The “Labour Can’t Be Trusted With The Economy” Myth

The subject of the economy is such a huge one, and has been the focus of so much propaganda that demonstrably isn’t true, that we need to break each myth down individually, so if this piece doesn’t answer your question, please check our other busted myths for related ones.

Myth 1 – “The Tories are always having to clear up after Labour’s debts”

Professor Richard Murphy is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City, University of London. In March 2016, he undertook an extensive study of the borrowing record of both Conservative and Labour governments, covering the period of 1946 to 2016, a 70 year period where Conservatives were in power for 42 years and Labour 28.

The link below has details and graphs, written in layman’s terms, of all his findings – but in short – EVERY SINGLE calculation he made, whether in the real terms of the day, or on bringing inflation up to today’s rates to balance out the changes in the value of money, had the conservatives borrowing SUBSTANTIALLY more and paying back less, both on an complete analysis (which is expected with them being in power longer) but also taken on average, on a year to year basis.

NOT ONLY did Labour borrow less, but they also had a far better record on paying back that debt. One in four years saw Labour pay back their debt – whilst the Conservatives only managed it one year in every 10.

So, the data, which was taken from the House of Commons own library and prior to 1955, the Bank of England, shows that, without exception, Labour ALWAYS borrowed less than the Conservatives and also ALWAYS paid back more money and paid it back more often. There was not one year that the Conservatives beat them.

In the above chart, the figures are in billions of £s, averaged out over the years both parties were in office, as the Tories were in power for 42 and Labour for 28. The central graph takes into account the changes in the value of money and have been worked out in 2014 prices to eliminate bias.

The Conservatives have been the biggest borrowers over the last 70 years

8 comments
  1. What has the borrowing been for, breakdown please? All political parties borrow and say the previous party was worse than them. As a member of the public how am I supposed to make a judgement? I agree with both but neither seems to come up with the results. I worked in Social Services and Housing for a long time. All I have ever seen is cuts and budgets. Never have I seen an increase in services, facilities etc, regardless of parties. X

  2. It is disgraceful that the electorate are repeatedly mislead by the lies of a right wing press and corrupt Tories who have no conscience.

  3. So a left-wing economist finds that Labour has handled the economy better than the Tories. What a surprise. I’ve no doubt that a right wing economist would find the reverse to be true.

  4. The figures may be correct, but the analysis is wrong. When Labour came to power in 1997 the economy was in good shape and growing. Then Chancellor Borwn began his spending spree and the economy went downhill from thereon. He also offloaded a lot of debt onto future administrations by abusing PFIs. By such means and their good start Labour’s borrowing was low. Even without the financial crash of 2008, the next administration had to clear up the mess left behind by Brown, and that alone could only be achieved by borrowing to set the economy on an even keel. That is why the Conservatives have to borrow more when taking over from Labour. In 2010 the financial crash made things much worse. What the figures reflect is the performance of the administration before the years considered – in mathematical terms there is a lag between cause (economy handled good or bad) and effect (borrowing low or high respectively).

    • Flawed logic. After 18 years of boom and bust, and with the Tory party steeped in corruption scandals, Labour swept into power on a wave of optimism. However, in 1997 schools and hospitals were on their last legs after 2 decades of under investment. Big changes were needed for the current generation. As any Tory (although not DUP) supporter will tell you there was no magic money tree to shake and find the hundreds of billions required in 97 to reset the scales of social responsibility. PFIs are generally well run and efficient, and whilst carrying a burden of debt, it was less of a debt than straight borrowing the same amounts would have cost over time (particularly since our credit rating dropped under the mismanagement of Gorgeous Gideon). A real measure of economic success should be how many people are hungry, and how many are homeless. Labour cleaned up that Tory mess in the 90s. But now, sadly, it’s back to square one. And the stark truth is this; you wouldn’t let a pit bull babysit your new born baby, so why let these posh criminals bleed our economy dry by stealth again?

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