“The mess we inherited” – some facts with which to fight the Tory Big Lies


Posted on 19 August 2013 by Alister Campbell

​​ I am indebted to Professor Vernon Bogdanor, who among other things was David Cameron’s tutor at Oxford, for drawing my attention to a recent report by the LSE Growth Commission. Anyone who looks at the mix of academics, business leaders, economists and banking experts on the Commission will be unable to dismiss them as Labour stooges.

Professor Bogdanor had read my recent blog suggesting Labour need to do more to rebut the Tory attack on the so-called ‘mess we inherited,’ and so thought I would be interested in the Growth Commission’s overwhelmingly positive view of the economic performance of the Labour government between 1997-2010 – and, in particular, between 2007-10. Indeed I am. Among its conclusions:

– British economic performance was strong throughout the period of Labour government, and GDP per head grew faster in the UK than in France, Germany, Italy or Japan.

– Productivity growth in terms of GDP per hour was second only to the US, and improvements in employment rates were better than in the US.

– This success, they say, was NOT due to an unsustainable bubble in finance, property or public spending. From 1997-2007, finance contributed around 0.4% to a 2.8% productivity growth.

– They also dispute the view that this was all due to Thatcherite reforms which were then accepted as a norm. Instead, they point to improvements delivered by Labour changes to competition policy, a major expansion in education – remember ‘education, education, education’ and – wait for it – immigration.

– On education, they pointed out that by 2007 the UK was spending more on education as a proportion of GDP than Germany and the US, and the percentage of the relevant age group going to university was higher than in France or Germany.

– Furthermore, they believe this had a positive impact in the fight to reduce crime and illegal immigration.

– Crucially, they make clear the crash was an international phenomenon which cannot be blamed on Labour policies, and that Labour did not leave Britain more vulnerable once the crash occurred.

– They say the structural element of the deficit was 1% of GDP in 2008 – it rose to 5% by 2010 because of the crisis in consequence of the fall in tax receipts. So the increase in the deficit was a consequence not a cause.

– They praise the Labour government’s counter-cyclical policies post crash, pointing out that these went some way towards limiting the fall in output, and say Labour ministers were right to recapitalise the banks and maintain demand.

– Where they are critical of Labour is in relation to skills, especially at the bottom end of the social and economic scale, and not doing enough to cut regional inequalities.

But overall the picture is a good one, and totally at odds with the dominant ‘mess we inherited’ narrative, uttered every time coalition ministers open their mouths.

And even if they do not say so explicitly, it is pretty clear the Commission believes that on the big choice of the last election – retrenchment under Labour, or austerity under the Tories – that GB/Darling were right, and DC/Osborne wrong.

This is all relevant to the current debate.

The only way to counter the Tory Big Lies is by fighting back with the truth, even if it means doing so belatedly, and at the risk of the Tories screeching ‘mess we inherited’ ever more loudly.

We see the same in their approach to the NHS. Another ‘mess we inherited,’ they say, to justify changes for which nobody voted and for which they have no mandate. What they actually inherited was an NHS with the highest satisfaction ratings in its history, which are now sliding as waiting lists grow, health workers are deliberately demoralised, and Jeremy Hunt talks up failure wherever he can find it to open the doors to a new system geared to those who see healthcare purely as a source of profit.

The same approach in education, where Michael Gove casts around for schools doing badly amid the thousands doing well, and deliberately distorts Blairite reforms aimed at helping those at the bottom of the educational pile to justify changes aimed at ushering in private providers at the expense of standards and enough school places. And in welfare, where the truth that the big bills are going on pensions for an ageing population is twisted to feed a hate agenda against the poor, the disabled, asylum seekers, all wrapped up as the ‘scroungers’ who in reality make up a tiny fraction of Iain Duncan Smith’s budget.

The Britain the coalition inherited after a decade of Labour in power was fairer, better off, with improved and improving public services, stronger cities wand regions, a vibrant culture. It was not a mess. The mess is happening now, with living standards falling, NHS crises returning, unprecedentedly low morale among teachers and police, power shifting back to a few at the top. Britain, far from booming, as the cheerleaders would have you believe, is recovering more slowly than had they followed the Brown-Darling approach that was beginning to deliver the jobs and growth we needed.

The Tories are planning to run the line that the country should not give back the keys to the people who crashed the car. The truth is the car ran a lot better under Labour, and can do so again.

Related posts:

Links to the full report and the summary

Remember This? Impoverished Britain:The 1997 Tory Legacy

Labour makes official complaint over Cameron’s debt lies

The Great Debt Lie and the Myth of the Structural Deficit

Austerity is a con, the Tories are authoritarians and they conflated the fact-value distinction.

The Blame Game


   Thanks to Robert Livingstone for his many meme masterpieces.


42 thoughts on ““The mess we inherited” – some facts with which to fight the Tory Big Lies

  1. I Think the Ignorance About Mental Health Issues Must End
    It’S A Disgrace ……Help In The Community You Got To Be Joking
    A Story by ROSALIND

    My brother is 50 years of age. And he suffers from manic depression…He lives on his own and has a keg worker, the hospital have taken control of his money…Yet they let him live in a filthy house not fit for even an animal to live in…….
    What kind of a world are we living in …? It makes my blood boil to see my brother live in these conditions….. Don’t they even care …….rats could be even in his house……..
    they HAVE SAVED UP 4,OOO POUND OF his money yet they let Mark live in a slump……
    It is obvious that hes not been coping for years……..Some-ones job needs looking at What do people get paid for ….nothing …..
    Its that bad he cannot get a bath ………their no-where to hang up clean clothes ……………… Can any-one help me get advice..?

    Surely He deserves to live in a clean house. its not his fault he has problems with his mental heath….
    The care in the community has gone all to pot. No-one cares not even the council….the Government ….
    Some-one inst doing their job at all…….
    It makes me so sad ….Is it going to be like that until he dies ..then they will clear his house out ……
    Is that what we mean to society,’ Nothing…….
    If that is all a mental health patient has in life its a very sad and selfish world out there…….


  2. blame the coalision government they got this country in a mess there has been no real construction as to jobs for the unemployed disabled and sick are suffering through this government and will keep on doing so till we get this government out in 2015..this country was better off under labour it could be again if milliband was replaced by someone else who will listen to the people.


  3. The Tories have bombed the country, the NHS under Hunt; Education under Gove, Economy under Os, DWP under IDS& #Atos & Grayling, Immigration under May. Not a mess but a disaster. Too posh to know what to do oh & #Bedroom TaxBad & bad-mannered with it


  4. I have always thought that the Tories were telling blatant lies. They are also telling lies about their so-called “recovery”, which will also happen internationally and not as a result of their nasty policies.


  5. Reblogged this on Grannie's Last Mix and commented:
    These truths need to be widely publicised while we still have the freedom to speak out in this country. The following link will take you to a similar post I wrote last night with a video of life in 1996 just before Labour got to power after the devastation of Thatcher. It graphically demonstrates how the current government have taken up where she left off…http://wp.me/p3mYc5-eQ


    1. Excellent blog sparaszczukster and I will add that to the links on this one. Yes, that’s so true, we have to keep pushing out these truths, and remembering for the forgetful, lulled to sleep by the media and the rhythm of repeated lies and propaganda


  6. Uplifting and enjoyable post ! The Condem propanda machine caught me out too. I remember the mood of the Nation when Tony Blair won the election. In those days already, the Tories had delivered their inimitable poison to every man, woman and child in the UK. They must be seen for what they are, users and parasites. Nick Shipley.

    Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2013 17:23:26 +0000
    To: nickship@msn.com


  7. The tories win by lies, deception and slight of hand then move the goal posts so that no one can win and then justify their wrong doings by blaming others for the way in which their policies are going so wrong.

    Its so easy to blame others but for the fact that history has repeatedly recorded the way the tories have given themselves a pat on the back, a golden hand shake to big business interests that their friends have vested interests in and played second fiddle to the BoE.

    To those who have nothing, they get nothing, to those who have it all, they get more and the divide between leaves the middle classes picking sides because they make the biggest majority of the voting electorate.

    We are constantly told that we are a classless society… I would like to see the proof of that becuse the true blue tories have carved this country up, served a big like of “Were all in this together” within this “Big society” and what amazes me is that people bought the lies they were served.

    Still, they say you don’t know what you got until you have lost it…


  8. Sorry to sound dumb but what has Cyprus’s bankruptcy got to do with the above article or is it just another example of how the Tories blame Labour for everything


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