Clegg launches ‘Make it Happen’ with call to cut taxes

The party website has a blue mast-head, a youthful leader and a call to cut taxes for low- and middle-income earners: yes, the Lib Dems’ leader Nick Clegg has today launched the party’s new ‘Make it Happen’ policy and consultation document, and made an unequivocal pitch to voters wanting to kick Labour out of office and mistrustful of the Tories’ ability to marry economic competence and social justice.

Nick showcased the proposals on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme:

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has outlined his pledge to cut taxes for low and middle-income people, as part of his proposals to make “Britain fairer”. He said “struggling families” should be paying “much less” tax while “wasteful” government spending should be cut. Among proposals in a policy document is that the NHS should pay for patients not treated “on time” to go private.

Labour and the Tories are committed to the same spending levels but Mr Clegg says they are not “set in stone”. Mr Clegg said his party was looking to make £20bn savings in government spending in order to cut taxes for lower and average earners and bring down the overall level of tax.

And here’s the conclusion of today’s Independent leader column:

Today, Mr Clegg will make a bold attempt to give his party a clear identity once more, with his document Make It Happen. He will introduce a new policy of cutting income tax to 16 pence in the pound, by increasing green taxes and wealth taxes. Adroitly moving into a space that David Cameron has left empty, Mr Clegg will also be announcing that it is his party’s aim to cut taxes overall, something that Mr Cameron will not do in his anxiety to decontaminate the Tory brand.

This is shrewd political calculation by Mr Clegg. It seeks to recast the Liberal Democrats as the party of the small state, liberal in social policy and in economics. It will cause trouble among some Liberal Democrats, who instinctively prefer to tax and spend generously, but we have not heard any better ideas for getting the party out of Mr Cameron’s shadow and making it visible again.

Mr Clegg has a mandate from his party and he deserves an upturn in his party’s fortunes, which has eluded him all these months. Perhaps today will see the start of it.

For what it’s worth,’s ‘politically balanced ph100 panel’ reckons this is canny tactics:

It’s a smart political strategy for the Liberal Democrats to promise tax cuts for people on low and modest incomes. That’s the verdict of the PHI100 on Nick Clegg’s recent speech saying that is how he intends to fight the next election.

A solid majority of the politically balanced panel (sixty two per cent) think that promises like this will give distinction to the Lib Dems and boost their support. Just over a third of the panel (thirty five per cent) disagree. The minority view is that it sounds unconvincing as a policy and will cost them votes.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, liberal panellists gave their unanimous support to Mr Clegg’s move. Less predictably, majorities of left-leaning and right-leaning panellists also think he is on the correct track, and they think this in similar proportions.

So three questions to throw open to LDV readers:
1. what do you make of Make it Happen?
2. what do you think of the party’s move to shed its tax ‘n’ spend image in favour of being the only party committed to low taxation?
3. is this smart politics that will inspire you to campaign for the Lib Dems where you live?

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This entry was posted in News and Party policy and internal matters.


  • Andrew Tennant 17th Jul '08 - 1:10pm

    It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted to see happen and it fits very nicely with my perception of what the Liberal Democrat party should really be about; conference will no doubt be a chance to flesh out the meat on the bones. As for whether it will be a success politically, it will really depend on how well the idea is publicised; we’ve had a lot of good policy that we don’t get coverage or credit for. I think provided the public hear about it then they’ll go for it. To the polls!

  • Its great to see a commitment to smaller government going hand in hand with tax cuts that show what a progressive move it can be.

    The only part with which I disagree is the cut in MP numbers, which appears to be a bit of populism given recent expenses scandals, and doesn’t really go hand in hand with being a party of pluralism, PR and local representation, but its still an excellent announcment.

  • The move to restructure the party was the first thing that has started to give me any confidence in Clegg. It was long overdue, as the party has been limited in its potential within the previous structures.

    These new moves are also good. We need to stand out as distinctive and different. Socially and economically liberal are good. If people want to tax high and spend high… well the Labour party would be glad to have them I’m sure. Those aren’t liberal values. Yes, we have to ensure social mobility and that none are left behind, but there are limits.

    Yes, its definately smart politics.

  • Tom Papworth 17th Jul '08 - 1:37pm

    “Liberal Democrats as the party of the small state, liberal in social policy and in economics”.

    These are the words I’ve been longing to hear since joining. We can now genuinely, honestly and convincingly position ourselves in distinction to the other parties as being equally opposed to
    1) Tax and Spend statism in both its socialist and its Conservative forms
    2) Both puritanical social conservatism and Labour’s nanny state.

    But this isn’t about the party. It’s about the economy and the trouble faced by hard-working people. Cutting taxes will make it easier for people to afford a rising cost of living; cutting spending will generate growth in the economy (including new jobs) without fuelling inflation.

    Good news all round.

  • Hywel Morgan 17th Jul '08 - 1:56pm

    “cutting spending will generate growth in the economy (including new jobs) without fuelling inflation.”

    How come the last 15 years have seen increased government spending, rising employment without a rise in inflation?

  • We are entering an economic slow down and quite possibly a recession. Tax revenues will be falling, we are already have a massive public sector deficit and demand for state benefits will be rising. I can’t see how this will survive an Election campaign. 10 years of building cultural maturity in the party about not just anything any old thing is being flushed down the toilet. Also was it realy necesery for clegg to say on Radio 4 that the package wasn’t fully costed yet but that it would be by the next election? the one he says on this site may only be months away? Is it any wonder the flagship BBC news programme, the World at One, didn’t devote a single second to it ?

    I fear that this will be a marry in Haste, repent at Leisure policy gimmick.

  • 1. Bit wordy and jumps about a bit but hardly ground breaking for the Lib Dems.
    Lets oppose ID cards for practical reasons (they don’t work)

    2.Great – Lets have a name for this, how about “trickle up economics”.
    1p on income tax was never about being in favour of high tax, it was about investing in education.

    3. Yes – The danger is conference will want to add to this, in all probablitiy it needs further editing down and the emergence of 3-5 key themes e.g. Tax, Crime, and incentives
    with the overarching message of politics fit for the 21st century.

    Just have to wonder why none of this was mentioned at Henley or Crewe.

  • Hywel Morgan 17th Jul '08 - 2:24pm

    Jock – but don’t increased taxes create less surplus money? The house price bubble (which hasn’t been present for all that period) is more to do as much to do with the banks more liberal lending policies.

  • While I am at it whats with the Blue background on the party Website? Will it be British tax cuts for British taxpayers next ? Or perhaps Lady T on the steps of Cowley Street.

    On a more serious note its not exactly subtle is it? Post Henley Panic.

  • Dinti Batstone 17th Jul '08 - 2:43pm

    “We’re the only party confident enough to put the pro-European case to the British people”. [p.10]

    Look forward to seeing this in action in the run up to European elections next June!

  • James Shaddock 17th Jul '08 - 2:43pm

    This is exactly the right thing at the right time and is a great springboard to build on up to the next General Election.

    I’m particularly taken by ‘The government’s introduced more than 3000 crimes.’

    This is a fact we need to publicise more as law and order is high on the agenda and people are suggesting society is broken, when in reality it is the government criminalising everything.

  • I was being flipant. My serious point was that the blue was a less than subtle wink at tory voters as was gordons onfrnce spech mentioning BJFBW made against a blue background.

    If in 22 months time, during an election campaign we are (a) in recession (b) have falling tax revenues (c) have an even bigger public sector deficit (d) have incresing welfare roles then this package will be shreaded by the media.

    Even if you were going to try and tax slash your way out of recession (Keynes must be on a spin cycle in his grave) wouldn’t you go for corporation tax or employers NI ?

  • MartinSGill 17th Jul '08 - 3:41pm

    Great announcement, I agree with everything except getting rid of nuclear power, but I’ve always disagreed with that.

    I also like the more sombre colours. Although I’d much prefer a move to darker shade of yellow than the bluey-green thing.

    Is that supposed to show us as a cross between the greens and the tories?

  • Moving on from my unease about cutting the overall tax burden in the current economic climate…

    1. “British Freedoms” sound like anyone we know ? I thought this sction was very strong but showed more than a nod to David Davis.

    2. we are going to make college “affordable”. Not exactly a St Crispans Day speech defense of Abolition of Tuition fees.

    3. abolishing 150 MP’s will be popular (though clegg said a third on radio 4 which would be 200 odd) but what does that do to constituiency size under STV in multi member seats ?

  • Feeling very uncomfortable about this. The taxation bit is incredibly vague and looks like it is designed to be something everyone can project their own wishes on

    “It means taxing the rich”
    “It means decreasing taxes” etc.

    Nobody has answered any of Anonymous points about cutting taxes and spending in a recession.

    I am worried that this is part of the right wing coup and dead suspicious that the majority of people on here at the start are unquestioning in support.

    Been a member since 1973 and am a serving councillor but for how much longer…

  • David Allen 17th Jul '08 - 4:53pm

    Ten years ago we were all desperate to see an end to the Tory cuts and the revival of our public services. If we are to avoid the accusation of flip-flopping, we need to make clear that:

    1. It’s the right policy for hard times – a government which helps people by taking a share of the pain. In the longer term we still believe in properly funded public services.

    2. It’s a tax switch not only a tax cut. We will clobber the polluters, and that’s how we will afford the really big cuts in income tax.

    3. We mustn’t just waffle unconvincingly about efficiency savings. We will have to identify the £20 billion savings in wasteful government spending and make them credible. Otherwise Labour will argue we would wreck the NHS, etc.

    This is not to say that we can’t do it – I believe we can. We can start attacking wasteful hospital PFI schemes, we can go on to attack massive “ecotown” development when builders can’t find buyers, etc. We can make this idea work – provided we work at it!

  • James Shaddock 17th Jul '08 - 5:29pm

    John D

    You suspicions of a ‘right wing coup’ seem based solely on the tax policy. Surely you do not see the rest of the document as leaning to the right?

    Also, this is for submission to autumn conference, not set in stone. If you’re really unhappy with the direction the party is taking at least go and try to change it before leaving

  • Martin Land 17th Jul '08 - 5:35pm

    This is an excellent policy initiative though the leaflet itself is one of the worst designed I’ve seen since, well, Henley or Crewe and Nantwich… Is someone in the Campaigns Department colour blind?

  • David Allen 17th Jul '08 - 5:55pm

    Well, Jock, I don’t think that a philosophical odyssey from social liberalism to economic liberalism will really “resonate” with the great British public! But I concede that it should be easy enough to convey the message that Labour have wasted our money. It will also be easy to oppose their overbearing and intrusive Government.

    Many of our supporters will share John D’s views, and will intuitively feel that “economic liberal” just means “right wing Tory”. If we are not to lose their support, we have work to do. We have to prove our commitment to fairness as well as to freedom.

  • At long last! The beginnings of a sensible policy on tax. The socialist model of tax and redistribution is broken and it’s high time we stated campaigning for a liberal alternative – leaving people to spend their own money and make their own choices as far as possible.

    Spending will have to be cut hard in the near future in any case; the coming recession is going to be savage with a devestating impact on Govt finances. As Vince Cable pointed out last night falling house sales have already smashed a £5 billion hole in them (this from memory).

    Finding tax cuts from ‘efficiency savings’ has always been the Holy Grail of Govt irrespective of Party – always promised, never delivered. It can be done but it will be quite a challenge for Clegg to solve this puzzle.

  • James Shaddock 17th Jul '08 - 6:05pm


    I agree. The reason people associate
    ‘economic liberal’ with ‘right wing Tory’ is because of its use by Thatcherism. I have little memory of Thatcher (I’m 20), so the connotations are not there for me or many people who have grown up under New Labour.

    Therefore, we need to reclaim the term as our own, rooted in the classical liberal foundations of our party, and adapt it to work alongside social liberalism.

  • I don’t believe Tories when they go on about ‘cutting waste’ so I don’t see why I should believe my own party either. That is not to say that the government does not waste billions of pounds of our money: defence procurement, IT systems, external consultants, and so on. But identifying wasteful expenditure is the easy bit: stopping it from happening defeats every government – socialism, privatisation, PFI, every solution ends up impoverishing the average taxpayer and enriching….well, who’s got the money?

  • Back to Gladstone it is, then. Personally I was always more of a Lloyd George fan.

  • Computing…
    cutting taxes – right wing policy
    handouts for the poorest in society – left wing policy
    cutting taxes for the poorest in society… liberal?

    cutting services – right wing policy
    the nannystate and overregulation – left wing policy
    balancing the books while redefining market parameters… liberal?

  • “This is shrewd political calculation by Mr Clegg.”

    Well, I reckon it’s a disastrous miscalculation by Mr Clegg.

    To put things in a simplistic nutshell, I think we have gained seats from the Conservatives by adding to our own support both Labour tactical voters and “Tories with a social conscience”. I don’t think either of these groups will be attracted by a policy of cutting public spending to pay for tax cuts, and I don’t think our own core supporters (or activists) will either. And I don’t believe right-wing Tories are going to vote Lib Dem anyway.

    And I don’t believe public spending cuts will go down at all well in Labour-Lib Dem marginals.

    And I certainly didn’t join the party to campaign for cuts in public spending.

  • Odd that so many people are still worried about the money supply and other monetarist dogma when even the Tories gave up on this when it was shown to be nonsense in the 1980’s.

    Cutting waste and making efficiency savings are possible – £20 billion is a small part of government expenditure.

    Not wasting billions on the tax credit system would save money without needing to make people worse off. Combining income tax and national insurance will save money.

    The party needs to stop trying to cost every last detail – hardly anyone is bothered, what it needs is some clear tax aims e.g.

    £7000 basic tax allowance
    Next £5000 income taxed at 10% (including national insurance)
    Next £10,000 taxed at 20% (including national insurance
    Next £20k taxed at 25% etc

    No marginal tax rate for anyone higher than 50%.

    People need to be better off for working hard or harder, les restore incentives for all not just for non-doms and the mega rich

  • Mouse:
    “The party needs to stop trying to cost every last detail – hardly anyone is bothered …”

    Well, in a sense it doesn’t matter if we come up with impossible promises, because no one believes we are going to form a government anyway. For parties that are really in contention, the consequences of proposals that don’t add up can be disastrous, as previous general election campaigns have demonstrated.

    “Cutting waste and making efficiency savings are possible – £20 billion is a small part of government expenditure.”

    Then presumably you could say the same about £30bn or £40bn.

    Another report in the Independent says:
    “Mr Clegg has told his Treasury spokesman, Jeremy Browne, to find £20bn of cost savings in the Whitehall budget.”

    I’d have thought it was self-evident that this was completely the wrong way of going about it. If we really think there are these efficiency savings to be made, surely the right thing to do is to try to make some rational estimate of what can be achieved, and base our plans on that.

    But no doubt hordes of eager young beavers will now rush to tell me that it’s much better for Nick Clegg to specify a priori what the savings are to be, and proceed on that basis.

  • So let me get this straight!
    When our aim was to “replace the Conservatives” we fought to raise tax. And now the opportunity is to replace Labour – we’re……!

    OK! Right! Hmm!

    The real opportunity is to take the mantle of ‘most trusted on the economy’ – and the way there is to challenge people about choices. “What sort of economy do yo want – one where such as poor housing supply leads to recession and unemployment”?

  • “… now the opportunity is to replace Labour …”

    I really don’t understand where this notion comes from.

    Even with Labour at a historic low, we are nowhere near the point where – psephologically – we could do that, even if we assume there will be no recovery in the government’s popularity before the next election.

    There has got to be some realism here. We are not on the brink of some historic breakthrough. Far from it. The challenge is to maintain our current parliamentary representation. And that is a very stiff challenge.

  • Granted we got our ‘current parlimentary representation’ on the back of a deeply unpopular Tory party but I do recall a certain “decapitation strategy” – strangely aimed at the opposition – not the government last time. We’re hopeless at positioning ourselves so let’s not go down that road.

    Let’s instead challenge peoples thinking and challenge current thinking. A quiz: If we had a two lever economy (I think we’re seeing the limitations of a single lever design) – what would that other lever be?

  • “His insistence that we need to define our broad narrative and then move on to specific policies is bang on. Sometimes, we get too bogged in detail. Any way you look at it, this is a very good day for the party and also for Nick’s leadership.”

    Does it matter at all what the “broad narrative” is? Or will anything do?

  • If the desired effect is to attract Tory voters it seems to be working judging by the poll on the Torygraph web site.

    Would Nick Clegg’s tax cuts make you more likely to vote Lib Dem?
    Yes56% No22% Maybe22%

  • Well, it’s all very puzzlng.

    Are any of the people enthusiastically welcoming this new lurch to the right old enough to have supported the party when our policy was precisely the opposite?

    If so, how do you explain your change of heart? And can you explain why the rest of us should rotate through 180 degrees?

  • But maybe a poll showing Daily Telegraph readers are “more likely” to vote Lib Dem is nowadays judged to be sufficient justification for a complete about-face?

  • I’m concerned that we are responding to anonymous critics who describe our actions with the language of our opponents.

    Gavin Esler let himself and Newsnight down with the presentation of the subject by falling into the old-fashioned inadequate rhetoric of wing politics, and all those who copy this flat-earth mode of understanding politics only highlight their simplistic explanations which do nothing to satisfy public needs and demands.

    This is a general problem in society where communication standards on even flagship operations like Newsnight fail to do more than appeal to the lowest common denominator, and to some extent I’m a little disappointed that Clegg didn’t challenge this preconception during the course of his interview.

    Secondly the post-rationalisation that anyone who casts their vote for the LibDems is not actually supporting the LibDems also needs challenging for its ludicrous idiocy.

    All our representatives are in place having won their elections with more votes that their opponents – no party can presume to take public opinion for granted by suggesting support is anything but conditional. The fact is that votes for LibDem candidates are votes for LibDems: it is our job to grow the numbers of votes cast our way.

    The facts are that there will always be taxation and there will always be spending. The political differences between the parties are over how the levels and balance will be spread our across the economy and society.

    We have a clear framework of principles for how we decide the details of our policy proposals which are based upon increasing the fairness of imposed burdens, by decreasing the unfairness created by artificial distortions and restrictions and by looking at ways to improve natural sustainability through getting the balance right under any particular circumstance.

    There is absolutely no inconsistency in our approach over the years – even if this has meant our opponents have been able to paint our flexibility over the specifics as incoherent or bad accounting.

    But why should anyone listen to our opponents considering their track records over generations – the only good ideas they have had are the ones they have stolen from us, and they’ve only gone wrong when they’ve taken the opportunity to pervert our principles.

  • On a side note Clegg is reassuringly human, which goes down well in this neck of the woods and I think will allow him to grow as a person in the public consciousness: he is neither too slick or too flawed in style, yet he remains resolute if not quite as forthright as he might be on camera.

    He is clearly growing in confidence on the floor of the commons and is overcoming many of the limitations of his current position, he can clearly grow equally as much in stature as he becomes more familiar through television.

    I am more optimistic about our prospects under his guidance by the day.

  • Cutting taxes is not a lurch to the right. Just as increasing taxes doesn’t mean redistribution in favour of the poor.

    Most rightwing tax cuts (Bush, Regan etc) have been aimed squarely at the rich and have been paid for by ballooning budget deficits.

    One of the reasons why the party needs to be more general is not so the sums don’t add up, but so they do! The 1p on income tax for education was a product of it’s time, to persist with it in the face of all the other tax rises since
    (including 1p on national insurance) makes no sense. Setting out an exact amount for any tax change is soon superceded by events.

    There is a big difference between saying we wil scrap ID cards (saving approximately x billion) and we will make a 5% effiency saving at the home office without even indictating how.

  • Frankly, I just wonder how representative all these comments are of the active membership of the party.

    Part of the reason for my “patronizing much” question about age is that my impression is that most of the enthusiastic “economic liberals” who post here are quite young and relatively new to the party.

    I am 45, and I think I’m right in saying I am the second youngest of the 50ish members and deliverers in my ward.

    Just out of curiosity, are any of you eager beavers older than I am?

  • Public spending has doubled over the last decade. There have been some good results of that. There is also higher taxes and lots of waste. Adapting policy in light of all that has happened is logical to me.

    I would like to hear those who think that tax and spending policies should be the same as 10 years ago explain why they think these huge changes do not make much of a difference to what policy should now be.

    I am with Keynes – ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’

  • Steve Travis 18th Jul '08 - 9:39am

    Firstly – David Allen: Hello!

    To respond to several points here: as pointed out, tax cutting is not right wing per se. I applaud what appears to be a genuine attempt to move in a more Liberal direction.

    To respond to David’s specific point:

    “Many of our supporters will share John D’s views, and will intuitively feel that “economic liberal” just means “right wing Tory”. If we are not to lose their support, we have work to do. We have to prove our commitment to fairness as well as to freedom.”

    “Economic Liberalism” was a term misappropriated and misapplied by the Thatcher administration. Conservatives aren’t really Liberals in this sense and applied economic liberalism selectively in favour of conservative ideals.

    I would also challenge that “many of our supporters” would “feel this instncitively”. Mostly our support base is more moderate than many of our activists. The challenge for our leadership is to retain this (excuse me for the term) “moderate right of centre” support whilst garnering support from the less wwell-heeled sectors of society.

    Income tax cuts for the less well off is a good start.

  • Steve:
    “Public spending has doubled over the last decade.”

    Any chance you can justify that claim?

  • But, of course, as a percentage of national income, public spending now is virtually identical to what it was when Labour came to power in 1997. And is lower than it was under Major in the mid 1990s, and definitely lower than under Thatcher in the mid 1980s.

  • On other issues are there any other sci-fi geeks upset that it wasn’t named ‘Make It So’…..that’s worth a few more votes surely?

  • Another Anonymous 18th Jul '08 - 11:17am

    To say public expenditure has “doubled” is disengenious in real terms. As a proportion of GDP its not dramatically different to large parts of the post war period.

  • David Morton 18th Jul '08 - 12:01pm

    We are entering an economic slow down and perhaps a recession. Tax revenues have started to fall. Unemployment has started to rise (and thus benefit payments). Economic contraction will lead to an increase in aquisitive crime and thus pressure on police budgets. Inflation in adult social services is running at 5% to 8% . The UK has a large and now structural budget deficit and thats before a £100bn of PFI debt is counted.

  • “Absolutely! As Alfred Sherman said in “Paradoxes of Power”:”

    Good heavens! I suppose we’re going to be told Alfred Sherman was a liberal next.

    And perhaps Nick Clegg will go for a photo-opportunity kneeling at the feet of Margaret Thatcher.

  • Nothing I have seen since my last post has helped me apart from the valiant efforts of Anonymous to hold back the tide. The problem is this is putting the cart before the horse. “We are going to cut taxes”. I am up for re-election next year. How do I square this with
    1. 100 year backlog on road repairs
    2. The local high school needing to teach kids in the corridor next year in a 40 year old school building not fit for purpose
    3. Shortage of school places
    4. Barely legal minimum support in adult social care with demand growing exponentially
    5. Rising land fill taxes to be replaced by expensive re-cycling and other treatment facilities
    6. Likely massive cuts in bus services.
    7. Withdrawal of support for voluntary sector.

    I could go on and on…

    But hey a few Tories might vote for me.

  • David Allen 18th Jul '08 - 2:12pm

    To Steve Travis (hi!) – Well, we can bandy fine words about economic liberalism, about how our free dosh is somehow philosophically different from Thatcher’s free dosh, etcetera – if we want to provoke distrust! The down-to-earth average voter view will be, thanks for the dosh but where’s the catch?

    Now don’t get me wrong, we do have perfectly valid reasons for our reversal of policy, it is critical support I am offering. As Anders says, it is the right policy at the current time. It’s just that we mustn’t get carried away. Frying pans and fires come to mind.

    Dogmatic, ideological tax policies are what is wrong. Labour’s big-promises-big-plans-big-bills policy is wrong, because it leads to overspend and waste. But the Thatcher-Major cut-cut-cut ideology was equally wrong, and they left government in tatters. Schools and hospitals in a mess. Never enough money to do a job properly. Resources wasted on emergency repairs and rework to put the original botch job right again. For those who take pleasure in being too young to have lived the history – do please read the books. Those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it!

  • Paul Pettinger 18th Jul '08 - 2:33pm

    Mark Littlewood said “this is the best and boldest policy announcement by a Lib Dem leader in some time”.

    You might say that having pushed for the policy change your self for some time now, just as I might entirely agree with you, having also wanted us to go down this route for some while too :-).

    I don’t expect the party to go down the route of a tax revolution, but I do hope this change could act as a catalyst for us to rediscover some of our neglected & thoroughly subversive economically liberal past, i.e. of asset taxes and ‘ownership for all’. One day proponents of LVT will loose their beards and the whiff of BO.

  • James Shaddock 18th Jul '08 - 2:50pm

    Why is everyone so worked up over the tax policy when even if you disagree it there are loads of other proposals in the document to be pleased about?

    Examples include:

    Leading the way on nuclear disarmament (hardly a right wing policy)
    State investment in high speed railways
    Devolving local health services
    The ‘pupil premium’

    All of these suggest a centre/centre-left approach rather than a sudden leap to the right.

  • Andrew Duffield 18th Jul '08 - 2:52pm

    “One day proponents of LVT will loose their beards and the whiff of BO.”

    A characteristic of the statist social-liberal tendency, surely?

  • David Allen 18th Jul '08 - 3:22pm

    James at 2.50, two / three of your example policies require or imply higher state spending. These sit uneasily alongside a policy of overall spending cuts!

  • Paul Pettinger 18th Jul '08 - 4:50pm

    Jock, congratulations on helping kick start beard reform within LVT circles. Andrew, I didn’t say proponents of LVT wore sandals, a stereotype I’ve always associated with the old left. Many LVT proponents do however some times come across as (very well meaning) policy geeks, rather than communication specialists.

  • Oh dear, somebody mentioned “state support for high speed railways” – time to crank up Crewe Gwyn.

    I hope this is going to be properly thought through :-

    High Speed Rail Links CAN be :-

    a) energy inefficient
    b) huge consumers of limited funding
    c) beneficial to the wealthy (who tend to make long-distance rail journeys) at the expense of the less well-off (who tend to make shorter rail journeys, or use buses).

    Do hope somebody is thinking this through.

  • John D at 1:47

    I share your concern that we must have a properly funded state sector … but I am convinced that cutting the overall burden of taxes as well as – and this is crucial – making them fairer in terms of ability to pay. This is in sharp contrast to the Tories whose plans are always utterly self-serving though all dressed up in pseudo-liberal economic language.

    Labour may have spent a great deal more but their best idea seems to have been that if they throw enough money at a problem some will eventually stick. Well it doesn’t. More than anything this is where Lib Dems have to distinguish themselves from Labour.

    Caring, yes. For a fairer society, yes. For a properly managed state sector, yes. For wasteful spending, NEVER.

  • Andrew Duffield 18th Jul '08 - 6:30pm

    “..this is crucial – making them fairer in terms of ability to pay.”

    Gordon, the crucial thing our party finally appears to be grasping is that “ability to pay” needs to relate to unearned asset wealth at least as much (and ideally much more than) it relates to productive earnings. That is the key to shifting the tax burden off the poor.

    And as the poor become financially emancipated of course, welfare state dependency becomes less necessary.

    Our long-term “management” strategy should be to reduce the need for state management of individuals altogether – setting people free, economically and socially.

  • John D wrote:
    “The problem is this is putting the cart before the horse. “We are going to cut taxes”. I am up for re-election next year. How do I square this with
    1. 100 year backlog on road repairs”
    [6 more items snipped]

    Actually, I’d be interested to see some more reaction from Lib Dem councillors.

    What do they think of this target of cutting government expenditure by 3-4%? Do they think cuts of that size in local government spending could be achieved without harming public services? Or is local government supposed to be exempt from the cuts (which, of course, would imply they would be correspondingly deeper elsewhere)?

    Or do they take a more cynical view – that there’s no danger of this policy doing any harm or incurring any unpopularity, because it’s never really going to be implemented?

  • Spanny Thomas 18th Jul '08 - 8:49pm

    Since when did we become Tories ?

  • “While this is classic liberalism it is officially “illiberal & incompatible with party membership”.”

    No it isn’t.

    Accusing fellow party members of being fascists might well be, but nothing you have said (at great great length!) on this site comes close to providing any evidence for these sorts of claims from yourself.

    You have repeatedly called various Liberal Democrats fanatical, near-Nazi supporting right-wing extremists.

    I am not surprised if people found that such views were not compatible with you being a member of the party yourself.

  • Chris Stanbra 19th Jul '08 - 2:14pm

    This is the right thing to do. I am a Lib Dem councillor in a Labour controlled authority in Northamptonshire (there’s only one – you work it out). It frustrates the hell out of me that so many councillors from all parties get taken in by the argument that lower taxes mean spending cuts as if all spending cuts are wrong. Its about priorities! Local government is inefficient. No doubt about it. National government is too. The easy way to cut spending is to attack front line services. The more difficult way, but the correct way is to tackle the inefficiencies, reduce bureaucracy and to decide what are priorities and what are not. e.g are public art and the promotion of tourism really priorities when compared to having well maintained roads and a cheap, efficient railway system? It is possible to expand front line services and cut taxes. I’m not saying its easy, but it is possible.

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