Gordon Brown Peter Mandelson

If someone crashed your car, would you give him back the keys and take the risk on it happening again?

It is not as if our boy racers have been on a speed awareness course or passed an advanced driving test. No, a bit like a certain former Cabinet minister we can think of, our men with the string-backed gloves and the goggles do not want to take the speeding points. They keep on insisting there wasn’t a crash – or if there was, it was all caused by rapacious American banks and a global recession that was certainly nothing to do with them.

That, at least, is the line peddled by the Mr Toads of the Labour Party, aka as the two Eds, Miliband and Balls. Both were in the cockpit of the biggest financial crash of the last 80 years. And both are in denial about their responsibility.

They are itching to get behind the wheel again, insisting that things will be different this time. They won’t accelerate at every corner and they won’t go spinning off the track. In fact, they are accusing the men, Cameron and Osborne, who have nursed the British economy back on track of having created a new pile-up, grandly entitled the cost of living crisis.

Ed Miliband was at it again on Sunday’s Marr Show with a barmy plan for 1970s-style rent controls. His appalling driving record, which would get him and his sidekick Balls banned for life in a sane world, didn’t get a mention.

True, the public rate Cameron and Osborne over Miliband and Balls when it comes to economic competence. But at the same time, they are just about inclined to think the Labour duo would do more to boost their living standards.

The economy should be a one-way street for the Tories, guaranteeing them victory over a discredited Labour Party in the general election  next year. But, despite mounting signs of economic recovery and growth projected to hit at least 3 per cent this year, Labour’s wrecking crew stand a fair chance of being given another spin round the track.

Why is this? One reason has to be that the Conservatives have never fully communicated the scale of Labour’s economic mismanagement. And nor have they played the blame game with sufficient vigour. Too many voters are left thinking that may be it was not that awful – and in any case the bankers were as much responsible as the Balls and Miliband-inspired  last Labour government.

A new analysis privately drawn up by City economists seeks to set the record straight, highlighting in simple factual terms the scale of the Labour debacle from 1997-2010. Harold Wilson used to decry the 1951-1964 Tory governments as 13 wasted years. 1997-2010 were 13 wasteful years, wasteful on an industrial scale.

Some highlights:

  • Labour collected £5 trillion in taxes and borrowed half a trillion more.
  • Labour more than doubled the national debt to over £1 trillion.
  • Labour left the UK with the highest budget deficit in the world barring Greece and Ireland.
  • Labour increased UK public spending over 1997-2010 faster than any country on earth.
  • In 1997 Britain was ranked 22nd in the world for public spending as a percentage of national output; by 2010 it was up to sixth.
  • The annual welfare bill doubled to £186 billion at a cost of £6,400 a year for the average worker.
  • Immigration soared. Total net migration under the Conservatives from 1979 to 1997 was 265,000; under Labour is was ten times bigger – 2.5 million

But despite this spending boom (in fact because of this spending boom), things only got worse:

  • Unemployment increased by 444,000.
  • Public sector productivity fell nearly 4 per cent.
  • Value for money in the public sector fell 13 per cent (nearly 25 per cent in education).
  • 2.5 million jobs were created under Labour of which 1.9 million went to foreigners.
  • Unemployment among young people rose by 285,000.
  • One in five young people were left without a job.
  • More than five million people of working age lived in workless households.
  • Numbers in poverty rose by nearly 400,000 and numbers in severe poverty rose by nearly 800,000.

The Tory high command have their hands full with combating UKIP at present. But when the European and local elections are over, a summer campaign aimed at bringing home to the electorate the sheer scale of Labour’s demolition job and the insanity of inviting them back behind the wheel of the national economy would not go amiss.