Today Ed Balls has been telling anyone who'll listen that the Government should have stopped the oil companies from charging so much, and should have reduced the rate of VAT on fuel.
We've become used to hearing Labour politicians talking outrageous nonsense in the last few months, but this takes the biscuit. First of all, our oil companies aren't state owned nationalised monoliths who do what the Government tells them and for Ed Balls to suggest that the Government could dictate what price they should charge is ridiculous. I asked yesterday on here if there was a danger of oil companies passing on the tax increase to customers. What Danny Alexander has said on this, reported on the BBC, kind of makes sense to me:
"If the oil companies try to pass that on to retailers they will simply buy their fuel from elsewhere. You've got a global market for oil and you've got a competitive market for the supply of fuel, so there is no prospect of that being passed on."Wouldn't it be a bit more constructive if Ed Balls had condemned any petrol retailer who would take advantage of this situation to profiteer?
And now let's come to the issue of just reducing VAT on petrol. Ed Balls spent long enough hanging around the Treasury to know perfectly well that no Government can do this. It's just illegal. Balls has been going on about France doing so for restaurants - but as the Financial Times blog pointed out, it took them seven years. Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has been touting this idea too, and he should know better. Funny thing is, fuel prices have spiked several times over the last few years and if it reducing VAT was so easy, why didn't Labour do it? The problem of rural fuel prices being cripplingly high in the highlands and islands of Scotland is not something that's appeared overnight - and the people who have been leading the campaign for years to do something about that that were George Lyon, Lib Dem MEP for Scotland, and Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat now Chief Secretary to the Treasury. And funnily enough, now Danny's in office, the Government he's part of has done more than its predecessor ever did to tackle that. Shocking consistency on the part of a politician!
I didn't think that Labour's arguments could get any less credible. We've had 10 months of them going on about how much better life would be under them, when in reality they were planning to make cuts that were not a million miles away from those made by the current Government. They have never explained what they would do in any sort of detail. However, Balls takes it all to a new level by simply saying things that can be quickly and easily disproved, telling people that the Government should do things that he knows perfectly well can't be done. Yet again, Labour prove themselves to be supremely skilled in the art of unscrupulous hypocrisy.