++Breaking…Clegg: “We must axe Bedroom Tax”

I got wind of this about an hour ago.

Here is tomorrow’s Daily Mirror front page.

Clegg axe bedroom tax

More to follow. In the meantime, have a read of my post from earlier.

That’ll be number 22 on Stephen Tall’s list of policies that we share with Labour…

Update: 22:47.

This email has just been sent from Danny Alexander explaining the party’s thinking. We’re not going for abolition, but for a great reform which means that nobody would have to pay unless they had turned down an offer of a smaller property which ticks a lot more of the fairness boxes.. The review yesterday which shows that the policy simply wasn’t working, has prompted the change of heart. Good old fashioned evidence based policy;

Earlier in this Parliament, the Government changed the way that Housing Benefit was paid to families in social housing to make the payment related to the number of rooms they actually need, effectively removing what was termed ‘the Spare Room Subsidy’. We did this for a number of reasons. Chief among them was to give people a financial reason to downsize where possible and free up bigger homes for larger families. We also needed to make sure that our welfare budget was sustainable in the longer term.

This week, a Government report has produced evidence that this change is not delivering the outcomes that we need. The report shows that as few as 1 in 20 of affected claimants have downsized.

As Liberal Democrats, we are proud of our view that we should take evidence into account when making policy decisions. In this particular area, the evidence clearly shows that we need to change direction. And of course we as a party expressed our clear feelings on this at our recent conference.

We will be pressing our Conservative coalition partners to agree to these changes in this Parliament, but if they won’t we will set out new rules which I would expect to be in our 2015 manifesto.

Those new rules will set out that those already in the social rented sector should only see a reduction in their Housing Benefit if they are offered a suitable smaller home and, crucially, turn it down. We will also make sure that disabled adults are treated in the same way as disabled children, by permanently exempting them.

This is a complex and detailed area, and I hope you might feel able to follow this link to a fuller explanation of our new thinking.

While this is welcome news, it is unlikely to mean that the Bedroom Tax will be reformed immediately unless the Conservatives agree. But with a Parliamentary majority in favour of reform, would they have the temerity to resist?

Update: 23:04

I’d better go and learn Stephen’s list of policies where we agree with Labour off by heart. He tells me the Bedroom Tax was already on it. He was more of an optimist than I was about the leadership listening to the party.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • A bit late now, Nick.

  • This has made him a laughing stock.

  • If Clegg doesnt listen to activists its because hes a secret Tory, if he does listen hes a fool. If we beleive in following the evidence why is it “too late” to wait till we actually see some ?

  • Alan Budimirovic 16th Jul '14 - 11:04pm

    As you know I’ve been banging on about this for months now. THE LIBDEMS must help abolish it before the next election and try and win back the very people who voted for you the disables the poor the disadvantaged. If not your manifesto in 2015 is going to be worth the paper it’s written on.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Jul '14 - 11:05pm

    Very good email by Danny Alexander. I’m not just saying it, most of the complaints about the policy have been about smaller properties not being made available.

    I thought when it was announced it is important not to pander to people who think efficiency in housing stock and the welfare budget don’t matter much. We need to get an info graph made properly that explains our attractive position clearly.


  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 16th Jul '14 - 11:12pm

    For me, the refreshing thing is that within 36 hours of the first review showing it wasn’t working coming out, Nick has reacted with a change of tack which reflects the evidence.

    Governments are not very good at admitting when they have got it wrong. Nick showing that Lib Dems might be in Government but they are not hardwired into the establishment.

  • Andrew Suffield 16th Jul '14 - 11:28pm

    Works for me.

  • Stephen Donnelly 16th Jul '14 - 11:32pm

    This puts right one of the big wrongs of the coalition. NHS must be next!

  • elwyn watkins 17th Jul '14 - 12:03am

    Really surprised but absolutely delighted. Evidence based welfare reform. Can we look at the use of sanctions as well? Everyone wants welfare reform but we need to take people with us.

  • Better late than never even though a halfway house restoration of people’s homes. Especially those of us in our mid fifties who have looked after and loved our homes for twenty plus years who are also affected.

  • That bedroom tax was a nightmare for me. A private tenant living in a shared house I had waited 10 years for a one bedroom flat and the time qhen I needed one, last April I found it almost impossible to get one even with my 10 years waiting points. Little has been said about people like me, who have been pushed aside by the huge numbers of people downsizing. Eventually I did get a flat but it was in a shocking state so I’ve had to s0end about 1.5k doing it up.

  • Technical Ephemera 17th Jul '14 - 12:19am

    Right bring forward a vote in parliament, vote to scrap it (or kill it by rendering it ineffective) and fast track the legislation. It can be abolished pretty much immediately.

    Or not. (I am guessing not – in which case this is just the final nail in the party’s credibility).

  • So all those Labour MPs standing reading out letters from their constituents about how this vile policy was affecting them, your own party president & Andrew George voting against it, the lies the PM has been proven to have said about disabled households being exempt when they absolutely are not were all just making an inconvenient noise ??

    The evidence was always right under your noses – you just didn’t bother to look down them at the poorest in society.

    You’re a laughing stock now & I for one can’t wait until Labour call another vote on this to see just what you will do then !

  • The Scottish Government commissioned a report into the effectiveness of this policy prior to its introduction, which came to the very conclusion that Danny and Norman are now accepting as a reason for a change of direction. If they had read this report and acted on it, there would have been no bedroom tax. The damage that has been done to the Party’s reputation and the anguish it has caused to low income tenants is shameful. This proposal was always about reducing the benefits bill and passing on the costs to some of the poorest people in society. If the Government is so worried about the lack of affordable housing , then why have they done nothing it about it over the nearly 5 years they have been in office? I do not believe that we have had a proper housing strategy in this Country since Mrs T introduced the right to buy , housing policy has all been about home ownership. If the party offered a good affordable housing policy in their manifesto that would be very popular with the millions of people currently living in inappropriate housing. The Bedroom tax needs to be abolished, forcing people from their homes is illiberal.

  • Caron
    “Hardwired into the establishment” = “Anchored to the Centre”?

    That is what it has looked like. The tragic thing of abandoning the campaigning “outsider” role was that many people had no radical centre left to vote for most of the time. Some, with UKIP, have even chosen the populist right, partly because we haven’t been there picking up the gripes and grouses which need addressing. So far, the leadership, especially Nick Clegg, has looked as if he only moves to any slightly less establishment / powers-that-be solution when almost forced to. The forces have included overwhelming “evidence”, but also include pressure from within the party, and pressure from polling evidence / focus groups.

    I shall wait to see what else emerges.

  • As I and others in LDV have repeatedly explained, the hated Bedroom Tax is —


    and just plain bad politics.

    Those whose loyalty to Clegg resulted in them spending months defending this hated bedroom tax must be scrubbing hard to get the egg off their faces this morning.
    Perhaps in future they will look at the facts and the real world before bleating loyalty to incompetents in the Westminster Bubble.

  • Charles Rothwell 17th Jul '14 - 7:17am

    Bedroom tax, referendum on Europe…. we are going to be called the ultimate Flip-flop Party at this rate and I dread to read the comments which are going to pour forth on Facebook when this move is no doubt posted on there as well. (Do the PR people making these posts actually read the comments they generate? The one yesterday about people in work generated huge numbers of negative responses (“zero hours”, “you can fiddle anything with statistics”, “I don’t believe a word your Party says any more” plus just plain bile and hatred (particularly of Clegg)). We need a fundamental relaunch (like Labour under Kinnock, although of course in the diametrically opposed direction!) Where is our Mandelson?

  • Unbelievable!! After 3 years of senior Lib Dem ministers promoting and defending the bedroom tax we cynically attempt to disassociate ourselves from a policy that is in most peoples eyes a fair one, even if in mine it is too harsh.

    Why announce it now with all the (perfectly reasonable) accusations of more Lib Dem hypocrisy and accusations of saving our electoral skin. We could have organised for a binding vote at Autumn Conference, had the vote and the leadership could have hid behind the membership, saying the party had spoken etc. We could have made a virtue out of it rather than this shambles!
    The problem is, once again, Nick, Danny and others are making these ‘school boy’ errors which portray the Party as only caring about power. I’ll say it again unbelievable!

  • The good news is that the Lib Dems can now vote with Labour almost immediately to end this policy as there is no longer majority support for it in parliament.

    It will be a good test of proving that this is just not rhetoric aimed to soften the parties image before the next election.

  • richard rowles 17th Jul '14 - 7:58am

    It’s great we are reacting to evidence. Other policy areas would benefit from this approach. I think we should disclose who provided the argument for this policy and what the presentation was to convince cabinate to implement it! They are the ones that should be challenged.

  • richard rowles 17th Jul '14 - 8:00am

    Or we could just blame Clegg! Like everything else.

  • richard rowles 17th Jul '14 - 8:04am

    Why not let people rent out their spare room and keep the money and not count ot

  • We’ve made our bed(room tax) and we should have at least laid in it until after 2015. Post 2015 and post leadership change, we could have changed policies.

    All this does is make us look stupid, unprincipled and desperate. And I’m not sure how many more times I can defend our stupidity!

  • richard rowles 17th Jul '14 - 8:06am

    … Not count it as income as a one off attempt to help resolve housing crisis and cost of living crisis.

  • William Jones 17th Jul '14 - 8:12am

    Will the next coalition mistake to be corrected be: cuts to legal aid? I hope so, as we should never have supported this!

  • Tony Dawson 17th Jul '14 - 8:13am

    Stephen Donnelly:

    “This puts right one of the big wrongs of the coalition. NHS must be next!”

    You might have thought so, mightn’t you.

    Just as Paul Burstow appears to have studiously ignored the copious evidence which was presented to him by the overwhelming majority of participants in the Liverpool Conference consultative sessions that the NHS ‘reforms’ (sic) which he was outlining were going to be a costly disaster.

    The trouble with trumpeting this ‘evidence-led’ approach to U-turns is that the evidence on this matter was available long before the DWP finally got round to doing its report. All MPs have seen the results in their constituency ‘surgeries’ over many months and the Sefton MBC Lib Dem group can not be unique in having supported a motion debated in the council chamber condemning this (bedroom tax) measure primarily due to lack of suitable alternative smaller accommodation.

    Simon Hughes this morning gave us a terrifying insight into how policies for legislation appear to have been ‘horse-traded’ rather than negotiated over the past four years. He was basically saying that Lib Dems always believed this policy would not work or be fair but supported it anyway on the off-chance that we might have been wrong. If that has been the overall approach to government by our ‘Leadership’ then heave help us.

  • Tony Dawson 17th Jul '14 - 8:17am

    @paul barker

    “If we beleive in following the evidence why is it “too late” to wait till we actually see some ?”

    If one is prepared to work according to perceived evidence, It does, of course, help to be prepared to take the bag off on’s head. 🙁

  • How to make yourself look the biggest laughing stock in British political history.

    Voters will look at this one of two ways:

    1. They will assume Clegg is simply lying to win votes
    2. They assume he isn’t lying which implies he is grossly incompetent given that the bedroom tax would not have been implemented without him

  • Kevin White 17th Jul '14 - 8:23am

    Not good enough. It must be scrapped not tinkered with.

  • We’ll take flak in the short term but it’ll be worth it: this is yougov polling from April on coalition’s worst policy http://t.co/vkMlErdNsk

    Hands up that I took longer than most to join the chorus of opposition, but the evidence became overwhelming. The obvious route to progress this in this parliament is through Andrew George’s private members bill. With Labour support he may get something through against Tory opposition if the LDs refuse to allow Govt blocking powers. Will be interesting to see how many Tory abstentions there would be – many privately have handled enough casework to see the problems now.

  • @richardrowles

    Why should people have to take strangers into their homes because of a policy Clegg and most other Lib Dem MPs waved through ?

  • Even if I were to accept the argument that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to do away with the bad things the Lib Dems did in government why would I then vote for a party that has the same policies as Labour given I can just vote Labour? Especially given the low probability of a hung parliament arising and the almost zero probability of Labour agreeing to a coalition with Clegg still in place and the almost zero probability of the Lib Dems keeping Clegg as leader.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 17th Jul '14 - 8:47am

    Nick Clegg again has my utmost respect for finally coming to the right and liberal decision that the odious ‘Bedroom Tax’ must go.

    I totally agree with Caron’s statement that “Governments are not very good at admitting when they have got it wrong. Nick showing that Lib Dems might be in Government but they are not hardwired into the establishment.”

    With a few more reversals of draconian Toryism I believe that the public will start realise that our Party has the humility and confidence to ‘fess up’ when it was wrong.

  • I love the ldv issues as someone who locally supported LibDem councillor at elections I really thought I knew what I voted for. Now I look at things like this reversal and see a party going gets tough Run. I think so far we have 4% of people who re housed maybe it’s not a lot but what about those who now rent what they can afford how many of those are there. The policy is correct though I do accept some disabilities should be exempt for 1 extra room. Goodness knows how our credit card debt can balance if the government gives cards to those who fancy bigger better regardless of affordability. Get a grip build build build and yes build many many many one bed homes don’t blame the policy blame the lack of building

  • Steve Griffiths 17th Jul '14 - 8:59am

    Yep, we told you so.

    I have been looking back through various previous LDV threads on this subject and many were warning about exactly what has happened. One of the most vocal was Tony Greaves, who was warning about the projected savings being “dodgy”, and went on to say:

    “is a typical policy devised and imposed by people who would never live in social housing, who would not apply any such restrictions on themselves, who have little understanding of what it is like to live on a low income (that is to say be poor), and have little knowledge or understanding of how social housing actually works, or the circumstances in such local communities.”

    Which brings us neatly to the issue that some of us having been banging on about over the years on LDV – from what backgrounds do the Lib Dem parliamentary advisors come from? Do they have experience of what it is like to live on low wages and in poor housing? Perhaps if our policy making bodies within the party had some members with those experiences on them, we would not be loosing touch with ordinary people and facing a near wipe out of support and members outside of the South East.

    Caron, is there anyone on the FE or the FPC that has experience of these matters or can advise our parliamentarians?

  • At last, but why didn’t we get this right first time, though?

    Who was it who allowed it to go through in its original form? This was a spectacular own goal that need not have happened.

    Anyone negotiating this within government could have seen from a mile off that penalising people who couldn’t move was a stupid and illiberal idea and was the fundamental problem in implementation.

  • David Evans 17th Jul '14 - 9:04am

    The problem is that politics is fundamentally about judgement. The judgement shown by Danny and Nick about the workings of the Bedroom Tax was totally flawed. There clearly wasn’t enough one and two bedroomed houses available. No to Bedroom Tax. Judgement stage over.

    Even if Nick and Danny failed the judgement phase, the initial evidence phase should have kicked in. Before it started an assessment should have been carried out for a small sample of Social landlords of the number of one and two bedroomed houses in the sector and the normal turnover rates for them. Likewise a simple assessment of the number of under occupied premises of various sizes. That would have shown how unworkable it all was. No to the Bedroom Tax. Initial evidence stage over.

    What is so difficult about that?

  • “What is so difficult about that?”

    It requires knowledge and experience of the real world, particularly of those living difficult lives outside the comfortable middle class bubble, something that politicians of all parties conspicuously lack these days.

  • A Social Liberal 17th Jul '14 - 9:24am

    Before the bill was enacted, some of us were saying that it would be illiberal and immoral to bring the act into law. After it was enacted some of us kept repeating that it was an immoral and illiberal law.

    It is right that our MPs now say that the law should be reversed, not just because the evidence shows that people are suffering under it, that arrears and evictions vastly outweigh the number of families rehoused BUT BECAUSE IT WAS AN IMMORAL AND ILLIBERAL LAW IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    Liberal Democrat MPs should not have been forced to vote in favour of a bedroom tax. That is down to Clegg and our other leaders.

  • Steve Griffiths 17th Jul '14 - 9:30am


    “It requires knowledge and experience of the real world”

    Exactly RC; quite correct. The Thatcher administration made the same mistake with the Poll Tax – and no one seems to have learned from that. If you are a parliamentarian legislator/MP/Peer and you do not have those experiences to draw from, then you need to be advised by those who have. The problem is that members with those experiences have left in droves and the party looks more narrow middle class-south-east every day.

  • ErnstRemarx 17th Jul '14 - 9:36am

    @David Evans – good post.

    Nice to see the U-turn, but I suspect it’s far too little, and far too late for the LibDems. You voted this through as a party, despite being told what would happen, and the very real lack of suitable housing. That you, as a party, acquiesced to this along with the privatisation of the NHS will be enough to se you out of power for another 80 years.

  • Looks as if the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are starting the process of going their own way prior to the election.
    Hopefully that will be complete by say November, too late for an early election and enough time for both to identify a separate path to the electorate.
    Better if it was a new leadership face and image to give the change a real credibility

  • Richard Harris 17th Jul '14 - 10:16am

    Way too little, way too late. This tax was utterly immoral – you didn’t need evidence months after imposing it to know how unfair it was. Don’t the party realise that by sticking with Clegg you will continue to get this bad political judgement again and again. What is the party waiting for?

  • I got wind of this about an hour ago.

    Aye. Right.

    Clegg begins his differentiation (and rehabilitation) strategy in earnest, and his lifelong groupie-in-chief just happens to have put an article put earlier in the day saying that he should do exactly what he’s about to announce?

    You know what’s on the other one? Bells.

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Jul '14 - 10:35am

    At long, long last but a heavy price has been paid for association with and sanction of this dreadful policy by the leadership. A firm ‘No way’ should have been given to this idea when it was first mooted.

  • I am not a Libdem and there is very little that I support for what they have done in Government.

    However, I do not think it is productive for people to go overboard on the lets bash Nick Clegg for every U-Turn that the party now makes during the run up to the election.

    For a majority of people the “bedroom tax” was immoral and unjust. Lets concentrate on that and welcome any chances of this vindictive and disastrous policy being scrapped or seriously reformed.
    Lets concentrate on righting the wrongs that has unfairly hit hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and poor people in society.

    Sure, Nick Clegg’s U-Turn might be political posturing for the run up to the next election in the hope of shoring up so much lost support. But we the people can make that judgement on polling day when we put an X in the box.

    Overly bashing the Liberal Democrats now for the U-Turns they make would more than likely make the leadership less reluctant to take a change of direction on other policy area’s that a majority of us feel are wrong, immoral and discriminatory. (What would be the point if they felt they would get double the hammering).

    What is important here is the people who have been unfairly targeted during this coalition government in the name of austerity.

    Anything that can put pressure on the Tories “now” to reverse some of these policies, is welcome in my opinion.
    After all it the people that matters here, especially the poor, vulnerable, disadvantaged and disabled.

    I will make my judgement on polling day. But before then, I welcome any changes to these ruthless policies and assaults on the most vulnerable people in society.

  • Should have said more reluctant not “less” lol.

    I also should have added that over the last 4 years all we have heard from people in Government and the right wing media was support for these policies that unfairly target the most vulnerable people in society.

    There has been very little “air time” in the media supporting and highlighting the plight of Hundreds of Thousands of vulnerable people up and down the country.
    People have been brainwashed and flooded with right wing ideologies and views that have unfairly target the most vulnerable people in society.
    It would be a refreshing change of direction for once to see the media to have to “report” changing views and opinions against those who are the poorest, vulnerable, disabled who have been unfairly targeted in the name of austerity.

    Maybe, just maybe we might end up with a more balanced media reporting on the issues. Instead of the constant denigration of the most vulnerable people in society.
    If this U-turn achieves that, then it is most welcoming.

  • One aspect that is ignored here is the main valid defence for reducing benefits to those with larger homes. There are very many families on benefit but in cramped and inadequate conditions that cannot be properly housed. Building more social housing will help in the long term, but the needs of these people are more immediate.

    We have had councillors on LDV who have explained that the council housing stock for smaller homes in many areas is simply not there. It could never have been fair to penalise those who are willing to move but cannot because there are no smaller council owned homes.

    What incentives were there for pensioners to downsize if they could? At the very least removal expenses could be covered, but surely extra financial incentive would have helped.

  • There are very many families on benefit but in cramped and inadequate conditions that cannot be properly housed.

    We have had councillors on LDV who have explained that the council housing stock for smaller homes in many areas is simply not there

    Is it just me who thinks these two statements are contradictory?

    If there are no smaller homes, where are these families n cramped conditions living?

  • Dav: many of the families in cramped and inadequate conditions are in the private sector. Nevertheless the families do get housing benefits, which of course get handed on to the landlords. In the private sector, the ‘bedroom tax’ was introduced by Labour.

    In any case the provision of social housing is very far from uniform across the country. A smaller home in Hull is not much use if your current home is in Truro.

    The selling off of the council stock in the 80s has rendered provision more inadequate and more haphazard.

  • Dav: many of the families in cramped and inadequate conditions are in the private sector.

    Right, but they are still clearly available to be used by those on housing benefit, because, well, they are being used by those in on housing benefit.

    So why can’t those in houses bigger than they need be put into the currently-overoccupied places in the private sector, and those in cramped private-sector accommodation be moved to the larger public-sector vacant properties thus created?

    So if you have a family with three children living in a two-room flat in private rented accommodation, and a couple in a three-bedroom house in the social housing sector, why don’t you move the family into the house and the couple into the flat?

  • @cllr Becket
    ” I am approached by families crammed into two bedroom social housing flats and desperate to move, whilst down the road there can be an elderly couple in a three or four bedroom house. ”

    You need to read the policy more carefully. Elderly people are exempt….

  • I think some people on here really have missed the point in regards to Nick Clegg’s U turn.

    The point is, had the bedroom tax proved to be successful in moving people to smaller accommodation, he would not have made a U-turn. The change in tack coincides with a report that shows only 4% of people have downsized not a change of heart by the Lib Dem leadership as to whether its unfair or not.

  • Always good to see politicians change their mind based on evidence and facts though, and that appears to be the case, so well done Nick! It’s certainly too little, too late – I could never trust him, but it’s better than being indistinguishable from the Tories. Even he should be able to see by now from situations such as this, that he has been proven to have very poor intuitions as regards policy.

    I don’t think he was ever a bad person, just a terrible Lib Dem leader and I really hope these sorts of errors will be avoided in the future, when we have a leader that can clearly see that policies like these are contrary to the spirit of the party. I’d like to see him, David Laws, Ken Clarke and David Davis start a Libertarian party, I think it’d be popular. Then those of us that have voted Lib Dem all our life can get our party back.

  • had the bedroom tax proved to be successful in moving people to smaller accommodation, he would not have made a U-turn

    Of course he would. This isn’t about how many people have been moved, this is about electoral positioning, nothing more, nothing less.

  • Dan Hodges has got it exactly right:

    ‘Clegg’s political problem isn’t that people think he’s become a Right-wing fanatic who hates the occupants of cramped council flats, or working-class students struggling to make ends meet. Clegg’s problem is the voters think he would sell his own grandmother for a taste of power.’


  • Alan Budimirovic 17th Jul '14 - 3:00pm

    Oh dear I remember the day when the leader of the libdems got up at PMQs to ask is one question and the whole house laughed and drowned out his question but worse still the question wasn’t even answered. Wait while after the next election and they are the 4th party and don’t even get to ask one question they will look back and ask if it was worth looking after the TORY millionaires other than the libdem poor.

  • @ChrisB

    ” I’d like to see him, David Laws, Ken Clarke and David Davis start a Libertarian party, I think it’d be popular. Then those of us that have voted Lib Dem all our life can get our party back.”

    Interesting point, though with the slight snag being none of them are Libertarians 🙂 If believe Nick, for one, said as much we he gave his support to Leveson.

  • “As Liberal Democrats, we are proud of our view that we should take evidence into account when making policy decisions”

    And so we have the spin that this is all due to an evidence-based approach. This is what needs to change in politics. We need to get rid of those who think spin is the answer. If an evidence-based approach had been used in the first place, the Lib Dem would not be in this mess

  • And so we have the spin that this is all due to an evidence-based approach

    Don’t worry, nobody will actually fall for that.

  • Caron 17th Jul ’14 – 7:53am
    John Tilley — If you are looking at me, I have never supported or attempted to justify the Bedroom Tax or indeed several other aspects of welfare reform.

    Caron — obviously I was not looking at you !!!!!
    because you could not possibly be described as — One of “.. Those whose loyalty to Clegg resulted in them spending months defending this hated bedroom tax ….”

    Caron —— I cannot think why you should even need to ask such a question of me.
    Do you not recall me celebrating with you (in the pages of LDV) when MSPs gave the hated tax the boot north of the border?

  • > with the slight snag being none of them are Libertarians

    Whatever they’d call it, I think there are a bunch of more Liberal Tories that are more closely ideologically aligned to Clegg than most trad Lib Dems are. Think back to the Blair/Brown years where there were clear ideological differences between the two men; the Coalition cabinet seems much more homogeneous; perhaps the psychological effect of starting a working relationship in a rose garden! I’m not sure I can recall a government in modern history where the internal dynamics seemed so compressed.

    Either way, changing your position based on the facts is obviously the best way to approach legislating and it’s a relief to see him break ranks with the Tories on this.

  • Bah – I need to read these articles more slowly! Too much skimming, not enough comprehension – clearly missed some crucial words. I’ve just realised that he’s NOT saying we should axe the Bedroom Tax at all. If anyone else didn’t follow the link to libdems.org.uk it’s worth a read of the “fuller explanation of our new thinking”, which I think I could summate in one line :

    Those already socially renting would only pay if they refuse a suitable smaller home offered to them and disabled adults will be exempt.

    The key to this is the concept of “suitability” as regards the smaller home – it would be easy to fulfil that first criteria if “suitable” was sufficiently poorly defined. Since the linguistic loophole seems so apparent I don’t really see what this will mean apart from exemption for the disabled, which should always have been the case. I understand at the moment it would be significant, as many people in this situation haven’t been offered alternative housing, but the current legislation doesn’t incentivise local authorities to do that, whereas this might. It doesn’t seem to be the epic u-turn some are claiming – devil/detail.

    If the policy is so bad, why not axe it?!

  • Don’t delude yourselves folks. The only reason the leadership want to abandon this policy now, is because there is an election coming up.

  • Leekliberal 18th Jul '14 - 6:53pm

    @Andi Ali 18th Jul ’14 – 2:49pm
    ‘Don’t delude yourselves folks. The only reason the leadership want to abandon this policy now, is because there is an election coming up. ‘
    I can read this utter cynicism on the Labour equivalent of LD Voice but I hope for something more thoughtful here!

  • I don’t do thoughtful – i just do the truth.

  • Helen Dudden 23rd Jul '14 - 8:56pm

    If you win the next election, or play coalition with any Party, you have your chance.

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    For those interested in health and the NHS, Roy Lilley's blog is worth a look. A strong supporter of the NHS thought not uncritical. https://myemail-api.cons...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Simon R, Yes well done! :-) It was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment. I usually have difficulty in persuading contributors to this site to think in ter...