John Bassford is the Conservative Candidate in Garendon. He recently spoke with a number of the local Conservatives in Garendon, Dishley & Hathern and Ashby Wards. We felt what John, as a new Candidate, had to say was worth reaching a wider audience. He is angry at the accusations of being a ‘wrecker’ made by the Labour Party. He has every right to be!
“I want to say something here, not about local issues, but rather the rhetoric about the national financial picture that is flying around.
This is a complicated matter and I make no claim to be an economist. It seems to me it’s an easy thing to say in opposition that cuts are too fast and too deep. But we need to think about what this slogan actually means.
Alistair Darling - and even (belatedly) Gordon Brown - acknowledged last Spring that cuts were going to be necessary and, though the timing of the General Election meant they never had to specify which cuts they proposed, they indicated they would have to take effect from this April. No Government can be blamed for rises in public borrowing during times of economic slow-down. But the charge that must be laid at Labour’s door is that they continued to borrow heavily during the boom prior to 2007 – contrary to Gordon Brown’s stated strategic policy in previous parliaments. This excess borrowing is what is causing problems nationally now.
The money paid to banks to ‘bail them out’ was made up partly of commercial loans and partly of equity investments. Both will return a profit for the public purse in the medium term, and, in any case, the sums involved are simply tiny as compared with the totals of public debt. I’m not here to speak in support of bankers, but it is just plain dishonest to claim our national debt is somehow the fault of the banking crisis of 2008. It’s not. It is the fault of Labour politicians ‘maxing out the credit card’ before the banks had any problems at all.
It’s also easy to regard ‘government debt’ as nothing to do with us. Clearly, this debt takes the form of bonds. Whilst some of it is held overseas, a significant part of it is held by you and me – either directly, in products like those from National Savings, or indirectly, through the things that our pensions and endowments are invested in on our behalf. Given that the debt, once run up, will not go anywhere, our county must either pay up or default. We can default either by simply not coming up with the funds or, as has happened in the past, inflating away the debt, so that it’s worth much less when the bonds mature. Either way, it is you and I, the ordinary citizens who will suffer from reduced pension payments and poorer return on hard-won savings.
Since the last election, far from learning the lesson, the Labour Party has opposed every cut that the Coalition Government has proposed and, what’s even more incredible, has even continued to announce billions of pounds of unfunded spending increases, which would all go to make things much, much worse – maybe not for us now, but for our children and grandchildren in years to come.
It’s very easy to shout slogans but, if the Labour Party when in opposition argues for slower and shallower cuts, they need to answer how they intend to deal with the unprecedented and truly catastrophic state of the finances they left behind them. As Liam Byrne famously said: “There’s no money left.” Are they content to allow the problem to go on and on so that future generations need to face it while we pretend that nothing is wrong? I, for one, totally reject that as being simply immoral.
Why do I feel so compelled to speak out now? Because my fellow Conservative candidates and I stand accused of being a ‘wrecking crew’ on Labour’s Election Leaflets.
Let me be clear. I‘ve nothing but admiration for the credentials of many of the Labour Candidates as public servants. I know many of them well, and I have worked with them in the public interest in our town for many years. But it simply won’t do to suggest that I want to wreck anything. The total of all the cuts announced by the Coalition Government thus far simply returns public spending totals to where they were in 2007! Does anyone remember the Government being accused of underfunding public service then?
All I want to do is to continue to deliver excellent public services in our Borough, without either squeezing hard pressed local residents for more and more council tax, or borrowing money which future generations will have to repay. Throwing around money is not the answer to our problems in the harsh times we find ourselves. Innovative ways to deliver more with less is the way forward.”
Conservative Borough Council Candidate for Garendon Ward.