories (BBC News Online, 10 October 2001).
‘Forces of hell’ unleashed on Darling. Alistair Darling admitted that Gordon Brown and Number 10, including Charlie Whelan and Damian McBride, had unleashed the ‘forces of hell’ against him after conceding that the UK economy was in a poor state (Sky News, 22 February 2010). Andrew Rawnsley’s book described how: ‘Damian McBride, Brown’s spin doctor, was also spreading poison against Darling. “He told every journalist who had access to a pencil that Alistair’s interview was a disaster. There was the most absolutely vicious briefing against him,”’ (The End of the Party, Andrew Rawnsley; reported in The Observer, 21 February 2010).
Charlie Whelan forced to resign over briefing against Mandelson. Charlie Whelan was forced to resign as Gordon Brown’s press secretary after it was suggested that he was responsible for leaking the information that led to Peter Mandelson’s first resignation from Government (BBC News Online, 4 January 1999)
Damian McBride conceived false smears against opponents. Deliberate smears against senior Conservatives were planned by Gordon Brown’s spin doctor, Damian McBride, with Derek Draper, a former adviser to Peter Mandelson. Charlie Whelan was also copied in to these planning emails (The Guardian, 29 April 2009).
13. On character
Bottled the election. After months of walking his troops up the hill – appointing a general election co-ordinator, beginning to write a manifesto, hiring an advertising agency – Brown bottled it. On 6 October, after months of dithering, he finally announced that there would not be a general election in 2007 (Speech at Special Labour Party Conference, 24 June 2007; The Times, 1 August 2007; Labour Party Press Release, 13 September 2007; and BBC Online News, 6 October 2007).
Calling Gillian Duffy a ‘bigot’. At a walkabout in Rochdale last Wednesday, after speaking to a pensioner called Gillian Duffy, Gordon Brown was recorded telling an aide in his car: ‘That was a disaster - they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It's just ridiculous.’ When asked what she had said, he replied: ‘Ugh everything! She's just a sort of bigoted woman that said she used to be Labour. I mean it's just ridiculous. I don't know why Sue brought her up towards me’ (Gallery News, 28 April 2010).