A few days ago I listed five reasons why Labour can’t be trusted with the economy. The range of reasons can be summed up as follows: their thinking is wrong, their judgement when turning it into policy is mistaken and they then compound the situation by messing up the implementation.

A good example of those problems has arisen this weekend, in response to the Conservatives’ pledge to provide the £8 billion of extra NHS spending requested by the chief executive of the health service.

Some time ago, Miliband promised he would always spend at least £2.5 billion more than the Conservatives on the NHS. There was no real justification given – Labour simply relied on their traditional assumption that more money always equals better, the same assumption which drove the waste of the Brown years.

Born of a flawed principle, the idea has already come unstuck. With Cameron calling his bluff and pledging the extra £8 billion, Miliband is now refusing to confirm if he will therefore promise to spend £10.5 billion more. It turns out the absurdity of promising to always outspend your opponent, regardless of what they might spend, is unsustainable – who could have guessed?

Nor is this the only example of such poorly thought through spending pledges. Scottish Labour have promised to hire 1000 nurses more than the SNP regardless of how many the SNP might hire. The question of how many the health service might need or taxpayers might afford is never considered – only who will provide most matters.

This is the silly illogic of children arguing over who has more friends: “I’ve got a thousand.” “Well I’ve got a million.” “I’ve got a trillion trillion.” “I’ve got infinity times ten…thousand.” It shows why Labour can never be trusted with the public finances – not because of one particular idea or another, but the utterly flawed way in which they come up with all of their ideas.

48 comments for: Miliband’s abandoned NHS spending pledge shows the errors at the heart of Labour’s thinking

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