Diane Abbott struggled through an interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari this morning as she attempted to explain how much Labour’s policy of recruiting 10,000 more police officers would cost.
“If we recruit the 10,000 policemen and woman over a four year period we believe it will be about £300,000,” the shadow home secretary said.
But Ferrari questioned the figure. “£300,000 for 10,000 police officers? What are you paying them?” he asked.
If the extra police were funded with £300,000 a year it would leave each new officer with a salary of just £30 a year.
Abbott, who can be heard shuffling paper as she searched for the right figures, corrected herself.
“No. I mean. Sorry. They will cost. It will cost. About £80m. We get to that figure because we anticipate recruiting 25,000 police officers year at least, over a period of four years,” she explained. “We’re looking at what average police wages are generally, but also specifically police wages in London.”
But Ferrari told Abbott the figures she had given did not appear to make sense. “I don’t understand. If you divide £80m by 10,000 you get £8,000. Is that what you are going to pay these police men and women?” he said. “Has this been thought through?”
The shadow home secretary insisted: “Of course it has been thought through.”
Asked about the interview, Jeremy Corbyn said he was “not embarrassed in the slightest”.
Under Labour’s plan, the extra police officers would be funded by reversing Conservative cuts to capital gains tax (CGT).
The party said going ahead with the cut to the higher rate of CGT from 28% to 20% and basic rate from 18% to 10% announced in last year’s Budget would cost public services more than £2.7bn over five years.
Although Abbott struggled in the interview to explain how much money would be diverted to the police, Labour has said it will cost £300m per year by 2021/22.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Abbott had “laid bare the chaos that Britain would face if Jeremy Corbyn is voted into Downing Street.
“One of Corbyn’s closest allies has clearly shown that Labour’s sums don’t add up, they would weaken our defences, and their nonsensical promises aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.
“Jeremy Corbyn and his coalition of chaos pose a grave risk to our economy and our national security. We would all pay the price if he ends up in Number 10 propped up by the Lib Dems, Greens and SNP.”
The Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Brian Paddick said Labour’s policy “cannot be trusted”.
“They have already committed to spending the revenue raised from reversing tory cuts to the Capital Gains Tax many times over, maybe they have found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” he said.
Diane Abbott struggles to explain policy on LBC
Nick Ferrari: “Where will the money come from Diane Abbott, good morning?”
Diane Abbott: “The money will come from reversing some of the tax cuts to the rich that the Tories have pushed through and the tax cut we specificity identified to to pay for 10,000 is the cut in capital gains tax.”
Ferrari: “How much 10,000 police officers cost?”
Abbott: “If we recruit the 10,000 policemen and women over a four-year period, we believe it will be about £300,000.”
Ferrari: “£300,000 for 10,000 police officers? What are you paying them? How much will they cost?”
Abbott: “No. I mean. Sorry. They will cost. It will cost. About £80m. We get to that figure because we anticipate recruiting 25,000 police officers year at least, over a period of four years. We’re looking at what average police wages are generally, but also specifically police wages in London.”