Deficit Deception

Image: lendingmemo

Image: lendingmemo

Deficit deception: the Conservatives’ 2015 road to French Great British prosperity
The Conservative Party has made the first election move of the New Year, and is the first party to provide the public with a reason not to vote for it.

The new poster, unveiled on the 2nd of January, depicts a straight road into a glorious countryside. Its caption is a triumphant statement of what the Party seems to consider its three greatest achievements: 1.75 million more people in work. 760,000 more businesses. The deficit halved. Those three great achievements are all economic, suggesting that the Conservatives will be fighting the next election with primary focus on economic policy. Indeed, it goes hand in hand with the many claims that a Labour government would not only halt us on our ‘road to recovery’ but turn us around and send us in the opposite direction.

Some journalists aren’t particularly impressed with the design. Tim Stanley, of the Daily Telegraph, writes that it demonstrates a lack of ambition. Where does the road actually lead? All we see in the illustration are those lovely green fields and blue skies, but the road is empty, the scenery, though pleasant, is bland, and there is no Jerusalem waiting for those who will make the journey.

Other critics have suggested that it looks “a bit French”. I say – how could they? How could the English hold up a French countryside and say that this is the way forward? Preposterous.

But the most perceptive analysis should not concern the illustration, but the text. ‘The deficit halved’, to be precise. This, according to Fraser Nelson in The Spectator, is hogwash, tripe and nonsense. The Chancellor promised that the deficit would be at £37 billion this year, but it is instead forecast to be £91.3 billion. Since the previous general election, the deficit has not halved! It has at best been reduced by a third. From 2010-2011 the net borrowing for the nation was £153 billion, and from 2014-2015 it is expected to be £91 billion. Meanwhile the national debt has been on the rise, scheduled to approach £1,500,000,000,000,000 (that’s £1,500 billion!) in 2015 (F. Nelson, The Spectator).

What on earth would cause such a well-managed and informed political party to commit such a blunder? Well, according to the Conservatives, the deficit has halved – but that is if you are referring to the deficit with respect to the gross domestic product. Indeed, the deficit has halved as a share of the GDP, but that does not mean, ‘the deficit has halved’. Let me just repeat that – the deficit has not halved. I challenge any Conservatives to prove me wrong, with evidence, and without referring to the deficit as part of the country’s GDP.
All in all this is an act of deception. Even if, on the night of the election, the deficit becomes half of what it once was, that is no reason for saying that the poster’s description was correct. It is astonishing that such an ‘economic truth’, as one minister once put it, could be used so willingly. It almost seems like the Conservatives did not expect anyone to really notice. Why else were the same words, ‘the deficit halved’, included in an email from the Conservative Chairman (F. Nelson, The Spectator)? Not unless Chairman Shapps was writing, “We really shouldn’t use this phrase because it is a lie, everyone!”

We have a reason not to vote for the Conservatives provided by the Conservatives, and also some genuine evidence for that age-old claim about politicians constantly lying. Some newspapers and commentators have noticed this foul play, whereas others have not and have continued to announce that ‘the deficit has been halved’. Make sure that you are one and not the other!