Tag Archives: economy

Danny Alexander tells Bloomberg of Liberal Democrat contribution to fair recovery and plans for Mansion Tax

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterDanny Alexander gave a big speech at Bloomberg this morning. Interestingly, he mentioned several times that he was from the Highlands and credited his upbringing in a small community with forming his commitment to fairness and managing resources wisely.

It was a wide-ranging speech, which looked back at the almost four years since he entered the Treasury. He said that some of the detail of getting to grips with the economic crisis would have to wait for his memoirs which he hoped would be “some way off”.  His main theme was that the Liberal Democrats were, uniquely, capable of managing the economy fairly. It was another variation of the “stronger economy, fairer society” melody.

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Opinion: The Generation Gap

Day 46: Generation GapThe generation gap used to refer to the differing attitudes of young people and their elders to sex, drugs and rock and roll. For young people today, it has come to mean what the American author of the article linked below describes as “the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.”

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone magazine published an article under the title Five economic reforms millennials should be fighting for.

photo by: quinn.anya
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Opinon: The Calder Valley needs a modern transport system to maximise economic potential

The declaration that Hebden Bridge is the UKs ‘second city’ – lying at the heart of the suburbs of Bradford, Leeds & Manchester – has come as something of a shock to most people living there, including myself. However, underneath the hyperbole lies a serious point; that the Calder Valley lies in a sweet spot for ease of commute to the major employment centres.
But what the Calder Valley lacks – and what holds back prosperity and employment opportunities within it – is a modern, efficient transport system.
We are cursed on the Caldervale line which runs along the Calder Valley

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John Pugh MP writes… Grim up north

You may have read the Observer article entitled “Northern Lib Dem MPs rebel over cuts.”

It’s a source of wry amusement to behold how the national media treat our internal democratic procedures. Not since primary school have I been referred to as “ringleader”, let alone of a bunch of “rebels” – Northern council leaders, peers and MPs who endorse the pre-budget submission “Grim up North?”.

The title is meant to be a little ironic because there are many promising signs up North and a lot of support for the Coalition’s objectives of re-balancing the economy.

However, your typical Northerner is classically known …

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Opinion: Are payday loans impoverishing our neighbourhoods?

There is a central moral conundrum at the heart of the payday loan phenomenon.

It is that payday loan companies are designed to help people through what are intended to be unusual and temporary periods of financial difficulty.  Long-term and repeated use of payday loans is seriously expensive.

Yet – and here’s the rub – the business plans of most payday loan companies envisage growth.  Their business purpose, and the purpose of their investors, is to maximise their profits – and this is bound to be at the expense of some of the poorest families and the most vulnerable places.

My report for …

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Uncomfortable truths from the IFS on public spending and tax cuts but cautious optimism on economic growth

Last week, the highly-respected Institute for Fiscal Studies produced its annual “Green Budget”: its attempt to inject some realism into the national debate on the economy ahead of the chancellor’s actual budget in March.

The document makes for uncomfortable reading in parts, particularly as we head towards another general election in which the complicity of silence on deficit reduction is likely to be as deafening as it was in 2010.

IFS borrowingDeficit reduction: significant progress, but some way to go

Starting with the deficit, the IFS’s conclusions are stark. Had the government not taken steps to increase taxes and cut spending in the years since 2008, they estimate that the deficit would have reached 10% of national income by 2018-19. Because of the estimated 16.7% permanent reduction in economic capacity caused by the crash of 2008, 98% of that deficit would be “structural” – i.e. would not be expected to reduce naturally once growth picked up:

For an economy such as the UK, this level of borrowing would have been unsustainable on an ongoing basis. Public sector net debt would have increased markedly year-on-year, likely surpassing 100% of national income before the end of the current decade, and 200% within the next two decades.

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

A Stronger Economy 

Last week, I welcomed the announcement of the strongest GDP growth figures since before the financial crisis began in 2007, with the UK growing by 0.7% in the last financial quarter and 1.9% throughout the whole of 2013.  Growth is vital for our prosperity so this is a really important development.

We have also seen the inflation rate dropping to 2% from a peak of 5.2% in September 2011, decreasing unemployment and both the World Bank and the IMF indicating …

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Nick Clegg MP writes…The recovery would not be happening without us

This morning we’ve seen yet more proof that the economy is firmly on the path to recovery. Growth is returning, with today’s figures showing the longest period of growth since 2007. We’ve also had good news on jobs – with youth unemployment down, jobs outside of London up and a surge in new full time jobs.

In Government we’re clearing up Labour’s mess. Here are four reasons why it would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats.

1. Our decision to go into coalition gave Britain the stable government needed to get the country through these difficult times. Despite the endless clamour …

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A longer read: Vince Cable on ‘Recovery and Beyond’

‘UK economy growing at fastest rate since 2007′ is the BBC headline this morning, following the release of the latest GDP figures showing 0.7% growth in the fourth quarter of 2013, bringing the annual growth rate to 1.9%.

Last night, Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable delivered a major speech to the Royal Economic Society assessing the current state of the economy – and in particular how the current growth figures can be sustained in the long-term. There will be lots of glib sound-bites today from politicians and pundits trying to make the facts fit their outlook. As ever, …

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Danny Alexander: Labour will deliver less for working people than Liberal Democrats

So, Ed Balls has been laying out his vision for the economy. A surplus by 2020? Really? From Labour? They seem to be trying to make out that they can be trusted with our purse strings after all, despite all the evidence to the contrary that we’ve seen any time they’ve been in government in my lifetime.

The measure getting all the headlines is the fact that they are going to restore the 50p tax rate that was in place for all of a month of their 13 year term in office. It’s worth remembering that their top rate of …

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Opinion: Son of Plan A – why are we supporting?

Economic policy is always a mixture of fiscal, monetary and political policy.

“Nick, George has come up with another of his jolly good wheezes. You remember that Plan A malarkey ..?”

Well, dear reader, you do remember Plan A, don’t you?

Eliminate the deficit by 2015; keep fingers crossed Expansionary Fiscal Contraction (EFC) works; use a 20:80 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts; provide monetary stimulus; flush out the Labour Party, and keep Vince and the ‘SDPers’ in their box.

Well, it put a spanner in the recovery-works and, with no sign of EFC or King’s stimulus working, it was pretty soon shelved …

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Opinion: Vince is wrong about London

One of the oddest statements made by a Lib Dem in 2013 was surely Vince Cable saying that London was “draining the life out of the rest of the country”’.

Odd not just because Vince is MP for a London constituency but because he was so clearly wrong – far from draining the life out of the rest of the UK, London is a huge contributor. The most obvious way is financially: London subsidises other parts of the UK which would have higher taxes or less public spending without the benefits of the London

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Opinion: the Government’s obsession with London is holding back our creative industries – and the recovery

As a failed rock guitarist but still passionate consumer of music I always look forward to the Mercury Music awards at the end of October, and this year’s nominees were as interesting and eclectic as they usually are. What wasn’t as diverse was where these acts originated from. Over 60% were from the Greater London area and only four were from outside the south east of England, which is surprising when you consider the award covers the whole of the UK and Ireland. It seems the advice I heard fifteen years ago during my short and unsuccessful music career is …

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Danny Alexander says there would be no recovery without Lib Dems

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterIn today’s Telegraph, Danny Alexander is ebullient about the signs of economic recovery. He says this revival would not be happening without the Lib Dems.

The decision of Lib Dems to form the coalition is the bedrock on which the recovery is being built. Without a government prepared to do the right thing to tackle the deficit and support job creation the progress we are starting to see would simply not have happened.

Some people thought the Lib Dems wouldn’t stick at it. Now they know different. We’ve worked with the Conservatives, not just to take tough decisions, but to make the right decisions for the long term good of Britain.

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YouGov: Nick edges Vince on economic trust

Which politician (or combination of politicians) would the public most trust to run the British economy? That’s the question YouGov asked, and here are results courtesy the PLMR blog:

economic trust

Overall David Cameron has the single best economic trust figure (35%) followed by Ed Miliband (30%). As you might expect this breaks broadly on party lines: 91% of Tory voters trust their party’s leader; 76% of Labour’s trust theirs. The current Coalition partnership – Cameron and Clegg – are trusted by 29%, with Tories less enthusiastic and Labour supporters overwhelmingly hostile.

Intriguingly …

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats have a unique position on co-operatives. We should use it.

At party conference I asked Nick Clegg why the word ‘co-operative’ appeared only once in our economy paper and not at all in the resolution presenting that paper to conference. He advised me to write my views on a postcard and send them to him, and this is that postcard.

The third clause of the preamble to the constitution sets out the underlying principles of economic liberalism clearly and concisely:

We will foster a strong and sustainable economy which encourages the necessary wealth creating processes, develops and uses the skills of the people and works to the benefit of all, with a

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Conference economy debate: Nick Clegg’s summation in full

Nick Clegg Economy Motion 4Chairman Andrew Wiseman called Nick Clegg of Sheffield to summate on the economy debate. Nick said:

Colleagues, just to show that I can also agree with Paul Homes, I strongly agree with Paul about what a brilliant, brilliant debate that was. It really, really does show us at our very, very best. No other part could stage such a democratic and respectful debate. Well done to everybody on whatever side you were on the debate.

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Economy motion carried: Nick Clegg wins overwhelming backing from Lib Dem conference

Lib Dem conference has spoken — and it has overwhelmingly backed Nick Clegg. Before the debate I had a hunch the result would be somewhat different. Though Nick had shrugged off a reported split with Vince Cable as “a storm in a tea cup”, I thought Vince’s obvious discontent with the decision to make this vote a test of strength, together with the assiduous ground-work and careful drafting of the Social Liberal Forum’s amendments, would pose a real problem for the party leadership.

And for the first third of the debate I thought my hunch might be fulfilled, with …

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The Lib Dem conference economy debate: Nick Clegg raises the stakes. He’ll have only himself to blame if he loses

After a weekend of averted rows – nuclear power and ‘fracking’ supported, axeing of tuition fees dropped – today’s debate on the economy will see a return to Lib Dem conference tradition: a dust-up between the leadership and the activists.

A year ago, there was a poorly coordinated attempt by Lib Dem members within the Social Liberal Forum and Liberal Left groupings to get the party to change the Coalition direction on the economy, to bring in an explicit Plan B. It suffered a crushing defeat, with Vince Cable, Steve Webb and Tim Farron all speaking in favour of …

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Conference: Do the Liberal Democrats want more homes and more jobs?

Do the Liberal Democrats want more homes and more jobs? That and other questions that will get an answer, one way or another, when our Conference debates the economy today (Monday). One of the two amendments tabled by the Social Liberal Forum with support from 100 Conference representatives calls for the Coalition to commence the dramatic increase in housebuilding that the Party endorsed last year.

The barriers to this at present are, as ever, in the housebuilding industry and the Treasury.

The former has by most estimates some 400,000 planning consents at its disposal, assisted by policies that effectively waived the lapsing …

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats must champion our economic achievements

It’s the enduring burden placed upon liberals that we are often found to have made the correct policies calls in the crucible of history. But we fail to turn such perspicacity into a victory in the more immediate court of public opinion.

Whether it is on major issues such as the Liberal party’s historic pioneering of the welfare state before any other; the commitment to green issues which predated Cameron’s hugging of a husky by two decades; Caroline Pidgeon’s proposal for a bicycle hire scheme before either Boris or Ken; liberals have historically been ahead of the policy curve, nut been …

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Opinion: The Bank of England’s Independence – the Law

Political RavishmentAccording to the Independent, Nick Clegg wants to take on the ‘left’ in his Party.

In doing so he accuses the Social Liberal Forum’s amendments to the economics motion as “ending the Bank of England’s independence by ordering it to do more to create jobs” and “tearing up the fiscal mandate.”

Let’s deal with the first accusation. The 1998 Bank of England Act granted the Bank independence to set interest rates. That is instrument independence. However, the remit for the Bank is set by the government and so The Bank does not have goal independence, it takes its goals each Spring from the Government.

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Nick Clegg’s Conference rally speech – “We are the party of jobs”

Nick Clegg arrives at GlasgowSpeaking at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference rally in Glasgow this evening, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is expected to say:

Welcome to Glasgow. This year’s conference sees us gather in a city that has always been important to the Liberal Democrats, a city once represented by Roy Jenkins, that gave us Ming Campbell and where nearby in 2005 Jo Swinson won a famous victory to take her seat from Labour and become an MP at just 25.

Before anything I want to pay tribute to our team of Scottish MPs who lead the way in Parliament in arguing for a United Kingdom that is strong, secure and together. All under the direction of our fantastic Chief Whip and rally compere.

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Opinion: Tools to make the recovery stronger, fairer

The Social Liberal Forum’s amendments to Nick Clegg’s economy motion – supported by an unprecedented number of voting representatives – seek to ensure that the party retains distinctive, independent economic narrative up to and beyond the next election. The narrative behind Nick’s motion – which, to be clear, has a great deal that Liberal Democrats can be proud of – is clear enough. Here is the rationale behind our amendments.

On housing, the motion highlights government guarantee schemes that are yet to scratch the surface of the housing shortage, and recognises that “house building remains well below historical averages.” The …

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Independent View: Cable should revisit Mill’s Principles of Political Economy

John Stuart MillCable should revisit Mill’s Principles of Political Economy

With new analysis this week showing as many as 50,000 women lose their jobs each year while taking time off to have a baby, insecurity appears to be the new normal for British workers.

From mothers losing out whilst on maternity leave, to the rocketing growth of zero hour contracts on which as many as 1m people are now employed, millions of people face instability at work. These bad employment practices combined with the on-going squeeze on wages means that over half of people say they struggle to keep up with bills. As conference approaches, Vince Cable would do well to consider these issues as matters of pressing importance.

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Opinion: Why aren’t we borrowing more?

At the moment the yield on the UK’s five year government gilts is 1.65%. What this means in plain English is that if our government wanted to borrow £1,000 it would have to pay back £1,083 in five years.

In contrast, if you or I or a business went to the bank and ask to borrow the same amount for five years we’d be looking at paying back well over £1,500 by the end of the loan.

What this tells us is that our government can borrow money very, very cheaply. It can borrow it at less than the rate of …

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Opinion: Three blind men and the UK economy

In Indian folklore there’s a tale that goes a little something as follows:

Three blind men are confronted with an obstacle in their path. Stretching out a hand, each grabs a part and describes what’s in front of them. “My word,” says the first man, “we’re faced with some trees – so strong and thick.” Quoth the second man, “You are mistaken, for we face a snake – thin and wriggly.” Disagreeing with them both, the third man says, “You fools! It’s a wall we must scale – the size of a house.” Passing by, a sighted man takes

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Falling living standards are a problem of Labour’s making

Making use of the slowest news month of the year, the Labour party has released details of a report which (shock horror) has shown that living standards have fallen as a result of the financial crisis and subsequent recession.

Of course, they don’t put it quite like that, choosing to blame the coalition rather than the bust they promised would never come. Here’s Chris Leslie, Labour’s shadow financial secretary to the Treasury (presumably Balls is on holiday…):

David Cameron will go down in history as a disastrous Prime Minister for people’s living standards. He is totally out of touch, his economic policies

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As economy begins to recover, Lib Dem members swing in favour of Coalition’s strategy

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Lib Dem members swing in favour of Coalition’s economic policies

Thinking of the current state of the economy and the Coalition’s approach, which of the following statements is closest to your own view?
(Comparisons in brackets are with the last time we asked this question in March 2013.)

    15% (-5%) – Cutting the deficit isn’t enough: alongside public spending cuts,

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Vince Cable: “Go home” poster vans “stupid and offensive”

Those of you who have not been willing to take the word of senior Liberal Democrat sources on those notorious poster vans, and have been waiting for a minister to say something will not be disappointed by Vince Cable’s comments on today’s Andrew Marr show:

It’s stupid, as Trevor Phillips said, the idea that illegal immigrants have got a sophisticated grasp of English, read at a distance and I think it is offensive. It is designed, apparently to create a sense of fear within the British population that we have a vast problem with illegal immigration. We have a problem, but

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