Tuesday 2 May 2017

Tories get their sums wrong in the lead up to the County Council elections on May 4th

It was really refreshing to write yesterday's blog (On the campaign trail with Labour's Carol Angharad). Much more satisfying to concentrate on the positive and get away from negativity of criticising the opposition. But ........ if statements are made then they should be provable so in today's blog we revert back to fact checking Tory claims.

Elections can have a strange effect on candidates and their supporters. You start to look at your opponents for any sign of a weakness that you can exploit; a means by which you can entice some of their voters in your direction. Let's be honest, no political party or electoral hopeful is immune from such temptations and yes, I too can feel myself being attracted as if by gravitational force to the black hole of political shenanigans.

This really is a shame as it results in a debate that at best distorts the truth and ............. in some instances .......... gives voters information that is simply false. I shudder each time I hear the term, "false news" because if it's false then it is not news ............. it's lies. Now where am I going with this?

I feel lucky that I don't have to invent anything to blacken my opponents because so many unsubstantiated claims have been made by Derbyshire Tories that just a few minutes fact checking can easily disprove them. I am sorry, that did seem a bit smug. I am actually rather disappointed that the debate is so ......... well ......... uninformative.  Like what follows ..................

Amber Valley Conservatives website claims

Amber Valley Tories, led by Kevin Buttery make quite a few claims (see here on their website) and their leading "fact" just had to be investigated:

"Over the last 4 years the Labour-run council have cut the services you value and stashed £233 million in reserves ............. "

It didn't take me long to discover the truth because it is possible to verify by consulting the county council website where you find a succession of year end financial statements. I have chosen the years 2009, 2013 and 2017. You will remember that the council was run by the Tories between 2009 and 2013. I sum up the information in this little chart:

It jumps out at you doesn't it ...... in the past 4 years Labour has actually reduced the DCC reserves by £43 million ........... but, what is even more startling is that in the 4 years the Tories were in the majority they increased the reserves by £77 million. Try as I might I cannot find any evidence for the claim made by Kevin Buttery and his Amber Valley colleagues. I assure you that my figures are accurate and I have compared like with like so no distortion.

I searched elsewhere for corroboration and only came up with evidence in line with my findings. In fact, even Clr Mike Longden, Tory DCC Shadow Cabinet member said this in 2015:

"The carefully managed Earmarked Reserves are healthy and undoubtedly cushioning and protecting some areas of spending .............. "

See here for the source of that quote - Tories blast Labour spin and yes he did go on to apply a goodly dose of his own spin.

Yet more evidence

It was interesting at last week's hustings in Belper to hear the Tory candidate Chris Short making the claim that Labour had underspent during the last 4 years in control of Derbyshire County Council by £32 million. This was immediately refuted by Stuart Bradford the deselected Tory councillor who is now standing as an independent. Clr Bradford spoke of his years on the DCC audit committee and he could assure us that Labour had not underspent ........... in fact they had been taking money from the reserves to protect front line services from the effects of Tory government cuts (I admit that he did not use the word Tory). Again, hard evidence that Tories are making claims about Labour that when analysed are found to be pure invention. It is ironic that the one Tory that states that honesty in politics is paramount has been deselected by the local Conservatives. At the hustings Stuart went on to say that the debate should be about the differences of approach between Labour and Conservatives, about the differing strategies to deal with government cuts and the delivery of services. I could not agree more.

What now

I could of course work my way through all the other unsubstantiated claims the Tories are bandying about by checking through their own spending history when in power ............ but you know I really do have a life.

This election is about Labour asking you to vote for a continuation of their policies, the excellent way in which they are handling the cuts to funding being imposed by the Conservative government in Westminster.

The Tories claim that Labour chooses to make these cuts and they even go so far as to disown the one Tory County Councillor who dared to tell the truth, that Tory central government funding to local councils has been cut by 37% since 2010. That's what happens to Tories who break ranks and tell the truth ........... they get deselected.

I must stop this as I can feel the attraction of that black hole of political shenanigans. 

No comments: