Politicians sometimes have train – wreck interviews on live media, especially when campaigning, but in the run up to a General Election which could see her party anihilated, Labour Party home affairs spokeswoman Diane Abbot surpassed all expectations by doing three train – wreck interviews in one day.
First off, with Nick Ferrari of LBC Radio: Ferrari wanted to focus on the completely whacky election promise made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that if elected, his party would recruit 10,000 extra police officers , funding the project by reversing cuts to Capital Gains Tax made by the Conservatives:
When Ferrari questioned Labour’s figures, Diane Abbott struggling to explain how the party would fund the policy, started to bluster as she does whenever a question is asked that she cannot answer (Ms. Abbott does a lot of blustering).
The MP initially suggested that Labour would hire 10,000 officers for £300,000, which would would have left officers earning £30 a year.
Ms Abbott’s assessment of how many new officers would be recruited in one year ranged from 25,000 to 250,000.
Nick Ferrari: So how much would 10,000 police officers cost?
Diane Abbott: Well, if we recruit the 10,000 policemen and women over a four year period, we believe it’ll be about £300,000.
Nick Ferrari: £300,000?
Diane Abbott: Sorry, … (Interrupted)
Nick Ferrari: 10,000 police officers? What are you paying them?
Diane Abbott: No, I mean, sorry … (Interrupted)
Nick Ferrari: How much will they cost.
Diane Abbott: They will cost [long pause], it will cost, erm, about, about £80m.
Nick Ferrari: The £80m is the figure we use. But I don’t understand. If you divide £80m by 10,000, you get 8000.
Diane Abbott: What … (Interrupted)
Nick Ferrari: Is that what you’re going to pay these policemen and women?
Diane Abbott: No, we’re talking about a process over 4 years.
Nick Ferrari: I don’t understand. What is he or she? £80m divided by 10,000 equals £8000. So I don’t, what are these police officers going to be paid?
Diane Abbott: We will be paying them the average … (Interrupted)
Nick Ferrari: Has this been thought through?
Diane Abbott: Of course it’s been thought through!
Nick Ferrari: Where are the figures?
Diane Abbott: The figures are that the, the additional cost in year 1 when we anticipate recruiting 250,000 policemen will be £64.3m
Nick Ferrari: 250,000 policemen?
Diane Abbott: And women.
Nick Ferrari: Right. Where…? So you’re getting more than 10,000? You’re recruiting 250,000?
Diane Abbott: No, we are recruiting 2000 and perhaps 250. And the cost … (Interrupted)
Nick Ferrari: Where did 250,000 come from?
Diane Abbott: I think you said that not me.
Nick Ferrari: I can assure you – you said that figure because I wrote it down.
Diane Abbott: What I’m saying about the cost is in year 1 obviously we’re getting ready to recruit, but in year 2 the cost will be £64.3m, in year 3 the cost will be £139.1m, year 4 the cost will be £270m, and year 5 the cost will be £298m, and that can be amply covered by reversing the cuts in capital gains tax.
NEXT UP WAS AN APPEARANCE ON SKY TV’s BREAKFAST SHOW
Before we go into a transcript of the Sky interview, a little background is needed. The Labour Party, folllowing its usual campaign style of offering massive increases in public spending, and evasively mumbling something about taxing the rich when questioned bout how the extra expenditure will be funded, has already promised to spend money raised by reversing recent cuts to Capital Gains Tax (estimated at around £2bn) in a number of different areas including increased education budgets, more funding for arts, and higher welfare benefits.
SKY TRANSCRIPT – key sections
Sarah Jane Mee: Ok, but just going back, you have said that reversing cuts to capital gains tax will help arts funding schools and welfare – will that be in the manifesto fully costed?
Diane Abbott: Our policies will be fully costed, and I have to say I think it suits the Tories not to talk about the loss of 20,000 police officers, not to talk about the rise in violent crime, but to quibble about figures. Our manifesto will be fully costed and what people want to know, they want answers to their worries about the rise in violent crime.
Sarah Jane Mee: Well [the Conservatives] are saying it’s nonsensical because you’ve already spent this money when talking about other pledges – you’ve committed to – the capital gains tax – the money you’ll get from that – that £2bn – to things like schools, welfare and the arts, so you’ve already spent that money – how can you spend it on 10,000 police officers.
Diane Abbott: We’ve not actually committed that money to anything, we’ve used these huge cuts in capital gains tax, cuts which will only help the top 5%, we’ve used them to illustrate the type of places where we could get the money to fund some of our policies, but as we roll out our manifesto, you will see that each policy pledge is specifically costed, and this is a really important issue – the rise in violent crime on our streets.
Sarah Jane Mee: But you’ve made promises – Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell (Labour economic spokesman), have all stood up and said by reversing capital gains tax, we will help tackle these problems.
Diane Abbott: You will find that we haven’t specifically allocated the money. We are rolling out our manifesto, and this morning I am specifically allocating some of the £2.7bn to funding the 10,000 policemen.
One has to wonder what she will allocate it to tomorrow morning.
NOW OVER TO HER FINAL APPEANCE OF THE DAY (we hope) ON INDEPENDENT TELEVISION’S GOOD MORNING BRITAIN.
Having appeared to suggest earlier that policies already announced by Labour may never have been intended for inclusion in the party’s manifesto, or that massive tax increases would be needed to pay for them, in her next appearance abbot tries to back pedal by saying that the party is not promising anything but merely illustrating what they might do if elected. Unkind souls might suggest that if the party does not know what policies it will implement six weekes before an election they are unfit to govern by virtue of being a bunch of clueless incompetents.
GOOD MORNING BRITAIN TRANSCRIPT (key points)
The conversation has been steered by Piers Morgan to the number of times (12 according to his notes) Labour have promised to allocate this increased Capital Gains Tax revenue to specific projects:
Diane Abbott: I know you referenced that we’ve promised it, we’ve pledged it in to other areas – we’ve not pledged it in to other areas. We’ve always used it as an illustration of the type of Tory tax cut we’re going to reverse, but now as we roll out our manifesto, we’re specifically saying how we’re going to pay for the specific items in our manifesto.
Susanna Reid: This is the difference that you’re trying to make between a pledge and an illustration, because all your critics will say in August last year arts funding, Jeremy Corbyn promised money saying that that can be funded through a reversal of reductions in capital gains tax. On schools he would deal with the teacher shortage and rising class sizes by reversing the capital gains tax cut and on welfare John McDonnell, your shadow Chancellor, said that he would use the capital gains tax reversal to reverse the cuts in universal credits. So we’ve got to discount now all of those pledges and stick with this one. Is that the case?
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