I went up to Cambridge last night to participate in the BBC One show Our Economy.

The show gathered a panel of 20 experts, business men and women, entrepreneurs, academics and politicians from the region to talk about the economic outlook, and what we were each doing to help the economy.

I was proud to be there representing Harlow, particularly as it has been revealed that Harlow is the most economically prosperous town in the UK, fighting back with the strongest business growth in the UK.

Its great that Harlow is managing to produce so many new businesses, which is partly down to our great location; nestled between London and Cambridge next to two motorways and with the airport just up the road. But it is also due to the Council’s business friendly attitude, and our desire to work with the business community.

It’s really pleasing to see a Council Policy that I insisted on bearing fruit.

Cllr Jean Clark, the Deputy Leader of Harlow Labour Party has written a letter to the Harlow Star, you can catch their E-Edition here, in which she is trying to blame the Conservative Government for making cuts, denying the deficit, blaming the Global Economy and of course trying to show the last Labour Government as not guilty of messing up Britain’s Economy.

She certainly doesn’t like Harlow’s Conservative MP Rob Halfon, who rightly talked before Christmas of the “sad legacy of the last Labour Government”.

Come off it Jean, who do you think you are kidding? Or are you just slavishly following the lead of Mr Milliband and his Shadow Chancellor in their confused economics?

Lets look at some stone cold facts (helpfully provided by those superb chaps and chappeses at CCHQ) Jean and see what we think….

Going into the financial crisis Britain had one of the largest structural deficits in the developed world. Tony Blair, Alistair Darling and Mervyn King have all argued that Labour’s spending was “extraordinary”, not “sustainable” and that from 2005 Labour failed to deal with the deficit.

  • Institute for Fiscal Studies: ‘By the eve of the financial crisis, [fiscal drift under Labour] had left the UK with one of the largest structural budget deficits in the developed world… the vast majority of other OECD countries did more to strengthen their public finances during Labour’s first eleven years in office than Labour did in the UK’ (IFS, The Public Finances: 1997-2000, 19 April 2010, p. 2 and p. 10).
  • The Governor of the Bank of England: ‘We are confronted with a situation where the scale of deficits is truly extraordinary. This reflects…the fact that we came into this crisis with fiscal policy on a path that wasn’t sustainable and a correction was needed’ (Mervyn King, Guardian, 24 June 2009).
  • Tony Blair: ‘We should also accept that from 2005 onwards Labour was insufficiently vigorous in limiting or eliminating the potential structural deficit. The failure to embrace the Fundamental Savings Review of 2005-6 was, in retrospect, a much bigger error than I ever thought at the time’ (Tony Blair, A Journey, pp 681-2).
  • Alistair Darling. [by the autumn of 2007]‘We had reached the limits of what I thought we should be spending’ (Alistair Darling, The Times, 19 November 2010).

But of course when we hit the financial crisis, Labour did not take their foot off the accelerator – nope – they kept spending, whilst they watched tax revenues fall…

  • The fall in tax revenues made up less than a quarter of the deficit. Official figures show that public sector current tax receipts fell by 2.5 per cent in 2009-10 on 2008-9. But Total Managed Expenditure grew by 7.4 per cent in the same year. (HMT, Public Finances Databank, 7 December 2010, Table C1 and Table B1).
  • Net taxes and NICs peaked in 2007-8 at £516 billion, and fell to a low of £477.8 billion in 2009-10 – ie a drop of £38 billion. This is less than a quarter of the deficit which reached £156 billion in 2009-10 (HM Treasury, Public Finances Databank, Tables C1 and Key)

But of course this is what they did throughout their term of Government, doubling the National Debt!!!

  • Labour doubled the National debt. In May 1997, public sector net debt was £351 billion. By April 2010 it had more than doubled to £893 billion (ONS, Time Series RUTN, 16 September 2010).

 In fact, everyone except the Labour Party agree that the deficit reduction programme of the Government is right, including the IMF, OECD and World Bank:

  • IMF: ‘The government’s strong and credible multi-year fiscal deficit reduction plan is essential to ensure debt sustainability. The plan greatly reduces the risk of a costly loss of confidence in public finances and supports a balanced recovery… With record-high budget deficits, credible fiscal tightening is essential to preserve confidence in debt sustainability’ (IMF, United Kingdom – Article IV Concluding Statement, 27 September 2010).
  • OECD: ‘The comprehensive budget announced by the government on 22 June was courageous and appropriate. It was an essential starting point. It signals the commitment to provide the necessary degree of fiscal consolidation over the coming years to bring public finances to a sustainable path, while still supporting the recovery’ (OECD, UK: Policies for a Sustainable Recovery, 13 July 2010, p. 3).
  • The World Bank: ‘What frankly is being done in Britain is courageous and important. It’s going to have to be done elsewhere to deal with the uncertainty created by very, very, very large debt’ (Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, Sky News, 6 October 2010).

So Jean, do you really want to keep denying the deficit and complaining because its easy to criticise the Conservatives for doing what needs to be done? Or are you just trying to keep the Unions, who help fund Harlow Labour’s election campaigns happy?

Lets face it, financially the Country was up the creek. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that it needs sorting, and nor does it take a genius to know that it will be very painful to sort out. Being painful does not mean that something shouldn’t be done. though.

So Jean, how about entering real politics? Instead of spinning a line, look at the facts? Instead of sitting on your hands and criticising, like Labour have done for the past couple of years in Harlow, why don’t the group that you are Deputy Leader of actually put forward a budget that balances (and doesn’t just draw down from the reserves that you plundered for years!) and tell the people of Harlow where you will find the money from?

Sadly I don’t think we will see a comprehensive budget proposal from Harlow Labour, but I am sure we will still see the criticism…..

My thanks to the team at ConHomefor bringing us CCHQ’s marvelous rebuttal of Labours frankly ridiculous economic analysis!

I am a big supporter of Children in Need. I like the fact that it’s a charity that works soley in the UK and helps kids. As a Father I now understand that there is nothing more important than a child.

However I just screamed at the TV in anger when watching the “best of” Children in Need programme. Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were racing karts round a track to help raise money for the charity. How dare these two men act so hypocritically!

Neither of these “stars” are UK residents and both have taken their sizeable incomes offshore to avoid paying UK tax, Lewis to Switzerland and Jenson to Monaco! When Lewis made the decision to go off shore, Christian Aid criticisedhim specifically along with other celebrities, claiming that millions of children’s lives could be made better with the tax that they were avoiding!

Now they both have the gall to appear on TV asking hard pressed tax payers to dig deep, whilst avoiding paying even a basic tax, a portion of which goes towards the health and education services that make up the backbone of the care packages that most of the Children featured in the programme receive.

They are all powerful superstars who earn Millions, yet don’t care enough about their country to support the tax system. Cheek!

My MP Rob Halfon has spotted another American Advert, from the Tea party this time, to complement the Sarah Palin vid I spotted last week.

I think we have so much to learn from American Politics, who are I think 20 or so years ahead of us here in the UK in terms of campaigning and incredibly more sophisticated than us in terms of their Internet Campaigning.

I look forward to a time where Campaign Ads here are the norm, rather than the exception.

I was privileged to go to the Houses of Parliament today, for a meeting in one of the committee rooms of the House of Lords to launch the LEP (Local Economic Partnership) for Essex and Kent.

It is always an amazing experience to walk the halls of our Mother of Parliaments, knowing that for hundreds of years, many great MP’s and Lords have walked them before you. It gave me a special feeling in my tummy…

The launch of the Essex/Kent/East Sussex LEP was a very good event, attended by many Council Leaders and Business Leaders (I sat next to the Chairman of Ford UK) who all wanted to work together.

I have strong hopes for the LEP and the M11 sub group received a nice mention from Peter Martin, the leader of Essex County Council.