Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “Lib Dems are on the side of reasonable welfare reform, not indiscriminate welfare cuts”

Nick Clegg’s latest letter has hit my inbox, this week reflecting on his five years as party leader — and in particular how he believes the Lib Dems are “anchoring this government in the centre ground”. The example he uses is one that is likely to dominate politics in 2013: welfare reform. As Nick points out, the Tories had wanted swingeing cuts: it was the Lib Dems who at least ensured parity between public sector pay and benefits payments, both receiving a below-inflation 1% cash rise.

And if I had a Christmas wish, by the way, it would be this — please, please, please ensure Nick’s letter includes a call to action to those receiving it. It is such a wasted opportunity to send out an email every week which doesn’t offer the opportunity to the recipient to do anything if we agree with Nick: to sign a petition, re-tweet a message, share a photo on Facebook etc.

libdem ltr from nick clegg

This week it is five years since I was elected leader of our party. It feels at once like it was yesterday and a lifetime ago!

The announcement of the result and my acceptance speech all passed in something of a blur. The memory that really sticks in my mind is of the next day, when I visited a school in Simon Hughes’ constituency.

I remember one of the students asked me what I’d do if I became Prime Minister – “theoretically of course” he added, hurriedly. And he was right: I’ve only got as far as Deputy. But we have as a party absolutely defied the expectations that were set for us five years ago.

They said we would be wiped out at the election. They said we couldn’t be trusted with the economy. They said we were a fringe party only interested in fringe issues.

We’ve proven none of that is true. We’ve proven we can govern, and govern well, even at a time of upheaval and crisis for Britain. We’ve proven we’re committed to delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life.

But most of all we’ve proven that Liberal Democrats can anchor a government in the centre ground, moderating the forces of tribalism that you would expect to dominate politics at a time like this.

I believe Britain needs that moderating force more than ever. That’s the argument I made in a speech this week to mark my anniversary and set our course for the rest of this Parliament.

I won’t try and repeat the whole speech in this letter. You can read it here or watch the video.

But there’s one example I used that I want to repeat – because I think it shows exactly what I mean by “anchoring” the Government in the centre ground. It’s an example of how the very fact of coalition means positive compromise – it means reasonable ideas go ahead and extreme ones fall by the wayside.

This autumn the coalition decided to go further to reform benefits to help support people back into work and reduce the costs of the welfare state. That’s the right thing to do.

The Conservatives suggested we cut an extra £10bn from welfare, take away child benefit from families with more than two children and take away housing benefit from everyone under the age of 25.

But when our two parties sat down to agree a plan, instead the coalition stuck to the centre ground. We agreed to increase benefits by 1% a year, in line with public sector pay rises – not freeze them – delivering savings of just about a third of the proposed £10bn. And we rejected completely the more extreme reforms that had been put on the table, protecting young people and larger families from cuts.

So if you’re asked what Liberal Democrats are doing in Government – tell this story. Welfare reform is important to reduce the deficit and help get people into work. But if you want reasonable welfare reform, not indiscriminate welfare cuts, we’re the party you want on your side.

But that’s enough from me. Enjoy Christmas and don’t spend too much time talking about politics!

Best Wishes,
Nick Clegg

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http://www.libdememails.co.uk/nick

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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234 Comments

  • Yes Nick Shout your welfare reform plans as loudly as you can. Let as many people hear your message on how you have anchored your party on the right, on the side of the rich and privileged.
    The more people hear that the 1% increase in benefits affects 60% of those “in work” and not just the so called “shirkers.
    That these welfare reforms are creating a system where more and more families and children are being pulled into poverty and becoming reliant on “food banks” to feed their families.

    Shout loud and be proud. The more than get to hear and see what your administration is doing, the less likely you will be returned to government

  • What is rubbish is the propaganda that is constantly pushed by the media and the government.

    A majority of the electorate are disengaged with politics, so they take little notice of how the “actual policies” are going to affect them.

    When politicians and the media talk about the cap 1% increase in benefits, because all they ever refer to are those that are “unemployed” many people are blind to see that these caps are directed at them also.
    Once reality starts hitting home and people start to realise that the 1% increase includes the likes of working tax credits, maternity pay e.t.c then opinions will change.

    And any party that is complacent on increasing child poverty and allowing the “big society” to step in to feed hungry families, is on the Right.

    Opinion polls are conducted on what a survey of 2000 people. People who take enough interest and are “registered” to take part in polls.
    Funny though how some people denounce opinion polls when it’s negative to their cause, but then uses them to “try” and back up their argument when it pleases them.

  • Take a single person over 25 on JSA who from April will get £71.71 a week in benefit, or £3728.92 a year

    This person is fortunate enough to live in social housing, so does not have to pay rent or council tax. From their benefit they would have to pay on average

    Gas & Electricity £1200 yearly,
    Water charges £300 yearly
    Telephone (Line Rental Only) £129.00 yearly
    TV Licence £145.50 yearly
    Total cost £17774.50

    Leaving £1954.42 a year or to put it another way £37.59 a week for
    Food
    clothing
    grooming
    travel, stationary for job searching and applying for jobs.

    How do you propose that someone can effectively take care of themselves and effectively seek employment?

    I am intrigued

    A young adult under 25, with exactly the same household expenditures, but only receives £57.13 a week from April or to put it another way £2970.76 a year

    After paying out the same
    Gas & Electricity £1200 yearly,
    Water charges £300 yearly
    Telephone (Line Rental Only) £129.00 yearly
    TV Licence £145.50 yearly
    Total cost £17774.50

    would be left with £1196.26 a year or
    £23 a week to pay for
    Food
    clothing
    grooming
    travel, stationary for job searching and applying for jobs.

    If you support these cuts to benefits, please take the trouble to show “How” you believe someone can manage this budget

  • I denounce the “wording” of how the polls were conducted, as they are always skewed.

    So I take it you are in support of the real terms cut to benefits then?

  • Tony Dawson 23rd Dec '12 - 4:29pm

    Matt, I have considerable sympathy with you arguments, however I think your sums might be a little out. Your average 25 year old will now be required to live in a bedsit (if it is available) or hostel/shared accommodation, probably with water and council tax included. If he gets out of the house enough he will not spend anything like £1200 on utilities. A lot less if he shares house, especially with mum and or dad. Although I would not recommend this, I know well someone who has lived for years with no heating or hot water (his neighbours would not guess this). TV is an unnecessary luxury, as is a phone landline. I did without either for a number of years.

    Having said all that, most young people in this country have poor money handling and survival skills. Most people who comment on these issues have no comprehension of what living for more than six months on state benefits alone is like. But then, most people on benefits have no comprehension of what life is like in countries with no state welfare provision at all. And these are the countries with whom we in the UK are now being forced to compete for the ‘living’ we used to assume was ours of right.

  • @matt – when I was a computer programmer, living solo in a flat (which appears to be the assumption behind your figures) was a luxury I could afford when I was working in the north, and also tried to, but realistically couldn’t, afford when I lived in London. Interesting that you rate it as an essential of life though, along with a landline (don’t have one myself) and a TV (have had one since early 2009 but didn’t have one for three years before that).

  • @Richard S

    I would class a telephone line as essential for the purpose of seeking employment. That is why I listed it as “line rental only” cost.
    Potential employers would expect to be able to contact you via telephone to arrange an interview, hardly any companies these days use “regular” mail to arrange Interviews as it is A) to costly and B) not quick enough

    I would say a television is a basic necessity, Would you seriously want to deny this to anyone in this day and age? poor and vulnerable people do not exactly have many luxuries in life (despite what the mail) would like us to believe.

  • And for simplistic purposes I used a Single person living in Social Housing, hence the reason the costs of rent and council tax could be excluded from costs.

  • I agree with Matt.

    What people also do not take into account.Is washing,shampoo,soap,soap powder for clothes.
    A launderette if you have no washing machine.Money for repairs or replacement of things like washing machines etc.
    Some people may well manage without a TV,but those who are socially isolated,and a lot of people are.TV can be a companion of sorts.Something to watch and listen to beside the clock and four walls
    .
    You want people to be responsible,yet not give them enough to save for a rainy day.
    We all hear anecdotal evidence of scroungers,but most are not.In fact a lot of people on benefits are lonely,isolated and depressed.

    IDS WP is failing,it costs more to implement and is less effective at getting people Jobs,than leaving them to it.But hey,it benefits some private companies.Like A4e etc.

  • @Tony Dawson

    To keep the argument simplistic, I have used a single person who is currently living in a 1 bedroom council flat. That way the argument can be formatted to exclude the costs of rent and council tax. If we start talking about people living in “shared housing” or “private renting” then the argument gets more complicated as we then start going into LHA and Housing benefits etc.
    For the sake of this argument, I wanted to keep it simple talking about a single person, living in a 1 bedroom council flat, because after all there hundreds of thousands of these kind of people living up and down the country.
    {Just for clarity} I do not fall into this category.

    I think the values I have included for the costs of energy is a very fair assessment, Please remember, the people we are talking about tend to be stuck on pre-payment meters at much higher costs to those who are on billed tariffs. Most people on welfare can not change energy suppliers to “billed” tariffs as they would fail the credit check.

    As I stated previously, I believe that access to a landline telephone is essential in seeking employment.

    @Pete B

    Exactly right, I totally agree. I am still waiting for someone like Simon Shaw to explain how somebody could budget £37.59 a week to meet the costs of food, clothing, grooming, washing etc, all the things that you mention.

  • Tony Dawson 23rd Dec '12 - 6:01pm

    @matt:

    “I would class a telephone line as essential for the purpose of seeking employment. ”

    A second hand Nokia pay as you go mobile costs a few quid and has virtually no run-on costs.

    “I would say a television is a basic necessity”

    Some people say the same about lipstick. I can assure you that I have survived many years without either.

    These issues are complex. Trying to give people on benefits a ‘living income’ is not easy in a ‘free enterprise’ economy which is pretty shot and facing significantly-improving competition every single week. Fair taxation, secured by international co-operation and agreement, is absolutely necessary to even try to get there.

  • Yellow Bill 23rd Dec '12 - 6:55pm

    let there be no doubt about this. The LIb Dems agreed to the gerrymandering of many Inner London constituencies when they went along with the upcoming Housing Benefits cap. They agreed to a real terms cut to other benefits, especially those given to working people.

    There is no upside to this for Liberal Democrats. Coalition is about compromise and they have embraced this fully by compromising on their principles.

  • @Tony Dawson

    “A second hand Nokia pay as you go mobile costs a few quid and has virtually no run-on costs.”

    While that maybe true, I do believe you still have to put a “minimum” amount of monthly credit on a mobile phone to keep it active. That’s why I put a minimum amount for a house land line only as essential and I am sure that would be cheaper than any pay as you go telephone.
    It is also worth pointing out why it is essential to have access to a telephone, even when it comes to dealing with the DWP.
    Even if you go into your local job centre plus, because of a question or problem with your benefit, they are not able to help you there and then, you are given an 0845 number to call a different department and after being on hold for gods know how long, you are told that you will have to be put in line for a call back, which can be up to 4 hours, so access to a telephone is essential for dealing with the DWP.
    I would concede that access to the Internet is a luxury, however, I am not sure that the DWP actually thinks this way. The DWP are moving more and more access to online. From accessing benefits online, to dealing with your claim online, and there are even now talks of the DWP monitoring JSA claimants job searching online, If the DWP does not feel you are utilising the online job searches enough, this could be a reason to have your benefits sanctioned.
    Now when you consider that Library services are being closed up and down the country, Internet Cafe’s cost money to use, how does the DWP suppose a claimant logs in each day to job search?

    with regards to a television, Pete B makes the argument perfectly, do we really wish to deprive people from such a thing? would depriving someone access to television not segregate them from society further? How is a person supposed to keep up with current affairs if they are denied access to simple things like the news and panorama? How are we supposed to engage people more and get them to take an interest in politics and how it effects them if they are denied this knowledge, are we suggesting that this is a privilege for only those that can afford it?

  • There is a huge difference between “choosing” not to have a television and denying it to someone. I am sure that there are thousands of people across the country who can afford a TV licence, but for whatever personal reasons chose not to watch television, that does not justify regarding it as a luxury for only those that can afford it.

  • I cant help but referring back to the Liberal Democrats constitution which states

    “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”

    Isn’t having a lack knowledge “ignorance” therefore surely denying a person access to knowledge i.e television, news, current affairs, what is actually going on in the world today, would be denying a person knowledge and therefore creating ignorance purely on the basis that they can not afford this “luxury”

  • Matt, there is the radio, particularly BBC radio 4 and 5, which delivers all of that and more. I don’t think you need a TV to stay informed, so I don’t think your appeal to the Lib Dem constitution is applicable. That’s not to say that ‘circus’ is not at least as important as ‘bread’.

  • @Simon Shaw

    Before you jump in and go on the attack, might I suggest you answer my origonal question at 3:29pm and 5.58pm

    And with regards to television, I would assume you “chose” not to have one not because you could not afford it.

    Why is a television not a necessity? How could it be right to deny anyone access to this knowledge? Lets stick with the news, current affairs and politics for a moment. Now we know not all parties canvass every section of society. The Tories defiantly do not target households where they know there is no chance of winning, Liberal Democrats and other parties target selected area’s for whatever reasons, funding etc, they certainly do not leaflet “every” single household in a constituency. So by denying a person access to television, where they can be informed of current affairs and what is going on in the world, how can that be justified, Are you suggesting that these “poor” people have no right to this knowledge, that these people do not matter and make no difference in the world and therefore it is ok to encourage this ignorance? That certainly does not sound like a fair free and open society to me

  • Some contributors on here do not sound very different to the ‘Nasty party’ to be honest. It sounds as though some people would be quite happy to see the return of workhouses. We already have food banks and before long no doubt we shall see the return of Cardboard Cities. Yes, let’s take everything away from the people living on very low incomes why don’t we?

  • @John 23rd Dec ’12 – 8:30pm

    “Matt, there is the radio, particularly BBC radio 4 and 5, which delivers all of that and more.”

    I do not listen to radio, so I am not able to argue your point with 100% certainty, However, I am very doubtful that radio is as in-depth as television when it comes to broadcasting the kind of information that is available through through television

  • matt said,

    @Simon Shaw

    Before you jump in and go on the attack, might I suggest you answer my origonal question at 3:29pm and 5.58pm

    He can’t matt,that is why he is deflecting.

  • Matt, I would argue the opposite! May I suggest you check out the BBC radio archives on iplayer. There are direct equivalents on Radio 4 to the major current affairs TV programmes. (Also check out the World Service for international affairs.) Further far more time is devoted to extended reporting about particular stories (documentaries) and with a wider variety of subjects. I mean right now on Radio 4 there is a documentary about the Co-Op while all of the major TV stations are showing entertainment. And, of course, TV has nothing to compare to The Infinite Monkey Cage. :) I do have a TV and would miss it if I didn’t have it but I sincerely believe I would be no less informed.

  • @Pete B

    “He can’t matt,that is why he is deflecting” I suspect you are right. I can think of no other reason why someone who sits on the council and is also a board member of school governors {who should be extremely adept at preparing budgets} is unwilling to answer.

    @John
    I do respect your views and opinion, after all this is a democracy and what this is all about. I disagree with your view. It really comes down to the kind of society that people believe in and wish to live in. I personally prefer to live in one that does not seek to deny anyone to access of knowledge and information, a society where we are all entitled to the same coverage.
    I accept that many people are against the BBC and the licence fee and that all television should be funded through advertisement, however that is a separate argument. But as I say, I value your rights to your opinions.

  • @simon shaw

    You have not responded to any of my main points. You totally ignore the “topic” of the thread and instead chose to create “pointless” arguments like your comment on opinion polls. It totally deflects the subject debate and is really quite pointless.

    It is helpful, when engaging in a debate to answer questions put, then go on to ask them.

    My conversations with Tony and John are very easy to follow and stay on topic, they are also conducted in a polite and respectful manor, where each party can voice an opinion without the needs for insults

  • “I do have a TV and would miss it if I didn’t have it but I sincerely believe I would be no less informed.”

    That’s because you have Iplayer. But TV and Internet have been deemed ‘luxuries’ for the poor so they will not have access to Iplayer. On Sunday Morning on TV you can watch wall to wall politics and current affairs with The Marr Show, Murnaghan and the Sunday Politics one after the other, but on Radio 4 there is the Archers Omnibus.

  • Phyllis 23rd Dec ’12 – 8:59pm
    Some contributors on here do not sound very different to the ‘Nasty party’ to be honest. It sounds as though some people would be quite happy to see the return of workhouses. We already have food banks and before long no doubt we shall see the return of Cardboard Cities. Yes, let’s take everything away from the people living on very low incomes why don’t we?……………………………

    I agree! The thrust of some arguments appear to be aimed at ‘how little one really needs’. Perhaps an acceptance that Britain is not yet a ‘third world’ country and that living without heating/hot water should be regarded with more concern than just “not recommended”….

  • Simon Shaw

    I am not a member, shame really as I would have enjoyed ripping up my card!

    I am much more important than a member though – I am a voter. A loyal voter who has voted LD in every election (apart from 97) since turning 18.

    Perhaps if you listened more you wouldn’t be so at risk as being a middle-class rural based party in the future. Perhaps you may survive in that representative borough of British life, Southport but outside I hope we can be spared the holier than thou hypocrisy I have heard ove rthe last 3 years. Even the Tories have more credibility that you now

  • @ Simon Shaw

    No I am not a Libdem member, I am not a member of any political party, over the years I have voted for different parties

    May I point you in the direction of the comment policy http://www.libdemvoice.org/comment-policy
    “We welcome comments from all our readers, whether you are a Lib Dem or a supporter of other parties, or none at all.”
    This site is not exclusively for the use of Liberal Democrat members so I do not understand why you continuously try to protest that it is. My post was not abusive to the party, it was “critical” that is a major difference.

    I am well aware of how the conversation developed onto opinion polls, I have no need to read back, but as you will see it was you who deflected the conversation onto opinion polls, rather than discussing the subject title which was Nick Cleggs letter on welfare reforms.

    After your post on opinion polls you ignored the entire topic of conversation for 5 hours, then jumped back in with a post on mobile phone contracts.

    But here we are again, going totally off topic again with more irrelevance.

    I would have thought it would be much more interesting for yourself and others to stick to the topic of conversation and discuss the welfare reforms and the effect this will have on people up and down the country.

  • @bazzasc

    ” I will leave Matt to provide the evidence, that is being ignored by many of the LD apologists posting.”

    Thanks for that lol, I was kind of hoping that some people would be prepared to engage in the post at 3.29pm detailing how they think people should stretch their budgets. If they supported these real terms cuts to welfare.
    I even went to the effort of pricing some bare essential food prices on moneysupermarket , but I was waiting for others to engage with their opinions and budget opinions before posting mine.
    Unfortunately it seems like their are to many people prepared to support the cuts, however they are reluctant to divulge on where and how that money should be spent, at the same time as proving it to be adequate and enough to not only live on but b also to be in a position to be able to actively seek work.

  • Quote by Nick Clegg
    “But most of all we’ve proven that Liberal Democrats can anchor a government in the centre ground”

    Even on a LibDem blog does anyone believe this is a government of the centre ground? From my point of view – as someone who unfortunately was a long-term LibDem voter – this is the most right wing government the UK has had for many, many years.

  • Matt, I’m in favour of the BBC. We wouldn’t have BBC radio otherwise. My only argument is that TV is primarily for entertainment. It doesn’t give you access to any knowledge or information you can’t get on radio and therefore the extract about ignorance you quoted from the constitution doesn’t apply to the argument. It was only meant to be a side-bar – the debate about what the state should provide as a minimum goes beyond this.

    On the subject of the welfare reforms as a whole let me say I completely oppose any cuts in subsistence benefits and answered strongly against in the LDV survey. However, I’m pragmatic about what being in coalition with the Tories means in reality. The naivity of the parliamentary party and the leadership in particular has been exploited by the Tories, we have lost more battles than we have won. But if they don’t compromise on things like this it will mean the end of the coalition and that means a general election likely to give either the Tories or Labour a majority which I believe would be much worse for the country.

  • @ John

    I am pleased to see you say “On the subject of the welfare reforms as a whole let me say I completely oppose any cuts in subsistence benefits and answered strongly against in the LDV survey”

    However, please remember Nick Cleggs speech http://www.libdemvoice.org/nick-cleggs-speech-governing-britain-from-the-centre-ground-building-a-stronger-economy-in-a-fairer-society-32221.html#comment-233198
    Not only has Nick embraced the cuts as part of coalition, he has embraced future welfare cuts as part of future libdem policy.

  • simon shaw

    I live in the West Midlands – in a town where we now see foodbanks for the first time in living memory . The town has been one of the hardest hit in the last 5 years and is depressing to be in. We are also currently being threatened to move int o the next town in terms of Parliamentary constituency – which will possibly see a future reworking of the metropolitan boundaries. A change that may seem minor to you but is linked to the constitutional ineptitude shown by the Government and is not going down well here. Local community values being strong here.

    I was born in Birkenhead though and I can tell you from there Southport was never seen as being a typical town!

  • @ Simon Shaw

    “Although I am sad I am clearly not as sad as you (with your 15 posts on this thread now), and I have other things to do in my life rather than constantly respond to your postings.”

    I am very happy for you, If I am sad for having strong opinions and caring about what happens to this society then I will strongly take that on the chin and you can throw that punch at me as often as you like.

    So lets try and get this topic back on track shall we
    Simon will you answer my question at 23rd Dec ’12 – 3:29pm “If you support these cuts to benefits, please take the trouble to show “How” you believe someone can manage this budget”

  • Simon Shaw

    “Am I right in thinking you are not a Lib Dem member? If so I just wonder why you think you can come on Lib Dem Voice “Our place to talk”, make abusive comments about the Party and/or its leading members and NOT expect to be picked up on what you say?”

    You may be a member of the party, but your views seem to be those of a right-winged Tory. It’s people with such views – like Nick Clegg and yourself – that are driving many voters away from the Lib Dems.

  • @jedibeeftrix

    Yes the 50% rate of tax should not have been dropped
    http://fullfact.org/factchecks/labour_50p_tax_rate_millionaires_leave_country-28645

    Initially tax results fell due to many people forestalling. (around £16 billion to £18 billion of income is estimated to have been brought forward to 2009-10 to avoid the introduction of the additional rate of tax)
    Forestalling in 2009-10 exerts a significant influence on the projected profile of combined liabilities due at higher and additional rates of tax. These are projected to have fallen in 2010-11 as incomes for the richest decline from forestalled to below ‘normal levels’, but recover in later years as these special factors subside, and economic recovery is assumed to build.””

  • @Simon Shaw

    I wonder if it is not to much trouble. If you do support the real terms cuts to welfare, them how would you propose that someone budgets on the income as stated in my previous post @ 23rd Dec ’12 – 3:29pm

    And secondly as you do not consider a television as a necessity, I would ask you the following.
    You are a school Governor, so I can assume from that, that you care about the welfare and education of young people. Now I must admit, it has been a very long time since I have watched children’s television, but I would assume there are many educational children’s tv programmes that is a valuable source of information for a child.
    I also recall from my own days at school, though many years ago, in many English assignments we where required to watch certain tv shows and then write papers on them.
    Only last year I had to help my young niece with her homework, she had to produce a paper about religious arguments based on 10 articles that had appeared on the News/Tv/Internet/press . So if Schools are requiring Children to have access to televisions, surely then this is a necessity and not a luxury.

  • Matt please join us. We need people like you so that the others(you know who I mean) can go off to the Tory party where they belong.

  • BrianD

    If only they were atypical.

    I think from postings here that those from the left are in a minority. The ‘left’ I would say is quite a mild version and very much tinged with the compassion and desire for equality we have seen from the LD in the past and what attracted a large number of voters during the neo-liberal years.

    The postings on this thread have shocked me a bit as the stridency against those on benefits or the poor has been depressing to see. This is even from elected representatives of the party.

    Who do I take as being a representative of the LD when I come to cast my vote, Simon Shaw (and even Mark Pack and Stephen Tall are apologists for the Tory policies enacted by the Government) or a Matthew Huntbach?

    Jedi, I think is a Tory and that is what should be expected on this board. It should welcome views from all parts of the spectrum. It is the actual Lib Dems and what they say and what the values seem to be that will decide how I vote at the next election – me being a consistent LD voter in the past

  • can iI come back to the point as TV being a luxury.

    Even 30 years ago when I was at school (and we only have 3 channels) anyone without a tv was considered a bit ‘odd’. Now it is the heart of communication. You can argue rights, wrongs, quality but if you do suggest it is a luxury I think you are out of touch with reality. The child who cannot discuss X Factor, Strictly, football, music at school will be treated cruelly by the other kids. It was thus 30 years ago and I assume it would be worse now.

    I would also say access to the internet is becoming more and more of a necessity. Corporations and Government assume most people have a connection now and those who don’t will not have access to the services that those who have do. It is normally the poorer who will lose out because of this – a potential vicious circle!

  • @matt
    why not be honest and instead of making these assertions about 21st century UK poverty, just admit that you think 1) people not working have a right to a share of the riches created by people who are working, due to their having the same country of residence (or citizenship?) because UK benefits are way above those in most other parts of the world in real terms and also 2) the fair share based on currently levels of economic activity at the moment is to be at about the level of a young professional atarting out (or actually slightly above – in London I was unusually in my peers in being able to live solo).
    If you admit that those are the two things you believe and want the system to be based on then we can actually have an honest debate about this.

  • Jedi

    Sorry I badly explained. I think we should welcome all strains of opinion, even those we disagree with, and you never have made a secret of where your philosophy lies. I d o not agree with you but you are a good opponent!

  • Richard S 24th Dec ’12 – 9:30am

    “@matt
    why not be honest and instead of making these assertions about 21st century UK poverty, just admit that you think 1) people not working have a right to a share of the riches created by people who are working, due to their having the same country of residence (or citizenship?) because UK benefits are way above those in most other parts of the world in real terms and also 2) the fair share based on currently levels of economic activity at the moment is to be at about the level of a young professional atarting out (or actually slightly above – in London I was unusually in my peers in being able to live solo).
    If you admit that those are the two things you believe and want the system to be based on then we can actually have an honest debate about this.”

    Perhaps are Welfare Bill is high because we have high unemployment and have had,since the eighties.Plus as technology advances,more people will become unemployed.Think of all the Labour saving devices that have made the workplace less worker intensive.
    Computers are reducing office staff,and as computers become better you will be reduced to a couple of managers and IT specialists in big complexes.With phone calls still outsourced to India.
    With growing unemployment,and a growing divide,something will give.And the cost of putting that right,will be more than what you don’t want to give to those.unfortunate to be out of work.

    A good viable alternative,would be Job Share,with the wealth of that shared.Reduced hours and no overtime,with a living wage,so employers take on more staff.

  • @Richard S

    I do not regard someone who is in receipt of £71.71 a week as sharing the “riches created by people who are working, due to their having the same country of residence”

    The state has an “obligation” to support those who are out of work through unemployment or sickness. We have
    2.5 Million people unemployed,
    3 Million under employed
    19% of the uk population are registered as suffering from some form of disability, which makes seeking employment much more difficult for those.

    There are currently something like 375’000 jobs available in the labour market.

    When we have a surplus of 3 million unfilled vacancies, maybe then your argument would carry some weight. But we do not have jobs for these people, so it is the states responsibility to provide a minimum standard of living to these people and to make sure they are not suffering and living in poverty.

    Maybe you could provide us with proposals on how someone in receipt of JSA is to manage a £71 a week budget.

    @Jedi

    That is your opinion, though I disagree. Perhaps you could answer the same questions about JSA and make sure the budget allows for a person to live, but also is able to manage themselves so they are in a position to be able to actively seek employment, with the same chances of gaining a position as any other candidate going for the same job

  • The £200 Billion welfare bill is so high because
    (i) over half of the entire welfare bill is spent on people of pensionable age
    (ii) the second highest bill is spent on “working tax credits”
    (III) The third highest is spent on housing Benefit, which is claimed by those in work, out of work and those of pensionable age.
    (iv) The next highest bill is spent on Disability Benefits
    (v) JSA only makes up under 5% of the total welfare budget

    It is wrong to keep peddling this propaganda that the welfare bill has spiralled out of control because of the unemployed “shirkers” It simply is not true

  • Richard S 24th Dec ’12 – 9:30am…. UK benefits are way above those in most other parts of the world in real terms …………….

    Really? I was under the impression that the UK lags well behind most of our European neighbours or are you just using Mexico/Korea/USA, etc. as examples?

    As to who can most afford the ‘austerity package’ to deal with the current problems it is worth remembering that executive pay has trebled over the past 10 years, despite the UK’s banking crisis and double-dip recession, according to an independent think tank (the High Pay Centre). In fact, over the last financial year, the chief executives of Britain’s top companies have seen pay increase by 12% on average to 185 times the average wage.

    I consider the view that a 50% level of taxation, on those who have awarded themselves such rises, to be “punitive, and thus illegitimate”, whilst endorsing the cutting of meagre incomes of those at the bottom, to be incompatible with ‘liberal’ values .
    The constant labelling of those on welfare as ‘cheats and scroungers’ is illiberal. In addition, our representatives have shown, by example, how to ‘milk the system'; it appears that if not actually illegal (and sometimes that is not a barrier) one should claim for expenses no matter how convoluted the reasoning. The ‘all in this together’ mantra has proved to be a sad joke perpetrated on those least able to see the funny side….

  • @annie / matt – Yes, benefits in Western Europe including the UK are much higher than the other countries you list and most of the rest of the world. This is primarily because, due to a longer history of freedom and capitalism, Western Europe is richer than the other countries you list (except the USA), and the benefit systems in operation take some of these riches, and give then to other people of the same country of residence who are not currently contributing to that wealth. If that isn’t a fair description of how it works then I would be fascinated to hear alternative explanations of why real terms benefits in the UK are higher than in Eastern Europe, Thailand or India and also why real terms benefits are higher now in the UK than say 50 years ago.

    The second part of my challenge to matt asks him to state what living standard (or share of riches) relative to the rest of the population would be fair. If his list of “essentials” includes a shag-pad with no flatmates getting in the way, then not only is it not right that people who are out 10-11 hours a day working and commuting and going back to a flat-share should have to pay for it, but in my opinion it is also wrong that people who are working to have those “essentials” themselves should have to pay for someone who is not.

    @Pete B – the overall size of the welfare bill isn’t really central to my argument. I would still regard it as “fair” for there to be a proper differential between young people working and young people not working if there were 10 million, 1 million or 100 000 people unemployed. This is why I am not longer in the Lib Dems, as too many people here regard “fair” as synonymous with straight equality of income, whereas I don’t. However the fact that without even leaving my office block in Eastern Europe, I can see noticeboards advertising jobs in the UK paying minimum wage or above fills me with immense scepticism about the real level of unemployment back home among those willing to get their hands dirty.

  • Simon Shaw

    Your view seems to be very antiquity tend. It is probably the same reason why the church tried to stop the translation of the bible into English

    The tv is an integrated part of social structure and sharing of info. Do you think books are a luxury or radio? I fail to see the difference to be honest. 50 years ago but now in 2012? Also, I would go further and say the Internet is becoming more and more a n essential.

    You have not provided any logical support for your approach. Even when I was at school any kid without a tv was considered a ‘povvie’. Kids can be cruel to other kids can’t they? I would imagine it being the same now.

    The tv has been a fantastic visual aid for learning over the years. Teachers have used tv for over 30 years to help educate. It is not perfect by any means but to my mind essential

    I

  • Simon shaw

    Regarding your last post. I fail to see how pensions are not ‘welfare’. In fact pensions were one of the pillars of the foundation. Why do you think they are not?

    The housing benefit situation is serious and needs to be managed but at the moment it is a massive transfer of tax payer money to private landlords based on the poor policies followed over 30 years. I have seen nothing to suggest that this government are prepared to look at this properly. Just taking the normal approach of attacking and demonising the recipients rather than going to the heart of the problem.

    Being from affluent southport perhaps you do not see these problems. Come to Wolverhampton one day to see the effects of the attacks on the poor. Food banks in the uk in the 21st century when the richest have increased wealth by 155bn since the beginning of the crisis?

  • Simon Bamonte 24th Dec '12 - 4:47pm

    Wow. I knew this party had gladly taken up positions that have been historically held by Tories, but I had no idea how much the rot had set in. To see self-professed LibDems, members of a party whose very constitution promises to do away with the evil of poverty, actively saying those with the least should have even less is staggering. Based on these attitudes, had I not tore up my membership card after the NHS “reforms” went through, I would certainly be doing so now if this is the opinion of those who remain in the party. If we are not going to fight for the most vulnerable, the most needy, then we may as well merge with the Tories right now. Reading between the lines, several posters almost seem to have disdain for those who rely on JSA or other benefits. But the irony of their positions is this: they (supposedly) support the current economic system which requires a large reserve army of labour (unemployment) to actually be successful. Yet, at the same time, they look down on said unemployed (and think items such as a TV are proof of “living in luxury”) simply for being a casualty of the current economic system. Unbelievable. We have people saying the 50% rate of tax is “punitive” while also claiming it’s downright unfair for those with next to nothing to have any kind of luxury, no matter how small, at all.

    My gods what has this party become? Let me tell you: I work for a charity which runs a food bank. This year I’ve seen nothing like the demand we have tried to meet in all my years working for it. We’re getting even middle-class people who are struggling and barely keeping their heads above water. And some LDs on here think the answer to this problem is even more poverty, even smaller benefits. It seems the old adage is true: those who are comfortable always attack the weakest in a crisis, never the strongest, who happen to be the ones who caused the very crisis. Well, there but for the grace of god go you, and I hope you never find yourself in the same position that so many of your fellow countrymen and women find themselves in. Shame on you.

    It does me no good to admit, finally, the majority of people in this party seem to have had a compassion bypass and are happy to hit the unemployed, the sick, and the vulnerable all for their right to say “we’re in government, taking tough decisions!” Tough decisions that, not surprisingly, always hit the weakest first. My heart does not bleed for someone who is lucky enough to have wealth that means they’re facing the 50% rate of tax. The horror, they might have to buy cheaper champagne! It’s those with next to nothing, in danger of losing everything due to our current economic policies we should be worrying about. The very fact that some people care more for those on the top rate of tax than those who choose between heating their homes and food shows that this party is now pretty much morally bankrupt.

    And, finally, @Simon Shaw: with the greatest of respect, I am glad you are not one of my elected representatives. If you were, I would do everything I could to make sure you were no longer so at the next election. Your attitude towards non-LDs who disagree with you and your attitudes towards those who are unfortunate enough to be on benefits such as JSA is astounding and very unbecoming for someone of your position.

  • Richard Swales 24th Dec '12 - 4:56pm

    It is due to the strongest members of uk society, particularly generations of businessmen, inventors, engineers, politicians and judges, that uk society is richer than many other societies. But ok, what if we were to do a deal and say JSA was to rise by 25 percent, but with the proviso that it become returnable when a person finds work in a similar way to student loans? Would you accept such a system? In other words, is this about poverty or just about socialist definitions of rights?

    On TV. A teacher who sets watching a TV program as homework is either assuming that her children wear the trousers at home and can tell their parents what channel the TV will be tuned to, or that it is a family which allows the children to have TVs in their bedrooms. The mind boggles.

  • Richard Swales

    Children with tv in the bedroom. What century or decade do you live in? This was an argument of the 80s. Kids don’t have just tv anymore. They have smartphones etc. for people like you this is a problem. It may be that it is the next stage of the information revolution.

    You may want to go back to the 50s but this argument has been lost. We need to adapt to the changes and make sure there is inter generational understanding .

    As I said in my post tv has been used in education for decades. Why don’t you? How we used to live, How? etc from when I was a kid. I am sure there are others now. Why is it such a problem. Do you want to stop books as well just cos people read Jeffrey Archer

    This is a ridiculous argument and one that is more at home in a crusty old Gentlemans Club!

  • Simon Bamonte 24th Dec '12 - 5:21pm

    @Richard Swales:

    Those businessmen, inventors, engineers, etc., would be nothing without the vast majority of the British people who built their inventions and sold their products (often being exploited in the process). Let us also remember a large amount of Britain’s wealth came through our Empire: plundering other nations resources and riches while suppressing native populations.

    You seem to have the attitude (as several others do here) that unemployment or poverty will never happen to you. Oh no, that’s something that happens to other people, right? Well, let me tell you something: the charity I work for is handing out food parcels daily to people like you. People who once had a nice house, decent jobs and plenty of disposable income. Don’t ever think it can’t happen to you. I know there’s an abundance of people who want to join the race to the bottom by taking away from those least able to absorb a loss, but the fact that this attitude has infected so many LibDems is something I’ve never seen in my entire life. Even during the Thatcher years, both the Liberal Party and the SDP had far more compassion for the vulnerable than they do today.

    I’m not calling for JSA to be increased by 25%. I am, however, calling for people like you to have a bit more compassion and less disdain for those who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. Remember: the economic system you seem to support actually requires plenty of unemployment to be a success. If you cannot see the contradiction in supporting this system while, at the same time, wanting to kick those who are unemployed, then you really are blind.

  • Alex Marsh

    Thank you for your input

    Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of LD including those in Government who seem to disagree with you.

    What else do we voters have to go on except what your representatives say?

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Dec '12 - 6:09pm

    @ Simon Shaw
    The reason for “includ[ing pensions] within the £200 billion welfare bill” is that if you don’t include pensions, there isn’t a £200 billion welfare bill! The point is that the £200 billion tag is regularly mentioned by those who maintain that current welfare provision is unaffordable, and who then go on to use that to justify cuts to benefits for the small minority of claimants who are unemployed and of working age. I think “matt” was quite reasonably pointing out that the size of the overall budget is used to justify attacks on a tiny proportion of it, giving the misleading impression that that is where most of the welfare budget is going.

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Dec '12 - 6:13pm

    @ bazzasc
    “What else do we voters have to go on except what your representatives say?”

    Perfectly reasonable question — and it’s my inability to defend much of what the party’s representatives say that’s led me to let my own membership lapse. However, Alex’s point — and it really is quite important — is that none of the people posting on here is a “representative” of the party, or indeed of anyone at all as far as I can tell. Indeed, some of those causing you the most disquiet aren’t even members of the party (Richard Swales, for instance, who believes that real men don’t join trade unions).

  • Malcolm Todd

    Thanks for that, and also again thanks to Alex

    I understand what you are saying and I am still open-minded although it is closing daily!

    The representatives aren’t just the guys here but those at the top of the party including your two representatives in the quartet and that expenses exploiter Laws.

    It is that what I have to judge on. I know that there are still lots of people in the LD who I would identify with but they seem to have very little say on policy at the moment . Perhaps by 2020?

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Dec '12 - 6:25pm

    bazzasc

    Fair enough, then. It will indeed be interesting to see who’s in charge of the party (assuming it still exists) after 2015 — I mean, which tendency within it, not the rather trivial question of whose cheeks are moulding the cushions on the leader’s seat. My feeling is that those who are truly comfortable with the current direction are not that numerous and will largely melt away with Clegg himself; but I’m usually wrong about politics. (I believe I was more or less right about Blair in ’97 and about the euro in ’99; but I was really quite convinced by Clegg in 2010, so, you know…)

  • Arguments about what is the right level Welfare are akin to an episode of the ‘Twilight Zone’. These same arguments were being rolled out in the seventies and eighties. In the early seventies unemployment had passed what was then a phsycological ceiling of one million. Within a decade it was three million with a simlar number surviving on incapacity benefit. This horrendous level of wasted human resources became to be accepted as a price worth paying for low inflation and so called economic stability.

    These same arguments will continue endlessly until structural and regional unemployment is tackled in a purposeful manner. Full employment as William Beveridge defined it (as many job vacancies as there are job seekers) is the ultimate solution to welfare reform.

    A return to full employment requires a committment to targeted investment in raising of educational levels (starting with the early years and particularly in maths and science), vocational and skills training in the crucial years after leaving school and an industrial strategy that focuses on developing and financing the domestic supply chain of SME’s to service the Uk’s leading industries in aerospece, auto manufacturing, advanced engineering and life sciences.

  • Anonymous this time 24th Dec '12 - 7:20pm

    One question we should all be asking ourselves is – Why has Clegg chosen to focus his recent speech and email so strongly on the benefits issue?

    He could, after all, have carried on with the usual boasts about income tax thresholds. He could have reminded us all about his strong stand on Leveson and on secret courts where he might reasonably have expected some deserved credit. Instead he picked on a fraught topic on which his views seem likely to impress very few. Of course, commentators such as Phyllis and bazzasc on this thread are representative of a massive body of opinion on the centre and left who are appalled to see a Liberal Democrat leader welcoming a reduction in support for the poorest at a time of great need. But Clegg has also distanced himself from the Tory Right. He claims that the reduction in benefits would have been greater if it had not been for the Lib Dems. So he is also not going to win any votes from the large body of opinion that reads and believes the Mail, the Express and the Michael Howard (2005) line.

    So why is Clegg putting so much emphasis on a political line which is clearly not going to win votes?

    I think the answer is, because winning votes is not what he is bothered about. He can see that the Lib Dems will be a much reduced force after the next election, unable to survive as a truly independent entity, and “forced” to become a permanent small ally of the Tory Party. And he is totally comfortable with that.

    Lib Dem members from many different strands have called on Clegg to differentiate our party more clearly. Clegg has given a defiant response. He has said in effect “You want me to move back to the centre? Hell, I’ll tell you where I place the centre. It’s cutting benefits but not too hard. It’s somewhere in between the positions of George Osborne and Ken Clarke. It is embedded in Conservatism. That’s where I stand, and that’s where I’m successfully going to drag you lot.”

  • Richard Swales 24th Dec '12 - 7:43pm

    @Simon, Alex – yes it is true that everyone needs other people to trade with. But given I don’t accept populist assumptions that the British worker is harder working than those in other countries, the difference in where we are as a society compared to others is down to the “strong” who an early poster blames for the present position of the ordinary man. I would say that we are still all well off and we have the “strong” to thank – unless you believe, as Alex seems to, that being well off is based on some kind of keeping up with the Jones definition of having what other people have in your particular place and time, and any kind of income differentiation between working and non-working people is therefore unfair. how long before 90 percent of people have smartphones and playstation 3s and these are included as essentials of life? – or would you then accept your way of calculating the essentials of life is wrong? Cuba has tried basing a system on equality but they find people keep trying to escape from relative equality in Cuba to relative poverty in the USA – presumably you think people who do that must be a bit thick, then?

    Also, you assume I live in a nice house and have a high disposable income – actually I have not been able to afford to live in a house for any of the 17 years of my adult life – presumably you assume that from my rejection of your invitation to help me put my hand in my neighbours pocket, which in your way of thinking could be only self-interest based not based on any sense of fairness. And no, I would never stand in your food bank when there are jobs to burn teaching English abroad for UK natives who actually want to work, I really can’t imagine myself choosing that over getting on a plane and going to work.

    But no, I haven’t advocated here cutting benefits to bare subsistence levels – any discussion of such seems to be aimed at closing down any kind of debate about work paying off relative to non-work, and is made by people who don’t accept that a differential should exist.

    Yes Alex, I am no longer a member. Neither is Malcolm Todd. A party whose rhetoric and member’s views is aimed and Malcolm Todd and whose actions seem aimed more at me isn’t actually attractive to either of us.

  • Leekliberal 24th Dec '12 - 8:45pm

    Matt – You are obviously a Labour supporter – so like the party you support you unable to find best value on anything! I have looked on the web and your your figures are rubbish. Presumably you support the Labour Party which over 13 years in majority Government managed to WIDEN the gap between rich and poor while attacking civil liberties and fighting an illegal war! Labour also left an appalling financial mess for the Coalition to tackle. I find your faith in Labour touching!

  • TV may not be essential but Internet access now is. My 8 year old has homework every week at least half of which is based upon interactive websites such as “I am learning”. Without access to these she would risk falling behind, luckily this is not an issue for us, but it would be something that would go if we were stuck on JSA.

    The whole email, and most of the posts above miss the obvious point. Benefits should be set at a level to provide support at times of need. If set correctly then they should always rise with inflation, nothing else makes any logical sense. Now if the argument is that some benefits are set incorrectly then a proper evidence based approach is needed. The trouble is we all know that the first to go would be the universal ones, particularly those given to pensioners irrespective of need. And Cameron pledged to keep these so they are off limits…….

  • Maggie Smith 25th Dec '12 - 2:29am

    What has this party become?

    I actually used to wonder why you stood by and watched as the conservative vilified the poor, sick and unemployed. Now I realise you are not standing by, you are joining in and seem to be defending your joining in to the point of being blunt and somewhat offensive.

    Let me give you a tip, the tide is turning and although you believe the majority of people support this process of victimisation the day will come when you turn around and even the guy who you thought was holding your coat will have drifted away leaving you high and dry.

    You have taken the side of those who punish poverty with greater poverty, your great principles have evaporated in only half a session of government and Simon is happy to tell someone he wouldn’t want their vote. Of course this parallels Nick Clegg’s own comments effectively telling anyone to the left to get lost. Well here’s another little tip, the further you move right (and you have) the more there is to the left of you and frankly I don’t think they will want to vote for you either.

    Good luck, you are going to need it.

  • Yellow Bill 25th Dec '12 - 2:59am

    @ Mr Shaw

    Gerrymandering. Who do you think is going to take over the houses after those who were previously getting housing benefits have to leave. The poor won’t be able to afford it, which leaves the wealthier members of Londons citizenry. and who will the wealthy vote for? those who offer reduction in their taxes, those who turn their heads so they can say they knew nothing about tax avoidance. Either politicians are showing an amazing lack of foresight to see how the demographics are going to change their fortunes in the Inner London constituencies or they have taken a leaf from Dame Shirleys book and are laughing all the way to the bank.

    If, Mr Shaw, you think that landlords in Inner London will lower their rents to house the poor you are incredibly naive. There are more than enough wealthy people to take up the rents at the current level. Southwark Council understand this, which is why they are not replacing ANY of the council houses on the Heygate Estate with social housing, going for luxury apartments instead. I wonder why??

    The link to the Heygate story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19371334

  • Yellow Bill 25th Dec '12 - 3:02am

    Oh, I am a Social Liberal – a former Liberal Democrat who knew all too well that being the junior partner in a coalition government means compromise – compromising morals and principles.

  • Very shortly we will remove pension credit to people whose partners are under state pension age – in effect many pensioners will loose 100 per week. Further, the pension perineum in JSA, IS is being removing adding to further loss. This removal of pensioner benefits went through on a vote of one, Jenny Wilmott casting her vote in favor of removing benefits for pensioners. How does this fit in with Clegg’s argument that we are in favor of welfare reform and not welfare cuts.

  • Richard Swales 25th Dec '12 - 10:42am

    Examining the flow of money from working to non- working people – I say rather from rich to poor as work often doesn’t pay – is not an attack or victimisation. Those words imply actually taking away something from someone rather than giving, albeit at a slower rate.

    I agree internet is more useful than TV. When I have set homework which required watching a youtube video I made sure in advance that everyone would be able to watch – this was with older kids who often went to each others houses after school so it didn’t require that eveyone would have the internet. I personally choose not to let my kids have tvs in the bedroom, is it ok for a teacher to assume conformity with the rest of society?

  • @Leekliberal

    1st I am not a Labour supporter, I have stated numerous times, I do not support give my 100 % support to any party, I am not a member of any party or trade union. I have voted both Labour and Liberal Democrats in past elections. Why do people always have to assume that if you are critical of Liberal Democrats then you must be Labour, that is nonsense.

    2nd you claim that the figures i gave for welfare are rubbish, They are not rubbish and I challenge you to provide evidence that contradicts them,

    @Alex Marsh

    I dont think we have engaged in this forum, but I have to tell you I have had the greatest admiration for you when I have read your posts, especially on affordable and social housing. I certainly believe there are many good people like yourself within the party still. The problem is, as is indicated by this thread, there are not many liberal democrat members who will engage in topics like welfare and publicly oppose what is being said by the leadership. The loudest voices are from those in the party who are people like Simon Shaw who show complete solidarity with Clegg and aggressively interacts with anyone who dares to criticise. So naturally it gives the impression that a majority within the party supports that position.

  • @Simon Shaw

    “When you say that “over half of the entire welfare bill is spent on people of pensionable age” does that include state pensions, state graduated pensions and pension credit? If so isn’t it rather misleading to include that within the £200 billion welfare bill. Of course it helps massage the percentages, but it’snot really what most people would understand by “welfare”.”

    Simon, It is the government who constantly uses the £200 Billion figure whenever they talk about the welfare bill, it is constantly used in statements to the media and in articles that they write for various newspapers. After using these headline figures, they go on to talk about the unemployed “shirkers” which normally then leads on to percentages on how much “unemployment benefits” have risen in the last 20 years. They give the impression that the huge welfare bill is down to unemployment benefits and sickness benefits, They do not tell the “whole” story on where the majority of welfare is spent, Pensions, working tax and Child tac credits and Housing Benefits.
    The whole aim is to pedal the myth and demonize the unemployed and disabled.
    I would be astounded if you would claim that you have seen no evidence of the government doing this. If this where your position then one could only assume that you still do not possess a television or read Newspapers.

    With regards to the rising costs in Housing Benefits, I would like to see the government legislate on the landlords and excessive rents, not penalise the claimants who are forced into private renting due to the lack of affordable and social housing.

  • Someone was showing me a website in Polish where Polish people swop tips on how to claim all possible benefits in the UK – is that OK for UK taxpayer?.

  • Richard Dean 25th Dec '12 - 10:51pm

    Well, it’s likely that many Polish people here don’t have much understanding of the benefits system, and maybe have difficulty understanding advice given in English. So it would seem to make sense to provide advice, and to do it in Polish.

    Many British people probably don’t understand the system too well either, So what we do need, of course, are websites that do the same thing for everyone in English.

  • It’s going to be an interesting year politically because some people say mllions of Romanians and Bulgarians are planning to come over in 12 months. Could be good for UKIP.

  • Richard Dean 25th Dec '12 - 11:29pm

    Well, I guess we’re going to need some websites in Bulgarian and Romanian too. :-)

  • Richard Swales 26th Dec '12 - 9:43am

    @David – instead of hoping people don’t find out what they are eligible for, change the rules to make that website say that the angielski system does not pay out to people who come from abroad who have never paid in, as would be the case in other countries – and in my opinion but not that of earlier posters – nor should it cover the rent and other extra costs of living solo.

  • Richard Swales 25th Dec ’12 – 10:42am…………Examining the flow of money from working to non- working people – I say rather from rich to poor as work often doesn’t pay – is not an attack or victimisation. Those words imply actually taking away something from someone rather than giving, albeit at a slower rate………………..

    To increase benefits at a lower rate than inflation results in a real decrease in purchasing power and is, in fact, ‘taking away’. To describe it otherwise is just playing with words and it is this ‘playing with words’ that has turned me from a solid LibDem supporter (1997 excepted) to a Labour/Don’t know voter.
    Initially the words were that “75% of coalition policies were those of the LibDems” and it was only when such statements became an embarrassment that they disappeared. The NHS ‘reorganisation’ was only passed by sacrificing the integrity of Shirley Williams and the ‘Student Fees’ fiasco will form the plank of Labour/Tory party political publicity in 2015…..

  • I agree with Alex Marsh, Maggie, Matt, Annie.

    1% to a jobseeker is 71 pence, less than £37 a year. A very different number to someone on the average wage ( £260.00 a year), and a huge difference to those earning over £150,000.00 who will be receiving more than £40,000.00 extra each per year from the state.

    So we are generous enough to give handouts of that size to the richest, but not a pound more for those on the very smallest income.

    Furthermore, benefits like JSA are paid through an insurance system – into which those on low and moderate incomes pay more proportionally than the richest.

    Most people pay 12% of their income in national insurance, while earnings over £150000.00 pay only 1%.

  • So we are actually taking from the poor, from their own money that they have paid in insurance. It is also removing the safety net for all those working on low and moderate incomes, again out of their own national insurance.

  • David

    Do you have any evidence that the Accession countries have immediate access to benefits? I thought there had to be at least 12 months unbroken employment before eligibility starts?

    Can you provide me with a source that proves my assumption to be false?

  • @Simon Shaw

    “In contrast, Labour seem quite content to vilify the poor and unemployed by implication. Just like matt at the top of this thread, their primary complaint is not about the effect of the limit to a 1% uplift on the poorest, but rather on how it “affects 60% of those in work and not just the so called shirkers” (as matt put it in his very first posting).”

    Well done Simon, You know that was not what I was getting at in my post, so shy peddle this nonsense. My other posts at 23rd Dec ’12 – 3:29pm explaining how the 1% increase is penalising the unemployed, sick, disabled.

    What on earth do you get out of distorting other peoples posts I do not know. It’s very boring now.

    If you are unable or unwilling to answer the questions that are posed to you, why do you bother to continue to engage in the thread.

    As of yet you have still ignored the question put to you. Do you support the “real terms cuts” to welfare and if you are in support of this, How do you propose for someone to budget on £71.71 a week

  • @ Simon Shaw

    “I recognise that it is perfectly possible that newspapers like the Daily Mail, the Daily Express or the Sun carry articles from Conservative (rather than “Government”) politicians along the lines you suggest, but a lot of what they say on politics generally are lies (and the Daily Mirror is equally bad).”

    When ever George Osborne, Ian Duncan Smith, Cameron or any minister writes for the media they are taking for the “government” and since Liberal Democrats are in Government, they speak for you also. That is unless we get statements from Liberal Democrat Ministers “rejecting” these lines, the problem is we don’t.
    It is the failure of the Liberal democrats MP’s and Ministers to speak up and reject these arguments made by the “government” which ties you to the same mast. Simple really.

    Yes a lot of attention is paid to Housing Benefits, but yet again they use head line startling figures like people receiving £100k a year in Housing Benefit to distort the facts, When there are actually only around 5 families claiming this amount (Which I strongly disagree with) and if they reported the actual; facts around 80% of Housing Benefit claims are under £100 a week.

    But the majority of the stories led by this government always peddles the myth, sensationalize and demonize the poor,sick, disabled and unemployed.

  • @Simon Shaw @@Maggie Smith 26th Dec ’12 – 2:25pm
    “Just like matt at the top of this thread, their primary complaint is not about the effect of the limit to a 1% uplift on the poorest, but rather on how it “affects 60% of those in work and not just the so called shirkers” (as matt put it in his very first posting).”

    Your post to maggie was “implying” that my primary concern was for those “in work” rather that those out of work, which is blatantly untrue and you well know it.
    My original post was highlighting the fact that when the government imposed this 1% cap, most people tend to associate the cap as targeting just those on “out of work benefits” but when people come to realise that it “also” affects the 60% of those that are in employment, peoples opinions will change and more people will oppose these “real term cuts” to benefits

    I really do not appreciate your attempt to distort my postings.

    Anyone who takes the time to read the “entire” thread can clearly see where my concerns and priorities lay, with the the unemployed,sick and disabled, along with those from low paid.

  • @Simon Shaw

    Are you going to answer my question on whether you support these real terms cuts to benefits? you seem to keep dodging that question for some reason

  • Maggie Smith 26th Dec '12 - 4:08pm

    @Simon

    Are you a part of this government or not? You see, your denial is indicative of the issue you face. Like the person who says “you smell!” and then quickly says “only kidding!” You want to be a part of the “Big Team” making the “Big Policy” and yet try to distance yourselves from the consequences of the actions of the government you support.

    When confronted denial and procrastination may work well as an elected representative but here it dosn’t seem to be fooling anyone.

    As has been pointed out, if you don’t oppose it you support it, unless of course you consider the abstention manoeuvre acceptable you know the one, the Jeremy Hunt Shuffle? I personally don’t.

    So how’s about answering the question you have been asked. And in answer to your accusation of my straw man argument please review the alarm clock speech, and just ask yourself how would that sound to someone who wasn’t able to work, or couldn’t find work, and no, slipping in the word “vulnerable” does not balance the item.

  • @Simon Shaw

    point 2) Liberal Democrats are part of this government, so any press statement or article written by someone in “cabinet” is talking on behalf of ALL the Government. If Liberal Democrat MP’s and Ministers do not support the line that is being trotted out by the government, then they should speak out against it and state they do not share this position. point being, as they do not, it is fair to tarnish both parties with the same brush.

    (3) There are plenty of articles, that have been linked and posted too on various threads on Libdem Voice. It has been commented on here many times before,

  • Simon I am more than prepared to go the effort and find such articles to back up what I have said. Even though many readers of this forum will have already read such articles and know of the existence, But I will humour you, once that is you answer the questions that you have been dodging for the last few days.

    1) Do you support the real terms cuts to benefits
    2) If you are in support, how do you propose someone on JSA receiving £71 a week, budgets that income to pay for bills, food, clothing, etc and still have enough money to be in a position to actively seek employment and stand the same chances as everyone else in gaining employment.

    If you are not prepared to answer the question, then please save us all the trouble and say your not prepared to do so. But one would have to wonder your motives in choosing not to answer a perfectly legitimate question.

  • I do not think John Pugh would agree with you that he is not a member of government. That is quite offensive for him I would have thought to even suggest that. He is a Liberal Democrat politician in the United Kingdom. He is Member of Parliament for Southport and he is a “member of the government” regardless of whether it is a coalition government or not.

    Simon Shaw, you are a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Sefton council, representing the Birkdale ward. So you are a part of local government.

  • Maggie Smith 26th Dec '12 - 5:58pm

    @simon.

    Who mentioned football? Your shifting the argument from it’s reference (policy) to some unrelated activity (football) is what’s rather silly and again, rather obvious as a tactic. It’s no good always saying after the event that there were struggles within government, how the policy was diluted to the benefit of the less well off when the end product, the distillate from some nebulous (and unverifiable) process between Laws, Clegg, Alexander and The tories is still damaging to the low paid, the sick and the unemployed.

    I’m glad you went and looked now, if you can (I know matt is struggling to get you to answer his questions), can you not have some empathy for a person who is too ill to work or unable to find work and try to see how that speech sounds to them?

    I am not at all surprised (given your stance through this thread) that you are struggling to see what others might find objectionable.

  • Now that wasn’t so bad was it Simon :-) I do not understand why you have avoided the question for so long, and may I welcome your stance on objecting to the real terms cuts in JSA.

    With regards to your point on 1) I am conflicted on where I stand to the cuts that are affecting the low paid. I do not like the the fact that the goal posts where moved for somebody to be eligible for child tax credits was moved from 16 hours a week to 24 hours a week, especially in times when employers are reducing workers hours rather than increasing them. I do not think it was right to freeze child benefit for 2 years and then limit the increase to only 1% from 2014, especially when you consider the rising number of child poverty and the ever increasing dependency on food banks.
    I am of the opinion that it is the responsibility of the state to eliminate child poverty and to ensure that every person has enough to live on and to eat and not have to rely on the “big society” to pick up on the governments failings.
    I think it was right to stop child benefit for anyone earning over £50k or £80k as a couple.
    I think there are a lot of choices open to the government on where else to cut or Increase taxes. Like keeping the 50% tax bracket.
    I would also be open to cutting tax relief for charitable purposes. There are to many people in this country who are “anti tax” who prefer to donate money that would have been payable to treasury, to a charity instead, and lets be honest here, some of these charities are very questionable in their authenticity, for example The Atlantic Bridge which was set up by Liam Fox http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/oct/05/charity-liam-fox-axed-watchdog.
    There are numerous others, all of which are set up to avoid tax and move funds offshore.

    I will now go about and dig up the articles and links we spoke of earlier

  • I thought it was the job of her majesty opposition to hold government to account.

    We sure as heck can not rely on back benches to hold government to account, especially since they are whipped

    An MP from either the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats would be members of the Governing Party. Any MP who becomes part of the cabinet is a cabinet Minister. But they are all part of the government surely.

  • Maggie Smith 26th Dec '12 - 9:23pm

    You may be correct Simon.

    As I hope I made clear in my initial post. Maybe I do not like what the Lib Dems have become. But it now seems pointless in discussion when no one seems to accept there has been a change.

    As for your suggestion to vote for someone else, you make that a lot it seams, well twice at least in this thread.

    The problem is Simon, that like a lot of people here, you can’t see the problems with the comments made about those less fortunate (as seen from the position of those less fortunate) because you are loyal to the concept of your party (and that’s not always a bad thing), whether you are loyal to what it was or what it has become is for your conscience to decide I suppose. Anyway, things will be changing in this country after April, as I am sure you can feel. Good luck after that.

  • I think the taxpayer should be paying a ‘living wage’ to everyone, working or not, including all the rest of the EU. We can borrow the money and leave the debt for the next generation. .

  • Richard Swales 27th Dec '12 - 8:51am

    Annie – Richard Swales 25th Dec ’12 – 10:42am…………Examining the flow of money from working to non- working people – I say rather from rich to poor as work often doesn’t pay – is not an attack or victimisation. Those words imply actually taking away something from someone rather than giving, albeit at a slower rate………………..

    To increase benefits at a lower rate than inflation results in a real decrease in purchasing power and is, in fact, ‘taking away’. To describe it otherwise is just playing with words and it is this ‘playing with words’ that has turned me from a solid LibDem supporter (1997 excepted) to a Labour/Don’t know voter.

    Ok, so I think I just about understand your dialect now, but could you explain one thing about your use of words? – If I decrease or fail to increase my standing order to Save the Children in line with inflation, am I “attacking” them or “victimising” them? In my dialect of English that situation would be described as “giving”.

    Your second paragraph is pretty odd given that I and at least one other poster have already stated I am not a member of the party. Yes, I am posting on LDV, but so are you – does that mean you are also a representative of the party?

  • Richard Swales 27th Dec ’12 – 8:51am…………..Ok, so I think I just about understand your dialect now, but could you explain one thing about your use of words? – If I decrease or fail to increase my standing order to Save the Children in line with inflation, am I “attacking” them or “victimising” them? In my dialect of English that situation would be described as “giving”…………

    With respect Richard, you raised “attacking” and “victimising” ( I would prefer not using such emotive words). My comments were aimed at your assertion that the policy to prevent welfare keeping pace with inflation was “not taking away”.
    To stay with your ‘Save the Children’ analogy…if your original donation bought 5 sacks of rice and now buys 4 sacks , that is a reduction in aid.

    My second paragraph was not aimed at any poster. It was an iteration of my reasons for dissatisfaction and disillusion with the direction of a party whose values I thought I shared.

  • Richard Swales 27th Dec '12 - 10:59am

    @annie
    My use of “victim-” is the second appearance of the string in the comments, the first is from bazzasc. My use of “attack-” is the tenth appearance of the string, the fourth of which (the earlier three mean in the sense of a debating attack) is by Maggie.

    Of course it is not taking away. Unless the change is backdated and people have to pay back money already given, then it is continuing to give, at a lower rate. If your relative sent you 20 pounds last Christmas and this year only 10 pounds, they have still given you ten pounds this year, not taken money from you. The same applies with the sacks of rice. If you have already given 5, then giving a further 4 means you have now given 9 in total. The 4 sacks are still being “given”. Whether or not 5 rather than 4 might be the actual amount needed, or desirable, or excessive or appropriate to give is another question of course, but as a donor you are not victimising anyone, you are helping them, because without you the number they would get is zero.

    @matt
    Matt asks for ideas as to how as person can live on 71 pounds per week not including rent and council tax. Well, firstly it’s not easy but when I was in a similar position (my girlfriend got a job in another country, but I could only find bits and pieces of part time work there and I (assumed I) was not eligible for any kind of benefits, so a large chunk of my income went on my half of the rent) sharing a flat (with her) made a big difference because it is a lot easier when you are going halves on all the utilities (you have 1200 pounds for energy in your example above – when divided by 2, 3 or 4 it makes a big difference to the amount available per week). I know others disagree, but not watching TV is also great way to cut yourself off from the consumerist values of the rest of society – books on saving money recommend it. Cooking everything from scratch is much more possible when you have the time, but the key thing is the flat share – that’s how a lot of working people are able to make ends meet and just because the state is (daft enough to be) willing to pay rent for you to live solo, without the willingness to pay you enough for you to cover the utilities when living solo it probably not a realistic option, just as it isn’t for many working people, Where all this intersects with politics is that I have been disagreeing with you that the state shouldn’t be covering the costs of living solo, a luxury that many working people can’t afford – this relates to housing benefit as well as the assumptions used to calculate other benefits like JSA. In my own example the long term solution was to hire a car, pack my stuff into the back of it and go somewhere else. My girlfriend (by then my fiancee, now my wife) followed on a few months later when she got a job there too.

    Others have posted about benefits coming out of money that has already been paid in – in my opinion there should be more of a connection. One of my adult students lost his job after thirty years in the same company, paying into the system. He still got the same six months (in the system of his country) of higher benefits that someone who had paid in for two years would get – in my opinion this is not fair. The system (both here and there) is primarily not about paying back money people have already paid in, or safety nets, it is about redistribution. I don’t expect us to agree on how it should work, but if we can’t please support renaming National Insurance to something else as many people are wrongly under the impression that they are “covered” because they have paid in.

    @annie
    By the way, you say that your second paragraph in your earlier message is aimed at no one in particular, but the only actual member posting here who I in any way agree with is Simon Shaw – which may be a clue both to him and to you that you are closer to the centre of gravity of the party than he or I are – but if you want to persist in blaming the Lib Dems then go ahead.

  • Richard Swales 27th Dec '12 - 11:02am

    Sorry, the names bazzasc and Maggie should be reversed in the above comment.

  • Richard Swales 27th Dec ’12 – 10:59am……………………@annie My use of “victim-” is the second appearance of the string in the comments, the first is from bazzasc. My use of “attack-” is the tenth appearance of the string, the fourth of which (the earlier three mean in the sense of a debating attack) is by Maggie……..

    Apologies; but as it was your post I responded to I used the words in your context….

    ………………………Of course it is not taking away. Unless the change is backdated and people have to pay back money already given, then it is continuing to give, at a lower rate. If your relative sent you 20 pounds last Christmas and this year only 10 pounds, they have still given you ten pounds this year, not taken money from you….

    This is still playing with words. It is the ‘purchasing power’, not the amount, that matters; if you give just one grain of rice it’s still giving but hardly defensible.

    ………….By the way, you say that your second paragraph in your earlier message is aimed at no one in particular, but the only actual member posting here who I in any way agree with is Simon Shaw – which may be a clue both to him and to you that you are closer to the centre of gravity of the party than he or I are – but if you want to persist in blaming the Lib Dems then go ahead………

    Try “leek liberal”, “Tony Dawson”, “Richard S “(unless that’s you), “John”. They seem to be far closer to you than to me.
    However, as I said, that paragraph was my explanation of why I’m no longer in the LibDem camp….

  • Richard Swales 27th Dec '12 - 2:23pm

    @annie, none of those people you list say they are party members at least on this discussion. Leek liberal is quite likely to be with that nic, but he doesn’t express any opinion except that matt’s figures are rubbish more generally (I don’t express an opinion on that so much, except I specifically question the necessity of basing them on a person living solo). Tony Dawson only calls out matt for saying land line rental is a necesssity when a pay as you go mobile has free line rental. John calls out matt for his statement that a TV is a good way to get information, when it seems mainly to broadcast entertainment (I would include in that the programs which are ostensibly news or nature) and the radio has longer programs looking at issues in more depth. I wonder what objection you could have to those completely true (and therefore neutral, unbiased) statements.

    Giving one grain of rice – though a waste of their time perhaps – to someone I don’t know is still giving albeit on a micro scale. Actually if you put a pound in a collection box somewhere, you are giving one grain of rice each to a few thousand people (maybe more or less, I don’t know how much a grain weighs). You are still a donor, even if you gave two pounds last week. Earlier posters (not you) who charcterized this as victimization (presumably of thousands of people) are way off the mark. Society is actually helping people who don’t have work.

    If it were up to me, I would replace almost all benefits with a citizens income at a basic level, payable to all (for children at a reduced level payable to their parents as with child benefit), then all work would be taxed at source at some flat rate (probably as high as 40-50 percent), to make sure that every extra bit of work actually paid off. The other advantage of such a system would be the big cuts in bureaucracy (not more P45s, benefits offices) etc.

    All of these discussion have to be in the context of public finances generally, however, so you need to say what else you would do instead. Personally I would make big cuts to defence spending (and the role of the military overseas) as a first priority. Perhaps you would raise taxes (on what?) or cut spending elsewhere (on what?)

    By the way CP asks if people from the accession countries can get benefits straight away. My understanding is no, but I do know of one actual case (a friend of a friend, not just an annecdote from a friend) of a Slovak single mother who, rather than live or work on the (real not relative) poverty line in Slovakia, came to the UK and worked a set minimum length of time (I heard 2 years), after which she became eligible for benefits and could stay at home and bring up her child as a full time mother, which was what she had thought was the best for her and her child all along. Hard to disagree with her, but if, like David, you have a problem with this then the solution lies in changing the system, not in hoping no one finds out about it. But what about these stories about Somali families getting housed straight after they arrive – are such stories true?

  • @Richard Swales

    You arguments are too simplistic. There are many reasons why some people need to live in a 1 bedroom property. For starters the councils and housing associations tend to build them, are you suggesting that people should try and cram 2,3,4 people into these 1 bedroom properties? Or maybe you suggest that these 1 bedroom properties all be ripped down and we only replace them with multiple bedroom properties?
    There are many reasons why a person needs a 1 bedroom property, escaping abusive families, violent partner, unable to share due to disabilities, just to mention a few.
    Cooking from scratch is neither practical or affordable for some people, Raw ingredients tend to cost more in the supermarkets, then there are the “fuel costs” of cooking a main meal from scratch, so for many people on a tight budget of JSA, their only option is to go for cheaper ready made value meals and nuke them.
    If you no longer live in Britain then you obviously haven’t a clue of the soaring cost of fresh produce in the UK.

    I really do not understand how you regard “welfare” as redistribution of wealth. Considering the amount of tax avoidance that goes on within huge companies and the high earners, who resent paying their fair share of taxes to the treasury to help pay for the infrastructure that keeps their business afloat in the first place. it would be a bit silly to regard it as so in my opinion.

    @Simon Shaw
    I have not forgot about or avoiding posting the articles I spoke of earlier. I am still trying to find the “particular” article I mentioned, I am sure it was titled something like “strivers v Shirkers” which was just after the Autumn Statement. I will post as soon as a find it.

  • Richard Swales,

    “If it were up to me, I would replace almost all benefits with a citizens income at a basic level, payable to all (for children at a reduced level payable to their parents as with child benefit), then all work would be taxed at source at some flat rate (probably as high as 40-50 percent), to make sure that every extra bit of work actually paid off. The other advantage of such a system would be the big cuts in bureaucracy (not more P45s, benefits offices) etc.

    All of these discussion have to be in the context of public finances generally, however, so you need to say what else you would do instead. Personally I would make big cuts to defence spending (and the role of the military overseas) as a first priority. Perhaps you would raise taxes (on what?) or cut spending elsewhere (on what?)”

    Basic Tax and NI combined is already 32%. The Citizens income you advocate can be introduced by converting the current personal allowance, tax credit system and Child benefit to a direct tax credit/payment. Citizens Income

    A job guarantee scheme at minimum wage need cost no more than current JSA and workfare programs together with savings in housing benefits. Job guarantees

    Taxes do not need to be raised overall, but the introduction of Land Value Tax with a view to the equalisation of taxes and national insurance on all sources of income would go a long way to enabling a more balanced and efficient system.Land Value Tax

  • @

    “A job guarantee scheme at minimum wage need cost no more than current JSA and workfare programs together with savings in housing benefits. Job guarantees”

    Problem is the companies that are currently a part of the workfare scheme would not be to pleased about it, The companies are exploiting the use of free Labour whilst the government get to exploit the “real” unemployment figures because anyone currently on a workfare programme is not counted as part of the unemployment figures.
    “The ONS collects information on people participating in government-supported employment and training programmes via the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The information includes the name of the programme and the type of activity being undertaken. Those participants whose activity comprises any form of work, work experience or work-related training are classified as in employment. This is regardless of whether the individual is paid or not.”

  • Matt,

    that is not so much a problem as a good reason for doing it. Governments are not elected on the basis of providing free labour and are re-elected on the basis of delivering concrete results, not by statistical manipulation or spin that belies the reality on the ground.

  • Like Richard Swales, I would back a citizens income (enhanced for those with special needs); and like Joe Burke I think much of it could be achieved by consolidating personal allowances and ‘universal’ benefits with the existing means-tested benefits. The so-called ‘wasted’ benefits to wealthy earners and pensioners can of course be amply paid for by those same individuals out of their own tax.

    However, given the totemic significance now being given to £10k tax-free allowances and our fictional 20% tax rate, I am slowly coming round to the idea of a consolidated “universal credit” with a lower marginal rate of withdrawal if it allows us to maintain the safety net at the bottom, and get rid of the anomalies including between household and individual assessment.

    The main thing is that nobody should have to face a marginal rate of tax/NICs/withdrawal of benefit of more than 50% on their income – and ideally a lot less. There has been a lot of debate about incentives for those at the top of the income scale, and there are some crazy anomalies as one goes down the scale such as the 61% tax band at £100k and the impact of child benefit withdrawal on families with just one bread-winner, to say nothing of Vince’s 9% supertax on younger graduates; but the marginal rates for those at the bottom (inherited from Brown/Balls/Miliband etc and often 100% or more) are still scandalously high.

  • I would like to see a citizen income, but the reality is it’s not going to happen, It is not an aspiration being floated about by any of the main parties. So since it is not being proposed, isn’t it better to keep the discussion to the subject title and debate the current welfare reforms that we are stuck with, which is having an adverse effect on the poorest people in society.

  • Matt,

    the die is cast on welfare reform for the remainder of this parliament. It is only worth spending time and energy on what we can reasonably expect to change for the future.

    In the 2010 election, we had four key pledges: fairer taxes, green and fair economy, better education, clean up politics. Progress has been made with an Increase in the personal allowance to £10k, a £2.5 billion committment to supporting early years education for disadvantaged children and the creation of a green investment bank.

    If enough Libdem members seek to get a Citizens Income and a program of tax and welfare form that includes Land Value Tax and/or Job guarantees in the manifesto to be developed in 2013; then there is every reason to believe that similar levels of progress can be made with measures to reduce poverty and inequality during the course of the next parliament.

  • Richard Swales 28th Dec '12 - 11:04am

    @matt, no – 2 people in a one bedroom property is fine – that’s how many couples live. The problem with the current system of course (but not with citizens income) is that if people pair up, they end up with problems if they are considered a joint household and one person gets a job.

    Yes you have to go with what’s cheaper – it depends on what you can get close by, what is on special offer and also what type of food we are talking about (e.g. meat is more expensive when sold as cuts than in processed food – best not to think about why).
    The fuel costs from cooking are illusory for most of the year as the heat from burning the gas to cook stays in the flat (you just turn the radiator down while you are cooking). Of course everything depends on something else – for example, would the kitchen be a room you would be heating anyway at other times?

    But basically I agree it is difficult. Life is difficult – the above discussion on money saving applies to working people too. But the system should not operate in such a way as to leapfrog some people not working.

    By the way, a lot of the media-driven stuff about tax avoidance is nonsense. It is worth reading the comments to the “avoid the avoiders” article.

  • Jack McNulty 28th Dec '12 - 12:15pm

    Not a card carrying member, although I’ve voted Lib Dem in the past 3 GEs. I’ve “lurked” here many times, mainly to try and determine whether the LD Voice is actually representative of the party as a whole. The picture that has emerged over the last few weeks is alarming; it’s of Nick Clegg as the little Dutch boy with his finger stuck in the dyke , holding back the flood of Conservative cuts.

    It will not wash, sir.

    Furthermore, I’m shocked at S Shaw’s reaction to criticisms from various posters that the Lib Dems have shifted politically since entering into the coalition government. Comments along the lines of “well I don’t want your vote” belong on the playground. To read them from the representative of a political party is beyond shoddy. You should be warned, Mr Shaw, that I have a feeling many bitterly disappointed people will be taking your advice.

  • Simon Shaw 28th Dec ’12 – 9:29pm…..If someone doesn’t agree with your politics then the answer is for them to vote for someone else. The alternative is to try to be “all things to all men”- therein lies dishonesty……..

    But we did vote for a party whose stated values we agreed with. The ‘dishonesty’ is in those who still try and convince us that the values have not changed.

  • @Simon Shaw
    ‘As to a television, we never had one until we had been married about 8 years. It’s genuinely not a necessity.’
    ‘My own eldest daughter has been unemployed for most of the last three years, and I am find it difficult to see how people manage on the current level of JSA, never mind the proposed slightly lower amount in real terms.’

    I have to ask the question, does she have a TV?

  • Television is a valuable source of education for children in their early years.

    No matter what others have said on here, the fact is some schools and teachers use it in the curriculum to set homework.

    Depriving people access to television because they are on benefits, not only deprives them of knowledge, but it is also completely unreasonable. As has been mentioned on here before, many people feel lonely and isolated, especially in the evenings and tv can be a companion of sorts. I would suggest we would see a lot more mental health crisis/ suicides if we were to take away such a simple “necessity”

    Next you will be saying that someone on benefits has no rights to spend money at the hairdressers.

  • I am not quite so sure that is right simon.
    Policies reflect a parties values, so a change in direction on one would naturally effect the other

  • jedi

    I think if you have a tv (even if you say is not connected – how did you remove the tuner?)and access to the internet then I am surprised it was not investigated further. I find this to be stretching the bounds of credulity.

    This argument about tv is ridiculous anyway – we have a so-called liberal party proposing that those on benefits should see the major source of information/entertainment as a luxury – this being available for only £140/year! Cheaper than a newspaper/day or a book/week

    I am sure the same argument was used against books in the past. Are books a luxury as well seeing as most of those bought are cheap pulp fiction and celebrity autobiographies?

    For the internet, libraries have a free service for those who need it (unfortunately local government cuts are not helping this) but I don’t know where you can go and watch the tv for free apart from a pub.

    If you choose not to have a tv then fine but you are a very small minority so your views are hardly representative of what the population clearly considers a necessity.

    As to Simon Shaw’s comment – the problem with the LD is that you do not seem to have a fixed set of values. The values in the affluent or rural areas where you have continued purchase are different from those in the urban areas. Being in this Government has actually shown the values you hold dearest are those you promised in your type of seat. Those that were being sold to me, ie left of Labour on virtually every subject have not been followed through with.

    Your values may not have changed, I see you as being very much Tory-lite, but neither have those of your urban voters. I would wish you luck for the future but I hope that you lose seats in your heartlands as well (including your own seat) and so have to decide what you are as a party.

  • @Simon Shaw

    I have not suggested that you had suggested taking tv from a person on benefits.

    I have argued over why i think TV is a necessity and incl it in my original posts and calculations. And yes my original post was about a single person receiving JSA.
    But as i also said previously
    Depriving people access to television because they are on benefits, not only deprives them of knowledge, but it is also completely unreasonable. As has been mentioned on here before, many people feel lonely and isolated, especially in the evenings and tv can be a companion of sorts. I would suggest we would see a lot more mental health crisis/ suicides if we were to take away such a simple “necessity”

  • Peter Watson 29th Dec '12 - 2:46pm

    I’m a bit late to jump into the debate on what constitutes a necessity, but in the context of job seeker’s allowance, as well as those things required to sustain life and health, I would suggest that other essentials would include anything that can support a person’s education, and help them to find work and come off benefits. I don’t have a problem with including a television licence and an internet connection in that list. Yes, those things can be abused for frivolous activities, just like spending on books as Matt points out, but they can also be invaluable in this day and age.

  • I have not suggested “you” personally want to stop access to television for people on benefits.

    I have “debated”with you on the “necessity” of having a television. I have outlined why I believe a television is a necessity. I respect your right to your own opinion on why you think it is not.

    I have had stronger arguments with regards to access to TV with other posters who have a even a more right wing view than yourself ;-) in their attitudes to welfare, accessing benefits and living in one bedroom properties.

  • The problem with Nick Cleggs Language when he talks about “alarm clock Britain” is it fits alongside other phrases that are used in order to demonise those out of work.
    It is used in stories to talk about, people who get up early in the morning to go to work, whilst their neighbours lay in bed with the curtains drawn living off Benefits.

    Nick know’s very well that his language and slogans will be used by various media outlets in their articles. So therefore he should be very concious not to use the kind of language that can be used to scapegoat or vilify.

    What was Nick Clegg implying when he said “I am on the side of alarm clock Britain”? Shouldn’t Nick Clegg be on the side of “everyone” in society, to make a fair, free, more equal society. Not picking sides.
    That’s when Nick shifted his party in a l lot of peoples opinions to the right. He made a bold statement and change in direction, without consulting anyone in his own party or conference.

  • Maggie Smith 29th Dec '12 - 3:12pm

    @simon.

    I asked you to try and view that speech from the perspective of someone who could not work or who was having trouble finding work.

    You replied that you could see nothing wrong with it, you have come back AGAIN and made that point. What I see as your lack of empathy does not mean that I/we have failed to point out what I/we see as a speech typically containing references of a “crowd pleasing” nature that may be distressing to the people who could feel they are being used as the convenient “other side of the coin”. Think of it as a more gentle version of George Osborn’s scruffy out of work banner ads of times recent, just because the message is rolled in glitter does not make it less damaging.

    So don’t carry on wondering, it’s been explained to you.

    OK since you pulled me back here let’s discuss my contention that you are either for something or against it (politics not some football thing, since what club you support is generally a passive thing yet MP’s voting is not…see?) You either help it pass or stop it passing though parliament.

    Now in your own words…..

    “If someone doesn’t agree with your politics then the answer is for them to vote for someone else. ”

    So you agree then, if you DON’T like a policy, you vote against it correct? Apply your own logic to your put down of other people’s, Abstaining or voting for, is obviously not a vote against.

    Simon, with all due respect, arguing this is somewhat pointless because you will dismiss me as some lefty malcontent, and I accuse you of being in denial about where your party has moved. If not the party then the vocal front end.

    In truth I engage because I want to see a glimmer of hope that all that’s left isn’t the Labour party. But despite Lib Dem Voice welcoming comments from everyone, I suspect some posters here don’t.

  • Reading this debate about the necessity for a TV, Land line.internet connection etc., reminded me of a documentary some years back about the Kalahari bushmen. The narrator observed that the children of the Bushmen had learned pretty much all they needed to know about basic survival (finding food, water and materials to make a shelter) by the time they were six years old. In the modern civilised world, our Children need a minimum of 11 years of formal education to prepare them for self-suffciency in our societies.

    The way of like of the Kalahari Bushmen (as with so many hunter-gatherer societies) has not survived contact with the modern world. Most of the bushmen have been resetlled and a small handful are fighting to preserve the vestiges of their traditional way of life. For Some Bushmen, a Homeland Worth the Fight

    The article notes “In the resettlement areas, the “unique culture” of the Bushmen mingles with the familiar culture of the displaced. The destitute rarely hunt or gather, instead awaiting a monthly parcel of cornmeal, beans, sorghum, sugar, tea and cooking oil. People are angry that they are dependent; people are angry they cannot depend on getting more. “We have been dumped here, and when we try to go back, they stop us at the gate,” complained Moscow Galatshipe, a 43-year-old man in Kaudwane. “There are no jobs. We will all end up in prison for stealing goats.”

    The moral of this story is that a welfare system that creates dependency is self-defeating. It creates and embeds the very problems it seeks to address – poverty and inequality and stifles self-sufficiency.

    I am in agreemebt with Jedibeetrix on “…the sink or swim tradition of classical liberalism and not the authoritarian bent of all three major political creeds, so I make no calls to restrict the subject of welfare spending; school clothes or crack, your call.”

    As liberal democrats we seek above all, equality of opportunity. For me that means a basic minimum Citizens income for those unable to work or temporarily unemployed, guaranteed minimum wage work for all UK citizens who seek it and long term housing benefit/social housing support restricted to the incapacited, pensioners and low-income earners via tax credits..

  • Simon I am sorry I disagree

    The point I am trying to make is this.

    Whenever a Government minister makes a statement regarding welfare, they are speaking on behalf of all the government.
    These various statements may have been made at different points in time, but the point is, over that time period, they create a very negative picture towards those claiming welfare and they vilify the poor.
    Yes it is true to say that Nick Clegg used his “alarm clock Britain” slogan over 12 months ago, but that slogan was put out at a time when we had Ian Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling giving press statements about the work shy and skivers.
    George Osbourne used his Autumn statement to say “what is fair about a shift worker getting up in the morning and looking at the closed curtains of a neighbour who is “sleeping off a life on benefits”.”

    “Closed Curtains”, “alarm clock Britain” they might come from 2 prominent figures from different parties, but when you look at the bigger picture as a whole, when these slogans are constantly used as reference in the media to talk about the “unaffordable” welfare budget. When people are constantly pressed with these kind of headlines, it stirs up resentment and ends up vilifying the most needy.
    Just recently in Nick Cleggs speech “governing Britain from the centre ground”
    http://www.libdemvoice.org/nick-cleggs-speech-governing-britain-from-the-centre-ground-building-a-stronger-economy-in-a-fairer-society-32221.html
    Universal Credit is a centre ground welfare reform. Its central purpose is to ensure that you are better off in work. That shouldn’t be a radical change – but it is. Of course, it isn’t enough to just make sure work pays and then let the state get out of the way. Because many people need support, encouragement and training to get out and find a job. And – let’s be honest – some people do need tough sanctions to get them active. That’s why we’ve introduced the Claimant Commitment for those who apply for benefits – a written contract between taxpayers and the claimant setting out how all those who can will work to get off benefits in the future. That’s why we’ve introduced the rule that anyone who refuses a reasonable job offer will have their benefits docked, and anyone who refuses three will get no JSA at all for three years.

    Nick Clegg used a significant part of that speech to talk about welfare and even benefit sanctions.

    Please take the time to read the changes that were place with regards to these sanction
    http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/jsa-sanction-changes-factsheet.pdf

    Note these sanctions apply to “fail to take part in a mandatory work activity programme ”
    These workfare placements can force someone to work upto 6 months for upto 30 Hours a week {and all they receive is their JSA}
    When someone is placed on the mandatory workfare or other programme training, {regardless of whether they it is paid or not} they are not counted as part of the unemployment figures. This was admitted in a freedom of information request, I am trying to find the link.

    I am strongly against the workfare programme, not only does it distort the “true” unemployment figures,
    How is someone supposed to be able to actively seek work and get off benefits if they are being forced to work full time for free on a mandatory programme.
    And Finally I do not believe that the workfare programme does anything positive to reduce the unemployment figures. It is inevitable that companies will take advantage of this “free labour” which inevitably will cost other potential employee’s paid work, or even those on part time work seeking more hours. It stands to reason when most companies are cutting costs, If they can get there shelves and warehouses stacked for free, why would they take someone else on paid or increase another employee’s hours to do the job.

    Nick Clegg has embraced these sanctions not only as the price of coalition, but also as part of his own’s parties policy in the so called “centre ground”

    The point I am trying to make is, the constant slogans coming from both sides of the coalition, along with the negative press, which is almost on a daily basis, is in my opinion creating a very ugly picture of welfare and those that are dependant on.
    If Nick Clegg and the party does not wish to associate themselves with this propaganda and constant vilification of the unemployed and poor, then he needs to be mindful of the slogans that he uses and he should very publicly condemn the language used by his colleagues .

  • Peter Watson 29th Dec '12 - 6:25pm

    @Simon Shaw
    I don’t particularly distinguish between Clegg’s “alarm clock Britain” and Osborne’s “shift workers”: both are trying to appeal to a similar section of the electorate. But I think there is a difference in the way the terms were used.
    Osborne explicitly attacked those “sleeping off a life on benefits”, and thankfully Clegg avoided such nastiness. However, when a politician appeals to a particular group (e.g. the employed) by using flattering terms (e.g. hard workers, strivers, etc.) then it is understandable that those in a different group (i.e. the unemployed) will feel slighted, and Clegg should not be surprised if such comments are perceived as attacking those who are not part of “alarm clock Britain”. However, trying to appeal to both groups in the same speech risks losing support from both. I do think Clegg was trying to be more compassionate and positive, and Osborne has no such qualms as he knows that he strengthens support from the group he is chasing if he alienates those on benefits. I think that Lib Dems have a much more difficult balancing act if we do not want to be seen as tory-lite.

  • “How is someone supposed to be able to actively seek work and get off benefits if they are being forced to work full time for free on a mandatory programme.”

    I thought that placements only lasted 2 weeks and the mandatory places were for the long term unemployed. Whilst there are pitfalls with such a set-up one problem the long-term unemployed face is employers reluctance to take them on because they will not be used to “the world of work” (ie turning up on time and following instructions etc). Work placements provide an opportunity to demonstrate that a person has those aptitudes.

    There are also some (albeit anecdotal) figures that people on workplacements have better chances of getting work – something about 1/3 of people doing work placements in Tesco got work as a result.

  • sorry its 4 weeks, but you can be placed on it more than once

  • http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2012-10-23c.124129.h
    Letter from Glen Watson, dated October 2012

    As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking whether the Office for National Statistics defines people in unpaid workfare-style programmes as being employed in its Labour Market Statistics. (124129)

    The ONS collects information on people participating in government-supported employment and training programmes via the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The information includes the name of the programme and the type of activity being undertaken. Those participants whose activity comprises any form of work, work experience or work-related training are classified as in employment. This is regardless of whether the individual is paid or not.”

  • Richard Swales 29th Dec '12 - 7:43pm

    “If you choose not to have a tv then fine but you are a very small minority so your views are hardly representative of what the population clearly considers a necessity.”

    Just because people have something it doesn’t mean they consider it a neccessity – for example Simon has already stated that he has a TV but doesn’t consider it a necessity. A much narrower majority of people are still able to go on a foreign holiday every year or two, does that mean that a narrow majority of people consider foreign travel a necessity and think that it should be included in calculations of benefits? I had a look at the research on the effects of pre-school TV viewing on development and it is generally negative, with a big exception being children from linguistic minorities who are going to be schooled in the majority language and get an early introduction to it through the TV. As others have pointed out, the original discussion was about a single person, who can not use TV to effectively educate themselves for work.

    As for hairdressers, if people want to waste their money on them then they are of course welcome to, but it is not an essential by any stretch of the imagination. My wife mostly does my hair.

    I think it is a big misconception that the coalition with the Tories is most damaging in urban areas where Labour is the big rival. The most important sell in an urban area is to try to get Tory voters by pointing out they have no chance and only we can beat Labour here. In the past, the perception that the Lib Dems were Labour’s back-up squad stopped that working as effectively as it now will (unless we try the “we agreed with Ed” strategy some are proposing for the next election). Unfortuantely the reverse is true where they were running a Labour squeeze.

  • @Richard Swales

    “As others have pointed out, the original discussion was about a single person, who can not use TV to effectively educate themselves for work.”

    That’s not what was implied in the previous posts, nobody said that a television was vital for education to seek employment. Look at post 29th Dec ’12 – 1:14pm
    “Depriving people access to television because they are on benefits, not only deprives them of knowledge, but it is also completely unreasonable. As has been mentioned on here before, many people feel lonely and isolated, especially in the evenings and tv can be a companion of sorts. I would suggest we would see a lot more mental health crisis/ suicides if we were to take away such a simple “necessity””

    And as for your comment “As for hairdressers, if people want to waste their money on them then they are of course welcome to, but it is not an essential by any stretch of the imagination.”

    A person seeking employment needs to make themselves look tidy and presentable if they hope to have a chance to gain employment. If someone turns up with untidy and unkept hair it’s hardly going to be a good selling point is it.
    Nobody is suggesting they should be visiting salons every other week, but they do need to be well groomed and well presented to put themselves in with a chance. And grooming costs money.
    Not everyone has a family member or close friend who is able to cut their hair for free.

  • “I think it is a big misconception that the coalition with the Tories is most damaging in urban areas where Labour is the big rival. The most important sell in an urban area is to try to get Tory voters by pointing out they have no chance and only we can beat Labour here.”

    Are you suggesting Liberal Democrats use the old, a Vote for “x” is a wasted vote?
    Or a vote for UKIP is wasted vote because they will never get into government.
    That would be quite Ironic really to see that sort of campaigning and it would hardly be selling their idea of “plural politics” would it

  • Simon

    Where do you get this idea that Coalition is not damaging?

    Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Hull, Birmingham, Manchester have seen a huge reduction in the number of councillors and I am completely unconvinced that Tory votes will make up for the switch to Labour

    What sort of values does your party have if you go grubbing about four Tory votes in the urban areas and Labour votes in the rural areas just depending on who your opposition is.

    You should have sacked Clegg when he failed to deliver any type of voting reform in return for your supporting of Tory policies. This will be his legacy. A once in a generation chance of real influence and he dropped the ball.

    Due to this the party is now seen as vote grubbers rather than one of principal.

    After 2015 you will be a party with a similar profile to the Tories. Wiped out in the North, Wales and Scotland apart from areas of rural affluence and focused on the the South East dormitory towns and London suburbs. How you deal with that God only knows

  • “That’s why we’ve introduced the rule that anyone who refuses a reasonable job offer will have their benefits docked, and anyone who refuses three will get no JSA at all for three years.”

    Nick Clegg is basically advocating a course of action which will see people resort to crime/prostitution/suicide /homelessness and/or begging on the streets. Is this really the sort of society Lib Dems want to create?

  • Phyllis

    I suppose it all comes down to the definition of ‘reasonable’. What is your confidence that an Osborne/Alexander view of reasonable is the same as yours?

  • @bazzasc

    I think they will struggle just as much in the London Burgh’s and part of the South East that they currently control, especially when they see a sudden influx of new constituents who have been booted out and cleansed from other parts of the city.
    I think there are going to be some big shocks come the next election with record turn out’s. A lot of people who do not normally bother to turn out to vote will certainly feel compelled too after being trampled on by this government.

  • I am ashamed to read some of the comments here; a ‘liberal’ party discussing the minutae of what the poorest ‘need and deserve’…..
    Some are even proposing using the tactics that LibDems have always condemned, “A vote for x is a wasted vote”…How low has the party fallen?

  • Annie

    I agree

    I admit that I have lost faith with this party. There are still opinions from loyal members I see on here I agree with strongly but they seem to have little or no influence on policy

    The most strident voices within the party are clearly those on the right and I would say people like Simon Shaw are no help in trying to woo back lost voters

    It seems that the tactic is to alienate the left inclined vote and try to position as a nicer Tory party. Similar to in the past where there has been a tactic to be a less authoritarian Labour Party

    Clegg talks from holding on to the centre but at the moment the centre as defined by Clegg is too far to the right. The centre has moved strongly to the right over the years and what we need is a leftward looking alternative to Labour. Some of us thought the LD were that but it is clear they are another right-wing party now but with less of an identity than the others

    I hope Miliband can detoxify Labour and move them to the left so we can have some alternative to the Tories and their pet FDP equivalent who can cater to the needs of the left. We have nothing at the moment

    How Clegg can still be in position after messing up the Coalition so badly from a LD point of view. Voting reform being the most obvious but not only example is beyond me. But I forget that was Labour’s fault!

  • The problem with cutting benefits is when the cuts hit real people as opposed to the work shirking scrounging straw men the Tories like to allude to.

    @Simon Shaw
    You don’t agree with real term cuts to JSA and it is a benefit you probably have experience with due to your daughter struggling to find work. Yet she is lucky to have parents who can support her, for those in a less fortunate situation it is even worse.

    For every benefit there is a real recipient, other peoples sons and daughters. The level of all benefits should be set appropriately and adjusted in line with need, generally by linking to inflation. The meme being peddled by the Tories, which is not countered forcefully enough by Lib Dem Ministers, is that benefit levels are too high, the evidence to support this is not there. Housing benefit is a prime example where it is conveniently left out of the argument that this is a benefit that individuals do not really benefit from at all. If we had not thrown away our social housing stock over the last 30 years there would be more controlled housing benefit, it wouldn’t solve every issue but it would have helped considerably. If HB is too high it is due to rent being too high. Either this needs to be addressed through rent controls or expanding the supply of rental housing and allowing the market to adjust them.

    Arguing over what people should spend benefits on once provided is moving into New Labour authoritarian territory.

  • Peter Watson 30th Dec '12 - 9:38am

    @Steve Way
    “Arguing over what people should spend benefits on once provided is moving into New Labour authoritarian territory.”
    This is the area I find most difficult and have sympathy for both sides of the debate. Whilst we can argue over what is a necessary item, if we simply tot up the costs of these essentials and hand over the cash in benefits then we cannot be sure that it will be spent in the way intended by those picking up the bill. I don’t think anyone sets out to be authoritarian in this, even Labour. We probably end up with an illiberal set of rules even if we start off with good intentions to ensure that those receiving benefits are helped to make good use of it for their own sakes and that those paying taxes do not feel resentful. Perhaps a solution is to provide services rather than cash above a certain subsistence level, and I guess that social housing rather than housing benefit is an example of this.

  • Peter Watson 30th Dec ’12 – 9:38am………….Perhaps a solution is to provide services rather than cash above a certain subsistence level, and I guess that social housing rather than housing benefit is an example of this…………..

    Energy bills would be an example; the government could agree a ‘tariff’ for those on benefits/low pay (especially as those are the group that usually pay the highest rates). Travel cards are another area in which help could be offered.
    I would cancel the “Right to Buy” and embark on a’post-war’ style social housing programme using modern ‘pre-fab’ technology (this would offer a masive employment boost to both skilled and unskilled). This, at least to my mind, would be a far better use of tens of billions of pounds than on saving 15 minutes by HS2…..

  • @annie

    Totally agree.

    If the government were to introduce a subsidised energy tariff for those on welfare we would see a huge decrease in fuel poverty and hopefully a reduction in inflation.

    Travel cards for the unemployed to enable them to be able to actively seek employment better.

    And pre-fab housing would be good all round. It would be a much needed boost for manufacturing and building, create jobs and apprenticeships and tackle the shortage of social housing.

    Benefit could then be adjusted accordingly to a level that most people would not then object too.

    Unemployment would come down, Rents in the private sector would hopefully come down and we would see a reduction in inflation.

  • @Simon Shaw

    You really should stop talking waffle. I am not anti-libdem, never have I claimed to be, so what gives you the right to cast such accusations?

    I have repeated numerous times that I have voted various parties over the years, True, I have voted Labour more than Liberal Democrats, But I have voted Libdem in the past, Including for Simon Wright at the last General Election.

    I am not a Liberal Democrat supporter, but then I am neither a Labour supporter. The only thing that can be said is that I am anti-Tory and anti-BNP

    You really need to get over the fact that people can and will criticise all parties of all hues, but that does not make them anti and it is just ridiculous to claim otherwise.

  • Simon Shaw

    Far left rofl??

    It shows how far to the right you have moved if you think I am far left. From what you continually say on here I do se you as right wing. I don’t see anything that makes you anything but.

    Let me tell you what I believe in

    Free tertiary level education for all
    Reduction in military spending, including nuclear.
    Republican
    PR in what form can be debated
    Opposition to private schools. Firstly removal of charitable status but would love to abolish.
    Investment in science and engineering education and training
    Social housing availability and building
    HoL reform.
    NHS
    Banking regulation tightening and reform.
    Disestablishment of the Church of England
    Establishment of a wealth tax to ensure rich their share. Could be based on a Land tax or otherwise

    I would also like to see the stopping of the rhetoric against the unemployed. Setting poor against poor seems to be an aim of successive governments. I would also like to stop the anti- trade union tirades we hear. this movement has been one of the great motors for social change and should be valued not seen as an enemy within.

    I do not see these as being far left. Only 20 years ago they would have been seen as mainstream. It is politics that has moved to the right.

    If you look at the polls 90% of voters don’t seem to support your position – who is the one who is out of sync. If 25% support my views that is more than you have received in any recent election

    I

  • Richard Swales 30th Dec '12 - 1:46pm

    @simon shaw
    1-3 matt does not really self-describe as an anti-Lib Dem, but he describes himself as being to the left of Labour. If you go a lot further to the left of Labour, the policies become impossible to implement without turning the country into a prison camp, as discovered in Eastern Europe in the period 1948-1989, the contradiction between personal freedom and economic control becomes unsustainable, so it is so it is likely that in the past he voted Lib Dem under a misapprehension that the party was about something it was not. Whether someone wilfully gave him this impression, or he gained it from someone else who was also under that misapprehension is another matter. Surveys have always shown the Lib Dems are the preferred second choice of Tory voters over Labour, which strongly suggests the party has always been widely seen as being to the right of Labour.
    More generally, I know of no way to count up how much is required for needs without looking at what those needs are and aren’t. That doesn’t mean I think the government should force people to spend the money on those things, unlike, bizarrely, matt and annie who suddenly in the last two posts now think that funds should go direct to pay for travel cards for recipients, regardless of whether those recipients think they could better use those funds on other things.

    5. Agree. Lib Dems want to change the system so you vote as per conscience not tactically, but in the absence of public support for this they have to try to do their best within the rules as they stand.

    @everyone
    On the ONS statistics, well matt, you are welcome to correct the statistics by whatever factors you want to take into consideration, that some policy may have an effect on someones ideas about the statistics isn’t a strong reason for or against that policy.

    Phyllis – I have heard a rule whereby job-seekers will be obliged to take work offered or lose their job-seeking status “introduced” (i.e. announced by a politician) by the previous Tory and Labour governments too, so I don’t really expect this latest “introduction” to have any effect on the ground.

    More generally, the question put to us is how one can survive on JSA. The answer is the same way as people have been surviving for thousands of years, all over the world, including when real-terms benefits were much lower than now, including under conditions unimaginably difficult to us – by spending and prioritising within their means and by cooperating as much as they can with other people (e.g. doing a hair-cut swap with someone else). Regardless of how difficult or easy it is to live on JSA, regardless of whether the total welfare bill is 200 million 200 billion or 200 trillion, regardless of whether the government has a surplus or a deficit, and regardless of how easy or hard it is to get a job, the benefits system should never operate in such a way as to leapfrog someone not working ahead of someone working, nor to have the effect of nullifying work done by that person.

    Anyway, I’m finished with this now. I think the only people still reading are those whose minds are not going to be changed one way or the other.

  • Jedi

    Does not surprise you that you disagree

    It is interesting though that Simon Shaw sympathises with you more than me but calls me far left Most of my points have been supported implicitly or explicitly by the LD in the recent past. Some may be a bit more radical but are not inconsistent with LD thinking, especially the left of the party

    Simon. I would say Labour have been a right wowing party since the 90s and I find it odd you would think otherwise. They did spend a lot on public services but that was only due to the underspend from the Tories.

    I don’t see making any room for you as an option. You have supported too many Tory policies to retain any credibility. Labour still have some way to go as well

  • Simon

    The centre has moved right since Thatcher. I don’t see how this is difficult to grasp. Economically all the parties moved right. Do you think the Blair Labour Party was of the left!

    There is a position for a left wing party and I think Miliband is slowly moving that way. In fact he may start to wind back some of the Blairite axioms and we may see some overlap with policies that the LD have proposed in the past

    I ask you the question. If I am so left wing why do you side with Jedi who is an admitted Tory and disagree with my list above many of which have been LD policies? This is more interesting than a debate over left and right? Did you oppose tuition fees, privatisation of the NHS/ education, support PR and Lords Reform. If so why am I so left wing. Economically I don’t think I was too far away from what Cable and the LD were saying in opposition. I remember Cable tearing Osborne a new one in the debates but then Clegg changed his mind

    I really find it difficult to understand why you are in a party where you seem to oppose so many of their policies

  • @Simon Shaw

    I think you are being intentionally difficult again.

    Bazzasc has been quite clear in his posts. All the main parties had shifted to the right in general terms of the left/right Axis
    There was nobody really representing the “Left” unless you count the greens.

    All the parties seemed to have moved their “perceptions” of where the converted “centre ground”

    Nick Clegg has certainly moved his, which is far more to the Right than what most left leaning thinking believe it is, hence the reason why so many left the party in it droves.

    Labour looks like it is positioning itself back towards the left {before Blair} to the true centre ground of politics, and not the one that was moved during the polar shift of the late 90s-2010

  • “I would be delighted if Miliband keeps moving the Labour Party to the left – and I reckon he is politically stupid enough to do that. That would then leave more of the centre and centre-left ground for the Lid Dems to annex.”

    The problem with your argument Simon is that the Liberal Democrats do not hold that position, certainly not in the minds of all the people who have abandoned the party.
    Your perception of the centre ground has been skewed

  • Simon Shaw

    I don’t know but I can venture some ideas

    Tribal loyalty, difficulty for another party to break through in FPTP

    There is also the fact that since 2001 Labour votes disappeared to non- voters and to the LD who portrayed them self as to the left in Labour areas. If you deny the latter it is because you don’t know what your candidates were saying in my area. They were fairly explicit

    You still haven’t said which of my ‘policies’ you disagree with, why you consistently agree with the non-LD right wingers on here and if you do not agree that economically we have seen a consistent move to the right.

  • Further more a left leaning party did flourish in 2010. Liberal Democrats found themselves in Government for the first time in decades, Problem is, they achieved it through misleading people on values and what the party stood for.
    And once in government you have cheerfully skipped further and further to the right and Clegg and people like yourself have been quite happy to insult those voters {after receiving their vote} and stated your quite happy for those kind of left thinking people to return back to Labour because they are not representative of your party.

    It was Libdems have been reduced to their core supporters and even lost some of them.

    I do feel sorry for the more Liberal Left leaning thinkers within the party who have stayed and are trying to change things within the party, because they are not being heard over the louder domineering section who represent more right wing attitudes

  • Oh and by the way Simon it was you said I was on the far left

    I see myself on the soft left. Finding myself in agree my with Tony Greaves, Bill le Breton and a number of other ‘left’ LD. Not completely but enough to consider myself within the catchment of your party pre-Clegg

    My policy beliefs are set out above. I believe they are consistent with the LD and not the far left. Where are my far left policies?

  • Peter Watson 30th Dec '12 - 5:55pm

    @Simon Shaw
    At best it is disingenuous when you say “That really says it all. You want a party to the left of Labour. Why on earth should you think that the Lib Dems, either in the past or now, are the party for you?”
    I would point you to a BBC headline from 2006 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4609756.stm): “Sir Menzies Campbell has promised to fight the next general election to the left of Labour if he wins the contest to become Liberal Democrat leader.” From the article: “Asked whether he wanted the Lib Dems to be to the left of Labour and the Conservative Party, he said: “Yes. I am a creature of the centre left.””

  • Peter Watson 30th Dec '12 - 6:00pm

    P.S.
    Menzies Campbell did become leader so presumably the party was supportive of his position.

  • Simon Shaw

    My local candidate said you were. Was he being economical with the actuality? It seems though that this PPC, who is a good man I have known for a few years is less informed of the party position than you.

    Incredible that so many LD voters seem to have been confused by your message

  • @Simon Shaw

    “I voted for Ming.”

    So you openly admit that you supported a leader who’s position was to direct the party to the left of Labour.

  • Simon Shaw

    So there were 3 candidates who you seem to indicate were left looking and you voted for the least bad option in your view. You then ask me why I thought the LD were left leaning

    Ming was then overthrown by an internal coup to ne narrowly replaced by Clegg. Just!

    Cable was also Labour in the bad old pre-Blair days. Definitely to the left of anything in politics now. The SDP were not exactly that right wing either.

    Looking at that ant you see why I believed my local candidate.

    The right wing push has come latterly

  • Simon Shaw

    Well how does your party work. Seems your leadership doesn’t seem to pay much attention to what the membership says

    You r President seems to spend his time carping from the sidelines and all these resolutions are not worth the paper they are written in

  • “I voted for Ming as the best of the three candidates on offer. I am not sure why you should think I was in the least bit interested in what he allegedly said to the Guardian.”

    Are you suggesting then that a leader of the Liberal Democrats would lie to the media to curry support for the party and his leadership and on top of that you voted to support that kind of politics?

  • Simon Shaw

    Yeah that is the theory. Sure Labour and Tories have the same

    All goes to pot when in Government though doesn’t it?

  • Waaaahhh!

    But we are in coalition and it is soooo hard to influence policy with only 57 MPs so we will just have to go through the Tory lobby or when we feel brave abstain but know it will make no difference as it just gives our new pals the majority

  • @Simon Shaw

    But you said in your post at 8.26pm in reference to these comment and I quote “I happen to think such comments were both incorrect and unhelpful.” so clearly you believe that he made those comments.

  • To now back-pedal and question the validity of the comments made to the BBC and the Guardian seems a bit desperate

  • And I thought the Guardian was one of the Liberal Democrat biggest supporters in the media, well that was until they went into government and became tory-lite

  • Simon Shaw

    He knows more than you -have you read Guardian editorials since the election? The main leader writer went on to work for the Government press office and is a liberal democrat

    I also find your last post a disgrace. I will give you the name of my PPC but he is an honourable man and I believe he told the truth

  • Simon Shaw

    So is completely irrelevant to 2012 then…note, before the election

    Must do better

  • Well surely on something as important as a leaders election campaign, if a media outlet was quoting false quotes from a leader, then there would be a challenge and complaint and the paper would be asked to remove the quote and apologise.

    Since the quote still appears on the press site, I think it is fair to assume the validity.

    I also think on something as important as a leader election campaign, good people like yourselves would make entirely sure what the candidate stands for and what direction the leadership will lead the party.
    It would be kind of silly not to understand your potential candidates direction and priorities.

    I see from the link provided by Peter that story and quote was given in January 2006
    Ming clearly states that he is a creature of the centre left. And to the left of Labour.

    That to me is a pretty bold statement and platform to stand upon to promote what you will deliver to the party. He then won the leadership campaign on March 2006, which as you say, you yourself voted for.

    So I would suggest that clearly in support of Ming and the platform that he inspired to direct the Libdems, you supported the position of being to the left of Labour.

  • @Simon Haw

    “Shows how much you know about newspapers.”

    The guardian supported Liberal Democrats right up until the 2010 election. It was only after entering government and Liberal Democrats did not hold up to their values and promises that they lost the papers support

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/may/04/general-election-newspaper-support#zoomed-picture

  • Simon Shaw

    I don’t care what you think. I was there

    In that poll there is not much to choose on the perception between Labour and the LD so there is a claim that the LD were portraying themselves as being on the left and this stuck.

    You keep telling me that the LD could not be considered as being to the left of Labour when you quote a poll that says there was not much difference between them.

    The point is that the poll was 2010 before the election and so any perception from then may, and probably will be, completely different.

  • By the way I don’t accept that in a historical context any of them are classically left wing. The pre 80s Governments of all colours would probably think all of the parties are right wing

  • sorry no insult meant in the typo of name, my keys are sticking on my keyboard and I have been having a nightmare the last couple of days. Just wanted to clarify that point that it was not intentional and by no means any disrespect.

  • Maggie Smith 31st Dec '12 - 12:33am

    @Simon.

    “What the graphic shows is that the default position of the Guardian is to support Labour. They have merely reverted to type.”

    So everyone else can shuffle, move around, revert to type, swing left and right except the Lib Dems, anchored as they are in the centre ground. Even when an ex leader stated that he wanted to take the party to the left of Labour (btw the word YES in his response if the give away there), are you suggesting he didn’t or twisting it to appear that his tongue slipped or something?

  • Simon Shaw

    It was a few years ago so do not remember the exact words but he explicitly said that the LD should now be considered to the left of Labour. He cited tuition fees, ID cards, Iraq, lack of banking regulation, detention orders etc

    To be honest this also reinforced the perception given by the leadership at the time, especially in the 2005 election. I never liked Clegg and said this to him prior to the last election. He said that fundamentally nothing had changed and that Labour were well to the right of the LD position on most issues.

    I find it strange you find this difficult to accept. Can you give me an example where the LD took a position to the right of Labour in 2005-2010

    A single poll on this type go question is always difficult to interpret. Give me some concrete policy examples where you are to the right of Labour prior to 2010?

  • Jedi

    Yeah you are right. Can’t argue with that

  • I think its certainly fair to say that labour were far more authoritarian than lib dems and Tories in the latter years of Blair/ Brown. Whether they were more rightwing is debateable. The policies were certainly right wing, privatisation of the NHS, PFI for example, but the language was certainly of the soft left or centre left.

    There has not been an economically left wing government for half a century, I doubt we will ever have one again. Even F Hollande is perusing right wing policies and had his token socialist supertax struck down.

    As for lib dems and labour Pre 2010 the lib dems took a touger line for example on defense cuts than labour, but would this fiscal hawkishness be seen as left wing due to the right’s traditional support for high defense spending?

    I’m not sure the arguments are that straightforward in left/right terms as the 2003-2010 years were not dominated by economic struggles between left and right, but political struggles between individual liberty and 2 megalomaniacs with a desire for war.

  • The last several dozen posts here appear to be of the ‘angels on pinhead’ counting variety. The original origins of ‘left wing’ (from the French Estates General of 1789) related to whether the persons concerned were essentially ‘progressive’ or ‘conservative': the progressives sat to the left of the president’s chair. Which simplicity hides a multitude of sins.

    For a long time thereafter, any person who wished to redistribute power and/or income was called ‘left wing’ regardless of how conservative they were in all sorts of other spheres. The paradox, of course, was that the people who ended up running various ‘communist’ states were often as conservative as they come and would happily have’ conserved’ any governing system which put themselves, and people like themselves, into positions of power.

    The use of ‘left wing’ tends to be spattered around in all sorts of largely-meaningless ways, sometimes pejoratively, sometimes approvingly, largely dependent upon which audience one is attempting to address. This is made worse by the electorate largely being ignorant of what political parties actually stand for (either philosophy or policies) and having this concept concerning each party spoon-fed to them by media which are often equally-ignorant and/or biased. Add that to the fact that the party leaders at any given time are often significantly out of step with the body of their own party on left-right spectrum issues and the whole issue becomes so convoluted one might as well ignore it.

  • Peter Watson 31st Dec '12 - 4:17pm

    @Tony Dawson “The original origins of ‘left wing’ (from the French Estates General of 1789) related to whether the persons concerned were essentially ‘progressive’ or ‘conservative’: the progressives sat to the left of the president’s chair.”
    Well I never. Genuine thanks for that little fact – it’s like the occasional joy that comes from watching QI.

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