Remove video demands thinktank boss


Published: Wednesday 21st January 2015 by The News Editor

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The head of a respected independent economic thinktank has called on Conservatives to a withdraw a campaign video carrying selective quotes from him as part of an attack on Labour.

The 39-second video – posted on the Tories’ YouTube channel under the headline “Higher Taxes, More Borrowing – Don’t Risk it Under Labour” – features a recording of Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson warning: “Borrowing would be higher under a Labour government, the debt would be higher – more risk with the public finances.”

But Mr Johnson said the quotes were taken from a broader radio interview, in which he said that the two major parties were offering starkly differing economic plans, but made clear that he was not making any judgment on which was better.

The IFS chief acknowledged that he found the film “quite funny”, but insisted: “I would like it removed.”

Mr Johnson told Radio 4’s World at One that the Conservatives did not seek permission to feature him in their video.

“I was a bit surprised. I certainly wasn’t given any warning of it, and of course the clips were small clips from a much broader and obviously much more balanced interview that I gave,” he said.

“I think it is a shame when particular words are taken in a particular context. What I was saying in this interview was that actually I think this is rather a good position that we are in politically because we’ve got two very different economic prospectuses from the two main parties.

“Under the Conservatives, what you have is significant spending cuts which would result in a lower deficit and a faster-falling debt. Under Labour, you would have less in the way of spending cuts, but a bigger deficit at the end of the Parliament.

“They’ve been pretty clear about that. Those are very clear choices. It’s not clear that one is economically better than the other, but it does put a real choice in front of the electorate.”

Launched in 1969 with the aim of informing public debate on economics, the IFS is staunchly independent and has never aligned itself with any political party. Its reports are seized upon by the media and politicians looking for an expert and non-partisan analysis of the implications of various economic policies.

Meanwhile, Labour launched its own party political broadcast on national TV, in which 91-year-old war veteran Harry Leslie Smith recalled the difficulties of life before the NHS, saying: “I don’t want my past to become Britain’s future. We must make sure the NHS will continue for you, your children and hopefully your grandchildren.”

Published: Wednesday 21st January 2015 by The News Editor

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