Harriet Harman confirms Labour are in outright denial over their economic record

13 January 2013

An interesting if depressing edition of Any Questions on Friday. Interesting because of Sir Malcolm Rifkind and occasionally because of Simon Hughes. Depressing because of one person: Harriet Harman.

There is a theory that the Republicans lost the recent US election in part because the wind they thought they had behind them — the economy — blew against them. This happened because the electorate remembered who was in charge when the catastrophe started and thought the inheritors of the situation deserved more time.

The Labour party could stand a chance of getting back into power in 2015. But to deserve this they have to be honest enough to admit that while in office they ran up a terrible deficit and debt. They should then promise not to do it again. But if Harriet Harman is anything to go by — and she is the party’s deputy leader — they continue instead with outright denial.

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In response to every point made by the rest of the panel in South London on Friday, Harman did the ‘play another tune’ line. So boring, so tedious to still be going on, more than two years later, about that debt we ran up. It may take a generation or more to pay off. It may have caused terrible unemployment and woeful growth. But in Harman-land you should only go on about this for perhaps a few weeks.

That is the best interpretation of her attitude. The worst, and more likely, is that she simply believes that if you deny the economic facts vigorously enough you can fool enough of the people and they will be foolish enough to return you to office. From the evidence of Friday’s audience she may be onto something. Many of them boo-ed whenever one of the rest of us even mentioned the economic mess we are in. It was baffling.

I can understand someone — though would think them rather dim — who thinks cuts aren’t the way to deal with the problem. But how to explain people who boo even a mention of the problem? Do they really believe we’re only in this mess because of bankers’ bonuses?

I hope the Labour party manages to do the right thing. But on the evidence of their deputy leader’s performance on Friday, doing the right thing would appear to be the last thing on their minds.

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Show comments
  • Richard Earney

    A few points since the article’s author and various others don’t seem to have much of a clue about the economy.
    The structural deficit was higher in 1997 than it was in 2010. It was cleared by growing the economy. Thus it ever was. Growth helps a country out of recession. And to achieve that governments have to spend. The idea should be to then cut when the economy is growing which is where Labour and Conservatives fail, because of the political desire to be reelected.
    When the coalition took over in 2010 the UK was beginning the slow haul out of recession – we had growth. Yet it is not until 3 years later that this growth has returned and it is mostly returning in the worst way possible – unbalanced and fueled by house prices. The austerity measures have prolonged the recession and haven’t restructured the economy as promised. So what was the point? To punish the people?
    I guess you lot will dismiss this as lefty claptrap, but the methodology described above has worked time and time again and according to all the research the other way has never worked.

  • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

    I think Blackadder can sum this up better than any number of perceptive comments as to how Labour could or should go about rehabilitating themselves in the public eye:

    Captain Blackadder: [whispering] “Baldrick, deny everything.”

  • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

    “The worst, and more likely, is that she simply believes that if you deny
    the economic facts vigorously enough you can fool enough of the people
    and they will be foolish enough to return you to office.”

    She is totally and undeniably correct and for this reason she is and will continue to be fabulously well-paid and successful in Westminster, and will have a meal ticket until the day she days in her absolutely massive fuck-off mansion while her constituents freeze to death.

  • Adrian

    An anti White, Anti British, anti Western civilisation Feminazi.

  • Mr.D.Advocate

    I get awfully this the same Harriet Harman who once supported the rights of the perverts of PIE to molest children? Or was that another Harriet Harman?

  • Julian Geoffrey Mortimer

    Regarding that edition of AQ, and the inevitable shirkers versus skivers debate, I waited in vain for someone to come up with some sort of estimate of the proportion among the unemployed of one type versus the other. This seems to me to have been the one piece of information above all else needed to make any sense of the debate, yet nobody in the building seemed to be prepared to have a crack at it (I may be mistaken – I did have to make a short trip to the loo). Anyone have any data?

  • retundario

    Harman has the brain and ability to be ok at running her local church’s flower-arranging committee – having her as deputy head of the opposition in the UK is genuine madness. Sign of the times.

  • kevin king

    It’s a basic PR ploy well know even in the days of Lewis Carroll. Repeat a lie often enough it’s amazing how many people will forget the truth and think you were right all along. The same applies to that most blatant of lies….anthropogenic global warming

    “Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:

    That alone should encourage the crew.

    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:

    What I tell you three times is true.”

  • Supersub

    Is George bush a good example of how a Tory government could have saved us from the crash? No wonder the chipping norton set avoid republicans like a bad smell.

  • Supersub

    So mustard, what went wrong with the right wing Bush government’s handling of the US economy? Or osborne’s seduction by the Irish economic model in 2006.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Colonel Mustard to you, you impertinent bag of left wing dross.

  • Gareth

    “…if you deny the economic facts vigorously enough you can fool enough of the people and they will be foolish enough to return you to office. ”

    This sounds more like Osborne’s claims on virtually every aspect of the economy: the deficit (not cut by 25%), private sector employment (creating largely underskilled, part-time positions) and growth (likely to return to negative for the third time in his tenure).

    Under the last government, the significant proportion of the deficit related to their decision to rescue banks from a world crisis (it affected Iceland, Ireland, the US…) and to support the economy, which was growing at the time of the 2010 election. For the rest of their thirteen years, they ran a similar level of deficit/GDP as under the Major and Thatcher governments, using this to invest in schools and hospitals, which improved enormously during this time. Whether you disagree with economic policy under Labour, they at least achieved what they set out to do, which certainly can’t said of this Coalition, whose primary raison d’etre is nowhere close to being achieved.

    • HJ777

      “the significant proportion of the deficit related to their decision to rescue banks from a world crisis”

      Complete nonsense. The deficit figures published by the Treasury explicitly state “excluding financial interventions”. The bank bailout (which I for one, didn’t support) was largely a one-off cost. The deficit is an annual figure.

      The rest of your post is similarly fictitious. For example, the ‘growth’ in the economy in the first half of 2010 was created entirely by a huge rise in government spending and borrowing. The ‘growth’ in cash value terms was actually less than the rise in government spending. Do you think this could have been sustained?

      Why was Labour running a deficit of over 3% of GDP at the height of the credit boom, despite rapidly rising tax revenues? At the same point in the cycle (prior to the early 90s recession) when there was also a credit boom, the government ran a surplus of over 2% of GDP. Had Labour done the same (which should have been easy as it was an even bigger credit boom) then the deficit rise would have started from a point that was 5% of GDP lower. If our deficit were 5% lower than it is, our fiscal position would now be perfectly acceptable for this stage of the economic cycle.

  • ballnshine

    Harman is an utterly dumb person. At one point she invited the audience to calculate a 1% rise in a civil service salary of £250,000 because she was incapable of doing it on the fly. This same woman then thinks she has the credibility to make suggestions to fix our economy. The same economy that Labour screwed up in the first place.

    She also brought her rent-a-mob I notice.

    • HJ777

      Are you serious?

      I didn’t see the programme, but did she really need help with 1% of £250k? Surely no-one is that dim?

  • Colonel Mustard

    She is a horrible woman from a clichéd and horrible left-wing past who is still peddling all its horrible nonsense. She is like Margaret Thatcher’s evil twin and is always there, in the Labour party, close to the throne, spouting her codswallop from the 1960s.

  • Eddie

    Is this the same Herr Harriet Harman who is the daughter of a rich surgeon who went to an expensive private school, and who now owns a million pound London town house, and whose children were looked after by low paid au pairs and child minders while she was out shouting her leftie loonie feminutsy nonsense at everyone?

    Thought so.

    This awful woman also wants all men to be locked up if anyone accuses them of abuse – with no evidence – and cannot see how that makes men very vulnerable to liars. She wants men to be named and shamed and for their photo to be splashed evereywhere just because they have been accused by someone – many of these men are later found to be 100% innocent. Yet, they are still branded – and have been sorely abused. (I do so hope her son gets accused one day).

    ‘Many of them boo-ed whenever one of the rest of us even mentioned the economic mess we are in. It was baffling.’
    Not really – you were in Peckham, non? This was a BBC programme made by leftwing BBCers. Not baffling then. Wrong and biased, yes. But not baffling.

    • Eddie

      And why is Herr Harman wearing what appears to be a necklace made up of giant Christmas baubles? Did she snuggle a Christmas tree at Winterval or something?

  • Supersub

    In 2006 George Osborne called Ireland a shining example of economic policy making, calling for even less regulation of the banks. Has his opinion changed or was Ireland’s financial collapse labour ‘s fault too. Far too many on this blog with 20:20 hindsight. You should all be working in the risk departments at goldman sachs, then we could all sleep easy at night. Labour has a lot to learn as do the tories.

  • SirMortimerPosh

    The booing crowd were clearly a bused in cadre of Labour Party activists. You meet them from time to time and they are all the same – they have no grasp of reality; no sense that we must base our politics on actual facts and an appreciation of experience. They are zealots of political fundamentalism, not people who are to be trusted with responsibility for real people’s lives or the economy of the country, or anything at all. They are incapable of learning from mistakes, but will press on with ludicrous policies nomatter the consequence. At the heart of their creed is the idea that the state must give people money nomatter how undeserving and irresponsible, and that they ought to take that money from those who earned and own it.

    • Mr.D.Advocate

      A whole room of Owen Jones’ genetic clones who became lost on the way to the Question Time studio, if you will.

  • Gerry Dorrian

    Labour didn’t just run up a huge debt. Gordon Brown decided he had abolished boom and bust, and every Labour front-bencher asked for a bit of his wool so they could pull it over his own eyes too.

  • Supersub

    You make my point perfectly olds laughter. Are you suggesting Tories would have introduced greater regulation of the markets had they been in power during the Blair era. You have a selective memory.

    • Mr Frost

      They didn’t need to. The previous regulatory regime worked well enough. Brown’s meddling by setting up a flawed tripartate system allowed the false boom to go on.

  • Sarah

    They boo because they know it was caused by global economics, not Labour and that regardless of who jad been in power the same thing would have happened. They boo because they know the debt wasn’t run up by profligate politicians, but by the collapse of the markets. They boo because they know the Conservatives are merely exploiting the situation to do what they would have done anyway. The austerity plan doesn’t even make a dent in the deficit.

    • Whyshouldihavetoregister

      The markets ran up government borrowing? Take your medication.

      • Sarah

        They ran up our deficit. Take yours.

    • arnoldo87

      Sarah, Quite right. How a distinguished journalist like Murray could compose such an article without mentioning the external factors that influenced debt in 2007/2008 is disappointing. But the reaction of the Any Questions audience demonstrates that the public have not been fooled by the Tories’ simplistic argument that “it is all Labour’s fault”.

      • HJ777

        Who has ever said that “it is all Labour’s fault”?

        Our fiscal mess definitely is, however. Labour were also guilty of ignoring the real economy by telling the Bank of England to target CPI only which ignored both rapid asset price (especially housing) and public sector inflation.

    • HJ777

      Had Labour run a surplus of (say) 2% during the height of the credit boom (as the Tories did in 1990 at the height of the Lawson boom) instead of a deficit of over 3%, then the current deficit would be 5% lower.

      This would have made the current situation much, much, easier, with much less need for deficit reduction.

      Of course we haven’t really seen any austerity yet (public spending is still higher in real terms than it was at the last election) – most of the deficit reduction (which, contrary to your assertion has been reduced by a quarter) has been down to tax increases. Spending cuts would have been much more effective as higher taxes dampen economic activity.

  • arnoldo87

    Douglas – your argument would be more persuasive if you backed up your argument with some supporting data.
    The facts show that Labour’s debt record up to the Banking Crisis was superior to either the Thatcher or Major governments. And those two did nowhere as much as Labour to improve the infrastructure of both education or the NHS – in fact they presided over their gradual decay to create the disgraceful state in which they were handed over to Tony Blair in 1997.
    The Banking scandal changed everything, of course, and Labour do take blame for poor bank regulation. The Tories, though, were even more opposed to regulation than Labour.
    The problem I have with the Labour front Bench is that they seem incapable of putting this simple case to the general public.

    • HJ777

      You mean that Labour inherited fast-improving public finances, which later deteriorated first gradually and then rapidly, but that if you exclude the rapid deterioration, and the trend before that, then their record on debt wasn’t too bad?

      Of course, for the purposes of this comparison, you must be absolutely sure to include recessions under the Tories, especially the dire economic situation they inherited in 1979?

      Didn’t the Tories run a surplus and get debt down to 26% of GDP before the early 90s recession? By comparison, how did Labour do with the public finances before the last recession? Debt couldn’t have been rising as % of GDP for six straight years, could it?

      As for regulation, the banking problems were caused by many factors, not least the policies of central banks. Very bad regulation (not lack of regulation) was also a major contributory cause, so the idea that less regulation would have been worse is highly disputable.

      • arnoldo87

        The facts are there to see for all on the ONS website. In 1974 Labour inherited a debt to GDP % of 48% and never went above that figure in their term of office, but in 1979 gave Thatcher a figure of 44%.
        Thatcher then kept it at roughly that level until it reduced between 1985 and 1990 to 27%. Then Major took it upwards again to leave Blair 42%. Blair took this gradually down to 29% in 2002, and it then increased slowly to 37% in 2008.
        So you could argue that Thatcher had some success (only for Major to ruin it all), but she reached debt levels, along with Major, that Blair kept well short of. Don’t forget either that the Tories had North Sea Oil flowing at peak volume during this period.
        Just one look at the debt chart from 1979 to 2012 on the ONS web site tells anyone with an open mind that the New Labour debt record was not outstandingly good but it was not the unmitigated disaster that the Tories try to paint either. It is clear that something extraordinary happened to the world economy in 2007/8 that created the current level of debt (look at the very similar USA debt chart and then tell us that Gordon Brown caused that too).
        This data tells such a clear story that the public are right to boo anyone who tries to spin the debt level as a unique New Labour creation.

        • HJ777

          The facts on the ONS wen site (with which I am very familiar) are there for all to see – and for you to deliberately misinterpret.

          What you are deliberately ignoring is the trend level of debt, which is determined by the deficit. If we were to alternate between two governments at equal intervals and one always ran a deficit and the other a surplus, such that one always steadily doubled the debt and the other always steadily halved it, then the average debt level under both governments would be precisely the same. However, there would be very little doubt which was most fiscally responsible.

          Margaret Thatcher’s government reduced the debt (as a % of GDP) in the late 80s partly because of booming (and unsustainable) tax revenues due to the Lawson credit boom. When it all went wrong (as credit booms always do) then the fiscal situation deteriorated quickly. However, starting from a position of surplus and reduced debt, deficit and debt levels never reached current levels. By the time Labour won the 1997 election, tax revenues and growth were again strong (we were headed towards surplus again), but without a credit boom – and debt levels were relatively modest, largely due to the good debt situation pre-boom.

          However from 2001 we were in a credit boom again with (again) booming tax revenues. However, even under these conditions, Brown built up an increasing deficit, which then went through the roof when the boom turned to bust. A key reason why we have such a huge deficit (and therefore rapidly growing debt) is that the fiscal situation (i.e. the deficit) BEFORE the crash was so bad. Compare a 3+% deficit before the recent crash with a 2% (approx) surplus before the early 90s crash. Had we started the current crisis with a 2% surplus, then the fiscal situation (and increase in the debt) would have been much less serious.

          As for everything being a worldwide phenomenon, ask yourself this. Why was our deficit so much higher than other European countries post-crash? Why was our balance of payments so poor (Labour inherited trade approximately in balance) before the crash? There may have been a worldwide crash, but ours was much more serious because Brown stoked up the credit boom to a greater extent here. What is more, while manufacturing output grew by nearly 20% under Thatcher/Major, it shrank by well over 10% under Labour. As over half of our exports are still manufactured goods, then our ability to to export our way out of trouble has been seriously eroded.

          So your attempt to exclude the recession under Labour but to include it under the Tories for purposes of comparison is entirely disingenuous. I am no Tory and the Tories made many serious mistakes during the 80s and 90s but nothing on the scale of the last Labour government.

          As for North sea Oil, revenue peaked under the last Labour government, not under the previous Tory one.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Labour and their activists distort the truth. It is what they do. They point the finger at everyone but themselves and never take responsibility for disaster or admit their mistakes. Yet they are quick as lightning to find fault in others. It would probably require years of psychiatry to explain why they are invariably all like this, including “arnoldo87”, the indoctrinated 26 year old Labour party activist.

          • arnoldo87

            Your second paragraph is a splendid example of a mathematical model that is nowhere near reality. Labour and Tory governments did NOT, during the reference period, alternate in convenient 5 year cycles. The Tories lasted 18 (very long) years, and Labour (I’m sure you would say painfully long) 13 years, and in that time both achieved periods of budget surplus. So your argument is fallacious.

            The reason why GB and the USA suffered the most in the 2008 crash is that they had (and still have) much larger financial sectors in their economies and were therefore more vulnerable to a banking crisis. This point has been made endlessly by financial commentators of all political opinions.
            Like you, I am not a committed voter, and actually preferred Cameron last time over Brown and still prefer Cameron over Miliband. But I cannot stand the sort of mindless blame game from the Tories that we have seen since 2010.

            • HJ777

              I didn’t say that was what happened. I said that it illustrates that concentrating on average debt levels – as you did – can conceal the truth (as you tried to do). My argument is precisely correct.

              The reason why the UK suffered so badly was not as you say. In fact, in proportion to GDP, our banking sector is only about 2% bigger than that of Germany, for example. Don’t blame it all on the banking sector.

              Our fiscal position is especially bad because Labour raised spending very rapidly in its last few years which partly fuelled the boom and raised the deficit. Do you deny that the deficit would currently be much less of a problem had they run a surplus pre-crisis of 2% of GDP (as the previous Tory government did during a credit boom) rather than running a deficit of over 3% of GDP when there were booming tax revenues?

              • arnoldo87

                At no point did I refer to average debt levels.

                • HJ777

                  Next you’ll be saying that the current government ‘took debt levels up’ just as you claimed that Blair ‘took debt levels down’.

                  In fact, the debt levels at the end of this parliament, as with the debt levels at the end of Blair’s first term, will have far more to do with deficit levels and trend change that they inherited, than it is to do with the policies of the government in power over that period. It is how they change that trend in the longer term that matters.

                • arnoldo87

                  So on that basis the increase in debt levels during the Major government were, in fact, Thatcher’s fault, and the Blair debt reduction was due to Major?
                  This makes Major’s regime the best economic performers of recent years.
                  So let’s re-install Norman Lamont as Chancellor and have a few more ERM crises, or similar. Bring back those golden years indeed!

                • HJ777

                  That’s pretty much the case, although, of course, it was more Lawson rather than Thatcher (albeit they both deserve credit for previously having reduced debt levels as a % of GDP).

                  The Blair/Brown early years debt reduction was indeed, due to Major’s government or, more specifically, Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke. Lamont was a good and unfairly-maligned chancellor – he didn’t believe in the ERM but was forced to defend Major’s mistaken policy. That’s why he later said that he was “singing in the bath” after the exit. The policies he put in place immediately after (and continued by Clarke) set us up for many years of growth.

                  By the time that Blair/Brown came to power, the deficit was headed rapidly towards surplus and the debt as a % of GDP was already shrinking from its post-recessionary peak.

    • Colonel Mustard

      You forget all the skeletons in the closet, like PFI and various other inventive ways masterminded by Brown to ensure that what we saw is not what we got.

      • arnoldo87

        PFI was masterminded by the Tories and used by Brown. In any event, even if the PFI schemes had been purchased with public money entirely within the years 1997 to 2007 then the % debt would still not have reached the peak level notched up by the Tories.
        As for the other “inventive ways” to deceive the populace, Colonel, you should tell us what they are, and at the same time convince us that no other government used them too.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Well, lets just show some comprehension shall we? I wrote that PFI was a skeleton in the closet not that it had been masterminded by Brown. That referred to other little Brownian wheezes that have been well documented here over the years, including his convoluted tax and benefits arrangements. You haunt this site fairly regularly – don’t you read the articles or are you just here to post Labour propaganda?

          • arnoldo87

            Your sentence about PFI was ambiguous at best, mon Colonel, and you really cannot talk about “convoluted tax and benefits arrangements” in this debate, unless you explain how they affected the debt figures.
            Please do so or pipe down.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Not ambiguous at all but as usual a left-wing, Labour supporting commentator prefers to re-write an opposing comment to better suit his argument. That is typical. It is also typical that your natural tendency is to suppress disagreement (as in “pipe down”). Typical of the censorious, repressive, regressive but masquerading as progressive, ghastly, destructive, divisive, lying, deceitful Left and their advocates. Pipe down? No chance.

              Everyone here knows everything about Brown and his scams. Your head in the sand denials are risible. Go and peddle your nonsense on a self-congratulory, reality denying left wing site – there are plenty of them – but don’t expect it to be swallowed here. You are wasting your time. Britain is not yet the one-party, coercive socialist state you and your silly comrades dream of.

    • HJ777

      In point of fact, after the preceding Labour government cut spending on the NHS (the only government ever to do so), Margaret Thatcher’s government consistently increased spending on the NHS faster than the growth in GDP. During the Thatcher/Major governments, real terms NHS spending more than doubled.

      Of course, Labour subsequently increased it even faster, but as Derek Wanless reported in 1997 (and it was his original report that recommended large spending increases in the first place) over 40% of that extra spending went on paying existing staff more (giving us easily the best paid medical staff in Europe). The government’s own official figures even conceded that NHS productivity fell during this period.

      • arnoldo87

        If one nurse is struggling to look after a number of patients and you bring another one in to help, guess what? Productivity goes down but everybody benefits.

        • HJ777

          You’re clearly unfamiliar with the methodology used to assess NHS productivity. Do you think that it doesn’t consider such factors?

          In fact, the government used every trick in the book to make productivity look better. For example, if more drugs are prescribed, the productivity of the prescriber was deemed to have increased, regardless of whether there was any benefit.

          • arnoldo87

            OK let’s agree then that NHS productivity was at an all time high in 1997, as patients lay waiting for treatment on litters in hospital corridors, and waiting lists were at an all time high as well.
            Bring back the golden days, eh?

            • HJ777

              I’m not a supporter of a state-run medical service. Blame those who are.

              Labour trebled spending on the NHS as well as building up huge future PFI liabilities. The NHS will suffer tight financial constraints for the next decade as a result of their fiscal profligacy.

              If you check the facts, you will see that although the number of patients waiting for long periods was reduced under Labour, average waiting times actually increased. In any case, some of us are very sceptical about the supposed reduction in the longer waiting times – patients may have been seen by a specialist within the 18 weeks, but that doesn’t mean that they were actually treated within that period. It took my mother nearly a year to actually get treatment after a comedy of delayed and re-scheduled tests and wasted consultant appointments because the tests had been postponed (but nobody was organised to re-schedule the consultant appointments).

              • arnoldo87

                Well HJ, it seems that you are not a supporter of the NHS, and neither did you support the bail out of the banks. Now we know why you say you are not a Tory. These twin beliefs put you on the extreme right of politics and give us an understanding of why you try to distort even the most simple facts about the New labour government.
                And if you disagree with that, please give us your source for your statement that average waiting times increased under Labour.

                • HJ777

                  No, I do not support a monopoly tax-funded provider of medical care. You think that makes me a ‘right wing extremist’? On that basis you would have to say that almost every political party in every other European country is also on the ‘extreme right wing’. Being against an inefficient monopoly provider (the third least efficient in Europe after Greece and Ireland according to the OECD), is hardly extreme. What is extreme is to defend a monopoly supplier offering ‘lower than average quality and quantity of treatment’ (the OECDs words) to people who don’t have a choice.

                  As for the banks, why does not supporting a bailout make me a ‘right wing extremist’? They should have paid for their mistakes ad they should have been split up and sold off by administrators, not bailed out to exist in their current zombie state.

                  Here is the source for the statement that average waiting times increased under Labour:


                  Satisfied now?

                • arnoldo87

                  Not really, old chap. you have just proven my main allegation – that you distort the truth (along with others) to rubbish New Labour.
                  Your source was Hospital Episode Statistics, and the figures quoted were correct. A figure of 41 had risen to 49 in the year 2006/7. This was because Labour committed (and succeeded) in bringing down long waiting times for serious operations. In doing this some minor operation times did rise to produce the higher average median figure quoted.
                  All turned out well, however, because the last three years of Labour produced the following median figures:-
                  2007-8 42
                  2008-9 35
                  2009/10 34
                  Even you would have to agree that this was, in fact, a reduction.from a starting point of 41.
                  Like I said – pure distortion.

                • HJ777

                  Give it a break and grow up.

                  The figures I provide were correct. This happened during the years when NHS spending trebled – it’s a load of nonsense to suggest that while trebling spending you can’t both reduce the longest waiting times (which is highly questionable given the tricks that were indulged in to make long waiting times ‘disappear’) and reduce the average. That argument might hold some water if spending had been static, but it wasn’t – it rose at a record rate.

                  It is true that average waiting times started to fall again after 2006, but you will recall that this is when ISTCs were introduced. They had a twofold effect – they treated more patients AND they put pressure on the NHS to perform better. That’s what competition does.

                • arnoldo87

                  Give it a break, eh?
                  Why? because your distortions have been found out?
                  The fact remains that your claim on waiting times was wrong. This was either a result of your ignorance or your mendacity – only you know which – but you were wrong.
                  If the waiting time improvement came about through increased competition – all well and good. New Labour were always supporters of more competition; one of the reasons why they were called New Labour.

                • HJ777

                  Given that your previous assertions on debt and the deficit have been thoroughly found out and that the facts that I provided were correct, you have a bloody cheek accusing anyone else of mendacity and ignorance.

                  Average waiting times under Labour were longer – the data clearly shows this. Labour tripled NHS spending and achieved very little on waiting times – now the money has run out as a result partly of their fiscal profligacy and partly because PFI (effectively hire purchase) payments are now really cutting in.

                  If Labour are so keen on competition, why are they now opposing the use of private sector suppliers to the NHS?

                  You were and are wrong and have been proven so. Have the grace to admit it.

                • arnoldo87

                  My point on debt throughout has been that there was nothing unusual in Labour’s debt record through to the Banking Crisis. It was certainly no worse than the previous Tory government and was never at any point as high as the inherited figure in 1997.
                  This is a matter of basic fact that all your caveats and explanations cannot erase. That something catastrophic occurred in 2008 to badly impact the UK and USA debt % figures is also undeniable. You and Douglas Murray seem to believe that whatever it was, Gordon Brown was its creator.
                  I and all those who boo spinning Coalition politicians notice a prime suspect under their noses called the Banking Crisis.
                  Your sophistry has not proven me wrong – just that you are a distorter of basic truth. I stand by my original assertion.
                  On the NHS figures, you claimed that “average waiting times had increased under Labour”. The problem was that you quoted a 2007 set of figures to “prove” it, in the full knowledge that Labour left office in 2010, at which point the figures proved that the waiting times had indeed been reduced. Why did you quote only the 2007 set of figures? Obviously because they suited your distorted statement.
                  I suggest that we both now “give it a rest”.

                • HJ777

                  You’ve been comprehensively found out.

                  I suggest that you stop digging.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Do they look after patients? I thought that was done by assistants now whilst the nurses mainly spend their time filling in New Labour’s clipboard forms and gossiping. I mean, after all, if they were looking after patients there would not be any dying of neglect, filth and dehydration would there? Oh, of course, that is all just a made-up Daily Mail story that you and the comrades can ignore.

  • Supersub

    Was it Labour that unleashed reaganomics which ultimately led to the 2008 crash?did the Tories propose greater regulation of the markets whilst in opposition?whose in denial?

    • OldSlaughter

      “Was it Labour that unleashed reaganomics which ultimately led to the 2008 crash?”

      That’s a stretch. Blame the man out of office for 20 years? But Labour had 13 years to address it.

      “did the Tories propose greater regulation of the markets whilst in opposition?”

      What regulation would have prevented this? Don’t be soft. However, Brown and Balls did set up the regulatory framework that oversaw the actual crash.

      Your logic is at the same level as your economic understanding.

    • Mr Frost

      No. They just set up the FSA and the tripartate system. This flawed ‘oversight’ allowed the banks to leverage way beyond their means and not be sufficiently insulated against shocks. Warnings were ignored as the false boom provided Brown with the capital to create his client state. Northern Rock, with NO foreign exposure, collapsed. Brown brought Lloyds TSB to its knees by forcing them to take on toxic assets. Not only that, he then bailed out the banks with our money rather than take the proper capitalist position which was for them to find their own solutions.

      So, whilst there will be many who will sympathise with the global (well, really a Western, it was much just a blip in Asia) conditions of the recession, the fact that we were so over exposed to it and then the actions henceforth made it worse, is entirely down to the previous Administration…

      …that the Tories are continuing with printing money and state action is their shame.

  • Youbian

    given the whole audience were pro EU I guess they were as representative of the average member of the public as much as anything the Socialist BBC does

    • James Strong

      This was the part of the programme that surprised me most because, in my circle of friends and acquaintances probably 90% want out of the EU.
      Now, my circle is not a balanced sample but I was shocked that the AQ audience was so very far different.
      Until the poster above has come up with the process by which the BBC rigs the audience, as he claims they do, I’m provisionally of the belief that it is a geographic group belief. i.e. people living in roughly the same locality see the benefits or costs of EU membership more starkly because of what happens near them, and that reinforces the beliefs of the group in the locality.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    It wasn’t her comments on the economy that sent me to the vomitorium but her sanctimonious wittering about Savile and paedophiles as if she, Hewett, Dromey and hodge had never shared platforms with members of PIE or been responsible for appalling neglect of children abused in care homes run by Labour councils. We mustn’t forget the D notices either.

  • David Lindsay

    But the next Election will not be about their economic record. It will be about your lot’s. Unfair, perhaps. But undeniable.

    • Wessex Man

      Good grief a one sentence reply, better but still talking nonsense.

  • Noa

    Labour’s self denial is working. Harman represents its growingly extreme leadership which cannot it might be wrong and who is not in the least interested by debts or deficits. And judged by their own terms of reference they are actually correct.

    The Marcusian base of the Project is sound, interrupted only by a 5 year intermission. 2015 will probably see its return. Normal service will be resumed and the shin plasters will roll off the printing presses once more.

  • FrankS

    Labour don’t need actually to win the 2015 election – Cameron and his pals show every sign of losing it.

  • HenryWood

    “How to explain people who boo even a mention of the problem”, and especially as there seemed to be so many of the audience booing?

    Because the audience is hand picked by the biased BBC to reflect a left-wing appreciation of the situation. I find it incredible that week in, week out, on Question Time and Any Questions, there is *never* a balanced audience who treat answers on their merits. I wonder what would happen if some “audience picker” deliberately put a spanner in the BBC’s works and surreptitiously picked a majority of Tory supporters?

    I suspect there may be two vacancies at the BBC as the Dumbleby Bros succumbed to extreme shock.

    • Teddy Bear

      When reading the article I had the same reaction to that sentence. Was about to respond the same way till I saw you already had. :)

    • James Strong

      How do you know this?
      Could you please detail the process for getting tickets for Any Questions or Question Time.

      • Penny

        James, you can find the Question Time application form online.

        When I looked (about a month ago) applicants were asked to state their position on Afghanistan and the EU. There may have been a third question – I’m afraid I can’t remember now.

        I would imagine these two questions will give producers an idea of the political views of the applicant.

        • James Strong

          Thank you.
          Now the next step is to find out how the BBC select from those applicants. This might not be so easy.
          As for AQ, Jonathan Dimbelby often says something like this ‘Tonight we are the guests of…’ so that would require an additional few questions as to how the hosts select the audience and what, if any, the BBC input is.
          Thank you for your answer; it is so much better than ‘Everybody knows they’re biased’ or ‘It’s obvious they’re biased.’
          Answers like that are no help at all in proving an accusation.

          • Wessex Man

            see my previous reply.

      • Wessex Man

        You’ve obviously never applied to be a member of the audience on either of these shows or if you have have not been subjected to the selection process.

    • SirMortimerPosh

      Tripe. The programme was broadcast from New Cross in Lewisham. The audience reflect the areas where the programme is made. If it is a private school in the shire counties, you get a different kind of audience. the kind of shower who turned up on Friday last are heard cat calling and interrupting whenever the programme comes from an inner city area full of riff raff.

  • caroline dickinson

    I felt that Harman was in another world.Her answer was “We will CREATE jobs for the unemployed with no mention of how or where tho my comment is unfair when I recall how she created the job of MP for her husband by bending the rules”

  • edlancey

    Harman eptimoses everything wrong with the Labour party, political life and parliament in this country.

  • stickywicket

    Of course the deficit needs to be tackled, and painful cuts are necessary.

    Might be better if the Tories also tackled the bonuses and reckless behaviour of the banks more vigorously.

    Why have none of the bankers gone to prison?

    True Tories, and supporters of the free market should wish to see those banks that teetered, fail, should wish to separate investment banking from the retail banking, and support prosecutions for reckless and illegal behaviour.

    • OldSlaughter

      ‘Prosecutions for reckless… behaviour’

      Are you proposing arbitrary legal action now?

      • stickywicket

        No, not “arbitrary” action. But I cannot belief that some of the activities of the banks, not least around LIBOR did not amount to criminally actionable offences (e.g. fraud). I also think that some of the actions of RBS in buying ABN was reckless. Not sure if that is “criminal”, but if it isn’t it should be. But if not criminal, it should be enough to bar Goodwin and others from holding high office in a public company again.

    • Mr Frost

      Labour had the best chance – it happened on their watch and they did nothing except make it worse.

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