Gutter Politics

As we enter the last week of the campaign my Labour opponent has accused me of being a ‘gutter politician’. I must admit I was rather surprised. Such insults are normally reserved for politicians that engage in personal attacks and lies.

My crime – highlighting the black hole in Labour’s fiscal position. Those of you that have been following my campaign will have noticed that I, in numerous media interviews and statements on my website, have highlighted the lies at the heart of the Labour campaign in Wales. On the one hand they are promising to invest their way out of the recession and create an artificial division line with the Tories based on their cuts programme. However, we know from Treasury statements, not least the last Budget a few weeks ago, the Labour have their own cuts ‘worse than Thatcher’ programme. Despite repeated challenges, they have continued to be vague about the implications of their true agenda during this election. I had calculated the black hole in Labour’s spending proposals at the best part of £30bn of unexplained cuts (Labour have made some vague announcements on £11bn of cuts based on efficiency savings). In a further analysis with my party’s economic guru (and Paxman basher) Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym we calculated that if predictions made by the Welsh Government First Minister come true then as many as 1 in 7 Welsh public sector jobs could be at risk over the next cycle. That sounds like a pretty savage cut to me which we fear will have a disastrous impact on the Welsh economy – not least here in Carmarthenshire where over 35% of working people are employed in the public sector.

Yesterday the Institute of Fiscal Studies published a report indicating that all three London parties were misleading the electorate at this election by hiding away the true nature of their fiscal strengthening (or cuts) proposals after the election. The IFS reports that Labour have unbelievable not accounted for 87% of the £50.8bn of cuts its spending plans propose. The Tories have not spelt out where 82% of the £63.7bn of their cuts will be made; and the Lib Dems 75% of their £34.5bn of cuts.

Are the London parties honestly trying to tell us they don’t know 87%, 82% and 75% of their respective spending reduction plans a week before they want people to vote for them to form the next UK Government?

The eagle eyed amongst will no doubt notice that the scenario I had challenged Labour upon earlier in the campaign is kind on them. I was working on the assumption that Labour were proposing £40bn of cuts to meet deficit reduction targets whilst the IFS in a more detailed study have marked the total at £50.8bn.

The basic point remains, all the London parties are fighting this election on a lie. As I have blogged before, they are throwing dust into the eyes of the electors to mask their true savage cuts agenda after the election. To my Labour challenger I ask this – isn’t that a better example of gutter politics?

Ps I’ll be watching the last PM debate tonight with interest. As the debate is on the economy, I would expect stringent questions from the BBC to get the would be Leaders to spell out crystal clearly where the axe will fall and to plug the respective 87%, 82% and 75% gaps in their spending plans. If the BBC fail in this basic democratic duty then they will also even further be open to the accusation of being complicit in the deceit and lies that have been the hallmark of this campaign at UK level based on the spending plans of the London parties.

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