Chancellor Philip Hammond fell into his own worst nightmare while trying to attack Labour on BBC Radio 4. Hammond was trying to fearmonger about Labour’s spending plans. But ended up messing up his own party’s costing by over £20bn. For someone known as ‘Spreadsheet Phil’, it couldn’t have gone worse:
Oomph! Conservative Chancellor Phillip Hammond just got his numbers wrong by £20000000000. Staggering incompetence pic.twitter.com/UoeWUJfbAY
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) May 17, 2017
Hammond was attacking Labour’s plans to bring vital public services, such as energy, into democratic ownership. The Chancellor claimed Labour’s pledges do not add up. But moments later, the candidate for Runnymede and Weybridge messed up his own costing on the HS2 railway by £20bn. BBC Presenter John Humphrys called him out:
£32bn? Not £52bn?
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
Hammond spluttered about ‘contingency plans’ in response:
Errr, it’s over… I mean, there’s a huge amount of contingency built into the budgeting for these projects.
The other side of the story
But there is a deeper issue here. How much a government initiative costs is only one side of the story. The other side is the future returns and savings brought about by that investment. The Conservatives, for example, say HS2 will bring £2.50 for every £1 spent in later economic benefit.
That is precisely the logic behind Labour’s investment policies. And it’s why Humphrys cut through Hammond’s scaremongering about Labour’s plans for public ownership on Radio 4:
Except you know perfectly well that a huge amount of that money will come back to the government, to the taxpayer, one way or another.
Everyone already pays for energy, mail, shelter, water and travel, so Labour argues it would be cheaper to pay for it together under a public ownership scheme.
The media rarely asks how much government investment will save the taxpayer in the future. And journalists like Humphrys must bring it up a lot more if this is going to be an informed election.
Of course, misspeaking isn’t the be all and end all of politics. But there appears to be a double standard here. Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott gave the wrong number in a radio interview earlier in May, and the negative coverage was everywhere. Now, ‘Spreadsheet Phil’ messes up his figures by £20bn, and there isn’t much of a peep from the press.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
Featured image via WikimediaSupport us and go ad-free
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.