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Press Cycle 14 - Shadow Budget
Did we ever get a satisfactory answer on why the Liberal Democrats think they know better than experts at the Bank of England when it comes to setting interest rates?

No, I don't think we did.

What we got was a jumbled response about how the Bank is kind of political at the moment but how it would magically be apolitical if it were independent.

The fact remains that, on interest rates, Liberal Democrat policy is dangerous. They are playing politics with inflation and that can only spell disaster for the economy.
Mrs. Margo Leadbetter
Home Secretary and Secretary of State for DEFRA
Conservative MP for Surbiton
Labour's approach to crime is wrong, it couldn't have been wronger. The idea that spending on rehabilitating inmates is immoral, to be tarred and shamed that is just so wrong and appalling. Labour's approach will turn people who made a mistake and committed relatively small crimes to hardened criminals and unleash more terror and danger to our communities, we have to rehabilitate and regain these people into our communities not turn them into hardened criminals that will unleash more crime, danger and blood into our streets. Labour's approach will do that and the blood will be on their hands.

Labour's desperate attempt to shift blame on unemployment to the unemployed is sad and desperate these people are unemployed because of Tory incompetence, Tories brought this to our country, with their reckless policies, we have had double digit unemployment, skyrocketing interest rates and pound crashed due to Tory incompetence and now Labour tries to blame unemployed people for mistakes of the Tories. That is just immoral and frankly hypocritical when you consider Labour fairly criticises our economical problems on Tories but still shifts the blame and burden of unemployment on the unemployed.
Noémie Suchet MP

Member of Parliament for Bath

LibDem Leader
NATO joins the NHS and the welfare state as one of Labour’s greatest creations, and this Shadow Budget continues Labour’s internationalist legacy by ensuring we meet every single defence request. The British public can trust Labour to keep our military strong, investing in the defence budget by more than £2 billion pounds and ensuring Britain is always in a strong position on the global stage.

In my neighbouring constituency, two year old James Bulger was abducted, tortured and then murdered. If the Liberal Democrats cared about people who had blood on their hands, they would go after the criminals, murderers and rapists - not for the politicians who want to create a system that balances punishment and rehabilitation so that such an atrocity should never be feasible again.

There is a place for rehabilitation in our justice system, but it must be evidence based. None of the places the Tories or Lib Dems threw over £100 million at were requested - this is otherwise a waste that puts £100 million of hard working British taxpayers' money in the pockets of people like James Bulgers' killers. That is immoral. That is unjust. And I make no apologies for criticising it.
Labour - Liverpool Riverside.
Shadow Chancellor
This shadow budget is bad for homeowners. Without even justifying the stamp duty increase across the board Labour would be taking more of your hard earned cash in taxes if they were in government. Labour cannot be trusted to govern and they cannot be trusted with the economy.

It is this Conservative Government that is investing the right amount of funding in our emergency services. Diana Edwards would have you believe it’s ok to allocate 4 new fire staff recruits per fire station and distribute staff accordingly, that is not her decision alone to make.

The Bank of England is a core British institution; its views are absolutely critical to the economy. It’s evident from their position that the Liberal Democrats do not trust the recommendations set out by the Bank of England, yet claim all is well. They must urgently clarify their position, I would hope that they do respect the Bank of England’s recommendations
The Conservatives' approach to council funding appears like a rushed PR attempt without any consideration of the practical implications. Many of the poorest councils' funding will be slashed and stuck to other communities without any consideration of the consequences or without any apparent consultation with councils. There is regional imbalance in the United Kingdom, but this cannot be resolved in a single budget or by cutting funding to the most deprived communities in London. Labour's approach is that for now it would be safer to maintain our current funding system, but to review how we tax and how to we spend in regards to local authorities. 

This approach mirrors the Tories' approach to giving Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cultural funding, but gutting nationwide culture funding to mitigate any of those benefits. We won't pull cheap electoral stunts - we'll look for concrete solutions. That is why we've proposed a 1.5 billion National Investment Agency to redevelop our poorest communities. 
Labour - Liverpool Riverside.
Shadow Chancellor
Hapless Harold is either wilfully ignorant, or he is trying to spin his budget so hard what comes out is nothing but untruth after untruth.

Labour's budget raises taxes at a much smaller margin than the Conservatives - while we only establish a progressive rate of stamp duty Hapless Harry wants to put more homeowners into stamp duty, more Britons into income tax and national insurance, hike VAT on pensioners, and raises almost every form of regressive tax you can think of way above inflation.

But one of his most damaging tax rises is to beer duty. With beer duty already one of the highest rates in Europe, Labour would instead propose to cut it, supporting hundreds of thousands of service industry jobs and relieving the cost of beer for the average Brit. 
Labour - Liverpool Riverside.
Shadow Chancellor
Ok. So Labour’s budget was very different from what you’d expect. It significantly moved them towards the Tory mantle of economic credibility in the eyes of business, and the middle class. These are, unsurprisingly, the two groups that Labour are increasingly looking to target - so fairplay for coming down hard to get them.

On that basis, it made it difficult for the Tories to get a quick grip on how to go about dismantling the shadow budget, and this was really clear on the first page. Saxon and Leadbetter were hugely outgunned by the opposition, and it let Labour - and in particular Edwards - set the tone, and the field of battle. I think Edwards’ line - “we're prepared to make tough choices and clear the deficit today so we can properly invest in public services tomorrow”, sums this up perfectly. Labour are nabbing right from the traditional Tory playbook, and the government didn’t know how to deal with it.

One area where spin certainly failed was the Tory cries of “economic illiteracy” against the Liberal Democrats. Now this might, or might not, be right, but there was a severe lack of evidencing where this could be found in their budget. Yes, increasing the deficit isn’t universally popular by any measure, but is it illiterate? Not necessarily, and especially not if one comes from mainstream Keynesianism - which many in the country do. To succeed with this kind of argument, it needs to go beyond ‘the deficit is up’, and into detail about the long term problems that this will cause.

There were also a nice couple of releases by the Liberal Democrat leader, who looked to effectively set out her case to ‘compassionate’ Tory/Lib Dem swing voters. The push for the small business, entrepreneurial type was great.

At the beginning of page two, the Tories looked divided. Coburg, perhaps rightly - and with a good release if you disregard the hypocrisy of what all of his fellow colleagues had been saying - went after Labour for not spending enough money. As I believe they say, epic bruh moment. I want to die. It also provided a great opportunity for the Lib Dems to pop up by hammering the Tories for not doing exactly what they were criticising. Nicely done. I’d give Suchet XP if I could.

I was a big fan of Power’s line: “The Government's budget offers a jolly binge today. and a hangover that will last for years”. One xp.

And then, finally, midway through the second page, the Tories showed up in force. Leadbetter, Bagg, Saxon - all looked in shape and ready for battle. One xp to Leadbetter for a detailed release, and the line “A bad idea in a bungled budget proposal that would burden Britain”, and one xp to Highland for “I would have thought that 16 years was long enough to prepare for government, it does appear I was wrong.”

It looked like a one way ship on this section until Edwards whacked them with the line, “This is proof that the Conservatives can burn money on the NHS, but that doesn't mean they're the party for it.” One xp.

Not much to say, but the Lib Dems looked weak on interest rates, and the Tories really made sure nobody missed the BoE advice. Not to say that they won the Tory/Lib Dem air war, Suchet had some really strong points, including the absolutely damning, “Harold, you have gutted the public services that you cry over right now. Nobody believes your interest in reviving our public services, not even the Sun.” Might have been the best line in the whole cycle.

The last page was good from Labour’s perspective, Edwards blitzed it.

I’m going to say that Labour came out on top, but not without help from the Liberal Democrats. The Tories haven’t really lost much from it though - the reversal of typical budget rolls between the big two means it’s much harder to not look a hypocrite.

I also want to note the outstanding performance of Suchet - she was brilliant and will win hearts and minds for her careful, well reasoned pitches.

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