Labour did not overspend in office. So why do Labour’s leadership candidates keep saying so?

An excellent article.

Notes from a Broken Society

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the Labour leadership contest is hearing the candidates acquiescing in the myth that Labour in office overspent – and, by implication, accepting the Tory framing that Labour crashed the economy.  Of course it is more nuanced than that, but the outcome of the recent election shows that this is not a debate in which nuance plays much part.

The simple fact is that Labour did not overspend.  In fact, as a percentage of GDP, New Labour spent less than Margaret Thatcher – an average of 41.5% of GDP against 44.2%.  And in fact that figure hides the fact that after the 2007/8 crash, with the economy contracting viciously and rapidly, public spending as a proportion of GDP inevitably rose.

Moreover, spending is only one aspect of a deficit – you also need to consider taxation.  And, again, Labour taxed less than Thatcher as a…

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