Posts Tagged ‘Mark Ferguson’

Time for Labour’s flat earthers to get real

07/06/2011, 07:00:37 AM

by Dan Hodges

The world is round. It’s a shame, I know. Personally, I’d love a flat world. Think of the excitement of being able to go on “Edge of the World” tours. Sneak up to the boundary; take a peak into infinity.

But alas, it’s not to be. We’re just so mundane. Too damn spherical.

Once upon a time, people thought the world was flat. It had to be. What else could it be? Then, all of a sudden, everyone knew the earth was round. Of course it was. How could anyone have ever though otherwise.

But in between there must have been a transition period. A time when views gradually shifted:

“I was chatting to my mate Ampelius the other day. About this round world stuff”.

“Yeah”?

“Yep. You know what? I think there may be something in it”.

“Get away…”.

And then there would have been the hold outs. The diehards who clung to the earth in all its glorious flatness right till the very end: “I don’t care what they say. It’s flat, and that’s all there is to it”.

What happened to those people? The “circumference deniers”. Were they mocked? Oppressed? Or did they just fade away?

I’ll tell you what they did. They upped sticks and joined the Labour party.

(more…)

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Looking to 2014, not 1974: the case for spending limits

23/05/2011, 07:00:17 AM

by Rob Marchant

During the last two weeks, pieces by Uncut columnists Atul Hatwal and Peter Watt seem to have caused something of a controversy in Labour circles by suggesting that Labour keep to Tory spending limits. Peter’s piece was followed by a passionate defence of the current position by LabourList’s Mark Ferguson; not to mention a more wild-eyed, man-the-barricades-the-Tories-are-coming, ad hominem attack from Owen Smith.

So before making our minds up, perhaps we might take a cool, detached look at the case for change. The question of tax and spending limits is not new: indeed, it was raised on these pages back in March. However, given that spending is arguably the most critical question to answer before the next election and will quite possibly decide its outcome, it is important to construct the case clearly and calmly, brick by brick.

Historical evidence on beating incumbent governments: Since 1974, from the table below, no party has challenged an incumbent on a tax-raising platform, and won. In contrast, we challenged three times 1983-1992 on such a platform and lost each time.

UK changes of government after 1974

YearWinning ChallengerManifesto pledge
1979ToryPledged to cut taxes, although raised VAT and arguably did not carry out the pledge. Cut spending.
1997LabourPledged to keep to Tory spending limits for two years, and did. Pledged balanced budgets and no increase in income tax for 5 years, and kept them.
2010Tory (in coalition)Pledged not to raise NI and cut spending to reduce debt.

The tough questions: a. by 2014, why do we think that a political approach which hasn’t worked electorally in 40 years will work for us then? Especially when, in the political climate of the 1970s, people were demonstrably warmer to the idea of higher taxes in return for a larger public sector? And b., if it was felt necessary to do this in 1997 (growing economy) to get elected, why do we think raising taxes in 2011 (stagnating economy) a good idea? (more…)

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