Three things we’ve learned from today’s opinion polls

Three interesting and important poll findings to report today…

Big lead for Labour according to ICM

polling station -  Some rights reserved by Simon Clayson
First, the Guardian’s monthly ICM poll is out, showing the biggest Labour lead in almost a decade:

    Labour 41% (+3%)
    Conservatives 29% (-4%)
    Lib Dems 13% (-2%)
    Ukip 9% (+3%)
    Others 8% (+1%)

The movements are more or less within the margin of error. Still, the Tories will be pretty disappointed to see the party get no bounce at all from David Cameron’s promise of a post-2015 EU referendum. Perhaps unsurprisingly it looks like the more the Tories bang on endlessly about the subject the more they help Nigel Farage. Couple that with the party’s determination to tear itself apart on issues like single-sex marriage and defeat in 2015 appears almost certain.

… But the 2015 election isn’t in the bag yet

And yet, and yet… the ICM poll has a sting in the tail for Labour, too. Asked to choose the single most important reason for the new economic downturn during the last quarter of 2012, here’s what voters say:

    29% – Debts which the last Labour government racked up to finance unsustainable spending
    16% – Chill economic winds blowing in from the troubled Eurozone
    21% – Banks refusing to provide loans to firms that they need to invest in their businesses
    23% – The sharp cuts in public expenditure being introduced by the coalition government

Growth may be at standstill (at best) but Gordon Brown is still getting the blame from a plurality of voters rather than George Osborne. If the economy grows even sluggishly over the next couple of years chances are it’s going to be Labour which has to defend its economic record in 2015, not the Tories or Lib Dems.

So Labour’s poll lead, whopping as the headlines might lead us to believe, could turn out to be very soft indeed if there’s any sort of viable economic recovery in place. That’s potentially good news for the Tories; but at least as likely for the Lib Dems since most of Labour’s extra votes since 2010 have come at our expense.

And a significant number of Labour supporters will still vote tactically for the Lib Dems

And here’s where the the third interesting poll finding today comes into play. YouGov’s Peter Kellner today published his assessment of the forthcoming Eastleigh by-election, which included the results of a question which put voters in precisely the dilemma that exists in those seats where it’s a Lib Dem / Tory face-off.

Imagine that political commentators and opinion polls were saying that only the CONSERVATIVE and LIBERAL DEMOCRAT parties had realistic chances of winning the by-election in your seat – how would you then vote?

2010 GB result %Current GB support %By-election vote in LD-Con contest %
Conservative373334
Labour304123
Lib Dem241123
Ukip3910
Others6610

What this table shows is that Labour supporters are still willing to vote tactically in favour of the Lib Dems where there’s a straight contest between us and the Tories. Sure, the proportion of switchers is unsurprisingly fewer than in the past. But it’s still significant. And it’s worth noting that this is a nationally representative sample, not a sample of voters who’ve been exposed to years of Lib Dem activity at a local level (as, say, in Eastleigh) where you would expect the number of potential switchers to be much higher.

Kellner’s conclusion?

… all else being equal, the by-election is for the Lib Dems to lose. They have a strong local party and an excellent record in recent local elections in the area. Our figures suggest that they should be able to squeeze Labour’s support to some extent. The Tories will hope to match this by squeezing UKIP support; but they may be disappointed. Past by-elections in the current parliament have shown that UKIP is able to win impressive numbers of votes even when they have had no realistic chance of winning the seat. Our poll also shows UKIP’s vote holding up in a Con-Lib Dem battle. To win Eastleigh, then, the Conservatives must overcome a number of handicaps. But if they do, Nick Clegg could be in trouble. … On the other hand, a Lib Dem victory would suggest that the party is able to defy national trends in the seats they are defending.

* 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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131 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Feb '13 - 8:23pm

    It’s not the coalition. I think we just need to broaden our appeal. I won’t go into detail but at the moment I fear the party does not appeal to the rich, the poor or the aspirational middle.

  • Cheltenham Robin 11th Feb '13 - 8:27pm

    Thanks John for your thought provoking comment. Could you perhaps provide a URL to your research.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Feb '13 - 8:31pm

    To offer a practical solution I would stop banging on about wealth taxes and do more about council tax. Council tax not mansion tax is what concerns the public.

  • Peter Watson 11th Feb '13 - 9:08pm

    I don’t see how the article can conclude that Labour’s lead is soft when the polling evidence used to make this case appears to indicate high support for Labour despite those polled blaming Labour. Besides which, the number blaming Labour is precisely the same as those expressing a voting intention for the tories, suggesting that is not the part of the electorate Labour are going to court. The lead may be soft – but better reasons are needed to explain that.
    I have always thought that when push comes to shove in any given seat, tactical voting means that Lib Dems could outperform their poor national polling, but that raises the question, “What is the point of the Lib Dems?”, if after 5 years sharing the reigns of power the party is still defined by what it is not (not Tory and not Labour) rather than defined by what it is in its own right.

  • “And yet, and yet… the ICM poll has a sting in the tail for Labour, too. Asked to choose the single most important reason for the new economic downturn”

    But it also shows that 60% of those do not believe that the “single most important reason” for the downturn was caused by the previous Labour government. And the 29% that did are more than likely Tory or orange booker Liberal Democrats.

    The more the coalition parties “try” to continuously blame the last government for the Financial crisis and the current Economic downturn, the more people are beginning to realise the Economic Incompetence of “this government”

    People are well aware that it is a “global economic” crisis that has affected most of the world, or was Labour responsible for that also.

  • “What this table shows is that Labour supporters are still willing to vote tactically in favour of the Lib Dems where there’s a straight contest between us and the Tories.”

    Yes, it’s interesting and (I think) surprising, but it has to be borne in mind that what it’s actually showing is that in places where Labour was out of the running, a bit more than a quarter of those currently intending to vote Labour would transfer to the Lib Dems. The trouble is that in places where Labour is out of the running, the Labour vote is by definition low – say typically 15%. So we probably aren’t talking about more than a boost of 4% for the Lib Dems relative to what the national polls imply.

    But probably even that’s over-optimistic, because in such seats many Labour voters will already be aware of the situation, and their tactical votes will already be in the Lib Dems’ “current support” figure. If that’s true of half the potential tactical voters, the boost drops to maybe a couple of percentage points.

    What would be more interesting is a direct “Did you vote tactically in 2010?/Will you vote tactically in 2015?” comparison.

  • @Simon Shaw

    That is just utter nonsense which the majority of the people are starting to see though.

    We could just as easily blame the Tories and the Liberal Democrats for playing a part in the 2007 Economic Downturn.

    Her Majesties opposition is “supposed” to hold government to account. The shadow cabinet gets access to governments finances as well. Did they hold Labour to account?
    NO! Liberal Democrats and Tories where pledging to match Labours spending.
    The Tories were calling for “less” regulation of the banks.

    Labour did borrow more, but then we “had” to invest in Schools and Hospitals, because the previous Tory Government failed to do so and left us trailing in Education, soaring NHS waiting lists and run down hospitals. The county needed to borrow more to bring us up to date.

    How is what Labour did any different to what this coalition government is doing? This government is borrowing “Billions” to spend on HS2 and Road infrastructure. In times of Austerity and a global down turn, can we afford to be adding to the nations debt by borrowing Billions for Roads and Railways, surely you must believe that is irresponsible if you are to apply the same set of standards to the previous government.

  • @Simon Shaw

    “Despite that, more people agreed that it was the “debts which the last Labour government racked up to finance unsustainable spending” as being the single most important reason for the new economic downturn than any other cause.”

    Where is you evidence for this claim, because according to the ICM poll 60% of those “did not” think the single most important reason new economic downturn was caused by Labour. Only 29% of people thought this, which is not “most people”

  • Imagine the poll was conducted in June 2010, what would be the proportions blaming Brown for the general situation rather than Osborne? Presumably only numbers in the low single figures would be blaming Osborne at that stage, so if we extrapolate the trend then it looks more likely that it is the government who would have to defend its record – which may by that stage be perceived as good.

  • The question about the downturn is allocated only one “answer” which dates back to 2007-8, and that is the one which implicates Labour. Clearly, the downturn did start in 2007-8, not later. Clearly, whatever harm the Euro crisis is doing now, it didn’t cause the crash, because it happened later! So, anyone who has a sufficient grasp of history to recognise that is likely to feel obliged to tick the “Labour” box, whether or not they really feel Labour was primarily at fault (or just one of many players who made mistakes).

    (No doubt some people are going to say that makes it a brilliant question….)

  • Simon Shaw “Despite that, more people agreed that it was the “debts which the last Labour government racked up to finance unsustainable spending” as being the single most important reason for the new economic downturn than any other cause.”

    I suggest you have another go at reading the figures a bit more accurately. I’m sure you’ll see the error if you think about it for a few minutes.

  • @Simon Shaw

    I can read perfectly well thanks and am able to interpret the results and clearly see that the “majority” of those polled did not believe Labour to be the single biggest cause, and in fact only 29% of those who wee polled who did think this was the case, was coincidently the same figure of 29% which the Conservative party scored in this Poll {coincidence}

    Simon to keep a conversation flowing it would be more practical if you could respond to questions and opinions in “order” like the points I made in http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-polls-33173.html#comment-239710

  • Peter Watson 11th Feb '13 - 10:38pm

    @matt & @Simon Shaw
    It is interesting to see how the opinion of the single most important factor varies with voting intention. From the ICM report for each factor (Con/Lab/LD/UKIP/Other):
    Debts which the last Labour government racked up to finance unsustainable spending (53/10/33/44/13)
    Chill economic winds blowing in from the troubled Eurozone (19/18/15/17/4)
    Banks refusing to provide loans to firms that they need to invest in their businesses (15/25/22/14/35)
    The sharp cuts in public expenditure being introduced by the coalition government (6/37/21/11/41)
    Don’t Know (7/9/9/14/6)

    Tory and UKIP voters overwhelmingly blame the previous Labour government, but Lib Dems are more divided, with 33% blaming Labour but 21% blaming the coalition.

  • @Simon Shaw

    Actually the majority do agree with me. 60% of those polled.

    As for evidence, every time either the Tories or Liberal Democrats talk about the economy, they blame Labour.

    You didn’t answer my questions either.

    A) Do you support “this government” for borrowing billions to spend on roads and railways?
    B) Do you think it is responsible to add to the national debt on these infrastructure projects in times of am economic downturn

  • Peter Watson 11th Feb '13 - 10:48pm

    @Simon Shaw, @matt, @Phyllis
    Can we just agree that 29% thought that the single most important reason that Britain slipped into a new economic downturn during the last quarter of 2012, 60% thought there was another reason, and 11% didn’t know, and then have a more constructive debate about what that means rather than who said what.

  • @Peter Watson.

    I am happy to agree to the facts which you have pointed to :-)

  • Personally I find the negativity about the last Govt off-putting. I think history will be kinder to Brown than contemporary assessments. His reaction to the initial financial crisis may well have prevented a much bigger catastrophe. And certainly many members of the present Govt spent much of the previous 10 years calling for lighter financial regulation. Brown’s error was not to repay National Debt in a time of plenty before the crisis, and allow too much personal debt at that time. But some Lib Dems do the party a disservice by exaggerating, and I think this almost every time I hear our spokespeople talking economics nowadays.

  • Peter Watson,

    Happy to go with that, though I’m actually just passing through this thread. It seems the usual ‘polls are misleading and Lib Dems are doing great’ deluded approach to me..

  • Peter Watson 11th Feb '13 - 11:32pm

    @Simon Shaw “assuming the words “was the last Labour Government” should have been inserted shortly agfter 29%”
    Oops – something went AWOL in the copy and paste!
    Much of the split between attributing blame for the recent economic downturn is along party lines and reflects the voting intention proportions. For me the most interesting part of that poll question is the fact that 21% of those still intending to vote Lib Dem blame coalition policies for the most recent economic downturn, suggesting a large part of the party’s support dissents from the economic policies championed by Clegg/Laws/Alexander. I am unclear how (or if) the leadership should respond to this. Perhaps it emphasises the importance of the party’s other policies. Or maybe the party could emphasise Lib Dem economic policies before 2010 to distance itself from tory-led coalition policies since then, and capitalise on blaming both Labour and Tories for causing the current malaise (though that would require some delicate political handling to say the least).

  • I am confused by those who say Labour should not be blamed. Are they saying that Labour did not overspend or spend too much on the wrong things? Are they saying that Labour did not fail to cool an overheating economy (with rocketing house prices)? Are they saying that Labour did not fail to adequately regulate the financial sector? Are they saying that Labour did the classic Keynsian tactic of saving in the good times?

    What are they saying the coalition government should have done? (the answer here would be interesting since Labour themselves are remain mute on this point)

    Do these people not realise that Labour are trying to pin blame for economic difficulties that originate from their time in office. Do they not realise that other European countries were better placed to weather the economic storm and that things really could have been better?

  • @Martin, Labour supporters and those who want a Coalition with Labour like to continue living in the dreamland which led to this current crisis, so they blame Labour’s boom was all Labur’s doing and Labour’s bust had nothing to do with Labour because that is the only way the dream can stay alive.

    The fact is, to solely blame Labour for the recession would be like solely blaming this Government for its continuing existence. There are things to this recession which are much bigger than our Governments of the last 2 and half decades. So we have to accept there were things out of Labour’s control which led to the recession.

    However, that does not mean that Labour can wash its hands of the whole affair, they, like many others, were all too happy to join the party with deregulation, oversprending, running at a deficit even before the recession, investing in blackhole projects like schools for the future, not protecting certain key infrastructures, allowing the country to become over-reliant on one form of economic stimulus, based in one region. They made a host of bad decisions which seriously weakened our country and meant when recession hit, we were completely unprepared.

    Of course, these same blames can be flown at the electorate of that time as well, who are were also all too willing to live without regard to the future.

  • A big part of the problem with the narrative is that “Labour borrowed too much” is a huge and not entirely accurate simplification which, given the economic problems across the world, people find too simplistic. Across the developed world, to varying degrees, political and economic systems have become geared to the short term, with individuals, companies and politicians all making decisions that maximise their income now at the expense of longer term prosperity. In 2008 the chickens started to come home to roost and almost every western economy (all except a few cushioned by significant natural resources, like Norway and Canada) has been plunged into crisis.

    Much of this would have happened regardless of who was in government, and a lot of people sense this.

    Labour’s culpability is that a) they remained in denial until almost the very end, insisting that the illusory boom of the ‘borrow and spend’ years was down to their economic policies (“no more boom and bust” etc) despite growing alarm at the exposure of the economy to debt, b) they followed far too close to Bush’s US government and kept their distance from economies such as Germany that took a much more prudent approach, c) yes, they expanded spending at a time when they should have been running a surplus (not that anyone was advising them to change their approach at the time) and compounded things with other ways (PFI, student loans..) of spending now and paying later, c) Britain is particularly reliant upon the financial sector where a loose regulatory environment (which Labour is responsible for, although by implementing essentially right-wing policies) left the whole sector exposed to potential collapse when the ‘boom’ came to an end, d) Britain’s problems of government debt are surpassed by well above average levels of private debt (due to our housing boom coupled with the loose regulatory environment on borrowing) – many people are now sensibly trying to pay down debt which is why it’ll be a long time before sustainable growth can return, e) Labour wasn’t sufficiently honest in explaining that Brown’s ‘rescue plan’ (for which he deserves some credit) didn’t magic the crisis away, but largely deferred and potentially magnified it, and would inevitably require prolonged austerity to get things back on track. Our problems are also compounded by the past government having managed to avoid the housing market shock which although painful has left economies such as Ireland and US some advantages in getting through the crisis rather quicker than the UK.

    This is a mix of mistakes that many other governments made and Labour having been in office when the music stopped, made worse by a PM that always understood the detail but was completely blind to the big picture.

    Labour’s biggest failing isn’t so much what they did – but that they still don’t understand or accept what went wrong and, insofar as they have any coherent economic policy at all, are advocating changes that would make things worse.

    The concern, of course, is whether the current government has actually learned the lessons – essentially the need for significant structural reform to both politics and the economy – or is being dragged back to the short term “push the problem off until after the next election” approach that slowly created the crisis in the first place. Liberal Democrats, having argued for many such reforms for longer and being closer to German/Scandinavian thinking on how politics and economics should be managed, should be better placed than other parties to lead the way. But this advantage is relative not absolute and it is clearly difficult to make much progress as the minority partner in a coalition.

    Quite probably and very sadly it will take another larger crisis before the need for more widespread structural change becomes sufficiently accepted. Whether LibDems will get any credit for being less wrong than the other established parties remains to be seen.

  • @Simon Shaw

    I am still curious to hear you answer to my question.

    Whether you support “this government’s plan to spend Billions of Pounds on Infrastructure, Roads and Railways, and if you do why?

  • Peter Watson 12th Feb '13 - 8:05am

    Whilst Labour were the party in government carrying out the overspending, Lib Dems and Tories were in opposition promising to match it, so blaming Labour does sound a little hollow.
    Besides which, the voters need to be assured that the party in charge knows how to get us out of this mess regardless of who created it, and this government’s credibility in this regard is damaged: it has regularly failed to meet its targets for growth and has delivered the double-dip recession it said would not happen.
    Before May 2010, Cable seemed to be the best candidate for chancellor but in government we seem to have adopted the tory policies (inevitably given the relative sizes of the coalition partners) that we warned before the elction would not work. And Clegg / Laws / Alexander seem to have done this with such enthusiasm that we can’t even say “Told you so” and distance ourselves from the results of those policies.

  • I would be amazed if the 29% who blame Labour for the economic woe don’t look quite a lot like the 29% who said they would vote Tory! I should be more amazed still if the intending Labour vote is soft, and astounded if the Eastleigh contest now proves to be any sort of indicator at all of what will happen at the next GE in the midlands, north, Scotland or Wales. The plush south doesn’t determine election outcomes, thankfully!

  • Bill le Breton 12th Feb '13 - 9:39am

    The trouble with blaming Labour’s economic policy is that it closes down an option for what we should do now. It makes it much harder to change course.

    Let’s put aside policy prior to 2008/09 (as others have said, we didn’t oppose the pre 2008 policy and when someone mentions 2002 above they seem to forget that was shortly after the dot com bust and the world was trying to avoid deflation). And I can’t recall us opposing the post-2008/09 policy until after the 2010 general election.

    At the time of that general election the long term trend for the growth in GDP (measured in current prices) had been regained – 5% growth.

    Our leader and negotiating team then agreed with Conservative plans to step up the pace of reducing the deficit and introduced an ‘emergency’ budget – stupid word to use when recovery was all about confidence. You might read David Laws, ‘22 Days in May’ for the true extent to which ‘we’ pushed through accelerated deficit reduction.

    We then tried to support this with claims that ‘otherwise’ we would be in the same position as Greece, ramped up the alarming communications still further, encouraged by the Governor of the Bank of England.

    Consumers unsurprisingly ran for cover and firms retrenched. Whilst ‘our’ strategy was to chase the export market????? We then squandered the advantages of the significant currency depreciation allowing the pound steadily to rise, tightening monetary policy still further.

    I think history will show that on day one of the Coalition we needed to change the regime at the Bank of England and instruct them to do whatever it took to preserve that rte-established long term trend for cash GDP of 5%.

    It is much harder to do that now, but not impossible – in fact the only thing stopping us is the fear of explaining that ‘we’ were wrong in 2010 and why it has been so long for ‘us’to change policy.

  • It’s hard not to conclude that no-one has a clue what is going on.

  • The central point is that opposition poll ratings are always inflated in mid-term. The “Blairite” Labour site “Labour uncut” recently ran a study of typical opposition mid-term poll ratings, compared to vote share at the following election & calculated that Labour would need a 12% lead now just to come level with the Tories in 2015. The current average Labour lead is 8%, suggesting they can expect to come out 4% behind the Conservatives in 2015.
    Whatever happens there is really no doubt that Labours poll leads will fall as the Election approaches; the question is how Labour supporters will react ? The most likely answer is that the reaction will be the usual one, each faction will argue more loudly for their own line while blaming other factions for sabotage & groups of MPs will lauch pointless & half- arsed coups against Milliband. Labour, like the Tories will appear weak & divided.
    Far from being destroyed we face a real opportunity to “break the mould” in 2015 & that is terrifying.

  • Simon Hebditch 12th Feb '13 - 10:19am

    Frankly, I am not that concerned about projecting future election results but rather beleive that we should be advocating policies and programmes with which we agree. One of my major concerns about the current coalition is that the Lib dems have signed up to the economic strategy and consequent programmes put forward by the Tories right up until 2018. So, Nick and the leadership cannot credibly put forward an alternative economic policy in the manifesto or during the election.

    If elections are decided on ” the economy,stupid”, then we are stymied by the commitment we made at the time of the last autumn statement. I suppose we could renege on the commitment – there is a precedent for it!

  • @Martin 12th Feb ’13 – 12:17am

    “I am confused by those who say Labour should not be blamed. Are they saying that Labour did not overspend or spend too much on the wrong things? ”

    What do you believe Labour over spent on? Do you think Labour was wrong to Borrow Billions of Pounds to build new schools and renovate old schools? The former Tory government left our education system in tatters due to their failings to spend money on building new schools. We had overcrowded classrooms, Children being taught in {cold mobile classrooms} dilapidated buildings, lack of facilities, Britain would have been at risk of being left trailing behind in education standards compared to other countries. If Labour had allowed this tend to continue on under their watch, both Tories and Liberal Democrats would have been shouting from the opposition benches that Labour was failing the education system.

    Do you believe Labour were wrong to borrow Billions of Pounds to spend on new hospitals and bringing older dilapidated hospitals up to standard? The previous Tory Government did not build any new hospitals. We had exceptionally high waiting lists. The NHS used to be regarded as one of the best health care organisations in the world. To keep up to date with an ever growing and ageing population we needed to invest in New Hospitals, equipments, training and research, What would the Liberal Democrats and Tories have been saying whilst in opposition if Labour had failed to keep up with the advancements in medical treatments and diagnostics and ended up trailing behind other counties in health care?

    “Are they saying that Labour did not fail to cool an overheating economy (with rocketing house prices”

    How do you propose Labour should have gone about that alone? This was a global problem where most counties were caught up in a property bubble, Our banks were heavily exposed to American Banks which had so many dodgy loans on their books. Across Europe the property bubble burst leaving black holes in all the banks books. It was also the Tory Government that introduced the right to buy scheme, selling off our social housing stock and not replacing them with new builds. The sudden influx of ex-council houses on the property markets pushed the prices up on all properties. Many people who had purchased their ex-council homes at extremely low prices were able to sell with “huge profits” and move in to new more expensive housing, which of course pushes up the values of housing. We then had a crash in the 90s which saw Hundreds of Thousands of families struggling to pay for their mortgages on their ex-council homes, Homes where being repossessed at an alarming rate. These homes were being snapped up at bargain prices by private landlords who then rented out these properties at inflated rents.
    Labour at least reduced the discount people could get on purchasing their council homes, however the Tories have now decided to “increase” the discounts once more, so lessons from the past have not been leant.
    Once the Financial Crisis hit again in 2007/8 and the property bubble burst yet again and we saw more and more people facing repossessions, we saw a sudden influx of companies offering to buy properties from people who were at risk of repossession and renting back to them, once again “extortionate rents” pushing up the rents in the private sector. What were the Tories doing during all this time, calling for “less regulation” on the banks.

    ” Are they saying that Labour did not fail to adequately regulate the financial sector”

    Labour did fail to regulate the financial sector, but so did the entire world economies. And the Tories were calling for less regulation. What the banks have been doing is totally illegal, Rigging the LIBOR rates, miss-selling Payment protection Insurance and other products, Over charging fee’s and dodgy investments, this has left the banking industry exposed to Billions of Pounds of compensation and losses. These scandals have bought our economies to it’s knees. Banks no longer want to lend money, Businesses struggling to get access to money, and households are no longer wanting to borrow more money on their mortgages and credit cards due to the fears and uncertainties, job securities, and the cuts and rises in costs of living. This has affected demand in the economy as people real in their spending, which is why we are seeing so many more companies going to the wall.

    The global economy is in a mess, so to constantly think Labour is to blame for all of Britain’s woes is just ludicrous.

    My question is though, what are the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats doing differently “now” to what labour did whilst they were in government? They are borrowing billions of pounds to spend on roads and railways. Is that more acceptable to increase the UK’s debt for this kind of infrastructure, compared to Labours borrowing Billions to spend on education and health?

  • Paul in Twickenham 12th Feb '13 - 11:01am

    @Matt – “Is this more acceptable… than Labour’s borrowing billions to spend on education and health”.

    Well, yes, actually it is. The Labour government was borrowing at a time when a purely Keynesian analysis would have been suggesting that the government should have been paying down debt. However in the depths of a recession it is entirely right that the government should step in to take up the slack in the economy.

    I think the real issue is that the coalition (like most governments, the IMF, the World Bank, and all the “economists”) made a catastrophic error by underestimating the fiscal multiplier. Cutting government expenditure by 1% was supposed to have a effect of reducing GDP by perhaps 0.5% but it fact the effect appears to be more like 2% or even 3%.

    Hindsight is 20-20, and I think that what we now know proves that Vince Cable was exactly right in what he said during the general election campaign in 2010 – and the Liberal Democrats were utterly wrong to allow themselves to be led by the nose into implementing Tory economic policies without a word of criticism.

  • What Bill le Bretton said.
    The fact is the coalition inherited growth and the Lib Dem’s economic policy in 2010 was very similar to Labour’s. This is why some of us do not entirely approve of the current coalition narrative.
    The problem , for people like me, is that the lib Dem leadership is caught up in the coalitions internal politics and are arguing for the continuation of Conservative policies that are not working and never will work.

  • @Paul in Twickenham

    “Well, yes, actually it is. The Labour government was borrowing at a time when a purely Keynesian analysis would have been suggesting that the government should have been paying down debt”

    So you do not think the uk would have suffered had Labour not spent on Education? If Education standards continued to fall we would have been even more reliant on Migrant workers to fill the gap.
    The Tories did not spend any money on building new schools or bringing up dilapidated old ones to a proper standard. Classroom sizes where far to large and children were having to share vital resources, books, computers, etc.
    If this would have continued we would have been neglecting the education of students and putting them at a disadvantage compared to education standards in other counties.

    The same applies to the NHS and the University Hospitals that were built under Labour, we had to fix the horrendous state that the previous Tory government left the NHS in. Longer waiting lists, people being treated in corridors instead of wards. Investing in research, equipment and education was vital for the UK to keep up to date with other leading countries in health care. The Tories chums and donors from “private medical companies” certainly do not seem to be complaining about the NHS equipment and resources that they now use to treat patients and earn huge profits.

  • I am curious Paul

    Why is it ok to add to the Nations Debt with spending on roads and railways and not Education, Schools & Health?

  • Richard Harris 12th Feb '13 - 2:03pm

    @Paul Barker
    “Far from being destroyed we face a real opportunity to “break the mould” in 2015 & that is terrifying.”
    Am I understanding your argument? As the election approaches the two larger parties will fight with themselves to such an extent that both tory voters and labour voters will turn to the Libdems as the party that will “break the mould”?
    Am I the only one that thinks the Lib Dems going into the next election promising something different has a familiar ring about it? I think that bridge has been well and truly burnt. I see no reason why disillusionment with the other two parties would result in more votes for the Lib Dems – that was the situation last time around, but this time the Lib Dems are a part of government – haven’t they been building the mould?

  • “29% – Debts which the last Labour government racked up to finance unsustainable spending
    16% – Chill economic winds blowing in from the troubled Eurozone
    21% – Banks refusing to provide loans to firms that they need to invest in their businesses
    23% – The sharp cuts in public expenditure being introduced by the coalition government”

    So they didn’t have the correct answer to choose from? – i.e. the unwinding of the private sector credit bubble.

  • Paul in Twickenham 12th Feb '13 - 2:31pm

    @Matt – it’s not a question of “this spending is good and that spending is bad”. You asked the question “is the Coalition’s spending on infrastructure more acceptable than Labour borrowing to spend on education and health?”. The answer (viewed in a Keynesian context) is “yes, the coalition’s spending *is* more acceptable”.

    During the first half of the 2000’s we were told that the economy was “booming” – GDP growth was positive continously from 1997 to 2007. In such circumstances the Keynesian thing for a government to do is to live within the means of its generated revenue (e.g. taxation) and to pay down accumulated debt. Then when times are bad such as during recession, the government can borrow money and take up the slack from private industry. If you increase indebtedness when taxation revenues are good then when exactly are you going to pay down the nations debt?

    If you are now asking the question “why has the coalition chosen to prioritize infrastructure over health and education?” the answer is that I’m not clear that it has. It has simply decided to spend more on infrastructure than it had previously planned. You could turn the question around and ask “why was Labour not willing to spend as much money on building decent homes for the people of this country than the coalition are?”.

  • Hasn’t anyone thought how the same old soundbites from coalition politicians so turn off voters that a challenge by someone with something original to say, like John O’Farrell should he be selected by Labour, might even leave the LibDems relegated to third place in Eastleigh?
    Admittedly, at the moment that looks unlikely; but by-elections provide fertile ground for insurgents, as this party surely knows.

  • “why has the coalition chosen to prioritize infrastructure over health and education”

    The Tories never do this because on the whole their supporters do not use public services. They have private health insurance and they and their off-spring go to private schools.

  • Sorry should read ” do this”

  • “the only thing stopping us is the fear of explaining that ‘we’ were wrong in 2010 ”

    You could put a catchy tune to it.

  • @Paul

    Well I am sorry but I just do not agree.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/oct/18/deficit-debt-government-borrowing-data#zoomed-picture
    If you look at the finances of the UK since the 1979 “all” governments have run a budget deficit, apart from a couple of years during John Major as chancellor and a couple of years during Browne when there was a surplus.

    From 1979 to 1997 whilst the Tories were in Government, the then government failed to keep pace with the rest of the world and Invest in Education, Schools and Health. Hospitals were in a mess and Britain was trailing in education, we had a shortage of skills which left us dependant on skilled migration to plug the hole.

    When labour came into power, they sort too rectify this by building more schools and hospitals. In 2007 Labour was running a budget deficit “lower” than what the Tories were running in 1993/94 that is despite the huge amounts of investment and spending Labour had made in health and education.

    The deficit then soared in 2008 because of the collapse of the banks and the cost of bailing out those banks, and the massive loss in tax receipts.

    I am not suggesting that Labour did not waste money in some area’s and that there where not mistakes made. But what I am stating is that Britain desperately needed that investment if we wanted to keep our place as a leading economic county.

    The point I am tying to make is that Labour are constantly criticised for their budget deficits and borrowing. Even though whilst in opposition the Tories and the Liberal Democrats were pledging to match that spending. It was not until “after” the crash in 2007/08 that the opposition started to criticize the government and blame them for the crash,
    This coalition took government in 2010 and since then they have steered us into a double dip recession, probably a triple dip recession. They are binging forwards billions of pounds worth of borrowing to spend on roads and railways adding even more money to our national debt.
    I am not even suggesting that this money should not be borrowed & spent on Infrastructure, it probably does and we probably need it and will probably help the economy in the long run,
    what I am suggesting is that it is hypocritical to criticize Labour for doing exactly the same thing “spending huge amounts of money they didn’t have” on health and education whilst they were in power, because the country needed it back then to improve the shocking falling standards left by the Tories.

  • Stuart Mitchell 12th Feb '13 - 5:27pm

    Matt: “Liberal Democrats and Tories were pledging to match Labours spending.”

    That’s not quite right. The Lib Dems actually pledged to EXCEED Labour’s spending plans in both the 2001 and 2005 manifestoes – a fact conveniently forgotten by those Lib Dems who queue up in threads such as this to lambast Labour for “over-spending”!

  • Liberal Neil 12th Feb '13 - 5:43pm

    @matt – picking up on your general questions. I do not think the last Government was wrong to borrow to invest in capital spending like building schools and hospitals although I do think they were wrong to use PFI to do it.

    I do think they were wrong to increase current spending on things like tax credits to those earning above average income.

    I also think they were wrong to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and the massive spending that entailed.

    Overall I would have preferred a Keynsian approach throughout.

  • Stuart Mitchell 12th Feb '13 - 5:47pm

    Martin: “Do these people not realise that Labour are trying to pin blame for economic difficulties that originate from their time in office. Do they not realise that other European countries were better placed to weather the economic storm and that things really could have been better?”

    I don’t have time to look up the figures now (they’re on the Eurostat website), but when I’ve looked into this for similar threads in the past, it was very apparent that the UK was positioned pretty well (in terms sof growth) compared to other European countries as of May 2010, but after two years of the coalition we had plummeted towards the bottom, out-performed by Euro. non-Euro and non-EC countries alike.

    People like to imagine that the last two or three years of the Labour government were a story of constant economic decline. But actually, the economy was growing during Labour’s last year in office (from 2009 Q3 all the way through to 2010 Q3 – five successive quarters of growth, including the one immediately after the coalition taking office). This was fuelled largely by construction, which is one of the prime drivers of economic growth – it gives more “bang to the buck” in terms of GDP growth than almost anything else. The coalition’s capital project cuts in Autmn 2010 killed this fledgling recovery stone dead, and since then we’ve had five negative quarters out of nine. The coalition has achieved more negative quarters in two and a half years than Labour managed in thirteen years. Our performance under the coalition has been poor compared to most of our peers – there’s no getting away from that.

  • @Liberal Neil

    I agree Labour made some dodgy PFI decisions that were a costly mistake. The investment was much needed after the tatters left by the Tory Government, but that does not excuse Labour for the mistakes they did make and they must learn from them.

    The Tories however are not learning from the mistakes that they made the last time they were in Government. Privatising out all the profits and Nationalizing the debts.
    Example the top down reorganisation of the NHS
    and the latest barmy idea’s to privatise some motorways and toll roads

  • Labour’s PFI legacy:
    Department of Health: £11bn capital spending, £79bn repayments. Economic madness & devastating to the NHS.

  • @Simon Shaw

    And who was to blame for introducing the right to buy scheme and selling off all the social housing stock and not replacing them.
    I think you will find that was Thatcher. That hair brained scheme caused property prices to sore, which in turn increased rents in the private sector.
    After the first Recession in the 90’s hundreds of thousands of these right to buy owners found themselves being repossessed, these properties where snapped up by private landlords and property portfolios and rented back out in the private sector at inflated rents.
    It happened again after the property bubble bust in 2007/08. people facing repossessions were exploited by companies on a sell to rent back basis at extortionate rents, but people facing homelessness felt left with no other choice.
    The shortage of social housing and unregulated rental market is what caused the colossal Housing Benefit Bill, which all started under Thatcher.

    Labour faced an uphill battle on building more homes because the areas which could have been developed tend to have been in green belt area’s which wealthy land owners refuse to let go of, and Tories and Liberal Democrats are the worse kind of NIMBY when it comes to new housing in their constituencies.

    As for the biggest expenditure on welfare, as we have argued many times on these forums before, the largest expenditure is on Pensionable age benefits which makes up over half of the entire welfare budget.

  • And to make matters worse, The Tory Government have not learnt from the past mistakes as this coalition government is extending the Right To Buy Scheme by increasing the discounts.

  • John O’Farrell’s selection confirmed and messaging for LibDems need to reflect a refreshingly different campaign by Labour.

  • Matt – absolutely spot on!!

  • @Simon Shaw

    “(2) The Conservatives and Labour (although not ALL the social housing stock was sold off).”

    Back in Aug 2012 there was a freedom of information request sent to 324 Councils to ask about the number of social housing that were being built in each council.

    Of the 324 requests 246 responded, which showed
    on average Labour where building 100 new homes in each council,
    Liberal Democrats were only building on average 40
    And Conservatives, just 20
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/28/tories-failing-social-homes-labour

    Grant Shapps who was the housing Minister at the time, In his own constituency, In 50 square miles of Tory-run Welwyn Hatfield, , only three social homes are being built in the next three years.

    I think it is quite obvious to all that Labour run councils are building more social housing than either of the coalition parties. Despite Labour councils being in already overstretched & over crowded cities, they still manage this. Where as Tories and the Liberal Democrats in the more affluent parts of the country are more interested in protecting their “green area’s” rather than building more social housing. Like I said previously NIMBY’s of the worse kind.

    “Personally I don’t regard most expenditure on Pensionable age benefits as being “welfare”.”

    Well you are wrong Simon. Pensions and serps “are” welfare.
    Some Pensiones get pension Credits, which “is” welfare
    Some Pensioners also claim housing benefit and Council Tax Benefits, which “is” welfare
    Some Pensioners claim Disability Living Allowance {If claimed before reaching pensionable age} Which “is” Welfare
    Some Pensioners claim Attendance Allowance which “is” welfare.
    Bus passes, TV Licences, Winter fuel allowance, all comes out of the welfare budget because it “is” welfare

    The total welfare budget is over £200 Billion pounds, this figure is always quoted by politicians when they talk about the spiralling Welfare Bill, it is also used by the media to vilify the unemployed sick and vulnerable. What they always fail to mention is that over half of the welfare budget is spent on people of over pensionable age.

    So I am afraid you are wrong Simon to say what you did.

    You should try looking at the latest figures for 2012, The guardian has provided some informative graphs
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/jan/08/uk-benefit-welfare-spending

  • @Simon Shaw

    You are clearly wrong, they are paid for out of the welfare budget, so clearly they are welfare.

    There are some pensioners who have not worked a day in their lives or some who have not worked and paid national Insurance stamps for the full 35 Years, but they still claim a pension, so how is this “deferred pay” as you put it.

    I do not seek a right wing agenda. I am merely pointing out the facts as the “government” & the “media” presents all of its arguments and statistics against the “total welfare” budget.
    Just because you do not regard it personally as welfare, does not mean that it is not the case. If the government uses the “total spend” as part of their statistics, then the amount that goes towards people of pensionable age must make up part of that argument.

  • It’s called transparency Simon, something that this coalition government seems to find difficult, and to be fair the previous labour government also

  • @Simon Shaw

    Please don’t try to misrepresent what I have said, It is rather tedious and not constructive towards debate.

    It does not matter whether I regard Pensions as welfare or not. The facts of the matter is, these pensions are paid for out of the department for work and pensions budget “welfare” The government lumps in all pensionable age benefits into this department and it constantly uses the headline statistics of £200 Billion whenever it makes an argument for the rising costs of welfare. The government wants the public to believe that this £200 Billion is mostly spent on unemployment and sickness benefits, which quite obviously is not the case at all.
    So my opinion on whether it should be regarded as welfare or not is mute, because at the end of the day the government chooses for them to be paid for from this department.

    As I also said previously, there are people who claim a pension who have never worked, or have not paid National Insurance contributions for the full 30 years, but still they claim a pension. So on that basis how can you claim that pensions are “deferred payments”
    Unlike people who claim JSA & ESA you have 2 different types of claimants, Income related, for those who have never worked and Contribution based claimants who have paid into the system.

    As I also pointed out, there are many other benefits claimed by pensioners, sickness benefits, pension credits, bus passes etc, these are all Welfare payments.

    Now we all know that the most well of people in society and some very rich pensioners do not like to class themselves as receiving “welfare” and prefer to regard them as some sort of tax relief, but that is simply not the case. Welfare is welfare when it comes out of that departments budget.

    I suggest as you are a councillor and clearly have a problem with people of pensionable age being regarded as receiving welfare, you should take it up with your party and lobby the government to change it.

    But I am afraid whilst these benefits are being paid out of the welfare budget and for which is constantly “sensationalised” by the government and the media to vilify the sick and unemployed and those unfortunate people trapped into the Private rented market because of the shortage of social housing, then people like me will continue to make the arguments and point out the facts that how much of a proportion of this “sensationalised” headline is claimed by people of pensionable age

  • Tell me honestly Simon, when you hear politicians talking about the total welfare budget, even politicians from you own party, or you read articles in the media, do they give the figures for the “entire” welfare budget or do they just give the portion of welfare that is spent on people of “working age” on out of work benefits?

  • Yes I know it was me that first mentioned pensions because in your post you said @
    Simon Shaw 12th Feb ’13 – 6:17pm
    @matt
    “Martin – “I am confused by those who say Labour should not be blamed. Are they saying that Labour did not overspend or spend too much on the wrong things? ”

    What do you believe Labour over spent on?”

    Others may have provided an answer, matt, but if you are asking I would certainly say that Labour overspent on welfare – Housing Benefit in particular”

    You spoke of over spending on welfare and Housing Benefit in particular.

    My reply to you was all about the ludicrous right to buy scheme bought in by thatcher and sold off all the housing stock and that was the reasons for the spiralling Housing Benefit Bill. At the end of my post I finished with the largest government spending on welfare was on pensionable age benefits.

    You ignored almost everything I said about the right to buy scheme and the failings to regulate the private renting markets, which is the cause of the spiralling bill. And you finished off with your claim and I quote “Personally I don’t regard most expenditure on Pensionable age benefits as being “welfare”.”

    What I have been doing since is showing you why you are wrong,

  • @Simon Shaw

    “Maybe I don’t read the right newspapers or maybe I am not interested in reading the views of the sort of politicians who allegedly talk about such matters”

    I find that incredibly had to believe, so maybe you could share with us which media papers you actually read. And I take it you must never watch PMQ’s or ever listen to the chancellor or IDS or even Danny Alexander for that matter.
    And if I had the time or the inclination I am sure i would find a few posts from yourself back in 2010 when the government was first formed, because you constantly spoke on here of the 1 Trillion debt and the £180 Billion welfare budget, because I argued with you over it many times.

  • Maybe you only listen to the Prime Minister who is so economically incompetent he had to have the statistics authority write to him and explain the difference between debt and deficit when he claimed in a party political broadcast recently that they were paying down the nations debts.

  • @Simon Shaw

    I am shocked, is that not a bit slack of you then not to keep up to date and informed on what is being said by the Prime Minister, Chancellor, IDS or indeed Danny Alexander from your own party. You are a local councillor, how do you campaign in your constituency without knowing what is coming out of the mouths of the so called “quad”. I am petty sure you also said you were a part of the federal comity or your local conference or something similar to that. Surely you have a responsibility to be well informed in order for you to be able to give a reasonable and measured view.
    That all seems very odd to me.

    As for “recollection” on our conversations over the £180 Billion welfare budget, I can assure you, we have discussed this many times on here. And again if you are failing to acknowledge the facts that have been pointed out to you and yet you continue to criticise the welfare budget publicly on these forums and more than likely to your constituents, without mentioning the proportion that is given to people of pensionable age. Then in my opinion that is not being transparent and it is not the kind of politics that was promised by Nick Clegg , which was more open, honest and transparent politics.

    With regards to your last comments, yes I believe that the borrowing figures and the levels of debt were shocking, but I do not blame Labour Solely for this, for the reasons that I have set out in this entire thread which I do not need to repeat all over again.

  • @Simon Shaw

    We are all entitled to our opinions Simon.

    And I am sue that most of us expect our politicians to have opinions that are based on “well informed” & “accurate” information, not those that are construed by cherry picking pieces that suit them.

  • @Simon Shaw

    I Misrepresented nothing, I was having a discussion with Paul from Twickernham and you decided to join in and gave you opinion and I quote @12th Feb ’13 – 6:17pm
    “Others may have provided an answer, matt, but if you are asking I would certainly say that Labour overspent on welfare – Housing Benefit in particular.”

    I responded to you very politely on the subject of Housing Benefit and why it has risen so much. I also spoke of the facts in regards to the “entire” welfare budget and how over half of it is spent on people over pensionable age.
    {It is a discussion we have had many times before simon on these threads} Time and time again you have been supplied with links (At you request) to provide proof of these claims. And yet miraculously every time the subject matter props up on another thread. You claim you have not seen evidence of this, and round we go in circles again.

    You now claim that you do not listen to speeches made by the PM, The chancellor, IDS or Danny Alexander, which I find extraordinary for someone who is involved in local politics and I wonder how on earth you can express the opinions that you do with lets just say “limited knowledge”

    You should be grateful Simon for these discussions, because they are a valuable opportunity for you to fill the gaps in you knowledge

  • David Evans 13th Feb '13 - 6:16pm

    @Matt “Back in Aug 2012 there was a freedom of information request sent to 324 Councils to ask about the number of social housing that were being built in each council.
    Of the 324 requests 246 responded, which showed
    on average Labour where building 100 new homes in each council,
    Liberal Democrats were only building on average 40
    And Conservatives, just 20”
    Now would the Labour Authorities be mainly urban towns and cities (i.e. big local authorities) and the Lib Dem and Conservative ones include a lot of Shire districts (i.e. small local authorities)? Just asking.

  • Stuart Mitchell 13th Feb '13 - 6:26pm

    Matt: “You now claim that you do not listen to speeches made by the PM, The chancellor, IDS or Danny Alexander, which I find extraordinary for someone who is involved in local politics”

    Simon can remember things the Chancellor has said when it suits him. See this comment from just two days ago :-

    http://www.libdemvoice.org/nick-clegg-leader-letter-fair-taxes-33150.html#comment-239694

    On the question of whether the welfare budget is £200bn, including pensions, the Secretary of State responsible is crystal clear :-

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/iain-duncan-smith-fairness-for-the-taxpayer–and-for-the-claimant-6792183.html

  • @David Evans

    I wouldn’t know, that is why the article said on average.

    But does it really matter?
    Labour authorities mainly in towns and cities are already overstretched and overcrowded and there is not that much room to build more social housing, and yet they do manage some.

    We need to be building more social housing in the country sides and the shires, but wealthy landowners do not want to let go of their green belt. And I am sure that the Tories and the Libdems are not to keen on having their constituents filled with many social housing.

  • @Stuart Mitchell

    Thank you for those links, much appreciated.

    @Simon Shaw

    You should really read the article written by Ian Duncan Smith http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/iain-duncan-smith-fairness-for-the-taxpayer–and-for-the-claimant-6792183.html and pay particular attention to the following paragraph

    “The last government tinkered around the edges of the benefits system and retreated from radical thinking when the going got tough. Welfare budgets were allowed to rocket, and the Government now distributes an astonishing £200bn each year – the kind of figure that represents the entire GDP of countries such as Belgium, Greece and Austria.”

    Hopefully you will now come to see the accuracy of the comments that I have made on this thread, and why I feel it is important for “transparency” when discussing the welfare bill. Because all to often government sets out to vilify the unemployed, sick and vulnerable for the welfare bill and people attempt to peddle a myth that it was all Labour’s fault

  • @Simon Shaw

    “Yes, and I have said repeatedly that I (and most ordinary people) do not regard state pensions and SERPS as being “welfare”.”

    And yet the Minister in charge of welfare does not agree with you, as it has been pointed out to you in the link.

    So because the Minister and this government constantly refers to the welfare Bill being £200 Billion, It is my belief that you as a local politician have a moral obligation to include the costs of pensions when you are criticising the welfare bill. Otherwise all the public hears and see’s are “misleading” headlines and sensationalism which distorts the facts and sets out to give the impression that this £200 Billion is being spent on the unemployed and disabled

  • @Simon Shaw

    Can I ask you 6 simple questions Simon

    1) Do you accepts that “some pensioners” claim Disability Living Allowance
    2) Do you accept that “some pensioners” claim Attendance Allowance
    3) Do you accept that “some pensioners” claim Housing Benefits and Council Tax Benefits
    4) Do you accept that questions 1-3 are “welfare”

    5) Do you accept that “some pensioners” have never worked full time all their lives {i.e paid National Insurance contributions for 35 years} an example could be “house wives” and yet they still receive a pension. So how is this deferred payments.
    6) Do you accept that Pensions, serps and pension credits are all paid for out of the welfare budget?

  • @Simon Shaw

    I have told you previously Simon, it does not matter what I think on whether Pensions should be regarded as welfare or not, because the fact of the matter is, the government includes them in that spending department.
    So whilst this government and Ministers are writing articles like the one in the link that was provided to you. Where the whole intent is to give the impression that “ALL” this money is being spent on the unemployed and disabled. Then I and people like me will go all out to argue and point out the total lack of transparency in these figures.

    But just for the record, Yes I do believe pensions, Serps, Pension Credits and all other Pension benefits like TV licences and bus Passes. Are Welfare

  • @ Simon Shaw

    May I remind you that you joined this discussion with the statement

    “Others may have provided an answer, matt, but if you are asking I would certainly say that Labour overspent on welfare – Housing Benefit in particular.”

    Since then I have attempted to show you where the “bulk” of the welfare spending has gone. On people of pensionable age.

    And no I do not think it is misleading to include the costs of Pensions in the welfare spending.
    State Pensions are not “deferred payments” as you call them.
    People pay different amounts of National Insurance contributions over their working life, the more you earn, the more you pay, but regardless of the amount of national insurance paid, everyone receives the same amount of “basic state pension” and others who have paid higher contributions may receive a set amount of “serps” so on that basis it can not be regarded as “deferred payments” like a “private pension”

    What I do think is misleading, is for the government and the Ministers who are in charge, when they make speeches and write articles on the “total welfare budget” but then the entire article only refers to the unemployed and the disabled and the Housing Benefit Bill. They totally omit the amount of this money that goes towards pensioners. That is Right Wing Politics which I despise.

  • @Simon Shaw

    How am I aligning myself with Right wing politicians and the media?

    They use the “total welfare budget” to criticise the size of the welfare budget, but they purposely dont tell people how much of this includes the costs of pensions. solely for the purpose of vilifying the sick and unemployed.

    I am standing up for the sick and the disabled and the unemployed and trying to point out the vile tactics that are being used by this Right Wing government. I think you will find that I am a Leftie simon

    So I can not fathom why you are tying to imply something different.

  • Yes I would like to see the welfare bill cut, who wouldn’t

    But I would like to see it done in a more “fairer” & “rational” manor

    (1) regulation introduced to control the soaring costs in the private rental market. (Which will reduce the Housing Benefit Bill) After all it is the Wealthy people and Management companies with the nice little property portfolio’s that are profting from the Housing Benefit Bill and not the claimaints
    (2) A rapid increase in the number of social housing stock to decrease demand in the private sector
    (3) Bus Passes, Tv Livences, winter fuel payments to become taxable income, in other words those poorest pensioners in receipt of pension credits would get to keep them, those more affluent pensioners who can afford to do without them can either pay for them through their taxable income or “opt out” not to receive them at all.

  • @ Simon Shaw

    No I do not see that as fair.

    There is a huge shortage of social and affordable housing. It is not the claimants fault that successive governments have sold off the social housing stock and failed to replace them.
    It is the private landlords that are exploiting the high rental markets and the costs in Housing Benefits.

  • Stuart Mitchell 13th Feb '13 - 10:29pm

    Simon: “I am the one who repeatedly says that I (and most ordinary people) do not regard state pensions and SERPS as being ‘welfare’.”

    How many “ordinary people” have you surveyed?

    I agree with Matt and Iain Duncan-Smith: it’s incredibly obvious that pensions are indeed a form of welfare. See :-

    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/welfare%2Bstate

  • Listening to government ministers and others justifying changes to JSA and DLA etc on the basis of needing to reduce high welfare costs, I was amazed to then discover that the welfare bill includes pensions etc.

    We are being encouraged to think that the welfare budget is so high because of ‘skivers’ on benefits (who are then differentiated from ‘ ‘alarm clock Britain’.

  • Matt “It is the private landlords that are exploiting the high rental markets and the costs in Housing Benefits.”

    Absolutely right!! And why is no effort made to address this ? Could it be that private landlords include people in the establishment? For instance isn’t the former member for Eastleigh a multi-millionaire because of his string of properties? ?

  • “Terry G 11th Feb ’13 – 11:06pm
    Personally I find the negativity about the last Govt off-putting. I think history will be kinder to Brown than contemporary assessments. His reaction to the initial financial crisis may well have prevented a much bigger catastrophe. And certainly many members of the present Govt spent much of the previous 10 years calling for lighter financial regulation. Brown’s error was not to repay National Debt in a time of plenty before the crisis, and allow too much personal debt at that time. But some Lib Dems do the party a disservice by exaggerating, and I think this almost every time I hear our spokespeople talking economics nowadays.”

    I agree with everything you say above. Absolutely spot on!

  • @ Phyllis and @Terry G

    I’m far from convinced that history will be kinder to Brown. We already known from Alistair Darling that Brown believed the banking crisis could be over within six months and when Darling was quoted in the Guardian as saying the financial crisis could be the worst for 60 years, he said he was subject to “deeply unpleasant” briefings against him from No. 10.

    I think it will be a real eye-opener when cabinet papers are released after the 30 year rule.

  • @Sandra

    “What Labour did do: sold off a lot of the county’s gold at rock bottom prices, for a start. Gave away billions of taxpayers money to the private sector without any apparent restrictions or conditions on payouts such as bonuses/dividends”

    Yes I agree that Labour made mistakes. I do not think anyone is arguing that they didn’t. Labour sold off the counties Gold when the price of gold was low, but they used the revenue to build more infrastructure. I do not think anyone anticipated that when the Banking Crisis hit, the prices of Gold would rocket again once more and had Labour held off on selling the gold they would have got a better deal. Nobody has a crystal ball that can “predict” everything, if there where, non of the countries would be in the mess that we are in.

    But do not forget that this coalition government is doing exactly the same in respect of giving Billions away to private companies with no sanctions on results. ATOS fo example who are being paid obscene amounts of money to test people for disability benefits, getting over 40% of those decisions wrong, which are then over turned at the tribunals. These failures in ATOS and the DWP are adding millions of pounds to the welfare budget because the huge costs in the tribunals, it also adds cost to the department of justice bill.

    Actually I am astonished that the DWP are being allowed to get away with this type of scandal, If any other government department where failing in and applying the law correctly and costing the country Millions of pounds on a daily basis there would be an uproar and people would be calling for the ministers head to roll.

    The Government is also wasting Billions by throwing money at private companies who won contracts for the “workfare” programme. The Government likes you to believe that these companies are only paid by results {After getting someone into sustained employment} That is simply not true because they are paid a £400 referral fee for each claimant, They are then paid further fee’s if they get these people in sustained employment. Evidence has suggested that this is not happening, they are cherry picking the easier cases to get into employment and “parking” the rest. But still receiving all the referral fee’s. Whilst someone is on the “workfare” scheme, although they are still receiving JSA, they do not get included in the Jobless figures. Hence the reason why we keep seeing the “claimant counts rise” but the Jobless figures falling. The Government are deliberately using these tactics to massage the unemployment figures. And Billions of pounds of tax payers money is just being frittered away to Private welfare to work provides, such as A4e for doing nothing. And there are no sanctions put in place on these companies for failing to deliver results.
    All this money being paid to work fare provides also comes out of the welfare budget.

  • @Phyllis 13th Feb ’13 – 11:09pm
    “Listening to government ministers and others justifying changes to JSA and DLA etc on the basis of needing to reduce high welfare costs, I was amazed to then discover that the welfare bill includes pensions etc.

    We are being encouraged to think that the welfare budget is so high because of ‘skivers’ on benefits (who are then differentiated from ‘ ‘alarm clock Britain’.

    I know, This coalition government peddles so many myths about the welfare budget and they seek to fool the public into thinking all this money is going towards unemployed and sickness benefits. Disappointingly far to many people end up believing this to be the case.
    That’s why I persist so much about it on these forums, because I think it is vital for people to know the truth.

  • Mark Inskip

    There’s absolutely no doubt that Gordon Brown wasa flawed individual but I remember his comments in the TV debates and everything he said about the economy has been proved right, even though people scoffed at him at the time.

    I’m hugely disappointed about some of the things Labour did in Gvernment but I can also remember 1992 and the prevailing culture. I think Gordon and Alastair , if they had been allowed to, would have rescued the economy in time (they had already started to o this at the time if the election) and certainy not led us into the mess that ‘the boy George ‘ has.

  • @Matt
    “I wouldn’t know, that is why the article said on average.
    But does it really matter?
    Labour authorities mainly in towns and cities are already overstretched and overcrowded and there is not that much room to build more social housing, and yet they do manage some.
    We need to be building more social housing in the country sides and the shires, but wealthy landowners do not want to let go of their green belt. And I am sure that the Tories and the Libdems are not to keen on having their constituents filled with many social housing.”

    Well let’s think about it.

    As people often say “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” They also say “Most politicians uses statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post – for support rather than illumination.” Your reply indicates the fundamental truth of both.

    Does it matter? Of course it does. Big Local Authorities have bigger budgets and so have the ability to spend much more. My rural Local Authority has a gross budget of about £20m. The town where I used to live had a gross budget more than 10 times bigger. Birmingham has a budget about 10 times bigger than that. Hence the resources that can be put into housing are much greater.

    Towns you claim are already overcrowded, but you think that building more houses in overcrowded areas is a logical solution. Do think things through. If you really believe the places are overcrowded, is it logical to build more houses? I agree with you when you say we need more social housing, almost everywhere in the UK. Your argument undermines that position.

    Your point about wealthy landowners not wanting to let go of their green belt, is an interesting one. Do you believe that wealthy owners of green belt want to keep it undeveloped to protect the beauty of the surrounding countryside? Perhaps they do, and they agree with the legislation first put in place by a Labour government in the Town and Country Planning Act just after the war. On the other hand, I think that they might want to build on their Green Belt to become even wealthier by selling the land at development prices rather than as agricultural land. Class War is so 1970s don’t you think?

    Finally, would Tories and Lib Dems be concerned if “their constituents were filled in with many social housing.” Well I would be on the side of any of my constituents who came to me with a concern about him or her being filled in with Social Housing. I think it would hurt a lot. However, I would think every Lib Dem MP would give short shrift to anyone saying the MP should oppose Social Housing because it would fill in the constituency, because the need is there and filling in is ridiculous hyperbole in most of the country.

    Your aims I agree with wholeheartedly, but your wish to make petty political points, where there is little if no difference between us, is interfering with your analytical skills, your logic and even your grammar.

  • If smaller local authorities need more money to build more social housing, then their budgets should be increased from central government for this purpose.
    But it is my belief that most of these “smaller” authorities, especially in the shires and the countryside, do not want more housing development. Because it devalues their own properties.

    I do not think Wealthy Land owners want to part with their land, especially selling it off entirely for housing development. They would however be more than happy to rent it out at extorinate rates as brown sites. In my opinion

    You said “If you really believe the places are overcrowded, is it logical to build more houses? I agree with you when you say we need more social housing, almost everywhere in the UK. Your argument undermines that position”

    What I was saying was, that Labour controlled Councils in the larger towns and cities have no choice but to build more housing in the already overcrowded cities, Because everyone else is so against new housing developments in “green area’s” mostly controlled by Libdems and Tories.

  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/borrowing/mortgages/9869704/1.5m-Britons-turn-to-buy-to-let-investing.html
    buy to let mortgages have surged yet again, pushing up the costs in the Private rental market.

    It is further evidence of why we need tough regulation to combat this.

    It is ludicrous that people with attractive property portfolio’s can borrow money at such low interest rates, Let these properties out to private tenants at “inflated rates” and the Interest payments on the mortgage is tax deductible. These people are laughing all the way to bank, literally.

    We need more affordable, social housing and we need regulation on the private rental markets.

  • matt, there’s a chart here that shows the breakdown and as you have said, pensions followed by housing benefit make up the largest share of the overall budget.

    http://straighttothesource.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/welfare-spending-breakdown/

    MPs and Councillors deliberately refer to the overall budget IMO purely to skew the debate and its because they know that to be honest would mean they would have a much harder job convincing the gullible public that cuts to benefits is not a deliberate attempt to impoverish the already poorest in our society.

    The uprating of benefits to 1% when inflation is running at 2.7% now and estimated to rise before 2015 shows the govt are determined to make the poorest pay the most in their quest for deficit reduction and its a deeply cynical act.

  • @Martin B

    I completely agree with everything you said. And that is why it is absolutely vital that we point people towards the truth and counter the myths that are constantly peddled by so many politicians and the Right Wing Press.

  • David Evans 15th Feb '13 - 2:57pm

    Matt

    As ever you are the consummate avoider of questions and changer of your ground when the going gets tough.

    You must be a paid politico!!

    You start by blaming Cons and Lib Dem Councils for not building enough social housing, then when a valid considered point is put forward to contradict your fallacy, you blame Central Government for not giving them the money. No retraction of your earlier groundless point. Just change direction and charge onwards on your hobbyhorse!

    As for your bit “What I was saying was, that Labour controlled Councils in the larger towns and cities have no choice but to build more housing in the already overcrowded cities.” That is not what you were saying, but it may have been what you wished you had meant to say. However, because you seem to just want to get your next rebuttal out you didn’t.

    As I said before “your wish to make petty political points, where there is little if no difference between us, is interfering with your analytical skills, your logic and even your grammar.”

  • @David Evans

    “You must be a paid politico”

    Well You would be wrong. I am not a member of “any” political party. I have pointed out many times on these forums that I am a floating voter. Who has voted for both Labour and Liberal Democrats in previous elections. I live in a Constituency that is a marginal seat between Labour and Liberal Democrats.
    In the 2010 election I voted “Liberal Democrat” because I wanted to oust the Labour candidate “Charles Clarke” despite me being more inclined towards labour. I think there was only 100 odd votes between Labour and Liberal Democrats in the vote. So I assure you I am no “tribalist”

    I do not believe I have avoided any questions or changed my position on argument.

    If I struggle to make myself understood when making points and my grammar is poor, I will make absolutely no apologies for that whatsoever. Due to disabilities and being heavily medicated most of the time, I will be the first to admit that I am not the brightest spark at the best of times and struggle to make myself understood. If you have a problem with that, that’s your issue not mine. I will not be silenced or bullied by anyone from making a point of something I feel passionate about.

    If you feel that I am not answering something coherently, then try rephrasing it a clearer manor. If you are not interested in what I have got to say, then of course, feel free to ignore me completely.

    But you can rest assured, I am not trying to score political points for anyone. I am and will always be critical of all political parties, The only parties I would never support to be fair are the Conservatives and the BNP.

    I do not understand your point “You start by blaming Cons and Lib Dem Councils for not building enough social housing, then when a valid considered point is put forward to contradict your fallacy, you blame Central Government for not giving them the money. No retraction of your earlier groundless point. Just change direction and charge onwards on your hobbyhorse!”

    I pointed out that the Tories and the Libs build less social housing in their constituencies. You make a point that maybe it is because those councils have smaller budgets than the larger Labour councils. So I replied that central government should extend the budgets of those councils then in order for them to build more.
    How is that me flip flopping and changing my position?
    I also said I do not believe that these smaller councils in Liberal and Cons area’s actually wanted to build more social Housing. These more affluent parts of the countryside do not want more social housing or council estates developed because it devalues their property prices.
    How is that me flip flopping.

  • Matt

    I concur with your last post

    I also have not seen any credible defence of your original point that the Coalition talks of the welfare budget in broad terms as though it all went on ‘shirker’ benefits and not mainly on pensions

    The argument on whether pensions should be considered as ‘welfare’ may be interesting but ultimately irrelevant to the argument. The fact is the Coalition bandies about 200bn welfare budget so clearly they think they are.

    There is also a lack of answers on the point that housing benefit does not go to the claimant but to the landlord. The claimant receives accommodation, the landlord receives money – often an outrageous amount. Cutting the housing benefit bill will not be possible until we see more regulation of the chaotic rental market.

    I find your posts very coherent and well argued. You are also polite which is more than I can say of some posters (including myself on occasion)

  • @bcrombie

    Thank you for that, that means a lot actually. Although I do not like to admit to my vulnerabilities, I was stating to get slightly paranoid thinking I was making a complete idiot out of myself.

  • @bcrombie

    Thank you for that, you comment is much appreciated. It’s good to have some reassurances that I was not coming across as a complete fruit loop.

    Kind Regards

    Matt

  • sorry for the double post of thanks, My first comment was showing up on my screen as “awaiting” so I thought I would modify my post, then they both got released at the same time

  • Hi Matt,

    Just one point to show how you keep changing your position.

    To quote your post at 4:43pm – “I pointed out that the Tories and the Libs build less social housing in their constituencies.”

    Actually, no you didn’t. The only posts where you have mentioned constituencies or constituency are

    “Tories and Liberal Democrats are the worse kind of NIMBY when it comes to new housing in their constituencies.” 12th Feb 6:24pm

    And

    “Grant Shapps who was the housing Minister at the time, In his own constituency, In 50 square miles of Tory-run Welwyn Hatfield, , only three social homes are being built in the next three years. 12th Feb 9:46pm

    And

    “You are a local councillor, how do you campaign in your constituency without knowing what is coming out of the mouths of the so called “quad”.” 13th Feb 9:45am

    And

    “And again if you are failing to acknowledge the facts that have been pointed out to you and yet you continue to criticise the welfare budget publicly on these forums and more than likely to your constituents, without mentioning the proportion that is given to people of pensionable age.” 13th Feb 9:45am

    And

    “And I am sure that the Tories and the Libdems are not to keen on having their constituents filled with many social housing.” 13th Feb 6:30 pm – I gave you the benefit of the doubt there.

    And Finally

    “I live in a Constituency that is a marginal seat between Labour and Liberal Democrats.” 15th Feb 4:43pm

    What you have referred to in the past is a Guardian piece which claims that less social housing is being built in (smaller) Con and Lib Dem Council areas than in (larger) Labour ones. Now once you realise that a council area is not the same as a constituency, you may be able to construct a valid point, but possibly not one you will like.

    Until then, I will content myself with amending my earlier conclusion – You probably are a very keen Labour supporter with a lot of time on your hands, possibly not paid for, but you don’t quite know enough facts to construct a convincing argument. But having said that, the comments made by Ed Balls are usually of a similar depth and factual accuracy, but then they are clearly Balls’.

  • @Simon Shaw
    “One of the things about governing is it forces you to confront the inconvenient truths oppositions choose to ignore. Like the fact that, over the last 50 years, our economy has grown threefold, but our welfare spending is up sevenfold.”
    Nick Clegg 26th September 2012

    Clegg is correct but only if you include pensions and other pensioner benefits in the welfare bill. In fact pensions account for the majority of the rise. The amount spent on working age benefits as a percentage of GDP has actually remained fairly static over the last three decades though it was a bit higher through the 1990’s than over the last decade. If you think that “it is misleading to include pensions and SERPS within the cost of welfare” perhaps you should take that point up with your leader rather than matt.

  • David Evans

    A nasty little post, especially at the end. Matt is, as is me, a left leaning floating voter, who has mainly voted LD. A population of people your party pretends never having tried wooing

    Your list of quotes shows some inconsistencies but not as much as we see from the lD party itself

    With your comments on Labour, what would you propose your leadership does in 2015 if there was a potential coalition with them?

  • @matt
    You say you are a floating voter. So tell me what actions could the Lib Dems take over the next three years to persuade you not to vote Labour?

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Feb '13 - 9:12am

    Nick Clegg (quoted by AndrewR)

    “One of the things about governing is it forces you to confront the inconvenient truths oppositions choose to ignore. Like the fact that, over the last 50 years, our economy has grown threefold, but our welfare spending is up sevenfold.”

    Yes, unless this was accompanied by some explanatory material which made clear what the situation really is, it’s an indication of what a third rate mind Clegg has. This is the line the political right love to put, making out it is all about giving more money to “layabouts” to live in luxury. Any politician with a bit of thought-power and some inkling about how the world is changing, and who is not part of that political right, ought to be able to see through this nonsense. The rapid growth in life span is a huge issue, and so does result in hugely greater spending on state pension and the like even if the net amount pensioners receive stays the same. The use of the term “welfare” here hides this.

  • @David Evans

    “To quote your post at 4:43pm – “I pointed out that the Tories and the Libs build less social housing in their constituencies.””

    Did you miss the part where I linked to the guardian article and the freedom of information request to the councils?
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/28/tories-failing-social-homes-labour.
    I did not quote the entire article because that is the purpose of providing the link, for other people to read.

    What I did do was put the statistics into figures. Because the article said that Labour on average where building 100 new social housing homes in each council. The Liberal Democrats just 1/5th of that and the Conservatives on average just half of what Liberal democrats intended to build

    Back in Aug 2012 there was a freedom of information request sent to 324 Councils to ask about the number of social housing that were being built in each council.

    Of the 324 requests 246 responded, which showed
    on average Labour where building 100 new homes in each council,
    Liberal Democrats were only building on average 40
    And Conservatives, just 20

    So based on the information that was supplied, the logical conclusion was that Tories and Liberal Democrats run councils are building less social housing.

    If you argument is that I have muddled up the words “Council” and “Constituency”, then I will take that on the chin.
    But surly it would have been easier for you to point that out at the very beginning and we could avoided this petty squabble.
    But I still retain my position that I believe Tory lead councils and Liberal Democrat run “councils”, build less social housing in the “Constituencies” that make up part of their councils. For the same reasons that I have set out before.

    I do not think I have flip flopped on my position and we will have to agree to disagree on that one. You may have trouble understanding my view point, but hopefully people will see where I am coming from.

    On a final note, you said
    “Until then, I will content myself with amending my earlier conclusion – You probably are a very keen Labour supporter with a lot of time on your hands, possibly not paid for”

    Though these forums should not require me to be personal and reveal information about myself, in order for my opinions to be “validated” in some way. to put this argument to rest once and for all I can tell you this.

    I am not a member of “any” political party or “organisation”
    Yes, I have a lot of time on my hands, that is because I am not employed due to suffering from severe clinical depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Phobia.
    I have excluded myself from society as a whole and cut all social ties with former fiends and work colleagues, because I can not cope with social interactions. I hardly ever leave the safety of my home and the only people I see are my close family members and my medical care team.
    I am a conundrum of contradictions, because although I have withdrawn from society myself and I take no part in it whatsoever as I am afraid of social interactions. Despite this, I still care about the outside world for others, the injustices and I have a strong conscience where I believe in fairness for all.

    I have come on these forums to express my views on the things that I care about, that’s why you will see I really only get involved in discussions on.
    NHS, Mental Health, Welfare, social housing and cuts to local services that the vulnerable and disadvantaged rely heavily upon.

    So please rest assured I am paid by nobody for my views, I very much doubt that my opinions have that much value to them anyway.
    Although I probably irritate most people on these forums with my comments, for me it is therapeutic, it is a place where I can have a voice and I can channel my frustrations and I can express what I see as injustices being inflicted upon people by this government.
    But as I expressed to you in a previous post, you are entirely free to ignore me and my comments, but I will not be silenced into expressing my views, no matter how much of a fruit loop I am at times.

  • bcrombie, Matt…

    You can add me to the list of those who feel as you do…I have always voted Lib(Dem) excepting 1997…..I feel badly let down and my views ignored. Since the coalition there are many here who wholeheartedly embrace the Tory mantra that we argued against before 2010. I accept that, as a minority, it is unrealistic to expect each and every LibDem policy to be enabled but I can’t forget the initial ‘love-in’ and the “70% of all policies are LibDem” espoused here. There should have been ‘red lines’ which Cameron should not have expected our leadership to cross; “TuitionFees” and the “NHS” come to mind….
    We have seen the demonisation of those on benefits prior to piecemeal removal of what has always been a basic safety net….Housing benefit, 1% cap, increased Council Tax, etc. are being implemented, with a complete disregard for their effect, by those who cannot understand what ‘going without’ actually means…..

    Richard S asked what the LibDems could do over the next three years to retain those such as I….I’m sorry to say that I can think of nothing that might come from the current leadership that would convince me that life, after 2015, would be different…

  • @Richard S 16th Feb ’13 – 8:54am
    @matt
    You say you are a floating voter. So tell me what actions could the Lib Dems take over the next three years to persuade you not to vote Labour?

    Richard there are several things that would sway my vote.

    1) I do not like the part Privatisation of the NHS, especially when it comes to mental health care, I believe people should be treated as patients and not commodities. I do not like the thought of companies making huge profits out of the sick and vulnerable. In my opinion, it has always been shown when things are contracted out to private providers, profits for share holders always end up being prioritised over everything else.
    2) More affordable social housing, even if that means building more communities on green area’s. I would like to see a large scale use of prefab housing, It is cheap, It will give a massive boost to the manufacturing industry, Building Industry, Apprenticeships and unemployment. It would be good for the economy, provide more social housing and bring down the high rents in the private sector.
    3) legislation introduced to control the private rental markets. To me it seems ludicrous that companies with property portfolio’s can borrow money at historic low interest Rates. Rent these properties out in the private sector {usually to those on welfare} And as part of their tax deductible income, they can claim for the Interest on the mortgage as part of the allowance.
    4) I believe welfare benefits should rise in line with inflation. Benefits that are actually paid to the “claimant” are at subsidence levels as they are, with many of the most vulnerable people in society struggling with rising costs of living as it is. And child poverty is on the increase, which I think is a cause for shame in the United Kingdom, especially when we stand on the world stage, talking about ending poverty in other countries.
    5) I believe that welfare benefits for pensioners should be means tested. Winter fuel allowances etc, Bus Passes should be a taxable income. Pensioners should be able to opt in or out of receiving them. The poorer pensioners would then retain them though pension credits, and the better off should pay for them though their tax returns if they wish to retain them.
    6) A Mansion Tax. There are so many people owning these properties, sometimes as second homes, companies buying them up as investments, sometimes held offshore. We need to tax wealth not just income.
    7) I believe that work capability tests should be carried out within the NHS and GP’s and not contr
    acted out to private companies like ATOS who are paid Billions. 40% of the decisions are overturned at tribunal which is a travesty. The wrong decisions made by ATOS and the DWP costs the welfare budget millions of pounds a year and also adds millions to the department of justice bill for the tribunal services. If any other government department was failing to apply the law correctly on such an industrial scale there would be an outrage and people would be calling for the ministers head to roll. I do not understand why we can not entrust GP’s to carry out these medicals. We are going to be trusting GP’s with Billions of pounds for the NHS budget, so why does the government not trust them to carry out medicals? I would suggest it is because GP’s are signed up to a code of practice where they have to put the welfare of the patient over all else, where as a private provider like Atos, employing health care professionals are not bound by such legislation
    8) Stop the cuts to the legal aid budget. It is a vital resource for the most vulnerable people in society, especially when it comes to challenging government decisions as in point (7)

    I will add more later, because I am having a nightmare with computer. Keyboard is playing up and my (r) button is sticking. My spelling is bad enough at the best of times, without my keyboard sabotaging me as well lol.

  • “What I did do was put the statistics into figures. Because the article said that Labour on average where building 100 new social housing homes in each council. The Liberal Democrats just 1/5th of that and the Conservatives on average just half of what Liberal democrats intended to build”

    Obviously that should have been the other way round. The Tories build on aveage 1/5 of Labour and half of Liberal Democrats

  • If Labour can be safely shown to be able to achieve a majority against the Conservatives without Liberal Democrat MPs, then there will be a good chance that a high proportion of anti Tory – Labour voters will not turn out in the Conservative / Liberal Democrat fights. Encumbancy and a good local MP may help, but that would be unlikely to save all the Liberal Democrats MPs.

    The difficulty is for the Liberal Democrats is that if they attack Labour, it will irk the Labour support and they will not vote. With more Mansion Tax style, left sounding ideas it will enrage the Conservative right and Daily Mailites (though they always appear to be in an enaraged state or on the verge of it).

    The Liberal Democrats may be able to carry this by election by specific local support, gathering enough anti Conservative votes in Eastbourne and with the more enraged irrational Conservative voters egged on by the mail + to punish Cameron by voting UKIP. The Liberal Democrats should not assume that in a wider general election that the anti Tory vote will coalesce around their candidates.

    The enabling of a Conservative government, privatisation and out sourcing of the NHS, tution fees, and brutalisation of the poor may be too much for the anti Conservative non Liberal Democrat vote to take and Labour voters may decide that there was too much complicity and little effective difference between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

    The game changer may be Scottish Independence and removal of Labour MPs from the English Parliament. Who knows how that will go ?The Conservative aggression against the poor /and consideration of poverty to be as a result of moral failing aligned with a general unpleasantness (Iain Duncan Smith is a prime example of this – forcing a person to sacrifice a perfect volunteer job for their CV and museum work to stack shelves in pound land to the benefit of Poundland profits ); aligned with a historical opportunity to separate from England may drive the Scots to independence.

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