What the Liberal Democrats have done: new party booklet

This is a rather nifty new publication from the party, with some great content and presentation that is well ahead of the traditional party fare for these sorts of documents.It’s been produced in time for conference, which is very good news as that makes it a huge step forward on the messaging inconsistency that was last autumn.

If you’re looking for more material in a similar vein, remember there’s my own Liberal Democrat achievements in government infographic too (which the party’s policy experts kindly helped provide data for).

Mind you, if things continue with documents like the above, I’ll soon be able to pension it off to the home for retired infographics.

What Have the Lib Dems Done?

[PDF download available here.]

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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30 Comments

  • Can we *really* take credit for a further reduction in the MRSA infection rate that was already on the slide? Did this tie into a policy implemented under the Coalition?

    Also, the waiting times statistic is *ahem* well-chosen, given Labour could point to rises in waiting times for various operations.

  • Stuart Mitchell 15th Sep '12 - 10:16am

    I stopped reading after the very first sentence :-

    “Liberal Democrats have cut tax for millions of working families.”

    This is clearly untrue. The government’s own budget reports show every single income decile paying significantly more tax as a result of coalition policies. It’s high time the Lib Dems started being honest with the public about tax.

  • Nigel Ashton 15th Sep '12 - 11:13am

    So, we haven’t cut (income) tax for single people, the divorced, widows, widowers, etc. Why do the Liberal Democrats only care about families?

  • Adrian Fullam 15th Sep '12 - 12:39pm

    To Stuart – cutting the deficit means the total income drops, because it is was on borrowed money and should never have been so high. If the government always balanced the books, or income would be lower, but we would grow our income in-line with growth. Individually, we can boost our income with a load, but it’s obvious that our income will then fall as we a) have no new load and b) start paying the interest. It seems fairly obvious to me that falling income is the consequence of reducing debt, or even of slowing the increase of debt.
    What we have achieved is the mitigation of the decrease in income for the lower paid workers through a more progressive tax system.

  • Stuart Mitchell 15th Sep '12 - 1:31pm

    Nigel: “Why do the Liberal Democrats only care about families?”

    Relax – they haven’t cut tax for families either. In fact families on the receiving end of tax credit cuts have been among the worst hit.

  • “What we have achieved is the mitigation of the decrease in income for the lower paid workers through a more progressive tax system.”

    Even if that were true, it would still be grossly misleading to claim the government had cut taxes when in fact they had gone up.

    But in any case it’s well known that the tax and benefit changes made by the government have been regressive on the basis of household income – as found, for example, by that IFS report that Nick Clegg disliked so much.

  • Rabi Martins 15th Sep '12 - 3:19pm

    True we have reduced income tax for millions at the lower end of the income bracket
    But overall we have not protected the majority of those caught in the poverty trap.

    And our failure to tackle tax avoidance by the rich (individuals and corporations) is difficult to defend

    That is not to say that had we not been in cpalition the less well off would have been even worse off Thus overall we have done more good than harm

  • Simon Titley 15th Sep '12 - 5:16pm

    @Nigel Ashton – “Why do the Liberal Democrats only care about families?”

    Is that ordinary families, hard-working families, hard-pressed families, the squeezed middle or Alarm Clock Britain?

  • Richard Dean 15th Sep '12 - 6:22pm

    The title is bad. It invites the reader to say “Nothing”, then the book sets out to provde the reader wrong. Giving people negative experiences – telling them they are wrong – is not the most effective way of winning their support!

  • coldcomfort 15th Sep '12 - 6:57pm

    With friends like LibDems the Party doesn’t need any enemies.

  • Simon McGrath 15th Sep '12 - 9:58pm

    Its a useful document, having so many of the benefits of Lib Dems in Government in one place.

    I would have liked more reminder of the challenges the Coalition faces on the economic front – the reckless overspending by the previous government.

  • Some really good stuff there. Off course it is not ‘balanced’ by some of the nonsense of the past few years. ATOS and the NHS deforms and Free Schools/Academies to name but a few.

    On the downside, the colour scheme and layout of some of it is ‘playschool’.

  • This document makes me uncomfortable. In almost every case the claim is that the Lib Dems or “we” have done these things – almost never “the government of which the Lib Dems are a part”.

    On the page I happen to be looking at, the top two items (ID cards, DNA database) were also in the Conservative manifesto – word for word – and many of the other claims could equally well be made by the Tories.

    Then there are the disingenuous claims. Yes, we’ve cut income tax for the majority – a significant long-term gain. This was definitely a Lib Dem policy (though many Tories have found it a congenial idea). What we don’t say is that tax credit changes have cut the income of large sections of that group. And yes, we’ve introduced the triple lock on pensions, but we also allowed the freezing/withdrawal of pension tax allowances at least a year before the general tax allowance caught up and made it a sensible change. People are not stupid – they count losses as well as gains, and probably double if we neglect to mention them.

    I don’t think the document contains any untruths, and it will be a useful resource, but the partial way in which it is presented means that I won’t be waving the thing itself in arguments.

    Finally, there is hardly any mention of the things we’ve prevented the Tories from doing. Such a list might be politically incorrect but would be very valuable in trying to regain lapsed support.

  • David Evans 16th Sep '12 - 8:57am

    @Rabi Martins

    “True we have reduced income tax for millions at the lower end of the income bracket
    But overall we have not protected the majority of those caught in the poverty trap.

    And our failure to tackle tax avoidance by the rich (individuals and corporations) is difficult to defend

    That is not to say that had we not been in cpalition the less well off would have been even worse off Thus overall we have done more good than harm”

    Unfortunately, it is clear that many of our past voters do not agree with you enough to vote for us again either locally or nationally, and the long term cost to us as a party, and the people who depend on us will be dire. We may feel we have done a little more good than harm for the country in the short term, but the long term damage to the party and its values are much greater.

    Things are not as bad as they might have been was never a good election slogan.

  • OK, now the crunch question.

    Who was the final editor of that document and who, precisely, was consulted on it before it was issued? I would very much like to know who believes themselves to be the arbiter of (a) what Lib Dems (with/ without input from the Kamerun Krew) have achieved via the Coalition to date and (b) how that should be presented to the world.

  • @David Evans: “And our failure to tackle tax avoidance by the rich (individuals and corporations) is difficult to defend.”

    Does this mean that the claim that £7bn is being clawed back from ‘people who avoid tax and hide their money offshore’ is not true?

  • David/sid – tax avoidance is legal and should be tackled via legislation changes. Are you referring to tax evasion?

  • Simon McGrath 16th Sep '12 - 10:48am

    @David Evans
    “And our failure to tackle tax avoidance by the rich (individuals and corporations) is difficult to defend”
    Do you actually believe this ? have you read,,for example the Disguised Remuneration Regulations ?

  • I suspect many people will feel patronised by this list of “good news” stories when they know we have had many setbacks. I would feel far more comfortable distributing a more candid and intelligent account of what we as a party see as this Government’s achievements, its setbacks eg tuition fees and electoral reform (including concessions to the Tories on the NHS and police commissioners and missed chances to reform local democracy), and our agenda and challenges for the future.

    There are some things here I am proud of. But many of the claims beg more questions than they answer eg

    “Debt”: “Labour left a budget deficit worth £8,900″ (is it total accumulated debt or the annual deficit?) and the ridiculous scales suggesting that government spending and revenues are now in balance (or “balanced the books”). This completely false impression will only encourage the Labour lie that we have abandoned Keynesian demand management, when the reality is that the Government continues to support economic activity through massive borrowing. The only difference between what we are doing and the previous Labour government is that we are trying to ease the economy off the unsustainable level of life-support we inherited by encouraging the recovery of the private sector (which has taken longer than expected largely because of problems in European markets). Labour would have had to do this as well as they themselves have admitted.

  • Whatever your successes, and to be frank all of those listed are highly debatable, the absolute shambles of tuition fees and HE reforms will be your political epitaph. The collapse in student numbers as a result, was well as the immigration restrictions, has created a perfect storm to create a massive deficit in HE funding and relentless bad press for universities abroad. You’re destroying a world class education system, for what?

  • David Evans 16th Sep '12 - 1:33pm

    Sid, Tabman, Simon.

    If you look carefully, the comment “And our failure to tackle tax avoidance by the rich (individuals and corporations) is difficult to defend.” was part of Rabi Martin’s post; as indicatred in my post by the @Rabi Martins and the fact that it is all in ” “s. I hope you get a response from him.

  • Stuart Mitchell 16th Sep '12 - 2:24pm

    Ed: “I don’t think the document contains any untruths.”

    Of course it does. The opening sentence (after the intro), “Liberal Democrats have cut tax for millions of working families”, is a blatant untruth (see the government’s own budget impact analyses). If a Labour or Tory government were peddling such an untruth, you’d be calling them on it.

    @Adrian
    I’m not questioning whether the tax increases have been necessary, Perhaps they have. My beef is with a government which increases taxes but then pretends it has decreased them. If Lib Dems want to claim that they have mitigated the worst of the Tory plans, then that would be a fair claim for them to make. But they are not making that claim.

  • Rabi Martins 16th Sep '12 - 2:51pm

    I was quite specifically refering to tax avoidance and not tax evasion (Although now you mention it I see little evidence of authorities pursuing tax evaders at the same frequency as they chase and catch benefit cheats)

    Year after year, some wealthy individuals have used legitimate reliefs to pay little or no tax, according to the Treasury. Accountants and commentators say this is nothing new, as many of these schemes have been around for years.

    The point is because tax avoidance – unlike tax evasion – is perfectly legal, it is up to the government to change the rules to make these people pay more in tax.
    Few of these selfish well to do lot will stop paying as little tax as possible just because those nice Lib Dems would like them to prove they have a sense of duty to the county

  • Grammar Police 17th Sep '12 - 8:55am

    Pleased to see the tuition fee table in there showing that monthly repayments are down for people earning up to nearly twice the median salary (and for a significant number of those, the total repayments will also be far less).

    More of this please, as literature and website drop-ins.

    @Stuart Mitchell, income tax has clearly been cut. But you are right, there have also been cuts to working benefits. And there are also some of us who don’t think a scheme that gives benefits – working tax credit – to people earning up to £41,300 is such a great thing (if you haven’t already, try filling in one of the 40 page application forms to claim it; I wonder what type of family is more likely to be able to have the time and ability to fill one of those in? Oh, middle class ones!).

  • @Grammar Police

    A graduate on twice the average income will be paying back the full 27k plus interest, compared to 9k plus interest under the previous system. Graduates aren’t thick.

  • This is a fantastic booklet and I definitely want a hard copy for myself.

    I despair at the doom-mongers commenting here. Yes, one or two of the successes in here I’m not too positive about either (most of the housing section had me scrunching up my face) and the wording could be tightened up now and again (clarifying income tax rather than just tax generally). But most of the facts in here are real successes for us and they don’t get anywhere near enough attention. In fact I’ll bet that everyone who reads this book will discover a success they didn’t previously know about.

    I don’t care if the Tories also said they’d scrap ID cards or scrapped the DNA database We were part of the government that did it. It’s part of our record. We should be proud of it. And here’s what worries me even more – implicit in this thinking is that the Tories can be trusted on civil liberties. This way madness lies!

    We need to be positive about the good things which have happened with us at the helm. This is politics 101. Watch how the Tories are taking our income tax cuts and selling it as their own success. Labour and the Tories are ruthless campaigners. They aren’t going to big up success as down to us are they?! If we spend our time whinging about the finer details of whether or not something is or isn’t our success, we’ll never get anywhere.

  • Liberal Neil 17th Sep '12 - 3:40pm

    I agree with Duncan about this, and with mark’s original points.

    It is our job to sell our achievements in the coalition and this booklet does that in a much more coherent way than previous efforts.

    I would like copies of this to give to members and potential members.

    It’s not our job to point out the less popular things the Government has had to do, there are plenty of other people who will do that.

  • In fact if there’s any criticism to be made, it’s that the booklet isn’t comprehensive enough. For instance I’ve just noticed that there’s no mention of how we’ve ended Labour’s brutal regime of indefinitely imprisoning children in immigration detention centres.

  • Tony Dawson 19th Sep '12 - 8:15pm

    I see that days later, no one can or will answer my question as to the process of determining the content and ‘pitch’ of this interesting document .

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