Jeremy Corbyn and his rivals are misleading our voters with their ‘free’ election bribes – Bill Carmichael

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THERE comes a point in every general election when politicians begin to promise all kinds of “free” stuff for voters. The more desperate they are for your votes, the more “free” stuff they will offer.

Call me an old cynic but I have experienced many general elections and I cannot recall a single occasion when any of this “free” stuff ever actually materialised.

Bill Carmichael questions whether Jeremy Corbyn's spending plans add up.

Bill Carmichael questions whether Jeremy Corbyn's spending plans add up.

And even if it did it would not be in any sense “free”, because someone, somewhere will be paying for it, usually the poor taxpayer – that is you!

“Free” stuff is a mythical beast that no one has ever seen because it doesn’t exist in reality, but that hasn’t stopped all the political parties in the current campaign offering oodles of “free” stuff.

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They are all guilty of this preposterous deception – from the Conservatives, to Labour, the Lib Dems, Greens and even the Brexit Party. Each of them are desperately trying to outdo one another by promising massive increases in spending on health, education, the police, housing, the environment and virtually everything else.

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And none of this will cost you a single penny apparently. Just a quick shake of the magic money tree and all our problems will be over. Seriously if you believe that you sadly deserve everything that’s coming to you. Probably the most eye-catching pledge so far is Labour’s threat to part nationalise BT in order to provide “free” – there’s that word again – high-speed broadband to every household in the land.

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Labour is stuffed full of extremist fanatics who have driven Jewish MPs out of their party with a campaign of vile bullying. Do you really want these bigots controlling your access to the internet? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Do you trust Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell with the economy?

Do you trust Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell with the economy?

Labour say broadband should be “free” to all because it is an essential of modern life. OK, but food is another essential. Why not nationalise Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury and force them to provide “free” food for everyone?

I think we all know where this kind of confiscatory socialism invariably ends up because it has happened every single time it has been tried. Economic collapse, vicious political repression, empty shelves in the shops and starving families eating their pets to survive. Just ask the people in the socialist paradise that is Venezuela.

Labour say ordinary workers won’t need to pay any extra tax for this insane spending spree because the filthy rich and the big corporations will be forced to cough up instead.

OK, let’s set aside for a moment the fact that the rich already pay a hugely disproportionate share of income taxes. The top five per cent of earners pay around 50 per cent of all income taxes collected by the Treasury. Our public services, including the NHS, would collapse in short order without their contribution.

But these rich fat cats are also the most mobile population on the planet – they can shift their assets to a friendlier tax jurisdiction at the click of a mouse.

I suppose there is a vanishingly small chance they will stay put under a Labour government and meekly hand over all their money to John McDonnell. But if they do decide to do the rational thing and scarper, taking all their tax payments with them, who do you think will be required to make up the massive shortfall in government revenues? If you want an answer to that question I suggest you take a look in a mirror.

Labour is the most extreme in its spending pledges, but all the parties are irresponsible to some degree. The simple truth is that public finances have never fully recovered from the economic collapse of 2008.

We still have not eliminated the deficit, despite repeated promises from the Conservatives. That means we are still spending more than we earn and borrowing to make up the difference, adding every day to the total debt. In effect stealing money from our own grandchildren.

When – not if – interest rates rise from their current historic lows, we could be in big trouble. Oh for an honest political party that bluntly told voters the truth – if you want better public services you are going to have to pay more for them.

Meanwhile, later today the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP gather in Sheffield for a special Question Time debate. My advice – if they promise a gold-plated Lamborghini for every voter, take along a bucket-full of salt because it isn’t going to happen.