Danny Alexander on the Spending Review: “We have done the right thing”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has just emailed Liberal Democrat members with a message about this week’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Here’s the full text:

When we came into office, we inherited an economy that was on the brink. With the largest budget deficit in Europe and no plan for tackling it, Britain faced huge economic risks. These could only be dealt with by a clear plan to deal rapidly with the worst financial position this country has faced for generations.

On Wednesday, we set out that plan. And while the scale and pace of the action we need to take is unavoidable, we can choose how we do it. The Spending Review sets out those choices: to spread the burden fairly, to promote economic growth, and to invest in the life chances of our children. These are hard choices that affect millions of people, but they are the right choices to set our country back on the road to prosperity.

We have spread the burden fairly by protecting the key services that the most vulnerable in our society rely on. Social Care has been given a funding boost worth £2bn, the NHS and schools have been protected and our plans for social housing will deliver up to 150,000 new affordable homes.

We have promoted future fairness through a £7 billion ‘fairness premium’ that will support improving the life chances of our poorest children from their first pair of shoes to their first pay packet.

We have promoted future growth by giving the go ahead to key transport projects that will unlock economic potential in every part of the country. We have also delivered on a Green Investment Bank that will kick start green investment and generate jobs.

And we are pushing forward with radical reform. Our decentralisation agenda will reduce the number of central government grants from 90 to fewer than 10. With the exception of schools and public health, ring-fences on council spending will disappear, giving local authorities much greater flexibility. We will deliver welfare reforms that simplify the system and make work pay. And our criminal justice reforms will roll out the community justice programmes that were pioneered by Liberal Democrats in local government.

Yes, it’s going to be tough, and everyone will make a contribution, but those with the broadest shoulders will bear the biggest burden. That’s why we’ve reduced taxes for the low paid, and increased them for the richest. It’s why we introduced a banking levy – and we’ve made it our aim to extract the maximum sustainable tax revenues from the banks that got us into this mess.

The worst thing to do would be to burden future generations with the debts that Labour left us. We have made the tougher choice, no doubt, but we should be proud of the way we have taken responsibility and we have done the right thing.

Best wishes,

Danny Alexander MP
Chief Secretary to the Treasury

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  • vince thurnell 21st Oct '10 - 6:24pm

    Hes no better explaining himself through a letter than he is explaining himself when hes talking to Paxman as he was last night. I can honestly say he is one of the most odious people i have seen in politics (and god theres been a few). He actually seemed a lot better suited to the Tory party , then again theres not much difference these days i suppose.

  • Philip Rolle 21st Oct '10 - 6:37pm

    They have done the right thing in the wrong way.

    Cuts were inevitable, but time limiting incapacity benefits for those with over £16k is impossible to justify unless it is accompanied by the complete abolition of universality for benefits other than the state pension.

    The reality is that the welfare cuts are shamelessly political. If one benefit is capital means tested, then so should they all. Anything else is simply unfair.

    Worse still, the specific action taken removes money from the vulnerable. No Liberal Democrat should support this.

    Before the election Nick Clegg said “we’re different”. That statement has proved to be a deceit.

    The Lib Dems had better start taking steps to oppose a number of measures they are currently embracing. If they do not, they will fully deserve electoral oblivion.

  • There have been plans to cut the public sector in place since before the election, indeed they were being enacted upon before the election so the claim that there were no plans is utter bunkum.

    The scale and the pace of the cuts do not have to be this deep and this rapid, so he’s engaging in more bunkum there.

    The cuts hit the poorest hard, so no, they’re not fair, again, engaging in bunkum.

  • I must say i find him quite a sinister man and for an ex press adviser he was awful with both bolton and paxman.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 6:44pm

    “Yes, it’s going to be tough, and everyone will make a contribution, but those with the broadest shoulders will bear the biggest burden.”

    But this is just a plain lie.

    According to the IFS, by 2014-5 the 10% of households with lowest incomes will be the worst hit, losing 5.5% of their income. The next worst hit will be – surprise, surprise! – the next poorest 10% of households, who will lose 5% of their income.

  • Norfolk Boy 21st Oct '10 - 7:01pm

    “Yes, it’s going to be tough, and everyone will make a contribution, but those with the broadest shoulders will bear the biggest burden.”

    Yes, that is indeed a lie. There is no debating, no spinning it.

    Still, it’s good to know who’s who and where we all stand now…

  • @Anthony A St – but you could have quoted another statistic that the top 10% of taxpayers are paying 50% of the taxes so they are already doing a lot to support the poor.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 7:10pm


    Just to repeat.

    According to the IFS it’s the households with the lowest incomes who will lose the largest percentage of their income.

    Are you telling me that’s fair? That “those with the broadest shoulders will bear the biggest burden”?

  • Mike(the Labour one) 21st Oct '10 - 7:25pm

    And the top 10% are 100 times wealthier than the poorest- in jobs and consuming goods that only exist because of the labour of the less well off. That’s a completely Tory, ‘no such thing as society’ mindset you’ve got there. They have what they have because of society.

  • Mike(the Labour one) 21st Oct '10 - 7:27pm

    That was @SMcG by the way.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 7:28pm

    The other thing is that the IFS figures include the effects of the last budget presented by Alistair Darling. If those effects – which were very progressive – are separated out, the true extent to which this government is punishing the poorest becomes apparent.

    These figures are very approximate because I estimated them by eye from the IFS graph, but here are the percentage effects on income by 2014-5 for different income groups:

    1 -5,6% (poorest 10%)
    2 -4.9%
    3 -4.5%
    4 -3.6%
    5 -3.1%
    6 -3.0%
    7 -2.3%
    8 -1.5%
    9 -1.2%
    10 -1.2% (richest 10%)

    I think that is absolutely appalling and indefensible.

  • Norfolk Boy 21st Oct '10 - 7:30pm

    Oh dear, you’ve even been duped on your beloved Pupil Premium – a great deal of it is coming from cuts in other areas of the education budget. And an opinion poll tomorrow has support for the LDs at a 20-year low and the cuts have hardly even started. Enjoy it while it lasts…

  • I understand that the public ie the voters – have given the lib dems a 20 year low approval rating – at least that is what channel 4 news has said, which goes to prove that you can fool some of the people some of the time………

  • actually, I thought Danny Alexander was pretty good on Newsnight!

  • crewegyn danny would not respond to questions about who would be hit – instead he kept repeating the need to cut – I also found the joint laughing at a joke offensive yesterday in Parliament when clegg cameron and he guffawed when osbourne was saying that the retirement age would now be 66.

  • vince thurnell 21st Oct '10 - 8:04pm

    crewegwyn, if that was good performance , i dread to think what hes like when he performs badly.

  • Clearly when a Tory (blue or orange) says ‘broad shoulders’ he’s referring to a stereotypical physical characteristic of the working classes.

  • John Roffey 21st Oct '10 - 8:21pm

    If the predicted poor polls tomorrow do show the Party at a 20 year low, it must be assumed, as expected, that the voters blame the Party for the nature of the cuts far more than they do they Tories. Unfortunately, it is likely that should the cuts be successful – most of the credit will go to the Tories as it seems to be their ‘show’.

    The Party’s strategy from now until the next GE will need to be carefully formulated if the majority of seats are to be held.

  • The cause of the structural deficit was the collapse in tax revenue which resulted from the recession brought about by the collapse of the financial free market in the Autumn of 2008 and the huge fiscal stimulus that was necessary to stop the recession from becoming a 1930’s depression. The financial crash — not government public spending in the years prior to 2008 — caused the deficit. In 1965-66 Public spending as a percentage of GDP was 39.6%. In 2006-7 it was 40.9% of GDP. Hardly a huge rise!

    The reason that the Blue Tories gained only 36.1% of the vote at the last General Election, just 1.7% more than Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party in 1992, and failed to get past the winning post is that , despite their almost total right wing media support, the electorate rumbled that the Blue Tories were trumping up a debt crisis to make a smash and grab attack on the hated welfare state. Surely, yesterday, you saw all those Blue and Orange Tory rednecks cheering and waving their order papers in response to Osborne’s cuts? Sadly, some Lib Dems were amongst them too!

    It is ironic that as we approach the centenary of Lloyd George’s courageous confrontation with the House of Lords on behalf of the poor, to ensure that they received at least some basic form of benefit provision, the forces of reaction that opposed him then are still strong and active not only in the Blue Tories but also in the Orange Tories. Deeply sad and disappointing.

  • John who will decide if the cuts are successful, The disabled people who will lose all benefits after a year, or the people who are paying near to market rate for social housing eg from 80pounds a week in some areas to 250pounds, or those young people who will pay thousands for their degree so they can teach our children or nurse us? Please advise.

  • vince thurnell 21st Oct '10 - 8:35pm

    John, its not that they blame the Lib Dems for the cuts, its just your voters (me included ) were not voting for your party only to get what they perceive (and rightly in my eyes) Tory policy. Your party promised them a new kind of politics and a fairer society . Instead they have seen the doctoring of how we can hold general elections and on the whole probably one of the most right wing governments we have ever seen. Heres just a few people that feel totally betrayed by you. Students, postal workers , public sector workers , anyone waiting for social housing and anyone relying on benefits. That really doesnt leave a lot of your core voters that do not in one way or another that dont feel let down by you. Most of these people are not Tory voters anyway hence why their vote is holding up. Your party on the other hand have hit exactly the people that you persuaded to vote for you in the last election.
    The only people that don’t seem to have woke up to this fact is a large percentage of your own party and your parties MP’S and leaders.

  • John Roffey,

    If the majority of seats are to be held, the party has to come out of the “coalition” and get rid of Clegg NOW. Hughes, Campbell, Kennedy and Farron must stop dithering and stick the knife into Clegg. The man is selling the party down the river, followed by a pathetic retinue of casuistic lemmings who are STILL trying to persuade us that if we go on propping up this dreadful Tory government the electorate will love us for it.

    Ted Grant used to say that if Labour adopted Trotsky’s transitional demands, it would be returned to power with a massive majority. Similarly, fanatical Owenites claimed that once the hated Liberals were thrown aside, the Continuing SDP would forge ahead. Some people do love to dream.

  • John Roffey 21st Oct '10 - 8:47pm

    Pat I was viewing the matter from a fiscal point of view. There does seem to be a general acceptance that cuts were necessary to reduce the nation’s immense debt, so if this is eliminated or considerably reduced – the cuts will be viewed as successful. The fact that the cuts are regressive by 2014/5 will be the burden that the Party is likely to bear because they have been seen to be the part of the coalition which looked after the interest’s of the poorest and most vulnerable by moderating the the most red of tooth and claw of the Tory proposals.

  • I know it’s not considered right to say this – but isn’t it possible that he just isn’t up to the job? In the private sector – which as we know is much more efficient – he could only get a job that was about ten pay grades below this one.

  • James Sampson 21st Oct '10 - 9:27pm

    Well, where do I start?

    What I struggle to understand is why members of our party seem to be buying this BS from Nick, or indeed if they’re not buying it, why they are not more vocal? If the complete betrayal of all those students, that supported us in University towns up and down the country, wasn’t the final straw, then the sight of Nick Clegg gleefully patting George Osborne on the back after his speech yesterday certainly was it for me. It would be easier to swallow the “We didn’t come into politics to do these things” line if he didn’t look like he was enjoying it so much. He seems to be trying to out Tory the Tories, and he’s doing a bloody good job at it too.

    It is time to take back the Party, or at least to start the debate within the party of an alternative way, if it is acceptable within the Tories and Labour to have differing views/wings of the party who openly debate, then why must we all be wedded to this nightmare. The pace and scale of the cuts were not “unavoidable”, they were a choice, a right wing, ideological, choice and we are providing the cover. It is a total and utter disgrace what is being done in our names and I for one, am thoroughly ashamed!

  • You’ve done the right wing thing Danny.

    It’s bad enough having Nick acting as a human shield for Cameron today as they are rightly treated with utter contempt by a woman suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, (who is now going to suffer a lot more thanks to you and your right wing friends Danny) but now we have to endure this callow young lad telling us to be PROUD of the way he and Osborne attacked the weakest and most vulnerable in society.

    NO. We do not. We are ashamed of the way Nick and Danny caved in to the Tory idealogues so that these cuts hit the vulnerable, the disabled and the poor the most.

    Nick is going to wake to the worst Liberal Democrat polling in 20 years tomorrow.
    ‘Everything will be fine if we wish hard enough’ isn’t going to cut it anymore as an excuse.
    It’s NOT fine and you are trashing the Liberal Democrats hard won reputation for fairness and justice.

    It’s about time the Party and MPs woke up and told Nick he can be a Liberal Democrat and start finally behaving like one or he can be a Conservative with his friend Cameron and leave before he destroys the Party completely.

  • Our ministers are beginning to make themselves look foolish and arrogant in equal measure. Clegg and Alexander have become indistinguishable from the Tories. In fact they seem slightly more hawkish than the average Conservative MP. Nick’s attack on the IFS is ill advised and devoid of any significant data that undermines their analysis. Simply asserting things is not going to work.

    I don’t know what it is like in other parts of the country but in my constituency we are struggling. Enthusiasm for anything public has collapsed. We can no longer run our Saturday street stall, our delivery volunteers have vanished and members have begun to lapse.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 10:08pm

    “Nick’s attack on the IFS is ill advised and devoid of any significant data that undermines their analysis.”

    He is certainly coming out with some astonishing garbage. Interviewed by the Guardian, he claimed “the coalition had provided a cash increase per pupil for every schoolchild, and had added on top a pupil premium for deprived children worth £2.5bn.”

    Of course that is absolutely untrue. Even including the pupil premium, the schools budget will rise by only 0.1% a year above inflation. If it wasn’t for the pupil premium it would be falling in real terms, even without taking into account the rising number of pupils.

  • vince thurnell 21st Oct '10 - 10:11pm

    In the latest yougov poll , your vote is 10%. I doubt i will ever vote Lib Dem again but i do hope for the sake of politics in this country you pull your leader back from the suicidal road they’re taking you down at the moment ,because a two party political system is not in the best interests of anyone. The only people that can save your party are the party members themselves.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 10:12pm

    “And an opinion poll tomorrow has support for the LDs at a 20-year low and the cuts have hardly even started”

    It seems that isn’t quite true. YouGov has the Lib Dems on 10%, which is the lowest ever recorded by that company. But according to Anthony Wells it is only a 13-year low, not a 20-year low.

  • Perhaps we should rename this site ‘Labourtrolls.com’?

    All desperate. presumably, to return the government to the people who deliberately increased the gap between the richest and the poorest year on year for 13 years on the trot.. Yes, we have heard your dire predictions, and those of the IFS. Now let us see what transpires. I have a suspicion that the gap between richest and poorest will actually diminish slightly. Then who will you blame?

  • The leadership has forgotten the electorate but the electorate will not forget them. As for Alexander he won’t survive in the next election – Labour’s number one target in Scotland. I wonder if they kept his old job open at the Tourist board?

  • @Tony Dawson

    Perhaps you should stop throwing around smears like Labour trolls since I also pointed this morning out that inequality unquestionably rose under Labour for their 13 year stint under a right wing Blair and an incompetent Brown. If you are trying to push some Liberal Democrats into the arms of Labour then you are going to succeed with that sort of unthinking rubbish. I never have and never will vote for or support, Labour but accusing and dismissing all and sundry who are deeply upset with these cuts as ‘Labour trolls’ is idiotic and counterproductive.

    Wake up.

    These cuts are being greeted with utter despair by a huge number Liberal Democrats who think the poor and vulnerable should be protected not attacked.

  • Tony Dawson,

    I hope your comment isn’t directed at me. Because if it is, I will have to enlighten you. I joined the SDP in 1982 and was a founder member of the Liberal Democrats. I have always been on the centre-left of politics, as have most of the people with whom I have worked in this and its predecessor party. I came into politics to oppose the Tories, not prop them up. I came into politics to lift the poor out of poverty, not to hammer them, denounce them as feckless scroungers and use them as scapegoats. Clegg is contemptible. Is there a single positive thing one can say about the man? He suborned gullible members into electing him leader, despite the warnings from seasoned activists that he was a right-wing lightweight with a thin CV. He fought a general election on a platform which he now says is a load of rubbish, and changed his tune on the key economic issues within hours of polling day. He claims to be a Liberal, but he is happy to promote right-wing Tory policies and carouse with the likes of Cameron, Osborne, Liam Fox and Iain Duncan Smith. Chris Huhne was so right to call him CALAMITY CLEGG.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 11:04pm

    “Yes, we have heard your dire predictions, and those of the IFS. Now let us see what transpires.”

    Is that it? (That and the usual drivel about anyone who is unhappy about what is happening being a “Labour troll,” of course.)

    Is that the best anyone can come up with in defence of this appallingly regressive programme? Isn’t anyone even going to try to justify the way the burden of the cuts has been distributed?

  • Mike(The Labour one) 21st Oct '10 - 11:06pm

    @Tony Dawson: Can you provide a link showing they deliberately increased the gap between the richest and the poorest? ‘Deliberately’ is quite an accusation, especially when the IFS has pointed to Labour’s measures- the minimum wage, tax credits, investment in chronically underfunded public services etc- as the reason that rising inequality slowed down under Labour.

    Don’t get me wrong, slowing it down is nowhere near as good as narrowing it, and there are many areas where Labour should have done better. But rising inequality is sadly a fact of the economy we have, and the government can only do so much to offset globalised capitalism without getting too radical for the newspapers to allow them to win. And the difference between the Labour party and the coalition is the difference between day and night, despite Labour’s failures.

    I have a suspicion that your suspicion will be wrong, being based on nothing logical. The budget and the CSR are both regressive, regardless of Clegg’s inarticulate badmouthing of the IFS the Treasury’s own figures show the CSR to be regressive, and that’s after a lot of fiddling the real numbers. Not to mention the marketisation of key functions of the NHS and schooling that will have damaging consequences on inequality for years to come.

  • @ Tony Dawson

    If you believe that people criticising are simply Labour trolls you have not been talking to Lib Dem colleagues recently. There is growing dismay.

  • I would have thought the Party could reasonably say that the debt had to be tackled and those MPs who are ministers in the coalition have done the best they could to protect the poor and vulnerable. However, the intense scrutiny which has occurred since the cuts were announced has shown that these groups have not been given sufficient protection and the Party will now be working to achieve improvements. These cuts are not set in stone.

  • This letter uses language techniques similiar to those employed by the Conservatives in their election campaign.

    When we came into office, we inherited an economy that was on the brink.

    On the brink of what? It’s better for the speaker or writer not be specific – just suggestive.

    “With the largest budget deficit in Europe and no plan for tackling it, Britain faced huge economic risks.”

    Largest deficit in Europe! Not true – unless Alexander has a different definition of Europe.

    UK economic policy tends to lean more towards USA – the admirable model for Conservatives. Conveniently he doesn’t compare to USA whose deficit is worse. We wouldn’t be in this mess if we hadn’t de-mutualised building societies, deserted manufacturing businesses in the 80s and grown more dependant on the banking sector – just like USA. (New financial services were the future; manufacturing and industry not important to Reagan and Thatcher)

    Who had no plan for tackling it? The Lib Dems had a plan, the Green Party had a plan, Labour had a plan, the Conservatives had a plan – though they were the least willing to share it during campaigning.

    “And while the scale and pace of the action we need to take is unavoidable we can choose how we do it.”

    Both the scale and the pace are avoidable. You choose the how,the scale and pace.

    And so it continues…

  • Mike(The Labour one) 21st Oct '10 - 11:26pm

    That comment about the pace being unavoidable was a funny one, considering Chris Huhne said a week or so ago, possibly a couple of weeks, that the government would be willing to slow down if necessary. And then our beloved Chancellor made it clear that wasn’t on the table.

  • IFS review of the Spending Review!


  • Danny,you are Nick have taken your party back to a 1997 level of support so i suggest some humble flavoured pie is in order if you want to have any chance of getting a yes vote in the AV ref next year as that was supposed to be the liberal democrat raison detre.Never in the field of liberal politics was so much damage done by so few to so many.

  • The problem now for the party is it is in danger of dropping into single figures in the next few months – in fact YG have shown it at 10-11% for a few months now. It is down to the core vote.

    In order to increase that the party will need to attract ex-centre left voters such as me or centre-right voters. It looks like the latter strategy may not work too well as the Tories have this area well and truly tied up. The former is just not feasible under Clegg’s leadership – in principle I am still well-disposed to those LD activists (and one sadly ex-MP) I know but there needs to a complete change of direction and Clegg can no longer reach out to that demographic.

    We need the Lib Dems to be a liberal centre-left party to challenge the statism of Labour and try to deliver PR – I think the biggest mistake during the Coalition agreement (although clearly outdone by the errors since) was that a properly proportional system was not added to the referendum, although to be honest the referendum will be lost unless something dramatic happens

    Please please do the right thing and find a way to restore the identity of the party so those of us who can never vote Tory and have been let down by Labour still have somewhere to go. Time is running short

  • Danny Alexander is a bit of legend really. Thurst into a position of power because of
    A) A very wierd election result
    B) David Law being found as a “benefits cheat”

    He worked with George Osbourne who has a completely different ideology to him on some of the toughest decisions that a politician has ever made..

  • It is interesting how politicians go on about tough decisions (similar to senior managers in companies). All that Osborne and his pals did was write some numbers down on bits of paper and then say ‘we have taken the difficult decisions’ – in the end though how difficult is it? Most of these guys are independently rich and will already be guaranteed a few lucrative city posts once it all goes pear shaped. It is a no risk gain for them as individuals

    The people who have the difficult decisions to make are the individual managers who have to sit down and tell people that they no longer have a job, or the person who has to tell somebody that they are no longer entitled to benefit. They are the ones who have the difficult jobs to do, some of them having to do it with the threat of redundancy hanging over them.

  • @bazsc ..the trouble is that calamity clegg has already said this month that the liberal democrats is not a place for center left politics so all those who don’t come over to labour are basically left in limbo which i find very sad indeed

  • Given this depressing talk of the LD vote share going through the floor it continues to be interesting to note the strong LD performance in Council by-elections as distinct from opinion polls.

    Tonight in my constituency – Mole Valley in Surrey – we gained a seat from the Tories and in doing so replaced them as the biggest single Party on Mole Valley District Council. Not only is MV one of the safest Tory seats in the country at Westminster level, but also we could not have done this without very largely retaining the votes of Labour supporters (no Labour candidate – just Green and UKIP as well as Tory and LD) in the immediate wake of the CSR.

    Not exactly the nation-wide breakthrough we crave but hardly indicative of the utterly defeatist talk in this and other LDV threads right now.

  • Philip Rolle 22nd Oct '10 - 1:00am

    Whatever happened to simply raising income tax?

    The poor have become a target because of political expediency – and that is what is so hard to take from a leader who said “we’re different!”

    I was a Lib Dem from when I first voted, in 1983, to 2005. I left the party because I could not stomach the opportunism of Charles Kennedy welcoming Stalinist left wingers to the part following the Iraq war. In principle, I am an economic liberal and a libertarian. I support a smaller state. But it is possible to reduce the size and cost of the state without attacking the vulnerable. By not finding a way of doing that, leading Lib Dem politicians have let the country down very badly.

    Alexander, I’m afraid, has allowed himself to be influenced by others – probably because of a lack of ability. In truth, we need Laws back as Chief Secretary. But the die may already be cast.

  • Labour have no plan to tackle the deficit, not even reducing it by 50% in 5 years as they claimed they would. Both Ed Miliband and Alan Johnson have refused to say what taxes they would have raised or what cuts they do agree with and which they disagree with. It all too easy to oppose cuts but if they are to have any credibility they need to say what they would have cut and what if any tax rises they would have made.

    The coalition has raised CGT (not as much as I would have liked but still), removed tax relief on high pension contributions, removed child benefit for higher tax rate payers, introduced a bank levy (again lower than I would have liked). Yes it has also made some drastic and painful cuts and these cuts will by definition affect those on lower incomes who use state funded services much more but given its a Tory majority in the coalition I think its actually surprising how much we have managed to hit the rich. If it was just the Tories in Government there is no way CGT would have gone up, I doubt the pension tax relief would have been changed, they would probably have actually tried to go for the inheritance tax rise (or at least hoped to introduce it ASAP) basically the Tories governing alone would have clobbered the poorer even harder and left the richer alone as much as possible.

  • @tony dawson – you are so right about labour , and the many trolls who infest LDV pretending to be former Lib Dems.
    Labour was very happy to develop a sub class of people spending their whole lives on benefits, having parts of the country where there is no experience of going to work because they thought it would mean they would always vote labour.
    And it was a pretty successful tactic , the next stage is that anyone who tries to change that can be criticized for attacking the poor.
    Happily though there is no evidence that this is unpopular with the wider electorate as reforms to welfare seem to be one of the more popular aspects of the cuts.

  • vince thurnell 22nd Oct '10 - 6:52am

    SMcG, You’re right there is no evidence that the electorate on the whole is unhappy with the changes but there appears to be plenty of evidence that Lib Dem voters are not happy with your performance since entering the coalition but hey if you keep telling yourself everythings is ok and the Lib Dem vote isnt in meltdown you never know it might just come true,

  • I am not a Labour troll, I did (I promise) vote Liberal Democrat at the last election. I will not (I also promise) I will never vote LibDem again. The reasons: everything I voted for has been reversed. Clegg, Alexander, Hughes and the rest are duplicitous, self-interested, dodgy politicians. As unlike the wonderful Jo Grimond as is possible. This is a LibDem-Tory attack on the poor, and this government is Tory, in which the LibDems have taken a few jobs. If it makes you feel better to dismiss me as a Labour troll – go ahead.

  • ……….But Mr Clegg told the Guardian newspaper that the IFS’s definition of fairness was “complete nonsense”.
    He said it took account only of tax and welfare and ignored factors like access to public services and social mobility……………….

    Is this really the argument being put forward? Could someone step forward and explain what these words mean? Because if I reading this correctly the leader of the Liberal Democrats is arguing that the IFS’ calculation must be wrong because it doesnt take account of

    a. Access to public services…. what does that mean??? Perhaps the services that councils will be forced to cut back over the next five years and

    b. Social mobility…. perhaps he has in mind the soical mobility of getting private tenants to move to poorer areas. Or perhaps the ‘social mobility’ that 1 on 10 local authority workers will be experiencing

    This sort of guff exposes all the weasal words we have been hearing about the Liberal Democrats being there to temper the Conservatives approach.

  • SMcG

    Interesting that you call people on here ‘Labour Trolls’. I imagine you include me in that number. Fine.

    If the support for the Tories and comments from your leader discourage any left of centre voter (a lot ex labour) from voting for the LD can you tell me how you are going to get your vote above 10%

  • This is the party that promised (or was it pledged oh I forget…) to not spin the great British public any more. How quickly those promises have faded. Anyone with the slightest doubt about that should listen to Danny Alexander on Newsnight and in particular the bit about the pupil premium – and notice just how quickly he tried to get off the subject when he was challenged about whether it was extra money.


    The facts are stacking up every day now. So out of the three things in his e-mail

    We have spread the burden fairly – challenged completely by the IFS report

    We have promoted future fairness through a £7 billion ‘fairness premium’ – One accepted meaning of premium…. A sum of money or bonus paid in addition to a regular price, salary, or other amount. But its not – its been included in the overall budgets

    We have promoted future growth – but how? Buy sucking money out of the economy? – by crossing your fingers and hoping the private sector provides? There is no historical precedent for the sort of private sector job creation that is being implied here.

  • Denis I will just check, but your Mole Valley election seems to be much against trend last might, where I am afraid Lib Dems didn’t do well. We lost at least 2 other byelections on big swings.

    Philip Rolle – you seem an unusual sort of economic liberal – pushing for a rise in income tax. I fully agree with that prescription, and had we restored Income Tax just to where it was in 1997, or a little bit higher we could have dealt with this problem / issue over a longer timescale. We have become so wedded to reducing and marginalising income tax it is completely barmy. Who are these “Stalinists” you speak of? Brian Sedgemore? I think you exaggerate. And what’s wrong with having left radicals in the party – they have always been present and active in my time in the party (since 1965). Since NC made it almost a crime to have leftish views it has made it very difficult for him and the coalition. Bearing in mind that many key activists and many tactical voters think that way.

    So, Tony Dawson – are you just on here as a wind-up, or an apologist – or do you seriously believe that everyone here who disagrees with the way the budget, spending review has been handled is a “Labour troll”? It’s good fun trying to wind people up on forums, but it is even more important to share ideas about problems and potential solutions.

  • The extent to which people like Tony Dawson and SMcG are desperately clinging to their ‘Labour troll’ comfort blanket is quite frankly embarrassing. Clearly supporters of the Labour Party are here, as are supporters of other parties and none – why not, it’s an open forum. But to dismiss any deviation from ‘the Coalition is great, everything’s coming up roses’ as motivated by simple tribalism is ridiculous. Some of the most trenchant criticism of the Lib Dem leadership I’ve seen on LDV has come from Sesenco, who in no way appears to be a friend of the Labour Party (far from it!).

    You both need to remove your blinkers.

  • Can people not see the correlation between the fact that the 24% share of the vote in the election has dropped to a current 10~11% suppport, and that there are now a lot of ‘ex-Lib Dems’ hanging around here?

    The lost half of our support hasn’t just disappeared into the ether – they’re now very angry and very loud about it.

  • Nick Clegg used the IFS to backup his parties policies prior to the election at a speech to the royal college of nursing, when he liked what they said:

    “The Institute for Fiscal Studies this morning assessed the parties’ policies on the deficit and taxation. And concluded that the Liberal Democrats’ plan is the most credible – even if there’s still much more work to do, we have gone further in spelling out how to cut the deficit.”

    Now that he doesn’t like what they’re saying, he dismisses them, of course we’re not seeing a Lib Dem economic plan introduced but it again doesn’t help his cause when he’s criticising an organisation he was keen to cite prior to the election.

    George Osborne also waited for the IFS report after Alistair Darling’s budget, funny how they’re now being dismissed by the coalition.

  • Philip Rolle 22nd Oct '10 - 9:44am

    An income tax rise would not have been my choice; I would have stripped middle class benefits out completely and limited child benefit to the first child.

    But an income tax rise would have been preferable to unfair changes to ESA and to housing benefit. For example, a temporary intermediate rate band of 30% for those over £30k.

  • I’m afraid these guys just don’t understand the effect these cuts will have on the poorest in our Society. We have some of the worst Social Security payments in Europe, which are below the official poverty level, cutting benefits simply pushes the poorest over the edge. I am fearful that these cuts will increase social unrest and crime. In simple terms the poorest should not suffer any cuts at all and these proposals are simply evil.

  • MatT – You have summed up the situation perfectly. I’ve only been a Lib Dem voter for about 6 or 7 years having previously foolishly voed Labour. However I am now an exLabour and and exLibDem voter. Knowing my luck I’ll vote Green next time only to find out when in power they suddenly decided that this whole global warming thing is actually a load of nonsense and the country actually needs more coal fired power stations. I understand that as the junior partner in the coalition the LibDems are going to have less influence but what makes me angry is how Clegg and co seem so intune with what I thought was Tory policy (ie bashing the poor and disabled). Over half LibDem voters seem to share my concern, over half! There are now more exLibDem voters then LibDem voters. We are very angry and very loud. I suspect that most of us are only here in LDV because we voted LibDem so recently and need to vent. Dont worry most of the “Trolls” will be gone soon and I’m sure most of them will not vote LibDem again in the forseeable future.

  • @Sesenco

    “If the majority of seats are to be held, the party has to come out of the “coalition” and get rid of Clegg NOW. Hughes, Campbell, Kennedy and Farron must stop dithering and stick the knife into Clegg.”

    I certainly agree with you that Clegg should be dumped, and that you should leave the coalition, but as you are normally so scrupulous about emphasising the centrality of the rule of law in international relations I find your avocation of unilateral action which circumvents the normal democratic rules(laws) of your party somewhat paradoxical.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 22nd Oct '10 - 11:40am
  • @sesenco 10:57am

    Hear hear.

  • Too often counter argumens to the Lib Dem approach are shouted-down on LDV with “Tribal Tribal Tribal” language,

    For a neutral view, the New York Times has a frightening piece.


  • Tony Dawson 22nd Oct '10 - 4:15pm

    It is funny to be considered an ‘apologist’ for the Coalition when I am a known ‘coalasceptic’ who was once called a Marxist by David Owen. There are clearly trolls on here, including not very clever ones, as well as genuine concerned individuals. Since identities are concealed in the main, it is silly trying to label either sort of contributor.

    Personally, I would adopt a slightly more Keynsian approach to the deficit reduction and would support a slightly-higher attrition on both higher incomes and capital, especially land, than the government is presently doing.: I am already on record as a critic of several government policies but I am equally-sceptical about hyperbolic and hysterical critics, especially where they show any sympathy whatsoever for the present Labour crew and pretend that the overall approach of the government is not justified or that Labour would be fundamentally any different if in government. Labour have been a neo-conservative party for the past 15 years, steadily redistributing wealth away from the poorer to the richer and adopting a pilot fish approach to the sharks of the financial services industry and right wing US governments. Their rhetoric may change with the new leadership but the reality is unchanged. Britain (and much of western Europe) is in a serious mess economically, heading to a point of convergence with the economies of South Asia and South America: both with respect to the polarisation of incomes and wealth and the potential size of the ‘sump’ of unskilled and lowly/rarely-paid workers. A serious reality-check is necessary if we are to allow/afford a society which can in any way be dscribed as ‘liberal’ in future.

  • Tony Dawson 22nd Oct '10 - 4:32pm

    Mike (Labour) asked me how I could justify the stance that Labour’s steadfast presiding over a transfer of wealth from poor to rich in the UK was deliberate. Well, take this report commissioned by the Labour Government itself:


    The sustained rise in inequality over such a prolonged period is obviously (a) deliberate or (b) inadvertent. Given that the government has clear powers to re-distribute wealth through taxation and benefit changes, the only conclusions which can be drawn, over such a sustained period of one party being in office, are that the government made this redistribution deliberately or were totally incompetent. Despite my criticisms of Blair and Brown, I do not believe that they could have seen 13 years of adverse redistribution go by and not correct it if they had wished to. Deliberate it is, then.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 22nd Oct '10 - 5:24pm

    I think you overestimate the power the Labour party had in government- it could have redistributed but it wouldn’t have won elections. None of that justifies your accusation that they deliberately increased inequality, as if without them inequality would have remained static.

    Not so, inequality would have shot up far more than it did-


    ‘Labour’s tax and benefit increases prevent rapid rise in income inequality’

  • Mike(The Labour one) 22nd Oct '10 - 5:28pm

    By the way, that’s the pre-election IFS that Clegg and Osborne respected, not this new post-election IFS that does nothing but peddle ‘nonsense’.

    Labour had its faults and many of them- but like I said, it’s day and night between Labour and the coalition.

  • Does anyone remember NIck Clegg’s speech to the protesters “Power 2010” back in May when Liberal Democrats and Conservatives where in discussions and trying to form a Government?

    I do, He said

    “It’s in the interests of everybody in Britain for us to use this opportunity to usher in a new politics after the discredited politics of the past.”
    And he went on: “Take it from me, reforming politics is one of the reasons I went into politics.
    “I’ve campaigned for a better, more open, more transparent, new politics, every single day of this General Election campaign. I genuinely believe it is in the national interest”

    Can anyone honestly say they believe those sentiments any more?

  • Tony, I had no idea of your status (being told you were a Marxist by Dr Death!) I shall be more careful of what I accuse you of in future. Down here (SW) we are of course, not as anti Labour by tradition or by practice as further north. We have all been struck, of course, while NuLab has been around by how illiberal they have been. But I think that constant attacks on them and their economic legacy are not justified, and if you are the coalasceptic you say, then that sort of thing just encourages the right wing tendencies in our coalitionists.

  • @Mike (the labour one)
    Thanks for the link

    Krugman isn’t pulling many punches is he

  • MacK,

    Since when has it been against Liberal Democrat rules for senior colleagues to tell a leader that he no longer enjoys their support and has to go?

    Ah, I get it. Labour introduced elected mayors and imposed a rule that council leaders cannot be deposed during the lifetime of an administration, so you are merely defending your party’s support for elected dictatorship.

  • The Keynesian approach of Krugman has had echoes through the Obama Government’s approach. It was a strange time to decide to depart from the British Government’s “shoulder to shoulder” message of Blair et al!

    As we know, Osborne (and Alexander)’s cuts in the CSR have been widely described as a “huge gamble”, because they gamble on the fact that the overall economy can / is in a position to turn upwards. Big business (in the shape of the CBI) has relentlessly spun in the last few days that this is the right approach, they can do it etc. However, small business (FSB etc) have been a lot more cautious. And they would not hesitate to take the more “right wing” line if possible – they usually do! So I think we can see that there is every reason to be cautious about how much demand we take out of the economy at present (either by cuts and rumours of cuts, or by increased taxes). We should be saying that this is much more important than excuses about “we can’t put it off, the markets will kill us”etc.

    The second argument, of course, is about how it should be done – the balance of tax and cuts. Now, personally, I am not so opposed to the ideas behind IDS’s universal credit etc to try to reduce long term unemployment and deprived places – and we are quite right to blame Labour for not taking more constructive action in this area. But it is clear that if we genuinely wish to share the cost across people of different income groups, then income tax or similar is a sensible way forward. I do agree with previous poster that ways need to be found of taxing wealth also. But unless an agreement is come to that the economic approach of Thatcher was wrong, and we are setting out on a path of righting those long term wrongs, we will only intensify the long term damage. Lib Dems always supported income tax as a mechanism – unfortunately our Orange Bookers seem to have supported the Thatcherite consensus on this, as did NuLab. Until we get off that particular hook, we will get nowhere, and I fear we will be seen, as many others here have said, as Tory adjuncts.

  • Little is being said of the pension age increase in the spending review. This is going to hit women hard, extra years to try and fund with little prospect of employment and welfare being cut. It is going to increase poverty amongst this group vastly. How does Alexander think this fair?

  • @ Sesenco
    I was simply expressing my approval of your conversion to unilateral action. But do urge your colleagues to get on with it and remove Clegg and leave the coalition which is damaging both to the Lib Dems and the country as soon as you can.

  • Tony Dawson 23rd Oct '10 - 2:00pm

    “it’s day and night between Labour and the coalition.”

    It’s day and night between Labour and anything like the truth. Nothing Labour says at the moment is worth a peanut because they present no semblence of their own preferred cuts regime. Criticism without a substitute programme smacks of the old SWP. If Labour said they were going to the pub, I’d hunt for them in the bath or the library.

    I have never rated the IFS. A sort of oxbridge Mystic Meg. Wtf pays for them? Seems like a cut worth pursuing.

  • Tony Dawson 23rd Oct '10 - 2:02pm

    I agree with Tim13.

  • @Tony Dawson

    “I have never rated the IFS. A sort of oxbridge Mystic Meg. Wtf pays for them? Seems like a cut worth pursuing.”

    All the Orange and Blue Tories rated the IFS when it was slagging off Gordon Brown. Now it’s slagging you off you don’t like it and want to cut it. Very democratic!

  • @oranjepan: “There is absolute consensus that the impact of tax spending is progressive and disproportionately enjoyed by lower-income households”.

    As you say, tax spending and tax revenue are progressive in nature as they redistibute to lower income households. However, if you disproportionally cut welfare, the proportion is reduced.

    While still progressive in nature, it is less so as a result of the spending review. In itself therefore it is REGRESSIVE.

    In the 80s, the Tories cut income tax rates and increased indirect tax. While the tax system as a whole remained progressive, it was less so than before. The measures therefore were REGRESSIVE.

    You, and Nick, can play with terminology as much as you like, but REAL people are going to suffer. And I for one am ashamed.

  • Sorry I should have been clearer. I did read the second half and Clegg’s talking nonense was my point. It goes without saying that the overall tax spending regime is progressive in nature.

    However, if measures are introduced that alter the proportions so that spending is still progressive overall but less so than before, then those measures are regressive.

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