The Spectator has coined the term 'Brownies' for all those little lies Gordon Brown likes to tell, but which for some reason journalists rarely pick him up on. At his monthly press conference this morning the Prime Minister was unloading Brownies like a dealer at Woodstock. Commenting on the Conservative proposals unveiled this morning to help companies through the recession - essentially cutting the amount of National Insurance they pay if they hire the medium/long-term unemployed - Brown said:
"They can't show definitively how they can guarantee to pay for it."
It will be paid for by not having to give those same unemployed people their unemployment benefit anymore. Also, considering this is the man who is going to borrow money to pay for tax cuts, the richness of this comment is staggering. He has spent years jeering at the Conservatives - however well-budgeted their proposed tax cuts might be - only to offer a barrage of unfunded tax cuts himself, paid for by increasing the national debt.
He also said:
"A fiscal stimulus means you are prepared to add to borrowing in conditions where you have low national debt," and that funded tax cuts "[were] not a fiscal stimulus."
There are many things wrong with this statement. First of all, fiscal stimulus is defined as 'a tax cut and/or an increase in government spending'. It does not automatically involve borrowing; it can be a funded tax cut. Funny that a man who was Chancellor for 10 years didn't know this. Also, national debt is not low. This graph from the Office of National Statistics is useful in this respect:
Expressed as a percentage of GDP, the national debt was 43.4% at the end of September 2008, which is roughly £645 billion. At the end of September 2007 the debt was a much smaller 36.2%. The highest it has ever been was in 1997 when it was 44.2%, so the debt is getting close to that level once again. For Brown to say that national debt is low isn't just dishonest - it's a barefaced lie. As a final point, see those pink dots on the graph above? They highlight where Gordon Brown is telling us the national debt is; a conclusion he has reached by magically leaving Northern Rock out of the equation. Yet another lie from our deceitful Prime Minister.
Opinium/Observer – CON 40, LAB 43, LDEM 6
1 hour ago