Cameron claims

24 July 2013

Mick Whelan has welcomed Patrick Wintour’s revelation, in today’s Guardian, that the Civil Service has admitted that repeated claims by David Cameron and his Cabinet that the Conservative-led coalition is investing more in railways than at any time since the Victorian era are, in fact, ‘as inventive as the Victorian period itself’.

‘The Prime Minister and five other Cabinet ministers – George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister; Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; and two Secretaries of State for Transport, Justine Greening and Patrick McLoughlin – have all made the same boast in the last couple of years,’ said Mick.

‘And it’s simply not true. The Civil Service response to Tristram Hunt’s request for the statistical evidence reveals that it’s just political spin – lies – not historical truth. The Tories and Lib Dems thought they could get away with it because the Victorian era is so long ago no one would know. But they’ve been rumbled.

‘Now the government has moved the goalposts and cited the modernisation of British Rail in 1955. But that modernisation plan didn’t include spending on routine maintenance as the current figure used by the government for Network Rail spending does. It’s like comparing apples with pears.

‘In fact it’s all smoke and mirrors because, as usual, the government wants to hide the truth and convince us they are doing much more for Britain than they really are.’

Tristram Hunt, a well-regarded historian as well as the MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, says: ‘This is increasingly a faith-based government rather than an evidence-based one. Not content with inventing statistics, the government is intent on reinventing the past. For Danny Alexander to think he can be mentioned in the same breath as Isambard Kingdom Brunel shows an audacity of hope. Moreover, the Victorians invested consistently right across the country rather than just pump-priming the south-east.’

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