Yet again, Labour have been putting rhetoric over coherent economics. The party has been denouncing the Government’s fiscal proposals, with Sir Keir calling the package a “Kamikaze” budget and Jonathan Ashworth criticising “£45 billion of unfunded tax cuts”.
These attacks contain an element of self-harm because Labour support many of the proposals.
They plan to vote with the government on scrapping the Health and Social Care Levy, by far the biggest measure in the package, accounting for some 40% of unfunded spending. This is £18 billion of the £45 billion they decry.
Labour also supports the 1p cut to basic rate tax.
In the most generous interpretation, Labour supports billions in unfunded tax cuts, and oppose at most £27 billion.
None of it is a surprise after Rachel Reeves’s previous monetary mishaps. Guido would advise Labour to spend less time conjuring adversarial attack-lines and more on getting the numbers right. If Kwasi’s unfunded tax cuts are “kamikaze” economics, Labour’s economic platform is no different.
Interesting line to take…
UPDATE: Ashworth has apologised:
“This is obviously embarrassing I misread the news ticker in an interview and thought a member of the public had now died. My deepest apologies for this mistake.”
At 4.26 p.m., Jon Ashworth was asked on Times Radio by Tom Newton Dunn “it does sound like you’re saying ‘Plan B now Mr Government’?” The Shadow Health Secretary replied:
“We are in favour of Plan B… of course the Plan B, but I’m giving you a broader point, which is if you want to bring infection rates down, particularly amongst children, you’ve got to get on and fix this vaccination programme. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s Plan A, or Plan B, or even the Plan C, which is now floated in some of the news today… We’ve got to deal with the vaccination first”
Six minutes later, a Labour spokesperson clarifies to Sky News:
Labour is not in favour of moving to Plan B on Covid, a spokesperson says. They are in favour of "making Plan A work"— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) October 21, 2021
Guido gives it a fortnight before Captain Hindsight uses Ashworth’s original quote as a claim they were in favour of moving to Plan B before the government…
Labour have flip-flopped on the use of vaccine passports, a policy announced by Boris Johnson four days ago.
In February 2021, when vaccine passports were first being discussed, Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth told the BBC that ‘a form of vaccine passport is probably going to be inevitable for international travel in the foreseeable future. This position was confirmed by Keir Starmer who admitted that international vaccine passports are “probably inevitable”.
On 23 February 2021 Ashworth went even further stating: “I can see the arguments, but then if you’re going to have a passport for a Covid vaccination, why not a passport for a flu vaccination? Flu kills thousands of people every year. Why not for a measles vaccination?” Sounds a bit overkill…
Yesterday the Labour Party refused to rule out supporting vaccine passports for nightclubs but didn’t make a firm stand either way. Typical...
Then today the Labour Party u-turned again. A Labour spokesperson said that:
“…we oppose the use of Covid vaccination status for everyday access to venues and services. It’s costly, open to fraud and is impractical. Being double jabbed doesn’t prove you aren’t carrying the virus’
How is Guido meant to understand Labour Party policy when it’s clear that Labour ministers don’t even know….
Guido hears that Jon Ashworth, the opposition’s Health Shadow, was strangely reluctant this morning to call for his opposite number Hancock to be sacked over his affair. Eventually Labour put out a statement in the name of Anneliese Dodds calling for Hancock to go, and followed it up this afternoon with a tougher attack from Angela Rayner demanding an investigation. Ashworth maintained a gentlemanly silence on the matter; a noble and refreshingly old-fashioned reluctance on his part to indulge in low politics.