Author Archives: David Babbs

The Independent View: An apology from 38 Degrees

On 26th March, the staff team at 38 Degrees posted an image to our Facebook page, attempting to simplify the confusing debate on pledges to fund the NHS. Unfortunately, we got the numbers jumbled up and drew criticism from several different political parties – including Lib Dems on this website. This is an apology and an attempt to explain where we went wrong.

Our graph compared NHS funding pledges for 2015-16 from the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour, against the additional £8bn of funding that NHS England says it needs by 2020. We ended up comparing apples and pears. Lib Dems quite reasonably complained that presenting the information in this way obscured their flagship pledge to match that £8bn target by 2020. Both Labour and Conservatives have avoided matching that pledge.

Labour supporters also complained. We showed the Labour figure on the graph as £2.5bn – based on their pledge of £2.5bn in the “time to care” fund. But Labour says this £2.5bn is additional funding – £2.5bn on top of what the government has already said it’ll spend. And it’s due to be realised much sooner than 2020 (though it seems it’s disputed exactly when). So they argued that their bar on the graph should have shown them £2.5bn higher than the Conservatives or Lib Dems. Meanwhile, some Green Party and UKIP supporters complained that we’d failed to feature their positions at all.

It’s extremely hard to compare like-for-like pledges on NHS funding, given the different timescales and assumptions on which each of the parties claims are based. It’s well nigh impossible to compare them through the medium of one, simple bar chart which conveys all the relevant information.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

38 Degrees on the Lobbying Bill: Let’s hope the House of Lords sorts it out

30 Degrees Gagging LawIt was heartening to see an increased number of Liberal Democrat MPs vote against the Lobbying Bill, or ‘gagging law’, this Wednesday. But the majority of Lib Dem MPs voted loyally in support of the government. Overall, this week parliament did nothing to dispel the perception that the gagging law is being actively driven by Lib Dems.

Why is this? Most Lib Dems tend to assume it’s a Conservative bill driven by Andrew Lansley. Amongst those closer to the party leadership, the tone is more bullish and the attitude towards the bill’s critics is actively hostile. Those that fall between the two camps say that the bill is well-intentioned but has unintended consequences which need fixing.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

The Independent View: Rhetoric is not enough on tax dodging

The VAT rise will mean tighter purse strings for everyone, with the poorest being hardest hit. But there is an alternative which some sections of the media and certain politicians seem reluctant to talk about, let alone act on.

The £120bn tax gap is more than the NHS budget and over three times the budget for education. It dwarfs the £13bn brought in by the VAT increase. At a time when George Osborne is telling the British public that we’re all in this together, 38 Degrees members are calling on him to do more to make sure everyone plays by the …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Tagged , , and | 29 Comments
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