Friday, July 03, 2009

Labour really do think we're stupid

Last night I was reminded of one of the many reasons why the Labour Party is not for me. Its mindset would drive me crazy within a day.

During Question Time last night, I had a conversation with Tom Harris on Twitter which went like this:

Tom: Jarvis fairly incoherent but he's right to say that national debt levels matter less to voters than their own circumstances. #bbcqt
about 11 hours ago from Tweetie

Caron: Is that partly cos you lot fuelled unsustainable booms based on credit so people don't worry about public balance sheet? #bbcqt
about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to TomHarrisMP

Tom: No, it's because your household bills are easier to understand than hundreds of billions of pounds. #bbcqt
about 11 hours ago from web in reply to caronmlindsay

Caron: Really? You tried deciphering BT bill recently?:-) #bbcqt

Caron: I don't think people are stupid enough to think that we can afford to keep spending at the same level given size of debt.
about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to TomHarrisMP

Tom: Do you think most people worry more about national debt than about the level of their own mortgages?
about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to caronmlindsay

(At this point Callum made a timely intervention in the debate to tell Tom:

But she isn't paid to look after them responsibly, you are. #bbcqt

Caron: Brorwn and Cameron need kick up backside - their sterile war of words is getting us nowhere. Need real debate on public finance
about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to TomHarrisMP

Tom: You may be right: all I'm saying is that most voters, rightly or wrongly, can't relate to national debt levels.
about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to caronmlindsay

At least Tom had the good grace to admit that I might have a point at the end, but it was the idea that people weren't capable of understanding the public finances because they couldn't grasp the size of the numbers.

That's right - Labour do really think we are too stupid to understand these things. Is this why Gordon Brown keeps failing to properly address the issue? They actually do genuinely believe that only they are capable of governing us and we should sit back and accept what they do. They find it strange when they are questioned. I remember back during the Glenrothes by-election, I got in a fankle over a leaflet they put out which basically said that we were lucky to have them in Government and the naughty voters should do what's right and support them.

Ok, so my eyes might glaze over at the large number of zeros on the Government's balance sheet but that doesn't mean that I can't grasp that if we're not careful we'll be up the proverbial creek with a hole in the bottom of the boat. I buy into the idea that it's important that we spend a fortune now during the recession to stop it turning into a depression, but that is going to mean that at some stage in the future, we are going to have to choose what we spend our money on. This is the time when we have to have a genuine debate about the best way to use our scarce resources.

Nick Clegg gets that and for the last two weeks at PMQs has been trying to inject a bit of realism into Cameron and Brown's pointless trading of numbers. He's suggested that we forget about replacing Trident and stop throwing money at ID cards as two big things that will save us some cash.

Labour doesn't get that if you have had to take out a loan to fix the leaky roof in one year, you are not going to have as much to spend a few years down the road. Or, more accurately, they do get that, but they don't expect us to understand it.

What Labour did, though, over the first 11 years of its Government, was to turn a blind eye as the banks and other financial institutions encouraged people to put their personal finances on an unsustainable footing by borrowing way beyond their means to fuel a consumer boom that was the economic equivalent of building a house on a quagmire.

Those who are now suffering the consequences of this in terms of having their houses repossessed,or being made bankrupt, or struggling with crippling repayments are more than capable of understanding that what happened to their finances could happen to the government's.

Actually, people more than understand it and know fine that hard decisions are going to have to be made. When Gordon Brown stands up in the Commons and spouts garbage about zero per cent increases, he patronises us all and we're more than entitled to feel angry about it.

And don't think the Tories are any better. These are the people who told us that they could increase public spending and cut taxes at the last election. The discerning electorate didn't buy that either.

I think the thing I like most about the Liberal Democrats is that we have no problem in giving power away to people because we trust them. If Labour are to have any chance at all of avoiding meltdown at the General Election, they would do well to learn that, along with a bit of respect and humility.

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