As Labour launches its manifesto today, I thought it might be helpful to demonstrate how meeaningless the whole exercise is. Why? Well, all you need to do is go back to their 2005 manifesto and check their promises against what they have acually delivered. Here are 27 of Labour's broken promises...
1) p. 12: ‘Our ten year-old pupils are . . . the fastest improving in numeracy.’
Ofsted Report, 2008/09:
• 2 million children in England being taught in mediocre or failing schools;
• 30% of 11 year-olds failing to reach basic standards in English and Maths.
Ofsted Report, 2009/10:
• 50% of schools ranked either satisfactory or inadequate;
• Schools ranked inadequate increased from 4% in 2008/09 to 10% today;
• Only 9% of schools ranked outstanding.
2) p. 12: ‘. . . long-term youth unemployment has been virtually eradicated . . .’
Latest unemployment stats:
• Long-term unemployment: 663 000 – its highest since 1997;
• Unemployment amongst 16 to 24 year-olds: 923,000.
3) p. 15: ‘In our third term we will build new ladders of social mobility . . .’
Since Labour came to power in 1997 social mobility has decreased and the gap between the richest and the poorest has increased.
4) p. 15: ‘We will maintain our inflation target at two percent.’
In February 2010, the UK’s inflation rate rose to 3.5%.
5) p. 16: ‘We will not raise the basic or top rates of income tax . . .’
April 2009 Budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling announced an increase in the top-rate of income tax to 50%.
6) p. 18: ‘The Labour Government backs manufacturing . . . we will continue to do so.’
More than 1 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 1997. In 1997, manufacturing accounted for 20% of the UK economy; by 2007, it had decreased to 12.4% – that scale of decline is almost 3 times greater than during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.
7) p. 23: ‘We are tackling barriers to financing for small and growing businesses . . .’
Tens of thousands of family-run firms will be hit in a £100million tax grab this week when business rate relief is abolished. The move comes on top of an inflation-busting 5.2 per cent increase in the rate, which will cost companies another £1billion. In some cases, the combined effect will see annual bills more than treble for retailers and small firms which are already suffering from a slump in consumer demand, credit freezes and higher bank charges.
8) p. 33: ‘. . . harder A-level questions to challenge the most able . . .’
Sir Peter Williams, (the man chosen by Gordon Brown to advise on education reform):
• 'Over 20 or 30 years, I don't think there is any doubt whatsoever that absolute A-level standards have fallen.
• 'They have edged south, continuously over a long period of time . . . All university academics and a good proportion of sixth-form teachers would agree.'
9) p. 38: ‘. . . we are developing a nationwide week-long summer residential programme for school students.’
No such programme exists.
10) p. 38: ‘Violent behaviour, including the use of knives will not be tolerated.’
• More than half of knife crime offenders receive sentences of less than 3 months;
• 5 out of 6 people caught with a knife avoid prison altogether;
• Meanwhile, fatal stabbings have hit record levels.
11) p. 40: ‘. . . our aim for 50 per cent of young people to go on to higher education by 2010.’
University participation rate amongst 17 to 30 year-olds increased by less than 1 percent (from 39.2 to 39.8 per cent) between 2000 and 2008.
12) p. 44: ‘. . . a new £340 million a year fund will take CSO numbers up to 24,000 – to work alongside the equivalent of an additional 12,000 police officers freed up for frontline duties.’
• Between March and September 2009, 26 out of 43 forces recorded a fall in police numbers;
• At the end of April 2007, there were 16,000 CSOs in England and Wales.
13) p. 44: ‘Not all problems need a 999 response, so a single phone number staffed by police, local councils and other services will be available across the country . . .’
There were plans for a new 101 non-emergency number to be rolled out across the country in 2008, but funding was withdrawn by the Home Office in 2007.
14) p. 48: ‘By 2007 every offender will be supervised after release . . .’
Prisoners who spend less than a year in jail are not supervised on release, and 50% of those prisoners go on to reoffend.
15) pp. 60-1: ‘We are . . . halving the numbers of quangos . . .’
Since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister public spending on quangos has increased by £10 billion, from £37 billion to £46.5 billion. During that time, the number of quangos had fallen from 827 to 766, but the number of employees has risen from 95,000 to 110,000.
16) p. 61: ‘. . . comprehensive out-of-hours [GP] services . . .’
Before 2004 GPs were responsible for their patients 24 hours a day. The new contract allowed them to opt out of 24-hour care by sacrificing £6,000 a year. 90% of GPs accepted.
17) p. 63: ‘By 2009 all women will have choice over where . . . they have their baby . . .’
National Childbirth Trust Report: more than 90% of pregnant women are not able to choose where they give birth.
18) p. 65: ‘We will . . . ensure that fresh fruit and vegetables are part of every school meal.’
Fruit and vegetables not part of every school meal.
19) p. 72: ‘Companies will no longer be able to force people to retire before the age of 65 . . .’
Age Concern/Help the Aged Report: more than 100 000 people were forced to retire against their will last year alone.
20) p. 75: ‘We will end child poverty, starting by halving it . . . by 2010-11.’
Department of Work and Pensions: the 2010 target is unlikely to be ‘fully met . . . because of economic and demographic changes’. The number of children in poverty has increased by 400,000 since 2004. In 2007-08, the incomes of the poorest 20% of families decreased – and this was before the impact of the recession.
21) p. 80: ‘A First Time Buyers Initiative to help over 15,000 first-time buyers who could not own or part-own a home without extra help.’
Up to the end of 2008/09 only 1071 homes had been purchased under the First Time Buyer's initiative.
22) p. 80: ‘We will increase the annual supply of new social homes by 50 per cent by 2008 . . .’
Town and Country Planning Association Report:
• England is facing its lowest levels of homebuilding for 80 years;
• The housing shortfall will total 1 million by the end of 2010, resulting in record levels of overcrowding and longer than ever waiting lists;
• Less than 100 000 homes were built in 2009 – only 40% of the number needed to satisfy demand;
• In the 1960s and 70s, about 300 000 homes were built each year.
23) p. 84: ‘We will put [the EU Constitution] to the British people in a referendum . . .’
Following the Netherlands’ rejection of the EU constitution and its subsequent collapse it was replaced by the Lisbon Treaty. Despite being ‘substantially equivalent’ to the original Constitution, Labour did not keep its referendum promise. Valery Giscard, former Minister of Economy and Finance in France, admitted Lisbon is the ‘same letter in a new envelope’, and that ‘all the earlier proposals will be in the new text but will be hidden and disguised in some way.’
24) p. 88: ‘. . . when [UK forces] are committed they will have the investment, strategy, training they need.’
• Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup (head of the armed forces) identifies shortcomings of strategy: defence chiefs ‘simply didn't have enough time’ to source everything they wanted and more time to prepare would have made a ‘significant difference’.
• Lt Gen Frederick Viggers criticises the lack of strategic direction: ‘It was rather like going to the theatre and seeing one sort of play and realising you were watching a tragedy as the curtains came back.’
• ‘We've got huge experience in this country - we're not using it and we're putting amateurs into really important positions and people are getting killed as a result of some of these decisions.’
• Sir Kevin Tebbit (former permanent secretary to the Ministry of Defence) condemns defence expenditure cuts: claimed Gordon Brown ‘guillotined’ £1bn from defence spending in December 2003, while efforts to rebuild Iraq were ongoing, which created the need for ‘very major savings’.
• Major General Graham Binns identified a ‘major gap’ in attack helicopters, but that US equipment was in contrast ‘magnificent’.
25) p. 89: ‘We remain committed to achieving a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions on 1990 levels by 2010.’
Department of the Environment Report: C02 emissions projected to decreased by only 15.5% from 1990 levels.
26) p. 95: ‘Investment in schools sports will ensure that by 2010 all children will receive two hours high-quality PE or sports per week.’
14% of 5 to 16 year-olds – about 900,000 pupils – receive less than the 2 hour target.
27) p. 110: ‘We will legislate to place reasonable limits on the time bills spend in the second chamber – no longer than 60 sitting days for most bills.’
No such legislation has been introduced.