In the run up to the election a dominant narrative pushed by the Conservative Party is that the Labour Party is the one that borrows and spends more. This analysis by economist Richard Murphy disputes that narrative with some hard facts.

In an election where lies will play an important part in the messages some parties will deliver, some facts will help. Start with these.

Overall since 1946 and through to the end of the 2018/19 financial year Labour has been, overall, in office for 28 years and the Tories for 45.

In that time according to the House of Commons Library net total government borrowing has been £1,618 billion: £155 billion of borrowing predated that period, most paying for WW2.

Of that sum 67.5%, or £1,092 billion was borrowed by the Tories. 32.5% or £526 billion was borrowed by Labour.

The Tories have been in office for longer, of course. Restated per year the Tories have borrowed £24.3 billion a year on average in historic prices.

Labour has borrowed £18.8 billion a year on average.

Labour repaid debt in seven years. The Tories in just four.

In current prices Labour has borrowed approximately £28 billion a year and the Tories £33.6 billion.

The Tories are always the party that borrows most.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. But when the Tories seek to make borrowing a sign of economic mismanagement they need to worry:  they are the borrowing party.



Richard Murphy – first published in Tax research UK, 13 November 2019


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