This week, Labour and Jeremy Corbyn have made some very strong claims. Ridiculous claims. Free full-fibre broadband for everyone; free dental check-ups. It all sounds amazing! Don’t get me wrong, these are definitely positive declarations of intent, but let’s just stop and think for a minute.
BBC News states: “according to a report from regulator Ofcom earlier this year, only 7% of the UK has access to full-fibre broadband.” 7%. That comes to (based on the 2018 statistic for UK population of 66.44 million people) just 4.7 million people! To extend this coverage to all represents over a 1400% increase! Looking solely at households, it’s hardly better reading – Ofcom reported that only 8% of British households had full-fibre broadband as of September 2019. And you also have to remember the exacts of their pledge: not just full-fibre broadband for everyone, but free full-fibre broadband for everyone. So where are they going to get the money for that then!? Well, in a surprising yet very topical twist, John McDonnell has said it is going to come from the party’s Green Transformation Fund – in other words, they are planning on installing this broadband at the environment’s cost. I think the Extinction Rebellion would have something to say on that…
Furthermore, they said that the new entity they would have running the country’s broadband – rather uninventively coined “British Broadband”! – would get its funding from a new tax on companies such as Google and Apple. What they fail to mention is that the key issue with taxing these companies more is that they will simply reduce the size of their UK operations to move elsewhere; somewhere with more lax tax. To compound this, BT themselves dispute Labour’s estimation – saying that they believe the plan would cost around double the £20 billion Labour have quoted. The Tories (perhaps not to be trusted with what they say either – see Callum Williams’ article on alleged corruption!) called it a “crackpot scheme” and say it would be more like £83 billion to implement.
Then we get onto another pledge – free dental check-ups for all! Another great idea, were it viable! Yes, there is slightly more substance towards this pledge, as theoretically this should increase the ability to prevent more serious dental issues, which prove more expensive in the long run. So financially, the numbers make sense. But then you have the issue of too much demand for the current active dentists to deal with, with the British Dental Association’ research suggesting that “three-quarters of NHS dental surgeries have vacancies they struggle to fill.” No dentists = no check ups – free or not!
So there you have it. Idealistic ideas – fantasy to implement – which would be welcomed by all but simply aren’t realistic. It would simply bring more debt and chaos to the system. That is why Corbyn is unelectable.