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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Economic incompetence and broken promises - if David Cameron gets in again, it'll be more of the same

David Cameron said at the start of this election campaign, "judge me on my record" so as he wishes, lets have a look at his record. Over the last five years the he has led the government. A government which inherited a recovering economy. A recovery choked off , by George Osborne, in 2010 by announcing ideological draconian cuts in his very first budget. Its a government which claims economic competence but has missed every target it has set itself on the deficit and debt.

George Osborne promised in 2010 that by 2015 he would have "eliminated the deficit" and attacked Labour for pledging to only halve the deficit, Mr Osborne has not only missed his own target but also managed to miss Labour's target to halve it. When the Cameron government came in, the deficit inherited from Labour, following the banking crisis and economic crash, was £156bn so far Mr Osborne has only managed to get it down to £91bn - quite away off from the zero he promised.

In February 2010, a couple of months before he entered the Treasury, George Osborne declared: "Our first benchmark is to cut the deficit more quickly to safeguard Britain’s credit rating. I know that we are taking a political gamble to set this up as a measure of success." A gamble it was and it backfired spectacularly on George Osborne when he faced the humiliating moment, his words not mine. During one of his regular attacks on Labour in 2009, he said: "Britain faces the humiliating possibility of losing its international credit rating" and in February 2013 George Osborne's stewardship of the economy meant the UK lost its AAA credit rating.

Before the 2010 election, David Cameron declared: "We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT." Mr Cameron made this pledge during an interview with Jeremy Paxman, he also added: "Our first budget is all about recognising we need to get spending under control rather than putting up tax." George Osborne announced in his first budget following the election that he would raise VAT from 17.5% to 20%. Also on tax Mr Cameron told the country "I'd love to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000. but we simply can't afford it" on this he has been proved wrong and the promise has been kept (£10,600) but its not one of his whatever he tries to claim now.

On to immigration Mr Cameron said: "Immigration in this country has been too high for too long... we will cut it substantially". He went onto pledge to "get net migration down to the tens of thousands". David Cameron added "if we don't deliver our side of the bargain, vote us out in five years' time." Latest figures show that in year to September net migration hit 298,000. And lets not forget Theresa May's "go home" vans. which were even condemned by UKIP as "extreme".

Answering a question on the future of the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) at a Q&A event in 2010 on whether a Tory Government would keep it on not. David Cameron said: "We've looked at educational maintenance allowances and we haven't announced any plan to get rid of them. We don't have any plans to get rid of them. It’s one of the plans the Labour party keep putting out, but we’re not.’ Pressed by the audience: "Do you support it?" and: "Is that a yes?" The Tory leader eventually replied: "That is a yes". A during the election campaign Michael Gove, said: "Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping the EMA. I have never said this. We won’t." The EMA, a grant paid to the poorest 16 to 19-year-olds in further education, was scrapped by Michael Gove within months the election.

In March 2010 speaking at a 'Cameron Direct' event, David Cameron said: "I'm not going to flannel you, I'm going to give it to you straight I like the child benefit, I wouldn't change child benefit, I wouldn't means-test it, I don’t think that is a good idea." Another pledge which turned out to be untrue as in 2013 means-testing of child benefit kicked in, with a reduced benefit for households with one parent earning more than £50,000 a year. The change was predicted to affect around one million families.

And for the big one. David Cameron made this speech at the Royal College of Nursing in 2009 promising "There will be no more of those pointless reorganisations that aim for change but instead bring chaos." The audience greeted this firm commitment with applause. After the election in 2011 delegates at the college’s annual conference overwhelmingly backed a motion of no confidence questioning Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s reforms to the NHS. The move to replace primary care trusts with GP-led commissioning groups and increase the role of private providers has been described as "the biggest reorganisation of the NHS in its history."

If David Cameron is in number 10 after this election it'll be more of same. In the moments, during the campaign, when he hasn't been scaremongering and going round insulting the Scots and putting the Union at risk for his own short term future, worrying about his career and forgetting which football team he's meant to support.

He has been going round making unfunded pledges adding up to more than £21bn. There is raising the personal allowance to £12,500 cost £6.5bn but no idea how to pay for it. There is raising the higher rate tax threshold to £50,000 now thats not so expensive, cost £3.9bn but again no idea how to pay for it. A freeze in rail fares for five years, this costs £1.8bn you guessed it how to pay to pay for it. David Cameron also wants workers to be given 3 days off work for voluntary work, cost of doing this for public sector workers is £1.25bn and once again he has no idea how he's going to pay for it.

In January 2015 David Cameron said "the real risk to the NHS is the risk of unfunded spending commitments bringing chaos to our economy which would wreck our NHS". As he said this only a couple of months ago the very same David Cameron has pledged an extra £8bn for the National Health Service, without knowing where one single penny to pay for that pledge is coming from. As in 2010 he broke his promise on the NHS and given the opportunity he'll do the same again.

He has said the Tories will cut £12bn in benefits, but wont say where the axe will fall, many observers assume child benefit is in their sights, again, and interviewed earlier today William Hague noticeably failed to rule it out. A leaked document also shows disability benefits and the carers allowance are in Tory sights for cuts after the election.

At the start I quoted David Cameron saying "judge me on my record" well his record is frankly appalling. Choking off the economic recovery in 2010 and broken promises on; dealing with the deficit, not putting up VAT, not scrapping EMA, getting immigration down to the tens of thousands, not means testing child benefit and no top down reorganisation of the National Health Service. Has there been one word of apology from David Cameron or George Osborne for this? No. To give Nick Clegg his due when he broke his promise on not raising tuition fees, then doing so, he had the decency to apologise.

David Cameron doesn't deserve another five years in office. A litany of broken promises, people's hopes dashed. Mr Cameron must have been taking notes, rather than criticising the 2010 Labour campaign when he said: "No new ideas, a very negative campaign, all about attack and trying to scare people." As his campaign this time has been precisely that. To be fair its possible to say there are new ideas from him, he simply has no idea how he'll pay for them however if he's fortunate to squeak back into to Downing Street at the end of week. 

This election is a choice, a choice of whether to reward a Prime Minister for his broken promises and to reward a Chancellor who has spectacularly failed to meet any of his own targets and is presiding over an economy where for the last year economic growth has been slowing, by half in the last quarter alone. Or whether you give them their ministerial P45s. I wont be be voting for them, or more accurately their candidate, but its not for me to tell you how to vote, just a request that however you wish to vote, you go out and do so.