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Billions and Trillions

I’m going to have to pass up the opportunity to wish you a happy Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you!) and get political again. Today sees local elections in the UK (I’ll be casting my vote after work this evening), although these are feeling a little overshadowed by the General Election in June.

A post from Steve Lawson brought my attention to an Instagram message from Jeremy Corbyn. It confessed that national debt in 2010 at the end of the last Labour government was £979.8 billion (65% of GDP) but that under the Tories it had grown to £1,731.4 trillion (89% of GDP). Did he really mean trillion? Unfortunately no source was given but the ONS (April 2017) provided a figure of £1,731.4 billion debt; still a massive increase and still 89.3% of GDP at the end of December 2016 but a bit less than suggested.

Labour has made several gaffes about figures recently and Corbyn and his allies owe it to themselves – and the country – to be more careful. On the other hand, although out by an order of magnitude, that isn’t far off doubling in six years (the original figure looks like the one from the end of 2009 in the same source). Tories might mock the mistake but it still remains that their ‘strong and stable’ policies are allowing our national finances to get into a significantly more parlous state, with nothing but hot air to defend the idea that Brexit won’t make this worse.

I’m looking forward to June and hoping that it will turn out to be the end of May.

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