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To think this stat about the UK debt is spin and ask someone for a longer term graph??

(46 Posts)
FusionChefGeoff Fri 12-May-17 00:43:36

Assuming these figures are real (we have to start somewhere, right!) and judging by the Conservative's position on austerity / debt / deficit etc. I am therefore concluding that there's an alternative infographic out there which would show the level of debt in 2016 as it would have been if Labour's spending / borrowing had continued at the same levels??

And that that figure is significantly higher than the 2106 debt figure quoted in this infographic?

Anyone give me an alternative view on it?

Abitofaproblem Fri 12-May-17 00:50:43

As far as I can understand, the Tories reduced the annual deficit compared to Labour hence slowed down the ballooning of the national debt.

The debt would be much more than it is now if it was allowed to carry on increasing at the rate it did in the last years of the Labour government.

e1y1 Fri 12-May-17 00:51:33

Not quite what you're looking for, but I think THIS may help.

Conservatives have increased the national debt.

FusionChefGeoff Fri 12-May-17 00:56:27

Now, I've sort of found what I was looking for but it's not "smash you round the face obvious" what I'm explaining.

I mean, if you look at the rate of growth of the debt in 2008, 2009 and 2010 it is MASSIVE jumps and if we had continued at that rate, it would have exceeded 100% by now.

However, the rate of growth reduces significantly from 2010 and is very very small 2012 - 2013.

So of course the overall level of debt is going to be higher - it can't go from those levels of growth to decreasing without significant long term change.

But what the Conservatives have achieved is to start that reduction in growth - with a view to eventually reducing the total - yes?

I'm not here to debate the morals / ethics / policies about how they have achieved that and what it means long term, I just want to make sure I am clear on these facts first.

But that's not very punchy - I'm hoping for something that's easier to digest on social media!

FusionChefGeoff Fri 12-May-17 00:59:09

Yes e1y1, I'm not arguing that the debt hasn't gone up - absolutely agree that it has.

But if you look at the chart I've found, you can see that the rate of growth was slowed when the coalition came into power and that it is believable to imagine the 'curve' of this graph pretty soon taking the turn into decreasing the overall debt.

That would never have happened if Labour stayed in power and is very likely to reverse if they follow through on the promises in their manifesto..

britbat23 Fri 12-May-17 01:06:07

That rate of debt growth would not have continued, because the banks only needed to be bailed out once.

Nationalising the banks cost a fortune but it literally prevented the cash machines from grinding to a halt.

e1y1 Fri 12-May-17 01:06:11

Get what you're saying, got to admit don't know all that much about it, but the graph always seems to go higher more when a conservatives are in (1990-1997 and then 2010-2016).

I understand what the cons say about not being able to have what we cannot afford, but like I saw mentioned the other day - they found something like £850 billion to bail out the banks. I'd rather that be spent on NHS or scrapping Uni fees - what's more important, peoples lives and education, or another bank?

britbat23 Fri 12-May-17 01:12:33

The financial crisis was the greatest national emergency this country has faced since the Second World War.

Rescuing the banks was not some luxury designed to keep financiers wealthy. Had the banks collapsed the social and economic consequences would have been appalling.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 12-May-17 01:17:45

I have a feeling the growth in debt after 2008 may have something to do with the banking crisis and the subsequent global recession. It's what you'd expect to happen and there was a fair amount of leeway given the national debt as % of GDP was low.

It probably wouldn't have looked much different if the conservatives had been in power. Given that austerity hasn't exactly been a resounding success it could well have been worse.

Abitofaproblem Fri 12-May-17 01:44:04

The economy was not in great shape after the financial crisis, we had a period of real recession and was living in the shadow of a double dip recession. Greece was in financial crisis from 2012 and for a few years the market was paying a lot of attention on whether governments can pay back their debt. You can say that the country has suffered from Tory austerity domestically, but they did steer the country through some turbulent years.

someonestolemynick Fri 12-May-17 02:18:03

Very simply put, austerity is an easy sell but a very expensive long-term strategy: there are less outgoings because the state is reducing that but by doing that incomes fall, because if that profits fall, and taxation falls as well. The state will then have to borrow more money to make up the shortfall.
A country's finances are emphatically not like that of a household (only spend what you earn); it needs to invest in consumer confidence, jobs and education.
A famous example is Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal (
The way the last two Consertave Governments have handled the financial crisis has contributed to Britain's very slow recovery from the Global Finacial Crisis (especially compared with other European countries):

toomuchtooold Fri 12-May-17 06:38:09

What nick said. And that's why you can't really draw a chart of what the debt would have been under Labour spending plans - you can predict what the rise in government spending would have been but you can't predict what would have happened to tax receipts. When the Tories announced their spending plans in 2010, there​ was a whole spate of letters to the papers from groups of economists saying don't cut, or at least don't cut right now. I don't think there was consensus but there was probably a majority of economists who thought debt would fall faster if the cuts didn't follow on directly after the financial crisis. And that was just about debt, nothing about the human impact of cutting services and benefits and wages at a point where unemployment and underemployment were likely to rise.

Honeybee79 Fri 12-May-17 06:54:02

Really interesting thread. Know very little about this, am ashamed to say. Reading with great interest.

makeourfuture Fri 12-May-17 07:08:47

But that's not very punchy - I'm hoping for something that's easier to digest on social media!

How about:

Hard-working families, put your money in the mattress! Nanna did.


Nanna understood austerity won the War, and the world cup.

makeourfuture Fri 12-May-17 07:11:03

Here's another:

Snowflakes spend all their money on fancy gadgets.

Biggreygoose Fri 12-May-17 07:13:27

Have a read:

It explains the terms well and why/how seemingly massively conflicting statements can both be technically true.

jellyfrizz Fri 12-May-17 07:24:17

How can bare facts be spin? There is no emotive language or imagery in that graphic.

Devorak Fri 12-May-17 07:41:45


Are you joking? I had to do a fairly basic stats module in my first year of my undergrad and the most interesting part of that was learning just how stats can be twisted to mean anything you want.

It's interesting even looking at cutting the deficit which the Tories have done and which was entirely necessary but that this isn't as straightforward as you'd imagine either as it's calculated as a percentage of GDP which of course fluctuates too.

jellyfrizz Fri 12-May-17 07:57:06

Of course, lies, damned lies and statistics.

But the stat itself has not been spun as Op suggests in the title of the thread.

RedHelenB Fri 12-May-17 08:01:03

Even the richest countries have debt so I dont really see the issue tbh. No way can we be debt free so does the level matter?

FusionChefGeoff Fri 12-May-17 08:01:19

Thanks everyone, I'm definitely learning a lot on this thread which was the point smile

That rate of debt growth would not have continued, because the banks only needed to be bailed out once.

But that was just once, it went up in big jumps for 3 years on the trot?
As far as I am aware, Labour didn't have any big 'austerity' plans in their manifesto in 2010 so HOW exactly would they have slowed the increase?

Given that austerity hasn't exactly been a resounding success
I agree that it's had some horrible effects on some of the benefits that people are entitled to and left some people in absolute poverty. But from a fiscal point of view, looking at that chart, it did what it set out to do in reducing the growth of debt?

And this is what I really struggle with - on an individual level, austerity is fucking shit and has some horrific stories of people's lives being absolutely ruined. On the other hand, how do we become a 'sustainable' country in terms of debt?? We have to do something but I'm not sure Labour's 'everything for everyone' policy is good / believable in the long term.

Abitofaproblem Fri 12-May-17 08:20:11

AFAIU, the more we borrow, the more interest we have to pay to service the debt, so there is a difference. Also how cheaply a country can borrow depends partly on how much confidence the market has in it to repay the money when necessary. The more we borrow, the more risky we would be seen as a borrower. If the economy is growing and everything is hunky dory then maybe nothing will happen we will carry on. However if there is another crisis or if the debt keeps mounting one day someone will notice and we might lost the ability to borrow money cheaply and we will not be able to sustain our spending and we risk Austerity Super.

makeourfuture Fri 12-May-17 08:27:35

See Keynes:

When you cut fiscal spending in a sluggish economy you strangle growth. Low growth means low tax receipts. Thus continued sluggishness/debt.

jellyfrizz Fri 12-May-17 09:07:03

Or - you gotta speculate to accumulate.

ProudConservative Fri 12-May-17 09:19:07


Can you give an example of when Keynesian policy has worked?

Can I spend myself out of depression? I'm feeling sad and have you seen the new BMW M4 in white. Engine's a little small but it's not what you've got, it's what you do with it that counts).

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