Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong


by Sunny Hundal    
10:55 am - November 15th 2011

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Late last week George Osborne claimed: “There’s no doubt that growth in Britain, jobs in Britain, have been hit by what’s going on in the eurozone.”

We have seen this line repeated numerous times, and no doubt the Tories will continue trying to push it. Yesterday, Richard Exell showed two sets of data that contradicted the Chancellor.

Now, the national media is also starting to cotton on.

Yesterday, this claim was fact-checked by Channel 4′s Cathy Newman, who concluded after looking at the date:

George Osborne’s problem is that the UK economy started to flatline well before the eurozone went into meltdown in the summer months. And unemployment also began to rise well before the likes of Italy hit trouble.

So the chancellor can’t blame our current woes on what’s going on across the Channel. However, we’ll certainly be feeling the effects of the eurozone debacle in the coming months. Then the blame game will really begin in earnest.

Yesterday, the Guardian’s Polly Curtis also asked the same question: ‘Is the UK’s slow growth and high unemployment really caused by the eurozone crisis?’

She concluded:

The government’s claim that the eurozone is behind its economic struggles is weak. Sluggish growth pre-dates the current eurozone crisis. However, there are clear signs in the export market, employers’ own predictions and consumer confidence that the crisis is now beginning to bite here in the UK.

And finally there was also a short video by Stephanie Flanders for the BBC questioning the same claim.

So that’s three outlets who have so far rejected Osborne’s claims.

Let’s hope journalists don’t carry on letting Osborne and Cameron repeat it without question.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Public impressions are largely shaped by what people hear on the broadcast news and read on front pages of the press. With several speeches by Cameron about the need to quickly sort out the festering problems of the Eurozone, many will incline to believe those problems are causing Britain’s economy to flatline – or even to go into recession.

This is the same Sunny Hiundal who was busy arguing that the recession was a global recession and therefore nothing to do wtih Gordon Brown and Labour, right?

You really are a miserable little hypocrite.

This is the same Sunny Hiundal who was busy arguing that the recession was a global recession and therefore nothing to do wtih Gordon Brown and Labour,

No you’re completely right Tyler, the 2008 recession was caused entirely by Gordon Brown. HE IS TEH EVILZ INCARNATE. Poor guy. Can’t even spell my name properly. It’s ok. *pats head*

Gordon was worth his weight in Gold…oh

“No you’re completely right Tyler, the 2008 recession was caused entirely by Gordon Brown. HE IS TEH EVILZ INCARNATE. Poor guy. Can’t even spell my name properly. It’s ok. *pats head*”

Translation: “I can’t think of a proper counter-argument, so I’m going to act all condescending, and hope everybody just assumes that this means I’m obviously right.”

>>This is the same Sunny Hiundal who was busy arguing that the recession was a global recession and therefore nothing to do wtih Gordon Brown and Labour, right?

It’s not that difficult to understand

Global Recession THEN our economy goes down the pan . Might be a link there.

No Growth in Britain THEN Euro zone problems. Can’t see the link unless it was a pre-emptive strike by Gideon to wreck our economy and then blame the Euro.

I think that both sides are right to an extent. The EZ crisis did not just start this summer, that is just when it started to lead the news every evening. The crisis has been ongoing since at least April 2010. Comparing the aggregated EZ output with the UK since the coalition took office is a bit deceptive. During that period contains a very strong German performance and they make up a large part of the EZ growth data. EZ growth excluding Germany and satellites would show a different picture.

The UK does a lot more trade with Ireland than Austria. Therefore, falling output in Ireland is going to affect the UK economy more than increasing output in Austria. That is not the whole story but it is an example why one should be wary of aggregated EZ data. For at least the last two years there has already been a two-speed EZ. The fast growing north that was generating growth through capital goods exports to emerging markets. Unfortunately UK trade was hitched to the slower growth type that was being affected by depressed output in the areas where our trade is focused.

The coalition started to affect UK output through their apocalyptic language completely unrelated to the EZ from around August 2010. They depressed expectations and can’t blame the EZ crisis, that was homegrown. Moreover, they created uncertainty in the banking sector by sending mixed signals to hold more capital, and lend more. The Vickers Independent Commission on Banking, created more regulatory uncertainty and encouraged the banking sector to run down their loan books. More capital equals lower lending and changes in capital requirements should be conducted leaning against the cycle. The VAT rise was unnecessary and countercyclical.

The likes of Ireland have been improving in recent quarters. Therefore, the coalition can’t completely blame the shambolic EZ for UK depressed output. It is a factor, but it does not explain the whole poor performance by the UK in 2011.

Right wing nutjobs always have a perfectly good reason lined up as to why their policies are manifestly failing to deliver anything to anyone except their gang of sociopathic paymasters.

Right wing nutjobs will always have a semi-plausible media-friendly excuse lined up as for why their policies are manifestly – and inevitably – failing to deliver any improvements to the lives of anyone except their gang of sociopathic paymasters.

sorry it didnt seem to register the first time so I wrote that twice. oops.

There are plenty of Eurozone countries that are doing fine, for example Germany. Perhaps because their economy is based on making things and not just shuffling money around.

George “McAvity” Osborne. When everything goes wrong suddenly he’s nowhere to be found.

13. Mark Redwood

This is the same Sunny Hiundal who was busy arguing that the recession was a global recession and therefore nothing to do wtih Gordon Brown and Labour,

Tyler’s comment is a classic strawman. It is irrelevant to sunny’s point about George blaming the Euro Zone. It’s also a classic response you can watch in the houses parliament. MP poses question to speaker, PM stands up and says that you lot were worse. which is not an answer, it’s a deflection. There is no counter argument to Tyler. It’s a pointless point – debating whether Sunny is a hyppocrite, does not help decide the vallidity of his position.

Sunny is implying that George is being intellectually dishonest. Tyler’s statement deflects us from considering whether George knows he is misrepresenting the truth.

@ 3 Sunny

Apologies for mispelling your name but I was typing on my blackberry. Still doesn’rt absolve you from making a pretty hypocritical partisan attack and when rumbled throwing one of your special playground ad hom insults out there.

If you knew any real world economics you would also know that the peak in unemployemnt tends to occur about 18 months after a country leaves recession. There’s a lag. If unemployement keeps shooting up you might have more of a point but at the moment it is almost impoosible to tell.

@ 13 Mark Redwood

Gordon brown didn’t cause the global recession, but he did leave the UK singularly badly placed to weather it, by ruNning up dfebt, running deficits, increasing spending massively leaving a strucutural deficit hard to close and increasing the size and cost of government.

You can quiblle about what started when, but Osbourne is correct. The eurozone crisis is almost certainly affecting the UK economy. Hell, its affecting the world economy. Economies don’t grow uniformally, and government legislation and interest rate changes also take quite a long time for their effects to filter through to the economy, so picking a “start date” for sub-par growth and pinning it on one factor is almost impoosible.

At the morent UK growth isn’t really out of line with europe, and the most likely drag on it is the underperdormance of financial services, which the UK heavily relies on. It is, after all, a financial crisis.

Still doesn’rt absolve you from making a pretty hypocritical partisan attack and when rumbled

you didn’t rumble me at all. I pointed to analysis by four people using solid data to make their claim. You came back with the childish ‘yeah but Gordon Brown WOZ UR DAD’ – I hardly feel ‘rumbled’. Nice try though.

16. Leon Wolfson

@14 – “At the morent UK growth isn’t really out of line with europe”

Lies. Outright lies.

Third lowest growth in the EU. 500% higher growth in unemployment…

If you’re not looking at the statistics, I’m sure you can make these things up, but facts are damning to “Plan A”.

@ sunny and Leon wolfson

I’m sitting here looking at a couple of bloomberg charts. One of european countries gdp growth and one of european unemployment rates. In neither does the uk particularly stand out

As I said though, had you actually bothered to read it, is that the data itself is lagging and unemployemnt tends to peak only about 18 months after the end of a recession as a rule of thumb. Osbourne is correct when he says the eurozone crisis is affecting UK growth – it is affecting global growth.

Its impoosible to unpick economic data and pinpoint an exact start date for something or

Whoops – I’ll finish

It’s impossible to unpick the exact start date for something out of what is non-specific data with huge numbers of dependent inputs.

But that’s not really your point is it. What you want is propaganda to try and bash your enemy. Somehow I think he’ll be ok.

The coalition haven’t been in power for long enough for most of their changes to filter through fully to the economy, and nor should we forget that austerity actually only started this year.

We could look at labours record though, when they did have an extended period of power, and from those same gdp charts oit’s easy to show the UK recession was its worst since the great depression and much worse than the rest of europe bar greece and ireland.

I’d like to know from Tyler at what point he thinks the Coalition are responsible for anything. He seems to be saying that the lousy GDP and unemployment figures are all the fault of that Gordon Brown.

But of course we now know the next rightist argument is that it’s all the fault of those Europeans and nothing to do with the great Osborne.

Btw, does anyone remember an article by Osborne just before the crash telling us how we all had to learn from the miracle in Ireland. Well, that went well…


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong http://t.co/QxVO4tx9

  2. MerseyMal

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong http://t.co/QxVO4tx9

  3. Alex Belardinelli

    RT @libcon: Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong http://t.co/X5MJ3ZAp

  4. Michael Bater

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/wJ4jaQLe via @libcon

  5. Andrew Burgess

    RT @libcon Tory attempts to blame Europe [for lack of growth in UK economy] fact-checked and found wrong http://t.co/CAUR7UiH

  6. Brian Moylan

    RT @libcon: #Tory attempts to blame #Europe fact-checked and found #wrong http://t.co/wVQneRiY #ukpolitics

  7. Ian Ridley

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong http://t.co/QxVO4tx9

  8. Lambeth NUT

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong http://t.co/QxVO4tx9

  9. Paul Trembath

    Conservative attempts to blame Euro for their troubles fact-checked by three different journalists, and found v weak http://t.co/YbeOJfk5

  10. Tom Wall

    Conservative attempts to blame Euro for their troubles fact-checked by three different journalists, and found v weak http://t.co/YbeOJfk5

  11. Paul Perrin

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/FY56eHA9 << #Euro not hit yet? Worse to come?

  12. KennyB

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/FY56eHA9 << #Euro not hit yet? Worse to come?

  13. Molly

    Conservative attempts to blame Euro for their troubles fact-checked by three different journalists, and found v weak http://t.co/YbeOJfk5

  14. Kayleigh Anne

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong: http://t.co/aX4JXWnX #sameoldtories

  15. dolly daydream

    RT @sunny_hundal: Cons attempts to blame Euro for their troubles fact-checked by 3 differnt journalists, & found v weak http://t.co/OzrsgYmR

  16. Richard Exell

    Conservative attempts to blame Euro for their troubles fact-checked by three different journalists, and found v weak http://t.co/YbeOJfk5

  17. Actual Europe

    Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong … http://t.co/O0OFr7KG #eu #europe

  18. Megan Radclyffe

    "@libcon: Tory attempts to blame Europe fact-checked and found wrong http://t.co/CHV2slhz&quot; Ah-ha! :P

  19. Left Foot Forward

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging

  20. FromTheSham

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging

  21. Colin Smith

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging

  22. Kat Friel

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging

  23. Richard Exell

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging

  24. Bearded Socialist

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging

  25. Rosie Denham

    RT @leftfootfwd: @sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/TK9BdZBl

  26. Nicola Smith

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging

  27. Hitchin England

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging

  28. Andrew Johnston

    .@sunny_hundal rounds up FOUR debunks of the 'unemployment is cos of Eurozone' myth on @libcon: http://t.co/QPZE2IYp #evidencebasedblogging





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