In Furious Denial Over The Failure Of Leftist Economic Policy, Owen Jones Misrepresents Conservatism

Owen Jones continues to use his Guardian column to peddle lies and misrepresentations about conservative economic policy, in a Herculean effort to save British leftists from having to come to terms with their failed economic policy dogma.

In praise of John McDonnell’s unabashedly left-wing conference speech, Jones whines:

It was a speech not lacking in concrete proposals: a tax transparency and enforcement programme; a £250bn investment programme in infrastructure and clean energy; a national investment bank, backed up by regional investment banks, to support small businesses; legislation to stop the emergence of Philip Greens by reforming companies – preventing them from “taking on excessive debt to pay out dividends” and ensuring company takeovers protect workers and pensions; the promotion of cooperative and worker ownership; protection for self-employed people; plans for a universal basic income and the reintroduction of collective bargaining to stop the levelling down of wages.

The critique writes itself: Labour lost the last election because it was not trusted with the nation’s finances. How on earth do these speeches address those concerns? There are two points to make. Firstly, Labour’s failure to defend Blair and Brown’s spending record – with the Tories revising history to claim that the investment they backed was at the root of Britain’s economic woes – is critical to understanding the party’s election loss. That’s why the Tories’ line – “why hand the keys back to the driver who crashed the car?” – was so devastatingly effectively.

My emphasis in bold.

Sorry, but this is complete balderdash from Owen Jones. The conservative / small government criticism of New Labour economic policy is not that runaway government spending *caused* the economic crisis – that is clearly false, when we know that the crisis was precipitated by a bad credit-fuelled housing bubble which undermined a grasping and improperly regulated banking sector. The conservative position is that by spending money like it was going out of fashion and running budget deficits even in the good years, there was absolutely no “rainy day” fund or financial buffer available when the bottom fell out of the economy and tax revenues dried up.

That is the real reason for today’s so-called “austerity” (meaning slightly reduced increases in government spending compared to earlier baselines). Jones later goes on to charge the Tories with “the failure to eliminate the deficit as promised, a rising national debt” – well, what would his preferred spendthrift policies have done? If Owen Jones is seriously suggesting that the forsaken economic recovery resulting from continued or increased government spending from 2010-15 was so great that it would have paid for itself, eliminated the deficit and taken a chunk out of the national debt then he is treating his readers like they are stupid. And he is holding the Tories to a standard of economic miracle-working which he would never expect of his own beloved Labour Party.

The reason that nobody trust the Labour Party on the economy – the reason that Labour MPs are laughed out of town whenever they even make a claim to economic competence – is that New Labour’s remorseless cranking up of the size of the state, together with their endless expansion of government spending and determination to hook more and more people on government welfare, meant that Britain was uniquely badly positioned among advanced nations to weather the global financial crisis.

The charge is not that idiotic PPI contract-delivered hospitals and shiny new school buildings in Britain actively caused a global credit crunch and recession. The charge is that this ignorant spendthriftery weakened Britain’s financial position, meant that the slightest cuts in government spending would immediately impact public sector workers or those encouraged to be dependent on various benefits, and made our subsequent economic pain that much more brutal – the cost of which can be counted today in lost and stunted lives. This is what Labour “compassion” hath wrought.

So no, the Tories do not suggest that electing a Labour government would be akin to “handing the keys back to the driver who crashed the car.” For all their faults, Labour did not deliberately crash the vehicle. But they did set out on treacherously icy roads having previously cut the brake cables, and that is just as bad, however desperately Owen Jones tries to spin it.

 

owen-jones-labour-party

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We Should Welcome Tax Competition Between Scotland And England

Scottish Bank Notes - Scotland Tax Rates

Finally, the chance for variety in the United Kingdom’s fiscal policy

There is good news this week for all those who want the United Kingdom to ultimately move in a more federal direction and reconstitute itself as a country where broad swathes of powers are devolved to the four home nations, with only those critical central powers being reserved by Westminster.

The first tentative step on that journey could be about to begin, as Scottish Labour announce that they intend (if elected) to exercise Scotland’s right to vary their income tax rates from the standard UK rates set by the Treasury.

Of course, being Scotland, any divergence will be in an upward direction, as LabourList reports:

Scottish Labour would use devolved powers to raise income tax while ensuring compensation for low paid workers, Kezia Dugdale will reveal today.

In a major speech in Edinburgh this morning, the Scottish Labour leader will set out a clear position to the left of the SNP, by pledging to increase the Scottish rate of income tax to 11p – 1p higher than that proposed by George Osborne and John Swinney. Given the powers mean that income tax rates at each level have to be raised in the same manner, Dugdale will also announce a payment scheme that will boost the salaries of those earning under £20,000 by £100.

Good. It is about time that the United Kingdom saw a greater variety of fiscal policy, and this relatively modest proposal is a good way to start.

However, there are obvious shortcomings. The present mechanism for varying rates is clunky and deliberately difficult to use, with that awkward rule which states that all bands of income tax have to be increased or decreased in lock-step with each other, so that raising the top rate of tax by 1p would also require raising the basic and upper rates by the same degree. This restriction is wrong and unnecessary, and almost worthy of Gordon Brown in its devious childishness.

Why should the Scottish government not have the power to cut the basic rate of income tax but raise the top rate if it so chose? Or why should Scotland be prevented from taking measures to make income tax flatter, if hell froze over and they wanted to move in that direction? There is no just reason for denying Scotland this additional flexibility.

Scottish Rate of Income Tax - Scotland - UK - Fiscal Policy

And yet we should still be glad for this more limited proposal from Scottish Labour, constrained though it is by current laws. Firstly, we should be glad because it will inject an element of real democratic choice into the Scottish elections, and give voters a meaty, substantial policy argument to mull over instead of the endless independence question.

The Spectator celebrates:

Those of you who live in the rest of the UK will have no idea what a relief it is for us Scots to have some real politics to deal with at last. Scottish Labour’s announcement today that it wants to raise income tax for everybody in Scotland is terrific – simply because it means that this year’s election will be a real contest about real policies.

For the first time in years we are going to get an election which is not about the constitution.

[..] So, at last, Scots will face a real, political choice this May. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are on the left, promising to put up taxes and spend more on public services, the SNP is in the middle, promising to do nothing while the Tories are on the right, pledging to reduce taxes, if they can.

Secondly, we should be glad because although the impact of this policy debate will only be felt in Scotland, it may start a debate in the rest of the UK about the advantages of a more federal approach to governance of our union, allowing for variations in key policies to reflect local priorities and sentiments.

Of course, Scotland already has broad powers over healthcare, transport and many other areas of policy – a fact which the Scottish National Party was noticeably quiet about during the referendum campaign, preferring to falsely pretend that the root of all Scotland’s ills lay in Westminster. But such is the prominence of tax policy, felt by nearly everyone, that it is bound to be noticed. And perhaps when people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland see Scotland making adjustments in fiscal policy in line with their local priorities, they will start to make similar demands for fiscal autonomy.

And thirdly, this could be another potentially great opportunity to discredit left-wing orthodoxy on taxation, and begin to cure Scotland of the misguided but prominent notion that steeper taxes and a more harshly redistributive tax regime are the pathway to Utopian social democracy.

The sanctimonious glee with which Scottish Labour yearn to raise taxes is betrayed when Kezia Dugdale says:

We will tear up this SNP budget that simply manages Tory cuts and instead use the power we have to set the Scottish rate of income tax one pence higher than the rate set by George Osborne. This will provide an extra half a billion pounds a year to invest in the future.

It all sounds so wonderful until it actually happens. And then, lo and behold, everybody’s pay packet takes a hit, but any additional revenue which finds its way to government coffers fails to make much of an impact.

In this case, Scottish Labour’s generous estimation is that the move would raise £500 million pounds every year – though one strongly doubts they modelled the likely behavioural impact of this tax change when cooking up their numbers. But even in the unlikely event that this prediction proves to be solid, if all of the proceeds went to bolster education alone (and they won’t), by my calculation it would amount to little more than £700 per child, per year once measures to compensate lower earners hit by the higher tax rate are factored in – hardly the kind of bold spending increase to justify Dugdale’s crusading rhetoric about investing in the future.

Meanwhile, if Scotland raises income tax rates by 1p, the marginal person will decide not to take that job offer and relocate from Manchester to Edinburgh. The marginal person will think again about moving their family or small business north of the border. And since Scottish consumers will have less disposable income in their pockets, the marginal business will go bankrupt or close down. Their numbers may not be great, at first. But Scotland will have become a slightly less competitive place. And northern England will have become slightly more appealing.

But this is good. It is all part of the healthy competition of ideas, which for too long has been suppressed in the United Kingdom by our vastly over-centralised Westminster government. One of the reasons that the SNP have gotten away with their sanctimonious but ineffectual howling at the Evil English Tories for so long has been the absence of any meaningful counterfactual to Conservative policies. With no counterfactual, Labour and the SNP have been able to accuse the Tories of all manner of missteps and claim that their own policies would have been far more beneficial, without any need (or mechanism) to prove their claims.

That time could now be at an end. If the political parties in Scotland become more willing to use the powers of the Scotland Act 2012 to make the kind of biting tax increases that the Scottish people apparently yearn for, we will soon find out whether merrily cranking up the size of the state really does result in a happy population holding hands and singing under a social democratic rainbow, or if it actually leads to something else – the reluctant realisation that there might just be something to conservative fiscal policy after all.

My money is on the latter.

Scotland Income Tax

Chart: Scottish Parliament

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The Daily Smackdown: The Left’s Manufactured Tampon Tax Hysteria

Tampon Tax - HM Treasury

Left wing activists know that the British government is prevented from lowering VAT on sanitary products (the tampon tax) by EU law. But that doesn’t stop them using the issue to bash the Evil Tories

From observing the outraged reaction to George Osborne’s 2015 Autumn Statement, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Chancellor was launching his own personal war on women, right from his desk at the Treasury.

By far the most ludicrous criticism of the Conservative government’s updated spending plans was directed at George Osborne’s plan to divert all proceeds raised from the tampon tax to support various women’s charities.

While delivering yesterday’s Autumn Statement, Osborne said:

“We already charge the lowest 5% rate allowable under European law and we’re committed to getting the EU rules changed. Until that happens, I’m going to use the £15m a year raised from the tampon tax to fund women’s health and support charities. The first £5m will be distributed between the Eve Appeal, SafeLives and Women’s Aid and the Haven – and I invite bids from other such good causes.”

A sensible enough idea given the constraints on the Treasury, no?

Wrong.

Cue lots of ostentatious confected outrage and virtue-signalling on social media, with activists and left wing organisations falling over themselves to accuse Osborne of being a heartless misogynist.

Here’s Labour councillor and NHS high priestess Aysha Raza, riding to battle against those awful, sexist Tories:

Tampon Tax - Aysha Raza

 

(I debated Aysha Raza on the topic of the NHS on TV last year, and asked her if she could think of any NHS reform or service closure she would support, even if it led to better overall health outcomes for the British people. Her response – a blank stare and a telling silence).

And lots of other people have been sharing the same Independent article by Holly Baxter, in which Baxter admits that Osborne has no power to abolish the tampon tax but still proceeds to rake him over the coals for trying to help vulnerable women with the resulting tax receipts.

From Baxter’s piece:

Since the Tory government has failed women in so many ways, it makes undeniable sense for it to help us to help ourselves. Give a woman a tampon and she’ll use it for free; teach a woman to pay tampon tax and she won’t even cost anything extra to the state when she gets raped, attacked or laid off at work.

So if you’re a woman escaping from an abusive relationship in the Chancellor’s Britain, you can now pay for your own counselling through the redistribution of an unfair tax on your sanitary products. Isn’t that just perfect? It has a beautiful circularity, kind of like the menstrual cycle itself.

But of course this was never meant to be a rational argument; no, this is just about hating the Tories for the sake of it:

Osborne presumably thinks that women will respond gratefully to his announcement, allowing us to finally enjoy the spoils of our luxury tampon tax. ‘What a noble move!’ we are supposed to cry, while shredding our sanitary towels into confetti and sprinkling them in the streets (don’t worry about the waste – it’s all going to charity, girls.) ‘Women can now collectively take responsibility for the provision of support services to women. Finally, we’re being given the means to sort out the problems we created. This truly is the Big Society.

Back to reality, though, and Osborne almost certainly had zero expectations that his announcement would have women dancing in the streets, but was simply trying to do the best he could with the bad hand he was dealt by the EU. But let’s not let reality get in the way of a good Tory-hating session.

To those on the perpetually-outraged, Tory-hating Left, George Osborne can never do right. It is inconceivable to them that the man who (in their fevered imaginations) falls asleep cackling to himself about driving benefit claimants to suicide might actually want to help women, and use the revenues from a tax that he is forced to levy by Brussels to help truly vulnerable women in our society.

Such an honest motive would shatter the worldview of the Angry Left, who are determined to stick to their two-dimensional caricature of conservative thought and keep their leftist worldview blissfully free of nuance. And so the only reason that George Osborne could be considering using the tampon tax revenues to fund women’s services is either to mock them or to “throw them a bone”.

Is it ludicrous that tampons and pads – an essential item, and about as far from a luxury as it is possible to be – are subject to any VAT? Absolutely. But some on the activist Left are more keen to use this inequity to bash the Evil Tories rather than direct their ire at the source of the problem.

And the problem is their beloved European Union, as the BBC helpfully explains:

A spokesman for HMRC says: “The application of VAT in the EU, including rates and flexibilities afforded to member states such as the UK, is governed by EU law.

“The UK applies a 5% reduced rate of VAT to the supply of sanitary products. This is the lowest rate possible under EU VAT law.”

Yes, the inconvenient truth for the Tory-haters is that VAT on sanitary products is not enforced by the malice of George Osborne, but rather by the dead bureaucratic hand of the European Union.

If these virtue-signalling activists were really so concerned about government discrimination against women, they would spend their time and energies criticising Brussels for not having carved out an exemption long ago.

And if they really wanted to exercise their brains, they could ask themselves whether it is really “democratic” for Britain to belong to a massive supra-national organisation which insists on ever-closer union and harmonisation of vast swathes of policy, making it impossible for the British government to do the right thing and end the tampon tax.

But of course there will be no such introspection from the Left. The EU is benevolent and all wonderful, and nothing bad can possibly come from it. Besides, only swivel-eyed racists and Ukippers would ever criticise the European Union, right?

It’s time for these preening social media activists to decide who and what they really care about. Do they actually want to bring an end to the tampon tax – in which case they should start lobbying Brussels or campaigning for Brexit – or do they simply want to flaunt their virtue by making false allegations of misogyny and chauvinism directed at George Osborne and the Conservatives?

Style or substance – what’s it going to be?

Tampon Tax Protests

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Budget And Autumn Statement Theatre Is No Way To Run Modern Britain

Homer Simpson - George Osborne - Budget - Annual Statement

The way British governments set budgets and tweak spending plans is a recipe for bad, short-termist decision making

Forget tax credits for a moment. Forget Right-To-Buy, stamp duty, beer duty and the tampon tax. MPs may still be debating George Osborne’s 2015 Autumn Statement, but step back for a moment and look at the broader picture.

Twice a year – once in the annual Budget and once in the Autumn Statement – the Chancellor of the Exchequer gets to his feet and delivers a refreshed set of economic policies in a big, set piece speech where he is essentially forced to favour tomorrow’s headlines over optimal long or even medium term decision making.

Nationally significant policies from every government ministry live or die by the concessions that their ministers are able to wrangle from a Chancellor who is forced by political reality to be more concerned with tomorrow’s Daily Mail headline than the state of our public finances in a year’s time.

Spending decisions are made based on economic forecasts which are sunnier than a warm day on Venus. Questionable political decisions are defended to the hilt, because to question them in light of new data would be to commit the gravest of self-inflicted political wounds, the U-turn. The government of the day rolls out a “smoke and mirrors” act worthy of David Blaine, and all to glam up the fact that they have slightly re-arranged the deckchairs on the Titanic.

And for what? To draw the public in to the political process? To high-mindedly arbitrate complex questions of economic policy? To astutely position Britain  vis-à-vis our global competitors, ensuring that our tax code, infrastructure and labour market are the most attractive in the world?

No. We do it just so that the government of the day – or a nimble opposition (remember those?) – can score political points. And, of course, because it is traditional.

Some traditions – like MPs not clapping in the Commons chamber – are antiquated and affected, but do little real damage. Others – like MPs having to leave the Commons chamber through a specific door in order to vote, rather than availing themselves of fast electronic voting technology – are an irritant, a brake on the smooth running of our legislature.

But some traditions belong in another category – things that do real, actual harm, not just to the running of our Parliament but to the political outcomes which we then have to live with every day. Some traditions actively harm our democracy.

I would submit that the Budget and Autumn State set-piece theatre events fall into this latter category. Politically astute chancellors (like George Osborne on a good day) may relish them because they provide an unparalleled opportunity to draw red lines and create traps for the opposition. The Westminster media may like the status quo, because if nothing else, these events can be moments of real political drama.

George Osborne - Chancellor of the Exchequer - Budget

But besides savvy chancellors and the established media, it is hard to tell who else benefits from the current system other than the cause of Big Government.

Having two occasions each year when an already-powerful chancellor like George Osborne in an already-centralised country like the United Kingdom gets to play with nearly all of the controls and levers which influence our economy – as though he were Homer Simpson at the controls of Springfield Nuclear Plant – only encourages meddling and tweaking of things that should properly be left to local government and individuals.

When you have direct, ultimate control over which families deserve help buying a house, which people should keep or lose their benefits or how much a person pays in sin taxes for their guilty pleasure, the temptation to use those powers is irresistible. And because of the ratchet effect, it is the easiest thing in the world to give away new perks to favoured interest groups, but nearly impossible to ever claw them back without being exposed to political attack. Even under this nominally conservative government, budgets and autumn statements have often been a one-way ticket to bigger government – or at least more activist state.

No system is perfect. One needs only look across the Atlantic ocean at the United States, with their unseemly debt ceiling fights and government shutdowns (oh, to have one here) to realise that you do not need a Westminster parliamentary-style system to sow budget chaos. But the flaws in our current system are obvious, and have been staring us in the face for years – yet nobody has proposed the slightest alteration, choosing instead to cheer when their side “wins” and whine when the other side is in power and sets a budget with which we disagree.

People did not elect a Conservative government only to have George Osborne sit at the control console of their lives, Homer Simpson-like, flicking switches and adjusting dials here and there in order to manipulate our mood so that we vote Tory again in 2020. If conservatism still means anything, it should mean a healthy scepticism of the state and its power to influence or police human behaviour.

Surely at some point our desire for smaller government and a smarter state has to outweigh our devotion to the dusty tradition of a man standing on the doorstep of his house, waving a red box around.

Autumn Statement - George Osborne - Conservative Government - Man at Control Panel

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Tracey Crouch, Tax Credits And The Unravelling Of The Left Wing Mind

Tracey Crouch MP

When even Tracey Crouch’s sympathetic  words on tax credits provoke left-wing fury, there is no hope for real welfare reform in Britain. And no hope for the Labour Party, either

Had Conservative Sports Minister Tracey Crouch known about the outrage that would be whipped up by her interview in The Spectator before she gave it, she would quite possibly have chosen to go without the glowing portrait by Isabel Hardman in order to avoid the deluge of left-wing bile which immediately followed.

Unfortunately for Crouch, there is no telling which harmless phrase or action will send the modern British Left into a full-on social media jihad, and so she has had to spend the better part of today apologising for offending the Poor and Vulnerable.

Here is the part of Crouch’s Spectator interview with Isabel Hardman that caused so much left-wing outrage:

But given Crouch knows what it means to struggle to make ends meet, isn’t she worried about the cuts to tax credits that will hit families not unlike the one she grew up in? She’s happy to defend these controversial reforms that have agitated so many of her colleagues. ‘I think it’s about communication,’ she says, adding:

‘We will be discussing this, and I’m sure that DWP are looking at all of these issues, in great detail but I think at the end of the day one of the kindest things that we can do is try to help people to support themselves and work around their finances: some of my most heartbreaking cases are those that come to me saying that they are struggling and then you go through with them their expenditure and income – I’m not generalising at all, I’m talking about some very individual cases – and actually they just haven’t realised some of the savings that they need to make themselves, you know it can be… things like paid subscriptions to TVs and you just sit there and you think you have to sometimes go without if you are going to have people make ends meet.’

Fairly innocuous stuff, no? Just look at all of the caveats, provisos and exemptions in Crouch’s words:

“I’m not generalising at all”

“I’m talking about individual cases”

“Some of my most heartbreaking cases”

“One of the kindest things we can do”

There’s no reasonable way that you can read Tracey Crouch’s words and come away thinking that here is some callous, unfeeling elitist who thinks that people are poor through their own fault. There just isn’t. Tracey Crouch is hardly some monacle-squinting, golden pocketwatch-twirling Monopoly man, looking down on the working poor from a lofty aristocratic perch and finding them wanting.

And yet that’s exactly how her interview is being spun by the perpetually outraged Left. The Daily Mail provides a good sampling of the preening, self-righteous virtue signalling which followed Crouch’s interview. First Labour pile on:

Shadow Treasury minister Rebecca Long-Bailey said: ‘Another day and yet more evidence of out of touch Tory MPs insulting working people in low pay in what has been a further torturous week for George Osborne on tax credits.

‘It’s outrageous for a serving minister to claim that working families simply need to ‘go without’ in order to make ends meet. Losing £1,300 a year isn’t about cutting back on luxuries, it’s about families being able to pay the bills.’ 

And then come the Lib Dems, twisting the knife:

Liberal Democrat president Sal Brinton said: ‘This is hypocrisy at its worst. For a Tracey Crouch, someone on a ministerial salary, to turn around to the people who are going to be hit by her Government’s heartless cuts to tax credits and tell them it’s now their fault for not budgeting properly shows just how utterly out of touch the Tories are.’

I re-emphasize: Tracey Crouch was talking specifically about poor budgeting decisions made by certain individual constituents, emphasising multiple times that she was not generalising from the examples that she gave. And yet still we are treated to this hand-wringing mock horror from the Left, as though the Sports Minister had called for all tax credit recipients to be sent to the workhouse.

When the entitlement culture runs so deep that a government minister who grew up relatively poor cannot give true personal testimony about the importance of budgeting, or cite real-life examples of those struggling on low incomes who had not considered every option for reducing their outgoings, what hope can there possibly be for meaningful welfare reform?

What chance can there ever be of lifting people out of the benefit trap, into entry level employment and then onward and upward in self-sustaining careers when as honest and humble an MP as Tracey Crouch cannot even make a factual statement about her constituent cases without being vilified by left-wing activists?

Unfortunately, the reality of modern Britain is that too many people work hard in very low-paying jobs which are only financially viable when topped up by government tax credits. Gordon Brown can splutter and roar all he likes about the supposed virtues of his benefits brainchild, but the cold hard reality is that tax credits promote a form of welfare dependency.

Yes, it’s more noble form of dependency because the recipient is working – often very hard – for their low wages. But dependency means coming to rely on something day-to-day in order to maintain a certain standard of living. People rage against the Evil Tories for daring to consider tax credit changes in their effort to restore fiscal sanity to Britain, but have no words of condemnation for the moralising New Labour government who made millions more people dependent on welfare in the first place.

When I grew up poor in Essex, we didn’t have a Sky TV subscription. We didn’t even have a colour television until I reached secondary school in the 1990s – I watched Neighbours and Newsround in black and white. These things were not the essentials of life, much as I would have loved them, and so we went without.

Fast forward to 2015 and a Netflix subscription is no more necessary now than an expensive Sky subscription was in the early nineties. So why, exactly, was Tracey Crouch wrong to call attention to cases where those on low incomes had not considered cutting down on unnecessary expenditure?

As Julia Hartley-Brewer notes in the Telegraph:

In reality, the only people who are out of touch with how ordinary people live are Labour MPs like Rebecca Long-Bailey, who appear to think that Sky TV is some kind of inalienable human right to be funded out of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash.

Everyone has to make choices about what they can and can’t afford to spend their money on. Tracey Crouch was simply pointing out what every ordinary family in Britain knows: you have to cut your cloth according to your means.

But you can’t say that any more, according to the Left. To acknowledge the basic economic truth that poor people cannot purchase unlimited luxury goods is grossly offensive – not to the millions of low paid people who already strive to live within their means, but rather to those who do not, and the Labour politicians who cheer for their “right” to never have to collide with fiscal reality.

The government’s approach to tax credits is flawed, and considering other areas of continued state profligacy (universal pensioner benefits, for example) there is no great reason why tax credit recipients must swallow such a harsh dose of George Osborne’s fiscal medicine upfront while others slip by unchallenged. And Labour might have a realistic chance at forcing an important, beneficial concession from the Chancellor on this topic, if only they could stop the bickering and infighting long enough to organise themselves.

But when Labour MPs charge mindlessly into battle against the Conservatives (especially a self made Tory Minister like Tracey Crouch) in defence of the Universal Human Right to subscription TV, of all stupid things, they make no serious point, they win no new allies, and they help precisely no one.

But then that’s the Labour Party and the modern British Left in a nutshell. Noisily hating the Tories and whining about fairness but not doing, saying, thinking or proposing a damn thing to hold the current government to account or make anyone’s lives permanently better.

Tracey Crouch - Sports Minister

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