Is Lord Young’s gaffe worse than the Liam Byrne letter?

Is Lord Young’s gaffe worse than the Liam Byrne letter?

Sky News

Will it be chucked back at the Tories for years to come?

What a 24 hours it’s been for top Tory advisor and former cabinet minister, Lord Young. Yesterday he was waking up to the coverage of the Spectator “Parliamentarian of the Year Awards” when he pulled off the honour of being the “Peer of the Year”.

This morning he’s in the doghouse and after having to eat humble pie following his comments to the Telegraph that the majority of British people have “never had it so good” – a phrase reminiscent of that associated with ex-Tory PM, Harold Macmillan, more than half a century ago.

” For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started…Most people with a mortgage who were paying a lot of money each month, suddenly started paying very little each month. That could make three, four, five, six hundred pounds a month difference, free of tax. That is why the retail sales have kept very good all the way through…

..If you actually look at the cuts after four years we will be back with Government spend(ing) the same as it was in ’07. Now, I don’t remember in ’07 being short of money or the Government being short of money..So, you know, I have a feeling and a hope that when this goes through, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.”

What the 78 year old peer is saying, of course is true. If you are in a job and have a mortgage then the chances are that you are better off compared with 2007. What he didn’t say was that those funding the cheaper mortgages, those who seek to live off the investment income from their savings, have seen a reduction in their standard of living.

The biggest problem is that fairly or unfairly it can be portrayed as a callous attitude of the blue team to those affected by the recession. Rest assured – Labour will seize the opportunity in spite of Young’s apology.

I think that this is probably worse than the last mega-gaffe – the letter written to his successor by Labour’s Treasury Secretary, Liam Byrne, saying he was sorry “that the money had run out“. Both were/are potent because they chimed with perceptions of their parties. Liam Byrne’s good natured little joke will be remembered as will Lord Young’s comments.

Another political day starts.

Mike Smithson

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