Clegg condemns sneering Paxman and tussles with terrorism prevention

Nick Clegg LBCThey are a way of dealing with a “dilemma”. That’s Nick Clegg’s view of TPIMs after the escape of Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed. He was being challenged on his weekly Call Clegg phone-in on LBC 97.3. He went on to blast Paxman as a taxpayer funded broadcaster who “sneers at politics.”

Clegg defended the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures as essential where people can’t be prosecuted or deported:

What do you do about people who you can’t get on a plane to deport them but you want to keep an eye on them? There is this dilemma.

He said that TPIMs are the toughest regime in the world he knows of for dealing with “this category of characters.” People absconded under old system of Control Orders, which were riddled with problems because they were “constantly being shredded by the courts.”

Presenter Nick Ferrari pressed Clegg on where those under the measure should live.

It has been reported that you personally intervened in a discussion with the Conservative Party and felt that they should be allowed to return to their geographical area. If I was a terrorist I shouldn’t be allowed to live in Blackheath. I should have to go and live in Norwich or somewhere.

Where Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed lived, Clegg said:

Made absolutely no difference to whether the guy put on a burka or not. If you can’t prosecute in court, there are limits to how much you can curtail their freedom under the rule of law, something we have fought for for centuries.

Ferrari said that the Mayor thinks that Mohamed was assisted by the TPIM regime. Clegg:

I don’t think that Boris Johnson can at all assert that because of the change from Control Orders to TPIMs that’s why the guy was able to remove his tag and put a burka on.

A caller asked about Ken Clarke’s notorious bag comment:

What people wear in their everyday lives, in their communities and their homes, is entirely up to them… the question is, is simply what do you do about the full veil in places where you need to see someone’s face – courts, security checks in airports, schools. Otherwise we live in a free country. We’re not like France and other countries where the government dictates what you can and can’t wear.

The starting point for Nick’s attack on Paxo came from a caller from Bristol who asked: “Shouldn’t we have permanent coalition?” Clegg laughed:

Nick Clegg LBC laughingI think for the opponents of this coalition, the idea of a permanent coalition is going to send them into paroxysms of despair. I don’t agree that we should eliminate choice, debate and the argy bargy of politics. Unattractive at times it is still the best way we can have peace, debate and govern the country in a legitimate way.

Ferrari asked Clegg to respond to Jeremy Paxman’s admission that he did not vote in a recent election “because I thought the choice so unappetising” and because was “tired of tawdry pretences.”

Clegg retorted that dismissing politicians as “rogues and charlatans” is a “total abdication of responsibility.” He said:

I just have this old-fashioned view, if you want to improve something get stuck in and get your hands dirty and change it.

Here is a guy who gets paid a million pounds, thereabouts, paid for by taxpayers. He lives off politics and he spends all his time sneering at politics. We know that politics is not perfect, but at the end of the day it is the way that we decide how you pay your taxes, how we support our hospitals, our schools, whether we are going to war or not, how we deal with climate change.

Of course it’s sometimes unedifying but this idea that you can sneer at the whole thing, dismiss everybody as somehow being rogues and charlatans and say, ‘Well, therefore I’m going to wash my hands of the whole thing,’ I think is a total abdication of responsibility.

I just have this old-fashioned view, if you want to improve something get stuck in and get your hands dirty and change it.

Don’t somehow pretend you can turn your back on it.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem living in Shropshire, and a former editor for Lib Dem Voice

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

56 Comments

  • Paxman has certainly stepped across a line. It would be interesting to know what “recent election” he can be referring to. Paxman’s comments do suggest he is some kind of ‘one-nation’ Tory and that he has never given the Liberals or Lib Dems consideration.

    Paxman states:

    “At the next election we shall have a choice between the people who’ve given us five years of austerity, the people who left us this mess, and the people who signed public pledges that they wouldn’t raise student fees, and then did so – the most blatant lie in recent political history.”

    This will clearly upset Lib Dems, but in saying this Paxman also declares a definition of ‘a lie’ to include statements of intent that that are subjected to a later change of mind rather than to statements about past events. Since politics is always about response to events, it may seem to Paxman that it is always a stream of lies.

    Although I believe a cogent defence can be offered on this issue, I do not like where we have ended up on student fees for both pragmatic and principled reasons, but I do not think it should be characterised as ‘a lie’, still less “the most blatant lie in recent political history”.

    Is Paxman still qualified to continue as an independent journalist? His comments are not those of an impartial commentator, so I do not think so and would suggest that he has is mind set on other things or retirement. Furthermore the comments really do suggest a leaning towards the Conservatives, since his criticism of Labour includes an excuse for the criticism that he provides for the Conservatives. Moreover his other statements that he did not vote in an election because the choice was so unappetising implies that he had automatically discounted Lib Dems or Liberals as unworthy of consideration as this seems to have been before the student fees issue.

    Nick Clegg is right to point out that Paxman gains considerably out of the public purse in the form of the licence fee. It surely has to be questioned how such pay is decided and whether in certain cases the BBC’s remuneration policies can be justified. Where is the open market that can justify such pay? Is there any prospect of the likes of Jeremy Paxman going elsewhere?

  • Nice try but many MP’s won votes on the very premise of signing a pledge publicly that they would not vote to raise tuition fees ( with some very jolly photo opportunities I seem to remember) – and in the everyday language that most people use they did, in fact, lie to get those votes. So perhaps Paxman is just reflecting that mood?

  • Funnily enough, I’d always assumed Paxman was a liberal democrat, hence his expressed annoyance at that pledge. Also Clegg is responding to an inaccurate impression of Paxman’s comments, he (Paxman) was clear on the importance of voting, just acknowledging why people may be disillusioned and admitting he too suffered doubts.

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Nov '13 - 10:52am

    peebee

    A statement about the future is only a lie if at the time it is made the person making the statement does not in fact have the intention to do what they claim they will do. If you tell your friend “I’ll meet you in town at 2 o’clock” when you have every intention of staying at home to watch Jeremy Kyle (or whatever), it’s a lie. If you tell your friend the same thing, but at 1.30 you look out the window, see it’s raining and think “Sod it, I’m not going”, then the original statement wasn’t a lie. You have, in that case, broken a promise, and that’s pretty reprehensible, which is why I couldn’t vote for any MP who signed that pledge and didn’t vote against the fee increase. But it’s just a misuse of language (or at best, a theory-of-mind failure) to call it a “lie”.

  • daft ha'p'orth 8th Nov '13 - 11:21am

    @Malcolm Todd
    You ever see the website ‘You Had One Job’?

    Hmm. It’s not a lie if you happen to decide later that you’re not doing it for reasons that sort of make sense to you at the time, like it’s more convenient not to bother, actually it’s just a broken promise?

    It seems pretty clear from events that a proportion of the individuals who signed said pledge were already aware that they had no particular intention of following it as long as it turned out to be more convenient to do the opposite. So I will happily buy that a proportion of Lib Dem MPs merely broke a promise and were jolly sad about it too – and that the odd one actually kept their word – but as I perceive it a proportion of those involved never had any particular investment in that promise and were at the very least entirely ready to discard it without a struggle. They were not invested in what they were saying at all. The promise meant nothing to them; it was just a convenient statement at a convenient time. If you said to your mate ‘I’ll meet you in town’ and you were already thinking ‘but I’m going to hang out and watch TV with me posh mates if I get the chance’, is that a broken promise?

  • jenny barnes 8th Nov '13 - 11:54am

    “Clegg defended the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures as essential where people can’t be prosecuted or deported”

    Why can’t they be prosecuted? Have they actually done anything wrong, or is this just “you’re a brown person and we don’t like you, so we’re going to harass you?” How can you argue that you should not be subject to one of these TPIM things if you’re not allowed to contest it in court? It all sounds like detention without trial to me.
    And that’s not to mention the serial incompetence of G4S.

  • Mick Taylor 8th Nov '13 - 12:09pm

    There is a simple answer to Paxman, Brand et al. I have used it many times over the years to people who say the choice is not good enough or that all politicians are rogues. “Here are the nomination papers, go and find 10 people to nominate you and stand yourself. If they’re all so bad surely you can do better” Funny thing is not one single person has ever done so. I’ve never had a complaint from any of them since.

    So come on Brand and Paxman, put up or shut up.

  • @malcolm todd
    I don’t agree with you about tuition fees but can see the logical of your argument… But even if one excepts your argument it still doesn’t mean that Nick isn’t complicit in the breakdown of trust between the electorate and the body politic. What about the change of mind over the need for cuts and austerity? The party made great capital by claiming cuts would be ‘economic masochism’. Post election we found out that Nick had changed his mind. Why didn’t he come clean with the electorate prior to the election then? Whether the argument is about the semantics of the word ‘lie’ Its not that hard to see why many of the electorate find it hard to put faith in politicians of all colours and Nick is part of that. The problem for Nick is compounded because he also made a great play about ‘new politics’ and many felt hoodwinked by that.

  • Whether for any particular MP the student loans pledge was a lie or a broken promise, the basic point is surely that it was a stupid thing to do.

  • Brand and Paxman have – from different sides of society – reflected the public mood which we can surely all detect. Many people will vote out of grudging duty or just habit and many others will shout “a plague on all your houses”. The logic of such arguments may be questionable but the fact is not. Politics is not respected, let alone popular.

  • To give the public a genuine say, in how they view the political class, it is surely high time we had a Non Of The Above box on all ballot papers.?
    http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/inclusion-of-an-official-none-of-the-above-option-for-all-uk-elections-2

  • Melanie Harvey 8th Nov '13 - 3:55pm

    I fail to see, how terrorism can be prevented by terrorising those suspected, declaring them guily without fair trial and evidence being presented and having taken place. If anything such things encourages terrorism. I call that incitement.

  • Mick Taylor 8th Nov '13 - 4:12pm

    @john Dunn: “it is surely high time we had a Non Of The Above box on all ballot papers.?”

    No. It’s time people who complain about the system take part in it not opt out. If none of the above are deemed suitable others should put up against them. It only takes 10 signatures. I’m fed up with people denigrating hard working councillors and MPs, but being totally unwilling to put themselves forward as alternatives.

    Of course those who complain about the system probably rejected the very timid alternative vote reform offered in 2011…

  • Mick Taylor 8th Nov '13 - 4:21pm

    @Ed Wilson ” the basic point is surely that it was a stupid thing to do.”

    Too right. Both my wife and I were candidates at the election in 2010 and neither of us wanted to sign what we saw as a dangerous pledge that could only be delivered if we had a majority. We were browbeaten into joining other candidates in Leeds in this rash and ultimately disastrous policy. We only gave in to keep the peace. It was a stupid pledge, but it has had one good outcome. I cannot envisage any LD candidate being willing to sign up to any pledges outside the manifesto.

  • Two things strike me. Paxman could have deliberately spoilt his ballot paper. Sadly we do not have a none of the above option although I would support one to allow such objections to be seen.

    Secondly on whether or not the tuition fees issue constitutes a lie. Surely the fact it took only a matter of days from the election until the coalition agreement pretty much guaranteed the pledge would be broken should be taken into account. Had there been a significant change in the situation I would agree calling it a lie would be harsh. As it is I think Paxman is spot on that it is a lie (there have been bigger lies but this felt fairly blatant). After all how many of us felt (and I’m sure openly stated) Labour lied regarding top up fees or the Tories lied in 1992 about not raising taxes.

    Interesting what the then Lib Dem Education Spokesman Phil Willis said of Labour introducing top up fees..

    “This is the time for Labour backbenchers to put political integrity before government opportunism.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3583401.stm#Willis

    If it was OK for Labour MP’s to have their integrity challenged then Lib Dem MP’s who broke the pledge should take it on the chin when their integrity is challenged.

  • Peter Watson 8th Nov '13 - 5:03pm

    @Mick Taylor “I cannot envisage any LD candidate being willing to sign up to any pledges outside the manifesto.”
    The manifesto stated that Lib Dems will
    “Scrap unfair university tuition fees for all students taking their first degree, including those studying part-time, saving them over £10,000 each. We have a financially responsible plan to phase fees out over six years, so that the change is affordable even in these difficult economic times, and without cutting university income. We will immediately scrap fees for final year students.”
    The pledge simply confirmed that Lib Dem MPs would vote in accordance with the policy of the party. Clegg also promised no more broken promises.

  • ” if you want to improve something get stuck in and get your hands dirty and change it.”

    Then why did you not change politics Nick? You had a chance to improve politics and instead you opted to take the easy way out of breaking your promise.

  • Mick Taylor 8th Nov '13 - 7:44pm

    @peter watson

    The manifesto pledge can be seen as what a majority Lib Dem government would do and could have been shown to be undeliverable in the light of the coalition, because the other party [in fact both of them] would not support it. So in the absence of a Lib Dem majority it could not be delivered. The Tories can argue exactly the same about some parts of their manifesto.

    The problem with the pledge was that it wasn’t conditional on getting a majority but an absolute promise not to vote for increased tuition fees. I am certain that that type of open ended pledge will never again feature in a British General Election and not just amongst Liberal Democrats.

  • A Social Liberal 8th Nov '13 - 10:28pm

    Just wondered. Did Aar Nick tell us in what way T-Pims were based on liberal principle?

  • daft ha'p'orth 8th Nov '13 - 10:30pm

    @Mick Taylor
    “The manifesto pledge can be seen as what a majority Lib Dem government would do and could have been shown to be undeliverable in the light of the coalition”
    What, individual MPs couldn’t vote a certain way in the light of the coalition? Because…? Did we vote for responsible individuals or automata? Is this the result of some kind of Coalition Brain Slug invasion?

    This isn’t a three-page financial agreement. There was no small print.

    I think the passive voice isn’t helping here. Could have been shown to be. Shown by whom, to whom, upon what factual basis? Are we talking political undeliverability, financial implausibility, or is it against the rules of physics, cap’n? There are many great uses for the passive voice but explaining political decisions on subjects with which one has already claimed a personal involvement doesn’t strike me as one of them.

    I am certain that in politics, one should never say never 🙂

  • Worth repeating !
    Mick Taylor 8th Nov ’13 – 12:09pm
    There is a simple answer to Paxman, Brand et al. I have used it many times over the years to people who say the choice is not good enough or that all politicians are rogues. “Here are the nomination papers, go and find 10 people to nominate you and stand yourself. If they’re all so bad surely you can do better” Funny thing is not one single person has ever done so. I’ve never had a complaint from any of them since.

  • “There is a simple answer to Paxman, Brand et al. I have used it many times over the years to people who say the choice is not good enough or that all politicians are rogues. “Here are the nomination papers, go and find 10 people to nominate you and stand yourself. If they’re all so bad surely you can do better” Funny thing is not one single person has ever done so.”

    If it were feasible for someone to be elected to parliament without the backing of a party machine, in anything but the most exceptional circumstances, that might be a valid answer. As things are, it isn’t.

  • Clegg defended the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures as essential where people can’t be prosecuted or deported… …
    He said that TPIMs are the toughest regime in the world he knows of for dealing with “this category of characters.”

    What do we learn about Nick Clegg”s own attitudes when he uses the term – “this category of characters.”

    What did he mean by “this category of characters.” ? It is perhaps a throw-away phrase on a live radio broadcast. Although phrases use in a live broadcast without preparation or detailed briefing can sometimes provide an insight into the real attitudes of the person using them.

    The fact is that “this category of characters” is a category of people who have one thing in common with each other – that is that they have not been found guilty of anything in a UK Court. Or am I missing something? Or did Clegg have something else in mind?

  • Stuart Mitchell 9th Nov '13 - 8:55am

    @Malcolm Todd
    Though The Guardian claimed to have proof that senior Lib Dems were prepared to break the pledge even before they signed it :-

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/nov/12/lib-dems-tuition-fees-clegg

    Which would make it a lie by any definition, including yours.

    Mick Taylor: “Both my wife and I were candidates at the election in 2010 and neither of us wanted to sign what we saw as a dangerous pledge that could only be delivered if we had a majority.”

    Nonsense, it was an entirely deliverable pledge. All the Lib Dems had to do was insist on this being one of their tiny number of red lines. What evidence is there that the coalition negotiations would have broken down over such a relatively minor point?

    However, I totally agree with your “put up or shut up” post. Put the cynics in charge and let’s see if they can do any better.

  • Stuart Mitchell 9th Nov '13 - 8:58am

    Let’s not forget also that the coalition agreement made provisions for Lib Dems to abstain from the tuition fees vote. Not keeping the pledge would have been bad enough; but voluntarily voting for something diametrically opposed to the pledge, as many Lib Dem MPs did, was unforgivable.

  • Mick Taylor 9th Nov '13 - 1:45pm

    @stuart mitchell

    1. I didn’t lie because I wasn’t in parliament and was not put to the test. If I had been, we would have won the GE because Leeds Central was the seat that would have got us just over the majority. So we could have delivered.
    2.Abolishing student fees was only ever deliverable with a Lib Dem majority. The Tories (and Labour) were not going to give it to us. As for saying it was small beer, it would have cost a lot of money and the Tories were not prepared to spend it.

  • daft ha'p'orth 9th Nov '13 - 2:46pm

    @Mick Taylor 9th Nov ’13 – 1:45pm
    “2.Abolishing student fees was only ever deliverable with a Lib Dem majority. The Tories (and Labour) were not going to give it to us.”
    Yeah, but nobody signed a pledge to abolish student fees. It was perfectly possible to successfully honour:
    “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament ”

    Following this one pledge doesn’t even require the vote to be successful. As far as pledges go I’d have thought it was pretty easy to achieve. “Yes, we will go into coalition. But if asked to vote for any rise in fees, the following MPs will say ‘No’. So if you don’t want that result don’t ask that question.”

    A healthy government should’ve been able to find a way around that.

  • Paul in Twickenham 9th Nov '13 - 3:37pm

    What is the problem here? This is the exact wording of that “pledge”: “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.”

    This leaves no cop-out clauses: it doesn’t say “provided we are in opposition or have an overall majority”. It doesn’t say “as long as the whips don’t tell me to vote the other way”. It doesn’t say “where the exact meaning of the word ‘pledge’ remains to be determined”.

    It is clear and unequivocal. Most Liberal Democrat MPs reneged on it. We have to live with the consequences.

  • Leekliberal 9th Nov '13 - 5:52pm

    On tuition fees do I remember correctly that just before the 2010 election Nick Clegg expressed concern that we could not afford our pledge on tuition fees and that we should even at this late stage drop it? Sadly, I for one,not thinking things through, particularly that we could end up in coalition with the aghhhhh, Tories refused to listen.

  • “On tuition fees do I remember correctly that just before the 2010 election Nick Clegg expressed concern that we could not afford our pledge on tuition fees and that we should even at this late stage drop it? ”

    Presumably by “pledge on tuition fees” you mean the LIb Dem policy to abolish them altogether.

    That was completely separate from the pledge which is being discussed here, which was a commitment by individual parliamentary candidates of all parties to vote against any increase in tuition fees.

  • Mick Taylor 9th Nov '13 - 6:20pm

    People are confusing the policy to abolish tuition fees in the manifesto with the pledge. The manifesto commitment could only have been delivered with a Lib Dem majority government or by agreement with one of the other parties in coalition.

    The pledge was a (foolish) promise to vote against any tuition fees increase without qualification. As I pointed out at the time we did not know what the state of the economy really was and we did not know the result of the election, which might lead to a coalition.

    Indeed there were a whole host of questions that were unanswered. Some of us argued for a graduate tax [actually that’s effectively what we now have].

    The real cock-up was abandoning the manifesto commitment without explaining it [ie we couldn’t sell it to the Tories] and NOT going for an explicit graduate tax instead of fees increases.

    Hindsight is of course a wonderfully perfect science.

  • Hindsight may be perfect but the issue stems from not applying critical thinking to pledges. Rather than accept that, Clegg seems to want to blame other people, like Paxman

  • Peter Watson 9th Nov '13 - 8:00pm

    @Mick Taylor “People are confusing the policy to abolish tuition fees in the manifesto with the pledge.”
    There is much more to it than that. Our stance on tuition fees was longstanding.
    Back in 2005 we attacked Labour’s u-turns on fees: from our manifesto: “Labour broke their promise on tuition fees. The result: tens of thousands of able students are saddled with mortgage-sized debts or deterred altogether from going to university.” Then, in the 2010 election we had a policy to abolish tuition fees. We attacked Labour and the Conservatives on this issue and claimed that “only the Liberal Democrats are committed to scrapping tuition fees and opposing any attempt to raise them.” (http://www.libdems.org.uk/news_detail.aspx?title=Labour_and_Tories_will_leave_students_with_%C2%A344%2c000_debts_says_Nick_Clegg&pPK=f6bbd8d9-aaeb-4467-8443-94e11925933b)
    During the election campaign every single Lib Dem candidate made a personal pledge to vote against increasing tuition fees. The pledge was a simple and believable promise to vote in accordance with party policy and could be honoured whether in opposition or government. At the same time the leader of the party went out of his way to promise a new kind of politics and no more broken promises.
    Now, Lib Dems defend the new system as fair and progressive. Consequently, more than just the failure to implement a policy, the u-turn by Lib Dem MPs on this high-profile issue leaves them open to charges of incompetence and hypocrisy which could cast a shadow over every policy in the 2015 election campaign.

  • @Mick Taylor

    The reason the tuition fees policy was dropped was not because it couldn’t be sold to the Tories, it was because the negotiating team didn’t even try to sell it to the Tories, because neither Clegg, Laws, or Cable believed in the policy in the first place. They had tried to abandon the commitment altogether in the run up to the election and were forced into keeping it by the party. Surprise surprise, it was dropped like a stone at the first opportunity.

    Not for the first time, the leadership were wrong and the grassroots were right. Tuition fees were the totemic policy, the one policy the general public above all associated with brand Lib Dem. Laws could have quite easily made it a red line in negotiations with the Tories, as it is after all a relatively small spending commitment in the context of overall government expenditure (a fact that the architects of tuition fees never fail to gloss over). But the leadership of course never had any intention of making it a red line, or even bothering to push it in negotiations, because they didn’t believe in the policy in the first place. And once it was left out of the coalition agreement, the disasterous consequences were inevitable, as Cable soon found out when his departmental budget was slashed.

    Abolishing fees could have been the one bona fide triumph for the party out of coalition, the achievement that every parliamentary candidate could point to and say “there’s the difference we made” at the next election, the one gift to the young who have been screwed over in so many ways by the financial crisis and the coalition’s policies in its wake, the beacon that would have attracted a whole new generation to the party and made our society a genuinely fairer one. Oh well, never mind.

    And do we get an apology for not taking this road? Of course not. We get an apology for pledging to go down that road in the first place! Paxman is spot on. It was a blatant, brazen lie. And yet it could so easily have been the truth, the basis of an enduring legacy, if only the leadership had fought with the party instead of against it. That’s the real tragedy.

  • As I recall, there was an attempt to institute a simple graduate tax; which was rejected as unworkable, so we have ended up with something that acts as a graduate tax for most people but not for the very well off, for whom it indeed acts a s a loan. With a bit of special pleading, I suppose some could claim it to be a “fairer alternative”

    I think the policy to remove student fees originated from before the financial crash and although EdW has a point that removal of student fees could have been a clear example of Lib Dem success, post recession this was economically unsustainable and would have led to accusations of taking from the poorest to provide for the comfortably off middle income earners. From a cynical point of view it would have been better to resist any changes to the funding arrangement despite the way new graduates starting out on lower incomes were hardest hit and to have advertised the scheme as Labour’s legacy..

    Nonetheless I personally feel that if the economy benefits as a whole from having a university educated work force and is a key component of the economy, then the whole society should fund it, in the way that it does for education up to the age of 18; however the ,idle of a deep economic downturn is the least sensitive time to rebalance the system. If on the other hand there is no general benefit, the argument changes and puts into question much wider issues than student fees alone.

  • @Martin

    The cost of abolishing tuition fees was roughly £3bn in 2010. If that is economically unsustainable, why is it OK to raise the personal tax allowance to £10,000? That costs somewhere north of £5bn a year (depending on when it is introduced), and as the IFS pointed out, is a regressive measure that benefits high-earning dual-income households the most.

    Now consider how much more of an impact abolition of fees would have made on the public’s impression of the Lib Dems in government. It wasn’t just breaking a promise, but a terrible choice of priorities and bad politics.

  • Ed W, on the whole I agree with your sentiments, but your comparison with the £10 000 tax allowance only underlines how costly abolition would have been. Although I can accept that dual earning families gain particularly from the increased personal tax allowance; it has to be nonsense to describe it as regressive, since it has to be the least regressive form of tax reduction (suggest a less regressive tax reduction if you can), more over this policy reduces the benefit trap effect.

    I agree that the student fee policy was bad politics, but your comparison with the £10 000 tax allowance (if that were the choice) only helps to explain why the student fee policy went through as it would be very obviously characterised as help for the better off at a time when those on low incomes were hard hit by the consequences of the recession.

  • Mick Taylor 10th Nov '13 - 9:22am

    In talking about the £10k tax threshold you must not forget that each time the threshold for the 20% income tax rate has been increased there has been a corresponding REDUCTION in the tax threshold for the 40% tax rate to make sure that those earning high salaries do NOT benefit from the increased lower tax threshold.

  • Paul In Twickenham 10th Nov '13 - 9:44am

    As many people here have pointed out, the pledge fiasco casts a long shadow over 2015. Whereas normally the Lib Dems have expected a poll bounce during the election campaign, in 2015 it seems to me entirely likely that the opposite will happen.

    Every opportunity will be taken by both of the other parties to remind people about that “pledge” with the intention of creating a received view that the Lib Dems will say anything to get your vote and then quite happily do the exact opposite when they sniff power. You can already script Cameron and Miliband’s responses to Clegg in the leadership debates.

    So what is to be done? I have the misfortune to be a Fulham season ticket holder. Anyone who loves football will understand the funk that I am currently experiencing. I know that the statistical evidence is that changing the manager is seldom the cause of improvement in a team. But what do you do when the manager makes hopeless tactical decisions, plays the same losing formation week after week and repeats the same trite cliches after every inept loss?

    I conclude that the only solution is to fire him promptly and replace him with someone without involvement in creating the current disaster and with fresh ideas to drag us out of the slump before it’s too late to prevent relegation.

  • Simon Shaw: could it have been a possibility to freeze the Labour student loans system? Although in many ways students would have been worse off with earlier and higher payments at the start of their careers, criticism would have been very muted.

    Anyway, this is about Paxman: with comments of this nature, does he really intend to set himself up as the impartial journalist in 2015? I think he already has his eye on the way out.

  • @Simon
    “Are you sure that would have been far better for us politically?”

    Politically, almost certainly yes.

    Three reasons:
    1) Simplicity – it doesn’t get much simpler than candidates pledging to do one action and then, when in office, doing the opposite. (Compared to extrapolating one particular area of spending to the overall spending priorities of a party especially when that area is education. Not saying it would be good politically but definitely more complicated and indirect)

    2) Lib-dem supporters disproportionately (compared to the whole electorate) prioritise education. Indeed many believe that all education should be free/funded through taxation.

    3) A significant number of young people voting for the first time, voted lib-dem in large part due to this pledge (and also the concept of a ‘new type of politics’). For these voter to feel ‘betrayed’ is both bad news for the likelihood of them voting in subsquent elections & especially bad news for the lib-dems as voting especially during the formative years is habit-forming.

  • David Evans 10th Nov '13 - 3:06pm

    @Simon Shaw “As I understand it, Paul, the “manager” always had doubts about the strategy but it was forced upon him by the “team”.” But can you provide any evidence to back this up – speech at conference? Memo to Campaigns saying ‘Don’t back the pledge?’ or anything at all? Or is it just a convenient thing for Nick’s supporters to “understand”?

  • Paul in Twickenham 10th Nov '13 - 4:46pm

    @Simon – the manager is (or should be) responsible for all tactical and strategic decisions. Where does the Lib Dem buck stop if not at the leader’s desk? You can just imagine the justifiably raucous reaction if Mr. Clegg were to say during the 2015 election that the pledge was someone else’s fault.

  • @Simon Shaw

    The “managers” had doubts about the policy, and for that matter actively lobbied to end it, only to be rebuffed quite rightly by the “team”. On the other hand, the strategy of signing the pledge was actively endorsed by the “manager” (as we all know from the infamous photo) and I understand was even enforced on some reluctant candidates from the top. Given the managers’ pre-agreed negotiating position to drop the fees policy at the first opportunity, that was nothing other than a lie.

    I also find it very hard to believe that following through on the tuition fees pledge would have been worse politics than reneging on it. It’s not as if we weren’t in bad times economically before the election, and at that time the fees policy was widely and rightly seen as attracting votes. Also: simple arguments almost always beat complex ones. Making positive arguments for getting rid of fees is easy (“we believe in free education for all”, “we’re giving the young people of Britain a helping hand”, etc. etc.) whereas attacking it is complex (“well, if you look at the details of the repayment scheme you can see that abolishing fees helps the hypothetical high-earning graduate of the future more than one from a poor background who happens for the sake of argument to remain poor afterwards”).

  • Stuart Mitchell 10th Nov '13 - 7:13pm

    @Mick Taylor: “People are confusing the policy to abolish tuition fees in the manifesto with the pledge.”

    The main person doing that is yourself (see your response to my post, 9/11, 1:45pm). Though I see now that Simon Shaw has waded in with an equal amount of confusion.

    The pledge was about not voting for an increase in fees – that’s all.

  • C’mon, surely amongst all people your party can understand someone abstaining on voting?

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarfrankie 8th Dec - 11:30pm
    I often wondered how theologians in the middle ages would obsess about how many Angels could dance on the head on a pin. I laughed...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 8th Dec - 11:30pm
    Joseph, If a person rejects (S – I) + (M – X) = (G – T) then they have rejected C + S + T...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 8th Dec - 9:28pm
    Peter, yes, global assets and the financial value of claims against those assets will of course net to zero. However, we are talking about the...
  • User AvatarAshley 8th Dec - 8:27pm
    Jo has done and excellent job overall in a campaign which has been framed as all about two parties by the media. That is the...
  • User AvatarRoss McLean 8th Dec - 8:13pm
    @Mike Read yes this is definitely true that national polls don't pick up the extent of tactical voting - or intensive campaigning - in individual...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 8th Dec - 7:45pm
    Virgin Trains has just run its last train service, so it is no longer a player in the passenger train market. In any case, what...
Tue 10th Dec 2019