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FactCheck is on the case very quickly about Ruth Kelly’s promised £280m worth of ‘new money’ for school meals. Which was very kind of her, and somewhat convenient with Mr Oliver on Mr Blair’s doorstep.
But the truth will out, and usually quite quickly in an election campaign, so no-one was really surprised when Mr Blair later admitted
Of course it is part of the education budget, but it is still new in the sense that this is money now specifically allocated to school meals.
So does this make it new money? Short answer – no. They’re playing that age-old game of announcing the same money again and again. They’ve announced the education budget, and now they announce a subsidiary of that, claiming that it’s new money. As far as I can see, ‘new’ money is money that has not previously been announced.
But, of course, if I announce ‘I will spend a whopping £2 on fruit today’, and then another day announce ‘I have £1 of new money to increase the apple budget’, most people would take away the message that I’m going to spend £3, which is good for the election campaign when the opposition announce that they are only going to spend £2. But, of course, we would both be spending only £2, it’s just that I’ve announced my apples budget separately from my fruits budget, and so made the whole thing look like it’s worth more than it really is.
But then, isn’t that Labour policy through-and-through?