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The Problem of Soundbites

October 29, 2015


Just look at that! Even after all the austerity, the UK debt is still going up! Just what is our Government doing with all that cash they’re meant to be saving?

Well, the real situation is just a little more complex.

As is often the case in politics, the poster is little more than a soundbite: it makes a strong political point while grossly simplifying the details. We can see those details by considering the amount burrowed by the Government each year, rather than the overall debt:

Source: ONS

Source: ONS

Put simply, the UK has had substantially more going out than coming in ever since the global banking crisis hit…which occurred under Labour’s watch. That is not to say that Labour should be blamed for that – it was a global crash, after all – but it does render the top graphic’s argument…well, a little hollow. Not to mention: since net burrowing has decreased since 2010, it would appear that austerity is saving money.

Let’s not let the Conservatives off the hook here, though.

Back when David Cameron’s Conservatives were elected in 2010, their promise on the economy was simple: to completely eliminate the deficit by 2015. Great cuts to Government spending quickly followed: cuts to welfare, cuts to public services, privatizations, and so on.  We are now coming towards the end of 2015, and…well, we are still very much in deficit. The deficit has gone down somewhat, sure – but that is not what was originally promised. So, the Conservatives utterly failed to meet their original pledge and caused great hardship to many in the process – not bad going, eh?

Of course, you’re never going to fit all that on a single graphic. That, presumably, is why the graphic at the top was done in the way it was – as well as why politics always comes back to simple soundbites, rather than proper discussions on the issues.


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