Stella Creasy is right to want value for money from the state sector, but wrong about the nature of Britain’s public debt “burden” (Report, 15 August). First, the trillion pounds of public debt she refers to is misleading, since the figure represents gross debt (net only of “bailout” funds), not debt properly netted for public assets as used by the OECD. Second, 80% of Britain’s public debt is internal; this means that public sector liabilities (debts) are largely offset by private-sector assets; ie, an increase in public debt does not “threaten” the UK as a whole. This means, too, that the £1bn-a-week debt-service payments are largely transfer payments from the public to the private sector. While I greatly admire Ms Creasy’s political goals, such goals are best served by a sound grasp of the principles of public finance.
Professor George Irvin
Soas, University of London
• You report on the enthusiasm for “radical” zero-base budgeting and a “determination among the new generation of Labour MPs for the party not to win the next election off the back of the failure of coalition economic policy”. The neo-Blairite young Turks may get their wish and Labour may not win the next election if Labour politicians don’t do more in the here and now to help to resist the attacks upon working people from the coalition – and to propose credible alternatives to repair the damage being done to our society. The laudable commitment of the Olympic volunteers can be no substitute for proper resourcing of vital public services.
Branch secretary, Lambeth Unison
• Stella Creasy champions a zero-budget spending review as the “progressive agenda” for Labour on the grounds that “the poorest people in our country pay the most tax”. Surely the truly progressive agenda would be to change the tax system so the poorest people didn’t pay the most tax.