Ian Swales MP writes: 12 CUTS Labour don’t talk about

The Labour party think they can win the economic argument by just wailing about cuts on behalf of their public sector union paymasters. They give no credible alternatives for what they would do about Britain’s economic crisis.

What they also like to ignore is some of the changes that are being made towards making this country fairer. Here is a list of cuts WE should be talking about because they are mostly happening through Lib Dem action and pressure.

  • The CUT from £250,000 to £50,000 in the maximum annual pension contribution to receive tax relief – clawing back a staggering £4,000,000,000 (£4bn) that Labour was giving to the rich.
  • The CUT in bank profits with a new tax raising £2.5 bn a year.
  • The CUT in regional disparity through the £2.4 bn regional growth fund.
  • The CUT in tax paid by ordinary people with the basic tax threshold raised to £8,105 by next April from £6,475 in 2010/11 – and no more 10p tax rate fiascos.
  • The CUT in the 40% tax threshold meaning the better off pay more.
  • The CUT in money that Labour allowed people to make in Capital Gains with the tax rate rising from 18% to 28%.
  • The CUT in pensioner poverty with a triple lock guarantee of rises and the biggest ever cash rise coming in April 2012. No more 75p-per-week insults.
  • The CUT in the gap between rich and poor through the VAT rise. Remember those who spend most pay most and the basic costs of living don’t have standard rate VAT.
  • The CUT in benefit fraud with new resources being brought in.
  • The CUT in tax evasion by the rich with £900m of extra resource.
  • The CUT in education disadvantage for poorer children through the Pupil Premium.
  • The CUT in the amount per month students will have to pay back after graduation and a higher threshold before they start paying anything.

Remember, Labour didn’t deliver these changes in their 13 years of government and voted AGAINST them in this government. Lib Dems in parliament are pushing a fairness agenda and showing that Labour can never again be trusted with the economy. If you have Labour Councils you can probably see the same incompetence and wrong choices in your area too. It’s time to go out and tell the public.

By the way, just for good measure we also CUT Tory plans to increase the Inheritance
Tax threshold from £350,000 to £1,000,000!

Ian Swales is MP for Redcar

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  • A brilliant and very useful article.

  • Daniel Henry 30th Dec '11 - 12:49pm

    I decided to CUT and paste this on to Facebook. Nice list. 🙂

  • Joe Anderson 30th Dec '11 - 12:52pm


    As one of your constituents, I feel you are one of the most disappointing people to have emerged out of the General Election.

    With the huge swing you achieved following the backlash against Vera Baird, you would have thought Redcar would have ended up with an MP who is independently-minded and willing to stand up for the area: instead, we have ended up with a puppet for David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

    Comments like “the Labour party think they can win the economic argument by just wailing about cuts on behalf of their public sector union paymasters” render you indistinguishable from any Tory, as well as being so ridiculously ill-informed that it is beyond parody (you know full well the positive difference unions can make, just by looking at what they did to save the steelworks).

    If you still reckon VAT is a progressive tax rise, I think you would be well-advised to go on the doorstep in Grangetown or South Bank–I’m pretty sure the people there, like in Marske or anywhere else in your seat, are feeling the negative effect of the rise. Hywel Williams is right to call you “bananas” for this view; a former fat cat like you mightn’t feel the pinch, but, trust me, people in Grangetown, Newcomen, South Bank and Dormanstown are.

    The Pupil Premium is funded through cuts elsewhere to education–it’s barely an achievement.

    As for regional disparity, the RGF is barely as effective as the RDA your Government scrapped. When Newsnight says your constituency is the one hardest hit by cuts, a strong MP would stand up for this area and question whether the Government’s policies are working, instead, you continue your slavish obedience to your party’s out-of-touch line.

    As for tuition fees… you really want it both ways. You vote against the Government’s tuition fee policy (quite rightly), yet say it’s fairer… it really doesn’t make sense.

    Yours sincerely,

    A disappointed constituent

  • Andrew Waller 30th Dec '11 - 1:26pm

    Good to have all of this compiled in one list, great for campaigning ! No wonder Labour are upset.

  • `If you still reckon VAT is a progressive tax rise, I think you would be well-advised to go on the doorstep in Grangetown or South Bank–I’m pretty sure the people there, like in Marske or anywhere else in your seat, are feeling the negative effect of the rise. Hywel Williams is right to call you “bananas” for this view; a former fat cat like you mightn’t feel the pinch, but, trust me, people in Grangetown, Newcomen, South Bank and Dormanstown are.`

    Love that talking point – who taught you it?

    Can i use it myself?

    `If you still reckon tax reductions for the lowest paid (would Labour reinstate the old threshold or keep the new?) I think you’d be well -advised to go on the doorstep on (insert areas that match the criteria here) are feeling the positive effect of the rise.`

    Let’s face it – Labour have lost any chance of gaining the top table for a generation as they fail to understand politics as normal – people don’t actually want to love governments (grudgingly respect is about as far as it goes) but to trust them to do the right things and not the easy ones. Until Labour can come up with a plausible fully costed plan no one will take them seriously. Unfortunately for them that time may have gone. By not giving a full response to the 2010 csr many now assume that their default position is to sit on the sidelines hurling rocks rather than getting down and dirty with adult politics.

    How’s it going with Mr Miliband?

  • Labour want to borrow 12 bn for their VAT give away. The biggest winners would be pop stars, premiership footballers and bankers. Remember that on the doorstep.

  • Simon Bamonte 30th Dec '11 - 3:03pm

    The problem with VAT is that it is another thing we’ve changed our stance on to please the Tories and the almighty markets. We were against VAT increases before the coalition. We called them “regressive”. Any rise in VAT was going to be a “bombshell” and would “hit the poorest hardest”. Not my words, but the words of many Lib Dems in the 2010 election. As soon as we joined the coalition, however, we suddenly decided we were “for” a VAT rise and that higher VAT is now “progressive” instead of fighting our corner tooth and nail.

    It’s just another issue where we look like we’ve changed our opinion to please the Tories and the markets for political expediency rather than fight our corner. It’s such a shame so many top LDs don’t realise we hold the power in this coalition: without us, the Tories cannot govern.

  • Grammar Police 30th Dec '11 - 5:58pm

    @ Liam Burns

    “Most students will now pay significantly more for their degree until they reach the 30 year cut off period.

    I would expect a little more care to be taken by the president of the NUS in wording sentences like this. It could be read as implying that graduates will be worse off each month than at present, which is simply not the case. It is true that high earning graduates will go on to pay more for their degrees *in total* than currently, whereas those who go on to be low/middle income earners will pay less. That sounds progressive to me, and would broadly have the same effect as a strict “graduate tax”, or indeed an increase in general taxation.

    “we know that what the headline fee is could bear no resemblance to what is actually paid back.”

    Yes, and this can work in students’ favours. I agree that “fee waivers” are merely a subsidy to well-off students or those who go on to be well-off graduates. Rather like Martin Lewis has been doing, I expect the NUS to be making much more of an effort to explain the new system. You talk about the debt adverse, but where is the campaign to help such students realise that they don’t need £27K up front even to go to uni?

    “This will mean less disposable income throughout the majority of their working lives. ”

    Most low and middle earners wouldn’t pay off anything like what they “borrowed” under either the new or old tuition fee and maintenance loan schemes. The new scheme lasts for only 5 years longer and yet the monthly repayments are heavily reduced for such earners because of the increased repayment threshold (and the fact that this threshold will rise each year, whereas the existing threshold of £15K has stayed the same since it was introduced in 1998). On that basis, most students will actually find that they have a higher disposable income “throughout the majority of their working lives” compared with the old scheme – this is especially the case at the start of their working lives.

    I won’t pretend that what the Coalition is done is exactly what I wanted (and I was in the first year to pay tuition fees – then an up-front payment of £1000) but I’m pretty depressed that just as in 1997/1998 when the NUS was selling students down the river, you’re seemingly doing the same now. I must admit, I probably trust you only a little more than I could throw you – as you’re a Labour party member – but come on Liam, you support a graduate tax (apparently) and that’s what we’ve now got. Get out there and help to educate people about the real issues – like the problems you highlight with the Scholarship scheme.

  • Simon Bamonte 30th Dec '11 - 6:08pm

    @Simon Shaw: Just before the 2010 General Election Vince Cable was specifically asked by the BBC ” Would you rule out raising VAT?” and his answer was “No, I don’t.”

    Let’s get our recollections correct here.

    Yes, let us get our recollections correct here, Simon: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/6/22/1277220323681/Liberal-Democrat-VAT-post-006.jpg

    That’s where I got the idea Lib Dems were against VAT increases. So which were we supposed to believe before we cast our votes? Vince’s admission VAT might go up on the TV (which had a limited audience), or a big advertisement warning the public not to vote Tory as they will raise VAT (which was everywhere in the 2010 election)?

    This is just another example of us being against something before we were for it. It just makes us look, again, like we’re trying to be all things to all people and, frankly, opportunists like most Tory/Labour MPs.

  • david thorpe 30th Dec '11 - 7:11pm

    @ joe anderson,
    thew lib dems were part;y sounded by people who resented how much power the unions had in sewtting labour party policy, so what on earth made you think the Lib Dems would decide to endorse the unions having that power.

    The Lib Dems aree not anti-Union, but are anti Unions having unnacountavble amounts of power to impact on all of society, and thayts what we have always stood for.

    This is a great piece by Ian and we should have more like it from more Mps

  • david thorpe 30th Dec '11 - 7:15pm

    @ simon

    The VAT ad mwhich was run before the GE was run to highl;ight the fact that Tory plans had a whole in them, they couldnt be funded without an increase in VAT, but the Tories were not declaring that.
    The Lib Dems didnt rule it out because we didnt know if our plans because we didnt know if our plans would be affordable without raising VAT

    On the subject of University Fees,
    Ian could have added

    The Lib Dems have cut the cost of poorer students going to University, acdcording to the NUS who describe the Coalitions plans as more ‘progressive’ than the previou system

  • JustAnotherVoter 30th Dec '11 - 8:02pm

    I am always disappointed to see liberals glowingly embrace restriction of tax relief on pension contributions. The idea that Labour was “giving” £4bn a year to “the rich” is a meme I find disturbing. That the government allows people to keep their own income without facing tax, invest it, and consume it later (after being taxed), is an idea which should be applauded and encouraged.

    Pension saving is merely a way to defer consumption, not a way to avoid tax for the ultra-rich. Saving and investment is vital to the long-term healthy of our economy and the prosperity of our nation. The Chinese (a nation of extreme savers) will look on and laugh as we brutally destroy our long-term growth prospects in a populist attack on “the rich”, a.k.a, those who save and invest.

    Regardless. The lifetime allowance makes pensions mostly useless as a means of tax avoidance for the ultra-rich; tweaking the annual allowance is merely populism.

  • Tony Dawson 30th Dec '11 - 8:45pm

    @Simon Bamonte:

    ” We were against VAT increases before the coalition. We called them “regressive”. Any rise in VAT was going to be a “bombshell” and would “hit the poorest hardest”.

    The problem is, there are effectively two taxes called VAT. The Tories before the election were clearly threatening to hike the lower rate of VAT as well as the upper rate. That would definitely have been regressive, since it includes Gas & Electric.

  • Tony Dawson 30th Dec '11 - 8:50pm


    “I’m still waiting for the day the NUS admits that the governments scheme actually charges graduates less a year than the NUS preferred graduate tax.”

    Of course Ian Swales was quite right to vote against the new scheme, even though it was fairer to the less well off. He was right to vote against it because he had promised to vote against any monstrous increase in fees. If what we had brought in had been tweaked a bit and called a graduate tax, he could have voted for it. But it wasn’t so he couldn’t. That was Vince Cable’s error, not Ian’s.

  • Richard Swales 30th Dec '11 - 10:31pm

    @ Joe Anderson “When Newsnight says your constituency is the one hardest hit by cuts, a strong MP would stand up for this area and question whether the Government’s policies are working, instead, you continue your slavish obedience to your party’s out-of-touch line. ”

    (Newsnight had a map of areas most and least affected by cuts, you can find it on youtube). The thing is, if you cut slower now as Labour seem to want to, you have to cut deeper and longer later to catch up (and to pay the higher interest rates you incur), and the map of places most affected by those deeper, later, cuts is going to be exactly the same – so don’t turn the timing of cuts into a regional issue.

    The VAT rise came in at the same time as a 4 pound per week cut in income tax, to lose 4 pounds per week on standard rate VAT, you need to spend 160 pounds or more every week, week-in week-out on:
    – Gas
    – Electricity
    – Rent
    – Food (at least most of it)
    – Public transport
    – Council Tax
    – Childrens’ clothing

    There are a few people in those parts of Redcar who can spend more than 160 pounds per week on other things (it isn’t the kind of town where people automatically move to a different suburb as soon as they get money), but they can’t be described as people on low-incomes.

    – another constituent, about as unbiased as Joe Anderson.

  • Tony Greaves 30th Dec '11 - 10:56pm

    This is an excellent list – if only the Liberal Democrats who inhabit the so-called “campaigns department”, and others employed at national level in some numbers to promote the party and provide material for local camapigners, would attend to such matters. (What they do is a mystery to me).

    I have two quibbles. I do not agree with the increase in VAT. To suggest it is helpful to people on low incomes is nonsense. Second, the idea that throwing resources at cutting benefit fraud (in general) is helpful is also damaging – the net effect is to reduce the number of people who claim benefits they are entitled to. In my view there should be a rule that for every pound spent on attacking the chimera of fraud there should be two pounds spent on efforts to increase uptake.

    It would also be helpful if the party could set out clearly the matters (such as some of the awful cuts that are taking place in benefits for the poorest) that we have had to accept because we are in coalition with the Tories, and pledge ourselves to reverse them as soon as politically practicable. But I don’t live in any expectations.

    Tony Greaves

  • Andrew Suffield 30th Dec '11 - 11:21pm

    You vote against the Government’s tuition fee policy (quite rightly), yet say it’s fairer… it really doesn’t make sense.

    Allow me to de-confuse you – I realise that a mere officer of a Labour local party might not be fully familiar with the way legislation is enacted in Parliament.

    There were many changes made to the tuition fee policy. Ian voted against the government on two specific motions regarding the increase in the fee cap:


    In this post, he indicates his support for “The CUT in the amount per month students will have to pay back after graduation and a higher threshold before they start paying anything” – two different changes that happened at around the same time. So far as I can tell, he has never voted against these changes.

    I know it’s complicated for a politician to understand, particularly in the Labour party, but it is actually possible to agree with some of the changes made to a particular thing and disagree with others. Some people do legitimately hold beliefs more subtle than agreeing with all things one person says and disagreeing with all things another person says.

  • Tony. I agree that VAT rise was difficult but my point is that IF we were to borrow 12 bn there are far better ways of helping the less well off. Cutting VAT, by definition, gives most cash back to those who spend most on Standard Rate items. eg 4,000 off a top Ferrari.

  • One item on Ian Swales’s list is: “The CUT in regional disparity through the £2.4 bn regional growth fund.”

    Ian, whilst RGF funding is welcome, it in no way equals the amounts that have been cut from the regions through the loss of the Regional Development Agencies.

    Secondly, you may have seen the recent IPPR report (publicised extensively in the North-East regional press) reviewing the government’s recent infrastructure spending announcements and finding that the main benefit will be in London and the South-East. To quote from the Northern Echo headline: “South allocated £2,731 a head to improve transport…North-East: £5.” Nick Clegg may talk about “rebalancing the economy” but the actual balance of spending massively favours the wealthiest regions (maybe because that’s where most of the Conservative votes are found!)

  • Tony Dawson 31st Dec '11 - 3:08pm

    @Simon Shaw:

    “it might appear to some that one of our more distinguished parliamentarians is claiming that there is no such thing as benefit fraud. ”

    Not only is there benefit fraud,there is also substantial overpayment to people not eligible for the benefits concerned, claimed quite ignorantly and honestly. This is largely the fault of the same people who make substantial underpayments to other, totally legitimate claimants. ATOS figure heavily in theses matters, but the DWP/JobCentre system is not free from blame. One can only hope the universal (ie simpler, presumably) Benefit/Tax Credit system comes in soon and makes it easier for the staff concerned to do their jobs better.

  • Tony Dawson 31st Dec '11 - 4:23pm

    @Mark Pack:

    “it seems to me quite reasonable to point out how much attention fraud gets compared to administrative blunders”

    I think that is true, although fraud involves deliberate criminal intent so one might suggest that it is reasonable for people to be more concerned about it than about ‘errors’.

    With regard to administrative blunders, it is unfortunate that these can include some by the various Ombudsmen services (NHS, Parliamentary, Financial,Local Government etc.) Not to mention the utilities and the large banks. I have just won back several thousands of pounds for a woman whose bank decided to pay her ex husband his share of the matrimonial home twice, 20 years apart, deducting the second payment from her sale of the house. Not that they have claimed the money back off him, of course. the other customers pay.

  • As a member of Public Accounts Committee I heard DWP say they thought that complexity of the system means 1bn pounds lost through administrative error is a reasonable level!

  • not seeing any cuts to the endless tax I pay – income, vat, NI, duty, tv tax, airfare, on my savings, council(thats greater than 50% of of my salary and I dont earn a huge amount) – simply to squander billions on the bloated public sector.
    not seeing any cuts in inflation as billions are printed in “quantitative easing” yet interest rates remain virtually zero so eroding my savings.
    not seeing cuts to the hoards of immigrants (except gurkhas, the one people we HAVE a duty to) that put pressure on infrastructure, benefits, housing and increases unemployment
    not seeing cuts to foreign aid to nations with nuclear weapons or a space program
    not seeing cuts to the endless cheap alcohol mps swill yet we’re going to be paying minimum prices to stop us enjoying cheap alcohol.
    no comment on those?

  • Alan Douglas 31st Dec '11 - 7:08pm

    My goodness, where would we be without the Lib Dems to enforce every single “caring” policy in the face of the wicked Tory side of the coalition !

    I am glad the LDs agreed to coalition, but this onesidedness is ridiculous ! Where WOULD we be without you ? Tail, dog, wag, rearrange ….

    Alan Douglas

  • Gerry Ramsden 31st Dec '11 - 7:35pm

    Maths not your strong subject then Ian, How a bout a cut in MP’s pensions in the same order of the public pensions CUT. The vat RISE DOES NOT cut the gap between rich and poor but merely results in poorer people paying more for essential goods like: power and services as a percentage of their income.

    As a member of the PAC i would have thought you should have at least a grasp of the basic mathematics that are used in government, Claiming a cut because you put more resources into something should be counted against the savings you make,

    Please feel free to comment

  • Richard Swales 1st Jan '12 - 10:26am

    @Joe Anderson I haven’t been on the doorstep in any of the listed places since the by-election in 2009, but I am sure that you got full opportunity to talk about the VAT rise on every doorstep at the 2011 all-up council elections, held 4 months after the VAT rise came in. Let’s see how effective that was:
    2007 (Dormanstown, Grangetown, Newcomen, South Bank only) Lab 8 councillors, Lib Dems 2 councillors.
    2011 (Dormanstown, Grangetown, Newcomen, South Bank only) Lab 6 councillors, Lib Dems 4 councillors.

    -which I think shows how angry ordinary people (i.e. the voters you think you own) are with being lied to by the Labour Party. Tell me Joe, do you personally, honestly believe, that when Ed Miliband (yes, he did it, not Gordon Brown) was writing the 2010 Labour manifesto:
    1) he simply forgot to rule out a VAT rise,
    2) he did actually type that he was ruling out a VAT rise but then there was a power cut and he hadn’t saved his work and it didn’t make it into the final manifesto for that reason.
    3) If Labour had won the election we would also have had a VAT rise by now?

    It’s true that people in the estates that you think you own don’t have as many economics degrees as people in Labour’s north London base, but they don’t need an economics degree to know that when Ed Miliband behaves like we can spend 4 pounds for every 3 pounds the government get in, and he gives the impression that he wouldn’t be increasing taxes or cutting spending himself then people know that they are being lied to, and they know that the Labour party holds them in enough contempt to think that this is something they can get away with.

  • The headline reads Libdem “cuts”. However, almost all the measures described are tax increases. Which decrease demand and production. Which in turn decrease tax revenue and increase the defecit. A spending cut requires reducing spending not taking more money from tax payer. We need economic growth if we are to recover.

  • Tony Dawson 1st Jan '12 - 2:31pm

    @Tony Dawson:

    “fraud involves deliberate criminal intent so one might suggest that it is reasonable for people to be more concerned about it than about ‘errors’.”

    This is the sort of case which,I’m afraid, will continue to enrage the British population, no matter how few and far between they might be.:


  • Phil Harris. 1st Jan '12 - 3:43pm

    Thanks for that list from a typical Lib Dem MP, I think it may prove very useful in our attack leaflets on those ex Lib Dem voters thinking of abstaining from voting again or switching allegience, as they betray what the lIb Dems really think are good points. You really are desperate if you think these will stand up to challenge.

    I really look forward to your party defending the privatisation of the state pension and the dismantling of the NHS which are to follow amidst the next tranche of tory-led policy.

    Yours a local Labour Party campaign co-ordinator.

    Phil Harris.

  • Richard Swales 2nd Jan '12 - 7:44am

    @Phil Harris
    That’s just another way of saying “We don’t have an explanation for why we made none of these reforms during our 13 years in power, but we hope to have one soon.”

  • DagenhamDave 2nd Jan '12 - 6:13pm

    Inheritance Tax is evil.

    It goes against humanity’s fundamental drive, and against billions of years of evolution – that parents naturally want to leave their offspring well-provided for. It legitimises theft by the state.

    I will have no truck with Liberals while they take this line.

  • Geoff Taylor 3rd Jan '12 - 5:46pm

    Richard Swales wrote:
    “The thing is, if you cut slower now as Labour seem to want to, you have to cut deeper and longer later to catch up (and to pay the higher interest rates you incur),” Wrong! Without growth, the deficit increases!
    While commending the LibDem achievements in Gov’t, I’m concerned that they failed in the most important of all decisions. The coalition agreement did, admittedly, say the Gov’t wd speed the cuts up (compared to Labour’s halving the deficit in one Parl’t). As an economist, I didn’t realise that the Gov’t intended the impossible, damaging & unnecessary task of abolishing the deficit in one Parl’t. The Attlee Gov’t inherited a war-created deficit many times larger % than today; they still re-built UK, created NHS, nationalised vital industries, etc.

  • Spirit of 56 4th Jan '12 - 11:27am

    Phil Harris thinks that this list will inspire us ex Lib Dem activists , members and voters to return to the fray. It won’t.
    I left the Lib Dems because I can not campaign for a Party that disregards the economic policy it stood on (and I supported)in an Election for a place in a Coalition Government implimenting the opposite policy. I accept that the Tories are allowing the Lib Dems a few titbits and things would be even worse if they were in Government on their own but that is not the point.

    There are several things which this Government is doing which are totally opposed to everything I joined the SDP and the Lib Dems to support:
    1. The basic economic strategy
    2. The belief that growth will happen due to the “miracle of the market” and not through any other than minimal government input
    3. Discarding the Keynesian, Beveridge economic settlement,
    4. Putting all the pain of the cuts onto the lower paid, VAT, reduction in working family tax credits etc. etc.. All analysis shows that the lower and middle earners are far worse off from this set of measures than higher earners. The millionaires in the cabinet don’t seem to understand that the impact of their changes is greater the less spare money you have and that percentages are meaningless, as a high income earner my lifestyle has mnot been affected at all and if we were all in this together it should have been. A temporary increase in income tax of 5p would reduce the deficit by £ 25 Billion and would be a progressive measure
    5. Trebling tuition fees against abolishing them
    6. The EU veto to achieve nothing except isolation
    7. The destruction of the principles behind the NHS i.e a NATIONAL health service.
    8. The divisive nature of “Free” schools and the increase of religous input into education
    9. The removal of EMA which is having an enormous impact on education opportunity, as my wife who works in Higher Education will testify

    I could go on, the fact is I am embarassed by the fact that I spent so many years campaigning for the Lib dems just to find out that they are a party of the establishment after all, when the chips are down they impliment Tory policies. I would be extremely embarassed if I was representing a deprived area like Redcar and would have resigned by now. Before I have to read a whole lot of nonsence about the Labour party I should point out I am no longer a member of any Party but will remain an anti Tory voter which now includes the Lib Dems

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