“Absolute Garbage” – Starmer Furious Over Misleading Tory Tax Claims in First Debate

In the first real dust up of the campaign, Labour has demanded an apology from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for what they say are misleading claims about a £2,000 tax increase in a contentious first TV debate. Here’s the full story.

Fiery and Bad-Tempered

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In a fiery and often bad-tempered series of exchanges during the first televised election campaign debate, Labour leader Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak locked horns more on taxes than any other. 

Merciless Attacks

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The debate, broadcast by ITV before a live studio audience in Salford, saw both leaders mercilessly attack each other’s records and plans for taxation and what that might mean for voters. 

“Why Has He Called It Now?”

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Starmer attacked Sunak for being dishonest with the electorate, stating, “If he thinks things are going to get better towards the second half of this year, why has he called it [the election] now?”

“That’s What He’s Not Telling You”

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He continued, “He’s called it now because he knows, and I’ll ask him this, he knows inflation is going to go back up, he knows energy prices are going to go back up in the autumn. That’s what he’s not telling you.”

£2,000 Tax Increase

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Sunak then repeatedly retorted that Labour’s policies would lead to a £2,000 tax increase for families, a figure that he said no less than 12 times throughout the night. 

Treasury Claims

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This figure is clearly going to be a leading attack line for the Conservative campaign, and he claimed it had been calculated by the Treasury. 

Explaining Away

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On stage, Starmer was initially a little slow to rebut Sunak’s £2,000 tax claims and, in a rather lawyerly fashion suited to the former director of public prosecutions, attempted to explain it away. 

“Fantasy Figure”

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Starmer stated, “The Tories have put pretend policies to the Treasury to produce a fantasy figure.”

“Absolute Garbage”

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Starmer eventually disputed that the tax claims were “absolute garbage,” but by then, the damage had been done, with many right-wing papers picking up on Sunak’s £2,000 tax accusation. 

“Boris Johnson Style Liar”

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The following day, Labour were in damage control mode. The Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jonathan Ashworth took to BBC’s Today programme to label the Prime Minister a “Boris Johnson style liar.”

“Desperately Lying”

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He stated, “Rishi Sunak was exposed as desperate last night – desperately lying about Labour’s tax plans, making accusations that are categorically untrue.”

Demanding an Apology

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In the hours following the debate, Labour intensified its accusations against Sunak, with Shadow Deputy Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Darren Jones, demanding an apology. 

Unauthorised Attacks

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Jones revealed that civil servants had informed Tory ministers that their attacks on Labour were unauthorised by the Treasury. 

“Dodgy Attacks”

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Jones posted on X, formerly Twitter, “In response to my letter, civil servants confirmed they had told Tory ministers they were not allowed to say their dodgy attacks on Labour were independently done by civil servants.”

“He Lied”

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He continued, “Last night, Rishi Sunak did it anyway. He lied to the British people. He must apologise.

“Lied 12 Times”

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Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves echoed this sentiment: “Rishi Sunak lied 12 times in the debate last night about Labour’s tax plans. The truth is it’s the Conservatives who have taken the tax burden to the highest it’s been in 70 years.”

Hunt’s Document

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The Conservative claim that Labour’s policies would result in a £2,000 tax hike per family is based on a briefing document released by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. 

£38.5 Billion Gap

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This document argues that there is a £38.5 billion gap between Labour’s proposed spending and their planned tax increases. However, this figure has been widely criticised for its numerous assumptions. 

Detailed Rebuttal

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Labour responded with a detailed rebuttal, highlighting several dubious assumptions made by the Tories, such as overestimating costs for school breakfast clubs and new GP hubs.

“Very Misleading”

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Labour is not the only one to complain about Sunak’s characterisation of tax costs in the debate, with Hannah White of the Institute for Government think tank posting on X, “Very misleading for Rishi Sunak to repeatedly claim that calculations of the cost of Labour policies made by Treasury officials on the basis of assumptions given to them by the Government are ‘independent’.”

Reversing Conservative Fortunes

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With Labour maintaining a substantial 20-point lead in the polls, the Conservatives are pressured to reverse their fortunes. 

Cautious Campaign

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Due to this commanding lead, Labour has been nervous about running anything more than a cautious campaign, scared of spooking the horses before crossing the electoral finish line. 

The Gloves Come Off

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However, this first debate, though it appears to have been closely matched in overnight audience polling, was the first example of the gloves truly coming off, as Labour seemed forced, for the first time, to openly object to Sunak’s tax claims. 

Commanding But Perilous Lead

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As the election draws ever closer, it remains to be seen if this latest Conservative attack line will be enough to cut into Labour’s commanding, but ultimately perilous, lead.

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The post “Absolute Garbage” – Starmer Furious Over Misleading Tory Tax Claims in First Debate first appeared on Edge Media.

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Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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