Tag Archives: economy

What’s wrong with the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement?

There are three huge defects in the Chancellor’s autumn statement

1 Technical

The Chancellor fundamentally believes that the government budget can and should be balanced, or even run in surplus. This basic accounting assumption drives his whole thinking. But facts prove him, and the traditional thinking of the whole financial establishment, wrong on this. He has been unable to eliminate the deficit. He will not be able to eliminate it. In modern high technology, high productivity economies, deficit is inevitable, and manageable.

There’s a huge problem in thinking here. The Chancellor approaches economic policy like an accountant, rather than as an economist. Books should balance. He talks about what we can afford, purely in financial terms. But it’s not money which gives value to the real economy, but rather it’s real economic activity which gives money its value. Economic activity creates financial value, and not the other way round. What we can afford has to be measured in real resources of people, skills, natural resources, technology and capital assets. A thought experiment demonstrates this. If it were possible to plug a machine into the earth to produce the whole GDP without labour and therefore without wages, then the money vouchers the government would have to allocate would all be a total financial deficit each year. Money does not have to be backed either by gold, or by the sale of government bonds, but only by output GDP. Deficits are here to stay. Facts support this hypothesis.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Susan Kramer responds to the Autumn Statement in the Lords

New Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson responded to the Autumn Statement in the Lords yesterday. Here’s her speech in full.

It is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, but I confess that he disappointed me today. He did not throw anything, so we have missed out on the drama of the other place. I was also somewhat disappointed in the Budget. It is less generous than it appears on first viewing: we still have a £12 billion cut in welfare. If I understand it correctly, that will now happen as people transfer into universal credit. I am sure that the Minister will advise noble Lords about that—it would be good to understand how it will work. Of course, I am absolutely delighted that the Chancellor reversed his plans to cut tax credits for poor working people. I think, with some interest, that had the Chancellor been a Member of this House a couple of weeks ago, when the relevant statutory instrument was debated, he would have supported neither the Conservative nor the Labour Motion, but the Liberal Democrat fatal Motion.

We are also pleased with the up fronting of money for the NHS in this Budget, especially the investment in mental health. That is welcome, but can the Minister confirm whether that £600 million is new money for mental health and does not contain any former promise within it? We are supportive of stamp duty on buy to let and very supportive of the increased spending on infrastructure. We note that the Chancellor partially explained that that was because borrowing is now cheap. That is what we have been saying for weeks, so we are very glad that he has listened to that argument.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

A Liberal Democrat Economy Group

Tim’s talking about the economy. And it’s great.

With George Osborne building an economy to benefit big business and Mr Corbyn swerving Labour towards “big state” nationalisations, there’s a clear big gap for the Liberal Democrats to be the Party of Britain’s creative talents, home-grown entrepreneurs and innovators, the self-employed and small business owners.

But we need to go further.

It’s increasingly urgent that Lib Dems present a distinctive economic agenda to underpin our social and liberal plans.

So the Party needs a new (possibly unofficial) Liberal Democrat group to raise awareness and to promote what the Liberal Economy means.

(That is a group about the Liberal Economy to be quite distinct from “Economic Liberals”, or for that matter Social Liberals, accepting input from either side or neither.)

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

Tim Farron’s full speech on the economy: the radical gems that weren’t in the extracts

In days of yore, 6 months ago, if the Liberal Democrat leader made a keynote speech on the economy, the journos would be there in force. While there was a bit of coverage on the Guardian and BBC, it was nowhere like it used to be. So, I guess that means it’s up to us, and by us I mean all Liberal Democrats, to get the word out. The first section of this piece has some commentary on the speech and the full text is at the bottom.

The trails sent out last night in my opinion missed out the best bits of the speech. The whole thing covered a huge amount of ground from entrepreneurship to mass migration to climate change to inter-generational fairness to massive investment in infrastructure to housing. There were also some key elements that weren’t there quite as strongly as I’d have liked, for example on the living wage and tackling poverty and inequality. He spoke of these things in his Beveridge Lecture to the Social Liberal Forum two years ago.

He cast the Liberal Democrats as the party of small business, innovation and creativity, while the Conservatives were the party of corporatism:

The fact is that the Tories aren’t really pro-free market capitalism at all.  They are pro-corporate capitalism.

They are there to fight not for entrepreneurs, not for innovators who oil the wheels of the market, but for the status quo.

In recent years, a common criticism of the Liberal Democrats is that we have been way too establishment. Tim Farron sets out that we are no such thing, likening us to entrepreneurs as the insurgents:

So I say “let the Tories be the Party of huge complacent corporations”

The Liberal Democrats will be the Party of Small Business, the party of wealth creators, the insurgents, the entrepreneurs.

And there’s a good section about challenging power, government or corporate:

We are in politics for precisely the opposite reasons to the Tories: to challenge orthodoxy and challenge those with power, while they support orthodoxy and established power – in business, just as in politics.

Because here is the truth – it doesn’t matter if it is big government or big business, the fact remains, too much power in the hands of too few people means a bad deal for everyone else.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 22 Comments

LibLink: Vince Cable: Britain’s economic recovery is precarious and an economic storm is coming

Vince Cable has form for predicting economic disaster, so you take notice when he says that there could be another one on the horizon, even if he qualifies it with an anecdote from his professional life:

I use the word “could”. I am always mindful of the day 20 years ago when I was greeted in my role as chief economist at Shell with a plaque, in Arabic, which translated meant “Those who claim to be able to forecast the future are lying even if, by chance, they are later proved right”. The reputation of economic forecasting as a science, which makes astrology looks respectable, reflects the same scepticism. And that scepticism was greatly reinforced by a total failure of standard economic models based on efficient financial markets to anticipate the last disaster.

Writing in the Independent, he outlines the factors which could indicate that all is not well: the high level of debt, the asset bubbles which have been created particularly in housing and the international economy, particularly any shock waves from a Chinese slowdown.

One side-effect of keeping economies growing through cheap money and credit creation through quantitative easing has been the generation of asset bubbles, especially in property markets. Britain demonstrates the problem in an extreme way, magnifying underlying imbalances between housing demand and supply. Double-digit housing inflation is not merely creating appalling social problems and division between classes and generations but grossly distorting investment from productive activities to property holding. The Bank of England has tools of macro-prudential management to curb this inflation but the extreme timidity in using them reveals the high level of dependence on this precarious and dangerous form of growth.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Tom Brake on why Liberal Democrats opposed George Osborne’s Fiscal Charter

It’s all quite simple, really – the Liberal Democrats, unlike Labour, were not going to fall into Osborne’s trap. Here is Tom Brake’s speech from last night’s debate:

The Liberal Democrats will not support the charter tonight. Whatever the machinations in the Labour party, our reasons for opposing it are clear: the charter is just as much about fantasy economics as was Labour’s magic money tree. We remain committed to abolishing the structural deficit by 2017-18, and to seeing debt fall as a percentage of GDP in the following years. We will not, however, abandon the critical need for continued investment in infrastructure, and we will ensure that our economy remains competitive in the medium and long term. We are for sound and stable economic policy—something that sadly has been abandoned first by the official Opposition and now by the Government.

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Liberty: It’s an economic issue


In light of recent events, one key question that has been flying about is where we fit into this new and radically changed political climate. Corbyn’s Labour may adopt more liberal policies on social issues such as mental health or LGBT rights, which whilst welcome gives us fewer unique campaigning avenues. Amongst all this, the economy is a key divider, and how we frame our policies may be crucial to our electoral revival or lack thereof.

Building a new liberal economics, distinct from Conservative or Labour strategies, is possible, and we need to do it by the simplest of methods – applying our own passion for personal liberty in the economic sphere. That means ensuring that neither corporate wealth, private wealth, nor the state are able to dominate people’s economic lives, and trying to make the position of ordinary individuals more economically powerful. That means a push to spread wealth and income more evenly without direct state control, by targeting ownership as a source of economic power.

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Challenging this Conservative-led narrative on the economy


  • Building the green economy to take Britain forwards sustainably.
  • Improved support for victims of domestic abuse.
  • Better access to vocational and further education.
  • Providing sanctuary and support to those fleeing conflict and drought.

We can (I suspect mostly) agree that these are good aims for us as a party, and that Lib Dems back in government would work hard to deliver on them. But they all cost money.

Posted in News | 45 Comments

Farron proposes start-up allowance for new business owners as he focuses on the party’s economic credibility

Tim Farron is using the first full day of conference to announce plans for a so-called start-up allowance for entrepreneurs launching new small businesses. The allowance would be worth £2600 over the first six months (£100 a week) after they set up their new business. It comes as part of a leadership focus on building upon the economic credibility won by our five years spent in government.

Tim said:

Liberal Democrats believe that if you have a dream you should be supported to fulfil it.  Those who take the chance to set out on their own and create a business should be celebrated and supported.

Lib Dems recognise the courage of those who seek to create something new.

While Labour have said they now want to strip Government support for businesses and the Tories focus on giving tax cuts to giant corporations, we want to focus on entrepreneurs and small business seeking to grow.

photo by: SomeDriftwood
Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

After Corbyn, what’s left with the Liberal Democrats?

There has been a tendency in recent years for the Liberal Democrats to define the party in relation to others. We will give a heart to the Conservatives and a brain to the Labour Party. Look left, look right, then cross.

There will be those who will argue that the election of a left wing MP to the Labour leadership means that the Lib Dems will have to keep close to the the centre. Any temptation to reposition itself on the left wing of British politics after leaving the coalition should be resisted.

Immediate reactions of this nature should be avoided as should any crass remarks about the ‘economic illiteracy’ of ‘Corbynomics’. Corbyn’s approach is rooted in serious economic thinking. Whether people disagree or not is a different issue but illiterate it is not. To that end Sal Brinton’s response to Corbyn’s election was both disappointing.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 50 Comments

Is evidence-based policy losing out to populism?

Populism always sounds good, but in the long-run it usually hurts those it is supposed to help.

In the UK, interest rates used regularly to be cut to stimulate an artificial boom before an election. This was good for the ruling political party, but the country paid a heavy price later. In the nineties, the Liberal Democrats championed the idea of making the Bank of England independent, and, in 1997, Labour implemented the policy.

As a result, inflation has been controlled, and business and international investors have more confidence in the UK. It’s no panacea. It didn’t stop serious mistakes being made over bank regulation. But, I think, it’s proved a real success.

In 1997, the Labour party proposed a National Minimum Wage. Many were deeply concerned that, by not allowing the existence of low paid jobs, this policy would price some low skilled workers out of the job market.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 58 Comments

“Soggy Syriza with sandals” – thanks, Danny, for giving Osborne a stick to beat us with

I almost choked on my Earl Grey this morning when I read Danny Alexander’s piece in the New Statesman in which he suggested that there was much to cheer in George Osborne’s budget. I wondered if he had forgotten that May, you know, happened?

The reason we lost so many seats to the Tories is,  at least in part,  that the people who voted for us no longer felt that we represented their values, the sorts of values that had seen us stand up for freedom and social justice. Those people turned to the Greens and Labour. Yes, of course the Tory tactics over the SNP were relevant but we kind of stoked that by legitimising it.

We also made a great thing during the election campaign of talking about our opposition to the Tories’ £12 billion welfare cuts proposals, much of which we had stopped in government. Now Danny suggests that we shouldn’t go out of our way to oppose them in opposition:

Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats should envisage a future as a sort of soggy Syriza in sandals. I  don’t like some of the welfare reforms in the Budget, but to make it the political dividing line is to fail to recognise the views of most people.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 46 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrats should debate ways of liberating our economy from the power of the banks

“Stronger Economy Fairer Society” was the strap-line that took us into the devastating General Election of 2015.  Some members wanted a fairer society that would support a stronger economy but regardless of which way we place these adjectives and nouns, it’s still unachievable without liberating the UK economy from our five major banks.

As long as our five big banks have the power to create money when they make loans, and lend it back to us at a profit, it is very difficult to see how our economy can achieve anything other than consolidating wealth into the hands of a few.  The Bank of England (BoE) and business generally is having less and less influence on how our economy expands and grows. Not only do we need to challenge this ‘status quo’, we need to radically overhaul the system and liberate the banking monopoly so that our economy functions to support our marketplace.

Properties in London have been sliced and diced according to an economic system that is essentially controlled by five big banks and this has overly inflated prices – driving up rents and sales. Homes for families are now filled with rooms for rent that are advertised as flats. We have less than 20 square meters for a bed, cooking and toilet facilities and are charged £800 per month rent. Generation rent (typically graduate students), are unable to save to buy a home due to ‘market rents’ sucking every penny from their incomes.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 97 Comments

Opinion: Labour isn’t Keynesian – that’s why Liberal Democrats had to be


When Labour bailed out the financial system, it misapplied Keynesian economics. Keynes writes that stimulus should be used to stimulate a depressed economy that isn’t at full employment: what Labour did was use the stimulus money to stabilise a system that was falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions.

The instant they did that, it committed the UK to paying back the money it had borrowed: it transferred the debt that would have been wiped out by private sector bankruptcy to the state.

While this reduced the loss of value in the economy (public sector debt has prevented private sector bankruptcy to accumulate a negative multiplier effect: the cost of propping up one domino has prevented the others from falling), it means that regardless of who is in charge we need to reduce the deficit to maintain the creditability of the state by which the rest of our economy is guarantored.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 20 Comments

Financial Times: “In seats where Lib Dems are the incumbent or main challenger, we would vote tactically for them”

If you woke up in the middle of the night, chances are you might have heard in the distance a rhythmic humming heartbeat sound. That would be the risograph* in a Liberal Democrat key seat churning out leaflets with this quote from the Financial Times:

The country would benefit from the countervailing force of Lib Dem moderation at Westminster. In seats where the Lib Dems are the incumbent or the main challenger, we would vote tactically for them.

The paper was far from complimentary about the Tories’ divisive strategy.  I guess the last thing they want to do is refer to the fact that the coalition has actually worked well:

Five years ago, the prospect of coalition government attracted dire predictions of instability in markets and gridlock at Westminster. Neither proved true. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has shown European-style cohabitation can work. Curiously, Mr Cameron has not trumpeted its successes. He has preferred to wage a campaign of fear. Labour, he argues, would prove untrustworthy on the economy; and a Labour government would be held hostage by a separatist Scottish National party. The risk of a cross-border leftist alliance is not negligible; but even some Tories worry that its invocation encourages English nationalism.

The FT essentially wants to see a continuation of the current economic strategy which is far from being a Tory-only creation. We all remember what generally happens when the Tories are left in charge during a recession. The 80’s, anyone? In this instance, the Liberal Democrats have ensured a properly national recovery from a massive economic event which could have plunged us into an appalling depression.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Ed Miliband’s march to Financial Crisis II and Wars of Choice II

Canvassing over the weekend for Simon Hughes in Canada Water, (Labour-facing) and for Ed Davey in Surbiton (Tory facing), I was again struck by how much the remaining staunch Labour voters still see their party as on the left of the political spectrum.

Sure they are planning to  borrow much more than the Liberal Democrats, and make the UK vulnerable to another crisis.  However that seems a direct result of most of their big money contributions coming courtesy of dual-hatted public sector union reps.

On everything else they are looking increasingly authoritarian, and pro-war.  A kind of ‘Blairism without the fake financial prudence’.  Whilst the combination of top-down control-freakery and sponsored superficial PR-type MPs lost them Scotland, no lessons seemed to have been learned. The likely new Labour intake looks frighteningly lightweight and malleable.

At recent hustings (I’m a candidate in West Ham and doing some Newham-wide events) Labour incumbents robotically read through lists of extra spending promises, but dodge much else with bland statements of the blindingly obvious. They peddle the myth of the 2007 ‘global crisis’.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

Watch: Nick Clegg on Lib Dem red lines on education and economy

Here’s Nick Clegg speaking to BBC Breakfast about the party’s red lines announced over the last day on education and the economy. He called for a “stability budget” to ensure that the recovery, which, as George Crozier pointed out the other day, is a Liberal Democrat economic recovery, continues. The growth figures announced this morning show that we are not fully out of the woods yet, although we are certainly seeing some sunshine. The message from the party is clear: we wouldn’t want to jeopardise what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in the last five years.

And explaining the idea of the “stability budget”

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Danny Alexander’s note to Liam: We won’t let you or the Tories screw up the recovery

Five years apart, two letters tell a very different story. David Laws found this on his desk at the Treasury:


Liam Byrne's note


Danny Alexander got round to replying today:

Danny Alexander's reply

As George Crozier pointed out last week, this recovery is very much a Liberal Democrat recovery:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 15 Comments

Danny Alexander says HSBC worries about UK leaving EU show dangers of Conservatives and UKIP

HSBC has said today that it might consider pulling out of the UK and cited uncertainty over Britain’s position in the EU as part of its reasoning. From the Guardian:

HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, has issued a stark warning about the economic risks of the UK pulling out of the European Union as it revealed it was considering moving its headquarters out of London.

The surprise announcement of a full-blown review into where the bank should base its operations will stun politicians on the general election campaign trail.

HSBC listed the economic uncertainty created by the risk of the UK going alone – a blow to the Conservatives which have pledged to hold an “in-out” referendum on the EU.

It would be a massive deal if HSBC were to leave as 48,000 jobs would go.

Danny Alexander said that this highlighted the dangers of a Conservative/UKIP government:

Today’s HSBC announcement confirms fears that businesses have over a swing to the right and the prospect of a ‘Blukip’ coalition pulling us out Europe.

David Cameron, held hostage by UKIP partners and the right wing of his party, would drive the country further towards a ‘Brexit’ – which would hit both jobs and business.

As I revealed today, the markets and businesses are increasingly showing their concern at the prospect of an unstable government.

Only stable government with the Liberal Democrats in the mix will stop Britain from being pulled sharply to the right with Nigel Farage, or to the left with Alex Salmond.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 31 Comments

Opinion: This isn’t just an economic recovery, this is a Liberal Democrat economic recovery

IMF Head Christine Lagarde is the latest outside observer to praise Britain’s economic recovery. Sitting on a panel with George Osborne yesterday she praised the UK Government’s unyielding adherence to unprecedented austerity, the stern fortitude with which the harsh economic medicine had been delivered by an iron Chancellor, ignoring all calls for mercy…

Except no, she didn’t. In fact quite the opposite. Far from crediting unbending austerity for the UK’s exceptional recovery she applauded the UK Government for having shown flexibility and balance. She commended the UK for “adjusting to the economic reality in order to provide the right balance of spending cuts, revenue raising and in the order, in the proportion and in the pace that is appropriate to the economy.”

She’s right. For different reasons it often suits both Conservative and Labour voices to paint a picture in primary colours of undeviating adherence to Plan A. But this caricature is wrong. The reality is more nuanced and rather more Liberal Democrat. The Coalition has shown commendable flexibility, for example in reversing some of the capital spending cuts that were inherited from Labour once it became clear they were holding back the recovery. The Coalition has balanced cuts with carefully targeted stimulus. And above all it has been willing to forego substantial amounts of tax revenue and even slow the pace of austerity in order to help create jobs and encourage people to take them up.

This approach has worked. Liberal Democrat policies and influence have been at the heart of it. Three of the five key politicians deciding economic strategy in this Parliament have been Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrats should be proud of this. It should be front and centre of our election campaign.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 38 Comments

Nick Clegg: We don’t think it’s fair to make the poorest pay for the wealthiest

Nick clegg on Last LegAs David Cameron rolled out another Tory tax cut for the wealthiest in society, Nick Clegg showed where the Liberal Democrat heart lies by setting out Liberal Democrat plans to deal with the deficit without causing more hardship for the poorest. On welfare, the party intends to make £3.5 billion worth of cuts but these will be targeted at the wealthiest pensioners with the withdrawal of Winter Fuel Allowance and free tv licences from households with a higher rate taxpayer. He said that you have to look at who pays to see where a party’s values lie:

So who is asked to pay is one of the most revealing things a political party can tell you about its values

Who wins and who loses, who will make the sacrifices and who will reap the rewards, tells you where a party’s heart really lies.

The Conservatives appear to believe in making the poorest and the most vulnerable in our society pay for the wealthiest.

Labour appear to want the next generation to pay for the mistakes of this one.

The party is keen to show itself as the compassionate, responsible adult in the room when it comes to balancing the books. They have come up with a detailed plan which should appeal to both Labour-leaning and Conservative-leaning voters in key marginals – and both in Scotland where there is increasing evidence of people being prepared to vote tactically to stop the SNP.

Also included are plans to make non-doms pay more which make more sense than Labour’s garbled plan announced this week, and to reform the Barnett Formula to make it fairer to Wales.

Here is his speech in full:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 30 Comments

Opinion: Deficit reduction: between a rock and a hard place

In recent discussions of deficit reduction  my ear was caught by a survey or economists, organised by the Centre for Macroeconomics and the a press release from the National Institute for Economics and Social Research, both suggesting that austerity had not helped growth, and the Office for Budget Responsibility being quoted as saying that cuts reduced growth by one percentage point in each of the first two years of the coalition and by five percentage points over its lifetime.

The subtlety lies in a quote from Charlie Bean, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, that the main purpose of the austerity programme was to stabilise the banking system.

The banking system is vital to any country. Soon after Syriza was elected in Greece and announced an end to austerity I heard a rumour that some Greek government bonds had hit 15% interest: as government bonds are usually the at the bottom end of the range of interest rates in an economy that would point to scarily high borrowing costs for everyone. Banking is a major part of the British economy, which makes us even more vulnerable to the effects of an excessive deficit. That means it clearly makes sense to balance the budget.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 14 Comments

Sorry seems to be the hardest word for Mr Miliband

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 59 Comments

You don’t have to choose between the NHS and the Economy…

…as this infographic from Richard Morris reminds us. It definitely deserves a wider audience.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 84 Comments

What Danny Alexander would say to his successor: “Jobs up, growth up, economy up, don’t screw it up”

We all remember the rather pathetic note that Labour’s last Chief Secretary to the Treasury left for his successor.

no money left

“I’m afraid there is no money left” he said. And he wasn’t a million miles from the truth.

Danny Alexander was asked yesterday at an event what he would put in a note to his successor. His reply was a little more, shall we say, motivating and inspiring, as the Vote Clegg, Get Clegg Facebook page reports:

At a meeting yesterday with Danny Alexander on the panel, he was asked what he would say in a note to his successor. Brilliant reply: “Jobs up, Growth up, Economy up, don’t screw it up”!

Posted by Vote Clegg, Get Clegg on Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 35 Comments

LibLink: Danny Alexander: A defence of our role in Coalition, whatever Jeremy Browne thinks

Danny Alexander takes to the pages of the Independent to challenge the points made by Jeremy Browne in his critical interview in that paper yesterday.

He looks back at the recessions of the 80s with their mass unemployment and misery and highlights the differences in approach brought into government by the Liberal Democrats. This, he says, has brought about a quicker, fairer end to the economic downturn:

Liberalism is about individual freedom, fairness and opportunity. And freedom, fairness and opportunity cannot flourish without a strong economy.

Today, Britain has the strongest growth and fastest job creation of any advanced economy. Inflation is benign, business investment is rising and we have record numbers in work. By any measure, Britain is making strong progress and opportunity is increasing.

This recovery has not come about by accident. It has been hard earned by millions of people and businesses. But we needed the right economic climate for the recovery. That climate is the direct result of liberal values in the recovery plan – fairness and opportunity. Delivered in the Coalition by Liberal Democrat policies – a balanced approach to dealing with the deficit; raising the income tax personal allowance to make work more attractive; creating apprenticeships to give people the skills they need; and the priority we have given to boosting investment in regional and local businesses, innovation and infrastructure. This is not “splitting the difference” between the other parties. It’s doing things in a distinctly different way, the liberal way.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: We need to stand up for Liberal Democrat distinctiveness on economic policy

This weekend the latest Federal Party mailing further confirmed that the Party continues to define itself as a split-the-difference party between Labour and Conservatives, painting only Labour as a risk to the economy. Successive rounds of poor election results should have taught us that we need to change tack. The mailing reads, ‘Our message for 2015’:

So the choice in this election is clear: Labour will borrow too much, risking the economy. The Tories will cut too much, threatening public services and sacrificing the least well off. The Liberal Democrats will borrow less than Labour and cut less than the Tories.

Campaigners should deviate from this line to achieve a better election result. We need to stand up for Liberal Democrat distinctiveness on economic policy. If we don’t, no one else will.

Posted in Op-eds | 42 Comments

Ed Miliband has his economic deficiencies but is the Liberal Democrat response adequate?

I’m getting as fed up with arguments about the economy as I was about the quality of the debate in the independence referendum. We seem to be stuck in a yah-boo soundbite fest that is deeply uninspiring.

Ed Miliband’s latest contribution on the deficit was pretty risible if you looked at it in terms of facts. He’s opposed practically every single cut the Coalition has made over the last four years but presumably his “sensible cuts” won’t actually affect anyone. Of course he’s not actually told us what they are, so we can’t really judge. Our problem is that with the way our newspapers and broadcasters work, neither Labour nor the Tories have to be that good to get their message across. Already we seem to be being demoted to an afterthought in most news reports. We have to work ten times as hard as everyone else to grab even a tiny bit of attention.

The nagging worry I have about Labour appropriating policies like our Mansion Tax is that they can then position themselves to say “vote for us, we come without their baggage”. This, I grant you, is pretty much the same as “vote for us cos we’re fairer than them and more economically responsible than them” which seems to be our pitch.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 36 Comments

Nick Clegg on the “utter nonsense” of Tory spending plans

In another strong demonstration of the differences between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, Nick Clegg went on the Today programme yesterday to talk about deficit reduction and fiscal policy in the next parliament. While the Tories want to reduce the deficit by cutting spending alone, Liberal Democrats want to raise taxes on the wealthy.

From the Guardian:

Nick Clegg insisted taxes would have to rise in the next parliament. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “What the Conservatives are saying is a complete and utter nonsense. There is not a single developed economy anywhere in the world that has balanced the books and only done so on the backs of the working-age poor, which Osborne has now confirmed several times he wants to do.”

As he set out his party’s plans to remove tax breaks for wealthy pensioners, Clegg also accepted that the public finances were not improving as fast as planned due to tax receipts failing to match forecasts, but he refused to say if this would require the coalition to put back its deficit plans.

He said: “If tax receipts are not as buoyant as predicted then of course that has an effect. Time will tell if that is a semi-permanent effect or a temporary blip, but it means it comes down a little less than predicted.”

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 39 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – ensure there is no benefit abuse while retaining free labour movement

Nick clegg rally glasgow 2014
Writing in the Financial Times (registration needed), Nick Clegg argues in favour of immigration for work purposes from the EU, but lists a range of restrictions on benefits for those coming to the UK:

Overwhelmingly, European migrants come here to work and pay taxes.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 42 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 28th Nov - 9:19am
    We didn't do ourselves any favours on last night's Newsnight. Where was our candidate? And why couldn't the substitute, Greg Mulholland MP, have been provided...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 28th Nov - 9:14am
    Talking of by elections, Phil, I wonder how many of you caught the piece on Newsnight last night on Oldham. John Sweeney interviewed all the...
  • User Avatarexpats 28th Nov - 9:06am
    A Social Liberal ... You forget to mention, in your reference to 'successful' interventions, that their common factor was external 'boots on the ground'.... No...
  • User AvatarBrian Paddick 28th Nov - 8:43am
    Dear Dave. A passing Mao reference in a week when his Little Red Book was tossed across the Despatch Box by the Labour Shadow Chancellor...
  • User AvatarRoger Roberts 28th Nov - 8:00am
    My intervention on Question asking that Identity Cards be introduced - -": I welcome the Minister’s statement that there will be no rethink of identity...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 28th Nov - 1:12am
    @ Social Liberal.. I think there are a few problems with your proposals... Firstly, if we arm the "Free Syrian Army" with heavy weapons, the...