06 January 2015

The dodgy dossier

Who has been a naughty boy, then?  Osborne's analysis of Labour's spending plans seems to be slightly misleading:
Problem number one with “a cost analysis of Labour party policy” is its composition. Some of the spending pledges Osborne identified are not actually official opposition policy. In other cases it is assumed that criticising what the government is doing automatically involves a spending commitment. Labour has, for example, attacked plans for cuts in local government spending in 2015-16, but it has not pledged to reverse them.
Problem number two is that the Conservatives assume that all Labour’s spending plans would be implemented from day one of a Miliband government. Ed Balls, however, has made it clear that he would stick to Osborne’s spending totals for 2015-16. Labour frontbenchers will only have more money to spend if the economy performs better than expected, if there are tax increases or if savings can be found elsewhere.
As the Institute for Fiscal Studies has pointed out, Labour has been the most cautious of the main parties when it comes to pre-election giveaways, and the shadow chancellor is unpopular with some in his party for this very reason. The fact that the IFS - the accepted arbiter of tax, spending and borrowing matters in the UK - has taken this line is the third reason not to take the Osborne dossier at face value.
I suppose that we face this kind of argumentation until May.  Not very uplifting ..


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