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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Labour's maths problem

Not everybody can be good at sums, but when  launching a policy as the national spokesperson for the supposedly main opposition party it is expected that you know what you are talking about. Alas, the Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott failed that first test yesterday.

As the Independent reports, Abbott put in a stumbling radio performance in which she struggled to explain how a pledge to hire 10,000 extra police officers would be funded.

She tripped up when asked by LBC host Nick Ferrari how much the key law and order pledge would cost. She initially suggested the bill would be just £300,000, before repeatedly correcting herself:

Diane Abbott gave several estimates of how much the new officers would cost ranging from £300,000 to £80 million.

She also made several estimates for the number of officers Labour would recruit in each year, ranging from 25,000 to 250,000.

Stumbling through an awkward exchange on LBC radio she said: "Well, if we recruit the 10,000 police men and women over a four-year period, we believe it will be about £300,000."

Presenter Nick Ferrari replied: "£300,000 for 10,000 police officers? How much are you paying them?"

Ms Abbott replied: "No, I mean, sorry, they will cost, it will cost about, about £80 million."

"About £80 million? How do you get to that figure?" he said.

Ms Abbott answered: "We get to that figure because we anticipate recruiting 25,000 extra police officers a year at least over a period of four years.

Eventually, Abbott appeared to find the right page in her briefing notes, and gave the full costing for the policy at £298m a year by the end of the next parliament.

I heard an earlier interview on Radio Wales in which she refused to accept that there would be a full year cost after the policy had been rolled out. Not only has Labour already pledged to spend the proceeds of reversing the cuts to capital gains tax but the corrected sums don't add up either.
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