As Richard Murphy has written on his blog, Tax Research UK, the "common-sense" belief that Labour governments spend and borrow too much is just flat-out wrong - and he has the figures to prove it:
"Labour do walk the talk: they repay national debt much more often in absolute and percentage terms than the Conservatives. In fact, one in four Labour years in government saw debt repaid. That was true in less than one in ten Conservative years.
Labour not only repaid more often, it turns out: it also repaid much more in total and on average (not shown) during each year when repayment was made.
So what do we learn? Two essential things, I suggest.
First, Labour invariably borrows less than the Conservatives. The data always shows that.
And second, Labour has always repaid debt more often than the Conservatives, and has always repaid more debt, on average.
The trend does not vary however you do the data.
Or, to put it another way, the Conservatives are the party of high UK borrowing and low debt repayment contrary to all popular belief..."
And just in case anyone still isn't convinced that they have been duped, check out this story from 2007 where Osborne committed to spending the same as the Brown government - strange how everyone has forgotten this!
The basic data on borrowing came from the House of Commons Library.
GDP data from 1955 came from the 2015 budget GDP deflators. The 2015-16 estimate came from the July 2015 budget report. The data for the period period to 1955 came from the Bank of England. Data was checked to the Treasury Pocket Data Book: as is usual there are minor differences, but too small to worry about.
GDP deflator data came from similar sources but was estimated for 2015-16 based on 2014-15 and for the period prior to 1955 based on data for 1955 – 65. It is unlikely that this estimate materially changes any finding.
Governments in office for a year were determined in election years by the number of days each had in office: the party with the greater number being attributed the whole year.