A love of scaremongering and a loose relationship with reality are two hallmarks of the modern Left, so we thought we’d pick out five of their most wildly inaccurate predictions:
- The private sector won’t be able to make up for the reduction in public sector jobs. As highlighted by Channel 4’s Fact Check, Ed Balls concluded only three months after the election that “the private sector has been unable to deliver the recovery we were promised”. In actual fact, while the public sector made reductions of 400,000 jobs, the private sector has created a staggering 2.3 million, more than outweighing the losses.
- Austerity would drive unemployment as high as five million. While Balls was predicting that the private sector would fail to balance out public sector job losses, David Blanchflower was making the claim that austerity would undermine the wider economy and that as a result “five million unemployed or more is not inconceivable”. Impressively, he was millions off the mark – the unemployment figures peaked at 2.68 million in October 2011. The total now stands at 1.86 million.
- Higher tuition fees would deter poorer students from going to university. A favourite of the left back in 2010, this one was pitched by everyone from Shadow Ministers to the NUS and various educational charities. Given that student loans don’t even begin to be paid back until the recipient is earning a wage approaching the national average, this was always based on somewhat frail logic. As it turned out, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students going to university has actually narrowed since the fees were increased. In the words of Professor Les Ebdon, the director of the Office of Fair Access to Higher Education, “Disadvantaged young people are applying to and entering higher education at higher rates than ever before.”
- Health reforms would mean “the end of the NHS as we know it”, the “death” of the NHS, the privatisation of the NHS etc. This website had its concerns over the Lansley reforms, both politically and practically. But the annual ritual of the Left predicting the end/death/murder/disembowelling and dismemberment/[insert preferred hyperbolic metaphor here] of the NHS has continued to greatly exaggerate the reality of institutional changes, regardless of the regular flow of cartoons displaying the health service’s gravestone with one arbitrary date or another. Is the NHS different in some ways? Yes, in that the percentage of private sector involvement has risen from, er, 4.4 per cent under Labour to around 6 per cent. For all the rhetoric of Andy Burnham and Owen Jones, “the NHS as we know it” is still there and doing pretty well. Last month public satisfaction with the NHS rose to the second highest level on record, and dissatisfaction fell to the lowest level ever.
- Freezing energy bills would save consumers money. There’s a good reason Labour now try to pretend that their energy freeze was really a cap (a pretence rather undermined by a) the memory of them sending lobby journalists a bill frozen in ice, rather than pinned to a baseball cap and b) the fact their website still claims they would freeze energy bills and in so doing save people money). Since Miliband made the pledge, energy prices have fallen on the back of a global collapse in the oil price. He would have frozen bills near the top of the market, and in so doing cost consumers a fortune. In fact, there is good reason to believe that the threat of an arbitrary freeze should Labour get into power has delayed companies cutting prices as much they would otherwise have done. Thanks for that, Ed…