Blair and Brown's Decade

Tony Blair's time as Prime Minister started with great hope but has ended with disappointment.  He may have been a successful party leader and he's done some good things - like making the Bank of England independent. 

But despite his good intentions, he has failed to deliver as Prime Minister. After a decade of taxes by stealth, what is the Blair-Brown legacy? We have cuts in the NHS, a pensions system in crisis, violent crime rising and prisons overcrowded.

24 hours to save the NHS?
Blair promise: 'The very simple choice that people have in this next 24 hours is this. It is 24 hours to save our National Health Service' (Tony Blair, Speech to Trimdon Labour Club, 30 April 1997).

Brown promise: 'from today a campaign must begin - not just to renationalise the National Health Service but to save the National Health Service for the people of Britain' (Speech to the Scottish Labour Conference, 12 March 1995).

What's happened:

·         In 2005-06, the NHS was over £1.3 billion in the red

·        Over 20,000 job losses have been announced by NHS hospitals in England in the last year;

·        17 Accident and Emergency Departments, 105 community hospitals  and 43 maternity units are under threat of cutbacks and closure

·         And almost one million people in the UK are still waiting for treatment on the NHS;

Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime?

Blair promise: 'There must be a comprehensive attack on crime and its causes instead of a search for easy headlines' (Tony Blair, The Times, 4 November 1996).

Brown promise: 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime' (The Guardian, 27 May 1995).

What's happened: Since 1997:

·        Violent crime has more than doubled;

·        Gun crime has doubled;

·        Almost 450,000 more crimes were committed in 2005-06 than in 1998-9;

·        But just one in four crimes is now cleared up by the police.

Fairness for pensioners?

Blair promise: 'Will Labour tax pension funds? Our public expenditure plans require no extra taxation. Labour has made clear our central tax announcements' (Evening Standard, 14 April 1997).

Brown promise: 'I can give this pledge - fairness to the pensioners under Labour' (Speech to Labour Party Conference, 2 October 1996).

What's happened:

·        The abolition of tax credits on pension dividends has cost pension funds £5 billion a year and £100 billion over the long term;

·        Since 1997, around 125,000 people have lost part of their pension;

·        Tony Blair's first Welfare Reform Minister, Frank Field, has said that as a result, 'we have some of the weakest pensions provisions in Europe

No plans to increase tax?

Blair promise: 'We have no plans to increase tax at all' (Tony Blair, Financial Times, 21 September 1995).
Brown promise: 'there are no public expenditure commitments that require us to raise taxes' (Gordon Brown, BBC Newsnight, 20 January 1997).

What's happened:

·        According to independent experts, taxes have risen by £1,300 for every family in the UK as a direct result of Gordon Brown's decisions at Budgets and Pre-Budget Reports since 1997.

·        Since 1997, Gordon Brown has introduced 111 stealth tax rises (HM Treasury, Budgets and Pre-Budget Reports), including:
Pensions Tax - Gordon Brown's first and worst stealth tax has taken £5bn a year from pension funds. Treasury documents released recently show that Gordon Brown was warned of the damage this would do to pensions but went ahead anyway.

·        Stamp Duty - Gordon Brown now gets £10 billion a year in stamp duty - four times the level when he became Chancellor. The average home-buyer is paying almost £1,000 more in stamp duty under Labour

·        Inheritance Tax - The number of households paying inheritance tax has doubled under Gordon Brown. The average price of a semi-detached property in London is now above the inheritance tax threshold of £300,000.

·        Council Tax - The average Band D bill in England has risen from £688 in 1997-8 to £1,321 in 2007-8 under Gordon Brown - over 90 per cent.

·        Business Tax - The CBI estimates that British businesses have been hit by a massive £50 billion increase in tax under Labour. Under Gordon Brown, Britain has dropped from fourth to tenth in the international competitiveness league

Education, Education, Education?

Blair promise: 'Ask me my three main priorities for Government and I tell you: education, education, education…There should be zero tolerance of failure in Britain's schools' (Tony Blair, Speech to the Labour Party Conference speech, 1 October 1996).

Brown promise: 'Britain to be a world skills superpower by raising standards in our schools, colleges and universities' (Daily Record, 10 October 1996).

What's happened:

·        Almost half of all 11 year-olds cannot read, write and add up properly when they leave primary school;

·        Fewer than half of school leavers obtain five or more good GCSEs (grades A*-C) including English and Maths

·        Over one in eight secondary schools has been judged 'inadequate'

·        And over one third of adults in the UK do not have a basic school-leaving qualification.

Welfare Reform?

Blair promise: 'By the end of a 5 year term of a Labour Government: I vow that we will have reduced the proportion [of national income] we spend on the welfare bills of social failure… This is my covenant with the British people. Judge me upon it. The buck stops with me' (Tony Blair, Speech to Labour Party Conference, 1 October 1996).

Blair promise: 'the reform of welfare to make it, as it should be, a platform of opportunity, not a recipe for dependency' (Tony Blair, Renewal, Vol.3, No.4, 4 October 1995).

Brown promise: 'The New Deal is the most ambitious programme of employment opportunities our country has seen' (Hansard, 17 March 1998, Col. 1102).

What's happened:

·        There are two million economically inactive people who want to work;

·        Nearly half of young job- seekers who leave the New Deal for Young People end up back on benefits within a year;

·        And almost 2.7 million people of working age are claiming incapacity benefits - nearly three times more than the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance

Social Justice?

Blair promise: '[We are] the Party of compassion; of social justice; of the struggle against poverty and inequality (Speech to Labour Party Conference, 30 September 1997).

Brown promise: 'We will reverse the gap between rich and poor that has affected our society' (BBC Radio 4, Today, 26 September 1993).

What's happened:

·        According to a recent report by UNICEF, the UK is rated the lowest out of 21 OECD countries for child well-being;

·        The UK has a higher proportion of children living in workless households than any other EU country;
Child poverty rose last year by 100,000 before housing costs ( the Government's preferred measure) and 200,000 after housing costs;

·        The incomes of the poorest 20 per cent of households fell in real terms last year, from £182 a week (before housing costs) to £181, while the real incomes of the top 20 per cent went up from £722 a week to £733.