Keep the faith: Liberal Democrats are doing good things in Government, not that you’d know it from today’s headlines

Liberal Democrats have taken a pounding across the Labour supporting media over the past few days. Article after soundbite condemns the welfare reforms which come into effect from now. It’s been a clever, co-ordinated onslaught which seems aimed at demoralising Liberal Democrat members and activists rather than opposing the changes themselves. After all, I haven’t heard Ed Miliband promise to repeal any of them. And we have to remember that it was the Labour Government who introduced Local Housing Allowance – the Bedroom Tax of the private sector.

Where have the Liberal Democrat MPs and key figures been?

That Labour would use today to have a go at us was obvious, yet there seems to have been little attempt from the leadership to support grassroots activists and members who are out on the streets today, campaigning in the local elections. It’s not going to stop people campaigning but it’s fair to say that it makes people a bit more apprehensive. Where are our key cheerleaders like Tim Farron and Paddy Ashdown? Surely these popular figures should have been out there in the media making the case for what we are achieving in Government. Danny Alexander’s piece in the Sun, reported on here over the weekend, and Steve Webb’s Guardian video are crafted for the public, not the sensibilities of Liberal Democrat members, many of whom feel deeply uncomfortable with the measures. Where are the people talking about how we have held the Tories back from doing even worse. Remember if they’d had their way, Child Benefits would have been stopped after two children and under 25s would have lost their Housing Benefit. We need to make sure that we put out messages which resonate with our members and the people who voted for us in 2010.

The relative silence of our leaders and often indifference to members’ feelings is not helpful and contributes to the disconnect I talked about the other day in my Letter to the Leader. Those on the ground need both ammunition and moral support, which means that the leadership needs to be more sensitive to concerns.

A number of councillors have also told me that they feel that information on the welfare changes came too late to be of any use to them – they had already faced an onslaught in their Council chambers.

We can’t just lie down and wait for these co-ordinated media attacks to pass – we need to be out there asserting ourselves. Nobody else is going to do it for us. We should have had a series of press releases, interviews and tweets lined up in advance, especially as this is just a month ahead of a critical election.

There is good news to tell

There are many good things happening only because of our involvement in this Government. We have a lot to be proud of and we mustn’t lose sight of them in the darker days. Here are just a few:

  • the ending of child detention for immigration purposes;
  • shared parental leave, revolutionising the workplace and giving parents real choice;
  • extending talking therapies for mental health and including mental health in NHS mandate;
  • giving the biggest cash rise ever in the State Pension reforming the system to benefit many women;
  • the greatest transfer of powers to Scotland in 350 years, leading the way in building a consensus on further devolution and Mike Moore’s careful work on the referendum process;
  • giving extra money to disadvantaged children through the £2.5 billion pupil premium;
  • expanding nursery education for the 2 year olds who need it most;
  • the Green Investment Bank and support for renewables;
  • investment in rural broadband;
  • Nick Clegg’s £1 bn Youth Contract which is helping to get young people into work or training;
  • meeting our front page manifesto pledge of raising the tax threshold to £10,000.

There are more here.

All across the party, stalwart activists and councillors are getting on with it, doing what they always do, steadfast, conscientious community politics. Their job is harder because in many cases they’ve lost helpers and members. While there have been great steps forward in the quality of internal communications in recent years, and organisational changes at Liberal Democrat HQ have been implemented well, today shines a light on the gaps that remain.

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

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56 Comments

  • Andy Boddington 1st Apr '13 - 1:42pm

    I can do good works all my life, but if I mug a vulnerable person just once my reputation will be trashed. So it is with governments and politicians. Any good works this government may do will inevitably be overshadowed by the bedroom tax and a host of other things.

    The bedroom tax shows that the government is out of touch with the realities ordinary people face daily. It reveals that the coalition’s talk of supporting families and communities is no more than empty rhetoric.

    I support the Lib Dems values of fairness and freedom. But this indefensible tax blows any commitment to fairness out of the water.

  • Tony Dawson 1st Apr '13 - 2:18pm

    Faith?

    The Archbishop got it right. Put not your faith in mortals, especially religious and political leaders. Judge by evidence. The evidence regarding the competence and motivation of the government is mixed, to say the least.

    It is easy enough to point to the failings of the opposition. But oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them.

  • paul barker 1st Apr '13 - 2:21pm

    We have to remember that people vote very differently at General Elections, in fact millions will vote in 2015 for the first time since 2010. Our opinions on the importance of local & european elections are not shared by a big chunk of the electorate.
    Most Labour members seem to expect to win in 2015 & they are going to be bitterly dissapointed when their poll ratings fall in the run-up to the vote, they may well behave as they have in the past & blame each other & their leaders. If we can hold our nerve & avoid talking ourselves down we can win back the voters “lost” to Labour & take more. The Tories may have their own troubles with UKIP “splitting” the vote. ” 2015 could be our most momentous election since 1983, there is everything to play for.

  • Grammar police 1st Apr '13 - 2:38pm

    What exactly unfair about the ‘bedroom tax’?

    This so-called-tax actually has already existed for years in the case of those claiming housing benefit in the private rented sector – and in many places it’s actually bl**dy difficult to get social housing that’s got “spare” bedrooms (and I’ve personal experience of this). Indeed, when social housing is at such a premium, what exactly is unfair about saying, we’ll pay the rent for a two bedroomed property, as you need two bedrooms, but if you want a 3 bed property you have to make up the difference?

    The potential unfairness of course, is in the implementation: if people can’t move into suitable smaller properties; if proper systems are not set in place to support for those with disabled family members; and if people simply aren’t given enough time to adapt.

    However, too much of the criticism both from Labour, and indeed the Liberal Democrats, is that it should happen at all.

    This isn’t the most awful thing a Government has ever done – and we need to stop pretending it is; highlight the real criticisms and demand from our parliamentarians to know how they’re going to solve them. It would be lovely to see one of our MPs up there calling on local authorities to support more social housing, for example.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Apr '13 - 2:56pm

    “we have to remember that it was the Labour Government who introduced Local Housing Allowance – the Bedroom Tax of the private sector.”

    A fantastic argument that we need to make more of. We are suffering at the moment from a post Leveson bias in the press.

  • David Wilkinson 1st Apr '13 - 2:57pm

    Keep the faith?
    Clegg stopped keeping the faith with members some ago and now its a case of trick he pull today on the party.
    Why Farron and Ashdown silence? would you support the stupid comments of Danny Alexander, a person who shows he knows nothing about housing and community issues.
    The point about Labour and LHA in the private sector, everyone knows that sector is a complete mess where profit comes 1st, 2nd and 3rd do we really want to inflict that on our social housing estates, what happen to building real communities.
    Its the 1st time in 34 years that I have really considered not renewing my membership, but I will stay a bit longer to fight the Tory cuckoos in the Lib Dem nest

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 1st Apr '13 - 3:02pm

    Andy, the Bedroom Tax is not our finest hour, but I wonder where the huge demos were when Labour introduced LHA? And they have no intention of repealing the Bedroom Tax.

    The most important thing we should be doing is collecting evidence to show our ministers where there are problems and try and get them to address them.

  • Simon McGrath 1st Apr '13 - 3:58pm

    Caron – excellent post.
    @ Grammer police – all good points. The most discouraging thing is that so many of our own members believe labour’s nonsense about the spare room subsidy.

  • LHA isn’t like the ‘bedroom tax’. With LHA you are given an allowance based on the composition of your household. You can then claim up to this amount for your rent regardless of the number of bedrooms the property has.
    So if you only need a 2 bedroom property and have an LHA rate of say £120 per week but can find a cheap 3 or 4 bedroom property for £120 per week you will still get the full £120 per week even though you are over accommodated.
    And if you knew anything about Housing Benefits you would understand this is very similar to pre LHA claims (many of which are still in payment) but in these cases a Rent Officer decides the rental value of a property in consideration with the composition of the household.

  • But HB Tone – please dont make the mistake of letting facts get in the way of good political ranting… thats seems hardly the partys way nowadays.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Apr '13 - 4:40pm

    “LHA is based on the number of bedrooms your tenant needs, not on how much rent you charge.”

    http://www.havant.gov.uk/housing-benefit-and-council-tax-support/lha-local-housing-allowance

    Although your LHA allowance could cover rent for cheaper properties with extra bedrooms, this is not the intended outcome.

    I am worried about the possibility of houses with fewer rooms not being available – this is something Labour have been pushing heavily, the Tories have been denying and something the Lib Dems have been pretty silent about.

  • Labourites are crowing at the moment, but I’ve found that they go mighty quiet when you ask them whether they will repeal the bedroom tax, and if so how they will fund the £480m base budget annual saving. We are reluctantly imposing this change because we can’t afford not to. In truth I fear that far worse is coming-but after 2015 so whether it’s in our name is upto the electorate. I can’t see a way of balancing the budget (short of increasing income tax rate by 6/7p in the pound) without further benefit savings. I don’t see any party avoiding this-so let’s not give Labour any slack. They caused this,
    They would do just the same, they won’t scrap it, I believe Labour will make further housing benefit cuts in 2015 if elected. Don’t give ’em an inch-they don’t deserve it.

  • Steve Middleton 1st Apr '13 - 4:53pm

    Quite right Andy Boddington, couldn’t agree more.

  • Andy Boddington 1st Apr '13 - 5:02pm

    Caron

    The past is irrelevant to ordinary people, no matter how much it is dragged up by politicians and their supporters. The LHA is irrelevant to current public thinking, most people do not know it exists. The only thing my neighbours care about is the future, and that for some of them is bleak.

    It is impossible to point out these problems to our ministers because they have no experience of everyday life. The same is true of civil servants. They spend more on a single cup of coffee than my neighbours have spare cash for a day – sometimes for a week.

    If they had every lived in the real world, they would realise that £5 ‘spare’ is a positive fortune some weeks. It might just buy a pair of trousers from the charity shop for that long hoped for job interview (except here in Ludlow where they cost £6.99 for a decent pair).

    I do not believe that this gap in reality can be bridged without a new cadre of politicians – people who have lived in the real world rather than flattering and joining and impressingthe political classes when they are university.

    Politics should reflect life. At the moment, politicians are trying to make life reflects politics. It cannot continue.

    Andy

  • Peter Watson 1st Apr '13 - 5:27pm

    @Caron Lindsay “the Bedroom Tax is not our finest hour, but I wonder where the huge demos were when Labour introduced LHA? And they have no intention of repealing the Bedroom Tax.”
    Not an area I know much about, but I imagine that Labour would point to a difference between their LHA and our “bedroom tax” being that their changes reduced public money going to private landlords whereas our changes reduce the money going to local authorities and social housing organisations which could be reinvested in building more social housing or providing serices.
    On the matter of Labour refusing to commit to repealing it, what is our position post-2015? Is this a policy that Lib Dems now own and support? Would we oppose any attempt by Labour to repeal it? If they are our coalition partners would we insist that a coalition agreement retained these measures, or are they tory measures that we would disown and want to see repealed?

  • paul barker 1st Apr '13 - 5:55pm

    @Caron, where were the huge demos about this change ? The national Demo in Trafalgar Square attracted 1.000 people according to the organisers( it looked more like 200 to me). Not 100,000 which would have respectable or 10,000 which would be pathetic but 1,000. Thats less than half the membership of The Socialist Workers Party & its way beyond pathetic.
    One of the trends of the last 3 years thats been mostly ignored is the steady decline in numbers actually coming out onthe streets against the Coalition, its the “Dog that didnt bark.”

  • Simon Bamonte 1st Apr '13 - 5:55pm

    So LibDems have succeeded in convincing the Tories to mug people with a knife instead of a gun. And you’re spinning this as win. A large portion of those hit by the bedroom tax are again the Coalition’s favourite target: the disabled. Funny how it’s the vulnerable this government is attacking the hardest: hit those who are unable to fight back.

    Meanwhile the richest get their massive tax cut today. That’ll show those “useless eaters” who committed the horrible crime of either being disabled or poor. Well done, LibDems! In government and on our side indeed…

  • @Peter Watson – Because the introduction of LHA didn’t lead to a cut in Housing Benefit. It sets out allowances in advance and is paid directly to claimants to make them more responsible for the rent/Housing Benefit they receive.
    Also initially if the rent they were charged was below their LHA rate then they were allowed to keep up to £15 per week of the difference themselves on top of their other benefits.
    It also wasn’t retrospective like the bedroom tax. It only applied to new claims so people knew in advance the amount they could claim before taking on a tenancy.
    From my experience it (and I’ve worked in Housing Benefit for 15 years) it lead to higher rents and higher benefit payments. People were quite often better off on LHA than normal Housing Benefit payments.

  • Peter Watson 1st Apr '13 - 6:20pm

    @Simon Bamonte “Funny how it’s the vulnerable this government is attacking the hardest: hit those who are unable to fight back.”
    It seems to be about hitting those who don’t vote (or whose votes are unlikely to be gained by the Conservatives whatever the government does). We’re constantly reminded that these measures do not affect pensioners, who just happen to be a demographic most likely to vote. To me it all feels like low politics rather than high principles, and from a Lib Dem perspective it seems unwise to alienate voters who might otherwise vote for the party

  • Peter Watson 1st Apr '13 - 6:34pm

    @Caron “Liberal Democrats have taken a pounding across the Labour supporting media over the past few days.”
    That would be the Mirror, and … errr, Morning Star? Surely not The Guardian, those turncoats!
    Oh dear. I hope you don’t mean the Beeb. As soon as Lib Dems start accusing Aunty of being a front for the Labour party we sound like the most paranoid of Mail readers.

  • Peter Watson 1st Apr '13 - 6:52pm

    @HB Tone
    Some of the defence of the “bedroom tax” does remind me of tuition fees (and many other coalition policies): “It’s all Labour’s fault, we’re just making it worse”!

  • What does “keep the faith” translate to in actual practical terms.

    Faced with a crucial election (Eastleigh) even our own party weren’t running on the record you set out above

  • Mack(Not a Lib Dem) 1st Apr '13 - 10:34pm

    As heartless as the Tories, that’s what the Liberal Democrats are. Neither of your parties seem to appreciate that these are people’s homes and lives that you are violating and carving up. What will you think of next? Penalizing those council tenants who have more than one lavatory? Meanwhile millionaires living in huge mansions can have as many spare bedrooms as they like in which to indulge their massive tax breaks which, with obscene synchronicity, were also introduced today, Don’t you Liberal Democrats have any sense at all of how insulting that is to the poor and those who care about their condition? And your party couldn’t even bring itself to vote with Labour in support of the Mansion Tax ! Your own policy! Still, you are only confirming what we on the left always knew you to be.

  • Hywel – absolutely. If any of us went out there naked except for the points you give, we would be slaughtered. I am sure most of us will be doing what I am sure was the leading message in Eastleigh, and certainly in local election – Keep The Message Local!

  • jamessandbach 1st Apr '13 - 11:15pm

    The problem with today’s changes is their cumulative and combined impact – you’re disabled, a social tenant with a spare room that family members use when you need help, on HB, council tax benefit ESA and dla – anyone in this position looses at least half their total support immediately (and won’t be able to appeal any decisions over their esa and dla becuase there is no more legal aid for welfare cases).Given that this is the most vulnerable demographic I feel ashamed to be a lib dem today – as you said in you’re conference speech Caron, there are some things you just can’t polish

  • Mack>Meanwhile millionaires living in huge mansions can have as many spare bedrooms as they like

    Including a bunch of Labour MPs. Not to mention one Mr Blair. None of whom seem to volunteered to donate it all to charity and live in a council flat on the minimum wage, in the interests of solidarity.
    It’s always someone else who should pay, of course. Millionaires being an easy bogeyman.
    But of course, the left has always had the monopoly on caring for the poor. Because getting emotional is all it takes to solve their problems.
    Sorry, but the sanctimonious ‘we are the only ones who care’ line just shows the incomprehension of the left for anyone who sees anything from a different perspective.
    Playing the ‘you are all heartless’ card pushes people AWAY from your point of view: I don’t like the Tories and would never vote for them, but that holier than thou stuff does nothing to make me want to vote Labour.

    And the mansion tax vote, btw, was just political mischief-making by Labour.

  • ..as for the bedroom tax, I’m not sure it will achieve what it’s supposed to, if there aren’t the smaller social homes for people to downsize to.
    The big issue is there isn’t enough social housing. But who wants to build any/ who can afford to? And private rents are far too high, because throughout the last government, property prices soared to stupid levels. And no one repealed tenants’ right to buy council houses. All of which Labour had 13 years to address and chose to ignore.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Apr '13 - 11:33pm

    Mack I’m sorry but who was in government from 1997 to 2010? Who deregulated the banks, bet the economy on financial services, let tax avoidance run riot, let the use of food banks increase ten times, increased taxes on the poor, reduced inheritance tax for the rich and then went on a great big murderous war in the middle east? The Labour Party.

    So I’ll not take moral lessons from Labour, unless you support Respect or another irresponsible fact denying party. Please offer alternative policies rather than quack about morals.

  • Fran> start enforcing a Living Wage

    The problem with, what seems like a great idea (employers pay a decent wage, whereas now workers have to get top-up benefits, meaning the state is subsiding employers) is the consequences.
    If firms’ costs increase (wages), they either have to make savings somehow (job cuts), or put up their prices.
    If everyone opts for the latter, it fuels inflation – and the pay rises are rendered worthless.

  • Wasn’t that what was said about the minimum wage though?

    There are ways in which this could be approached. Just to throw out a couple of ideas – a reduction in employer NI contributions where they were paying at living wage rates. There are problems with that too in that there are probably a number of firms which already pay everyone or nearly everyone at LW rates that could get a tax break for doing virtually nothing.

    Another alternative would be to make access to other forms of state support contingent on “good employer” criteria (which could include things other than LW like parental leave, childcare support etc.)

    Just throwing ideas out – these could be rubbish under more scrutiny!

    But I do think the LW is the key to cracking the issue of how we address the issue of in-work poverty

  • Mack(Not a Lib Dem) 2nd Apr '13 - 7:08am

    @Cassie

    “But of course, the left has always had the monopoly on caring for the poor. Because getting emotional is all it takes to solve their problems.”

    Labour did rather more than that. It created the Welfare State and the National Health service to solve people’s problems. Institutions which you and your party have conspired to demolish without a mandate whilst claiming to be holier than thou on “fairness”. Unbelievable disingenuousness! But what else have we come to expect from a party of such a narrow perspective that it thinks that all that matters is “localism” i.e , petty, local pecuniary advantage. You are going to have a rude awakening at the General Election if that’s your strategy.

  • Mack – so how would you pay for the increasing burden on the welfare state from the ‘bulge’ of ‘baby boomers’ reaching old age, and living longer than people used to? Do you think taxing millionaires would cover the bill?
    How much more council tax would you be prepared to pay personally to save local services?
    It’s easy to say we need to create job. But how exactly would you do that? What jobs? In what sector?

    Do you really not see that sneering at anyone from a self-assumed position of moral authority does nothing to address actual issues? If I sneered at you, would it make you more or less likely to listen to my point of view? To want to come round to it?
    ‘You are rubbish. I hate you. I am so much better than you.’ Doesn’t achieve much, does it, other than make the person saying it feel superior?

    Others> the Living Wage is worth investigating. I was just saying t’s not an easy fix

  • David Wilkinson 2nd Apr '13 - 7:39am

    Some posts have mentioned the minimum wage V the living wage and in today’s DT is an article quoting Jo Swinson.

    “This means that we believe that caution is required – particularly as the minimum wage rate is now at its highest ever level relative to average earnings for adults, and remains high for young people.”

    Nice to see another Lib Dem minister thinking outside the box, get ready for a freeze or even a cut because people are being paid to much.

  • As a person who actually voted Tory in 2010, please do the country and yourselves a big favour and pull the plug on this heartless, evil government. We all make mistakes- I made one too.

  • I’m a lapsed member – lapsed and not departed fully because I am a Liberal in the LD coalition. Yes the LDs are a coalition, are we not? We are a broad party and have several wings with different views – but we should not allow ourselves to forget our agreed principles. And didn’t someone forget principles early in the Coalition? This is a point I would bring Nick back to, time after time. When we see our principles being messed with by the Coalition (big C, big Cameron, big Clegg) I know I am still at heart a Liberal, maybe even an LD. But the compromises became too much to swallow with the Cs being too pig-headed and not listening to us.

    To be clear, I can never be Labour because their left wing is too extreme, nor a Tory as their right wing is too extreme.
    So it’s disappointing that the party I belonged to for so long doesn’t listen and “get down together” as a complete whole and make our own LD compromise – and stick to it, come hell or high water, come any big C that buffets us. We need the wings to be held together on the body of the LD coalition, to draw everyone in and not make it easy for members and activists to slip away in disillusionment.

    I hope it’s not too late for us all to get together. Seems to me that it’s too late for this May and many will be swamped by other parties and face the exit door. But despite any losses we must hold ALL our Councillors inside the party, both winners and losers in their elections, make a concerted effort to support them, use them as an important resource for 2015’s fight-back. We need to join up LibDem Voice to other groups this year and fight together. Fight for our Principles!

  • jenny barnes 2nd Apr '13 - 9:13am

    ” let’s not give Labour any slack. They caused this,”
    That’s certainly a contestable statement. There’s considerable evidence that “this” was caused by a global crisis in capitalism, triggered by sub prime mortgages in the USA. The Tories wanted less regulation, not more. Which is not to say that Labour were doing much different to the pre 1997 Tories. We’ve now had 34 years of neo-liberal capitalism in this country. Do you think it’s working out well?

  • The bottom line here is that Labour, if elected in 2015, not only won’t repeal the changes to benefits made by the current government, but will need to go looking for more. Indeed whilst the current government is struggling to stop the benefits bill continuing to rise, it is worth remembering that Labour’s 2010 manifesto promised actual cash savings in benefits, which they proposed to spend elsewhere.

    Until Labour faces up to the reality of the current economic situation and starts telling us how they propose to deal with it, their protests are just a load of hot air.

    On another subject where Labour indignation was in full flow, it appears Labour is now trying to finesse its way out of its tuition fees policy announced by little Ed two years ago?

  • @Ian – You just don’t get it do you? Its not about Labour protests and its certainly not hot air. Its about the peoples lives you are wrecking with your cruel and ill thought out policies. You honestly have no idea what you are doing to peoples lives and just want to blame Labour for everything.
    Labour don’t have to answer to this policy because they didn’t introduce it and they didn’t vote for it.
    Do you want to come and explain that to the 4000 households that it effects in the borough where I work, because that’s what I have to do and its quite often heart breaking.
    Its irrelevant who was in power and when. It would take many years to plan, build and change the composition of the housing stock needed for this policy to be fairly implemented.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 2nd Apr '13 - 10:36am

    dont forget that it is Lib Dem policy, even though not coalition policy, that we maintain free legal aid for social security tribunals. make sure people know this when confronting us with the list of what has come in yesterday.
    Also, does anyone have a list of things (especially that came in 1st April) that would have been worse had we not been in coalition (like restricting child benefit to 2 children per family)

  • Paul Barker. You do know that there were demonstrations held all over the country not just in London?

    Thank you Peter Watson for pointing out the difference between LHA and the bedroom tax to Caron, and how astonishing that as a prominent blogger here she is unable or unwilling to understand that distinction.
    There have been assertions made, not least from Caron, that Labour will not repeal the “bedroom tax” (her words)
    Is there evidence for the assertion – has an announcement be made, or is it that they’ve been asked and not responded straight forwardly? I’d be interested to know.

    As to the future, no-one here knows what Labour will propose at the next election, they’ll need time to consider the major changes that have been brought in, but whatever they propose could it be worse than the changes brought in to welfare and the effect on the poorest in society, and to the NHS that will affect us all – that the Dems have supported.
    I don’t think so.

  • Jonathan Hunt 2nd Apr '13 - 2:20pm

    I thought this was the real April Fool’s piece.

  • David Allen 2nd Apr '13 - 2:54pm

    “Labourites are crowing at the moment, but I’ve found that they go mighty quiet when you ask them whether they will repeal the bedroom tax”

    Well of course they do. So would any opposition in their position, irrespective of whether they privately thought they could reverse a lot of the cuts, or whether they privately thought they would have to make deeper cuts. They would be crazy to fossilise detailed economic plans two years before they could possibly be implemented. They would be crazy to frame the debate in terms of coalition plans rather than their own.

    It’s true that they are being appallingly bland and evasive about their general plans. It’s true that they might well suffer for it when the nation decides it doesn’t know where they stand and can’t trust them. But that’s their problem, not ours.

    Our moral problem is that we are helping the Tories attack the poor.

    Our political problem is that when we try to hide it by diverting the conversation onto Labour, or by claiming implausibly that we do the nice things while the Tories do the nasty ones, we merely make people more angry with us. Instead of just calling us heartless or wimpish, they call us hypocritical and dishonest too!

  • James Sandbach 2nd Apr '13 - 3:59pm

    For anyone who doesn’t understand how dreadful the welfare reforms are I suggest reading Eric Avebury’s piece – now he’s someone who has “kept the faith” for more than 50 years, and that doesn’t stop him speaking out and refusing to defend govt, policies that are just plain wrong! That is what we should all be doing regardless of having a few overly acquiescent Ministers in the coalition..

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/eric-avebury-writes-libdems-should-oppose-tory-measures-against-the-poor-33958.html#comment-246028

  • Tony Dawson 2nd Apr '13 - 4:21pm

    @Mack(Not a Lib Dem) :

    “Labour did rather more than that. It created the Welfare State …..”

    Mack, I think you need a gentle history lesson. The Welfare State was begun by Liberals.

  • Mack(not a lib dem) 2nd Apr '13 - 5:13pm

    I think you should accept the responsibility for the appalling damage that your party is inflicting upon the social fabric. You say that you would not vote Tory. Your party votes Tory every day in the House of Commons. You really need to understand that when people fundamentally disagree with your policies it is not personal. No-one’s sneering just asking you to acknowledge the unacceptable price people are paying for your vindictive policies.

  • jenny barnes 2nd Apr '13 - 5:30pm

    “OK, jenny barnes, Labour and the Tories caused this ” A big boy did it and ran away?

    I think we need a citizen’s wage, funded by Land Value Tax and 100% income tax on incomes over £1million.
    Then work will pay, but people will have some basic security.

  • Simon Bamonte 2nd Apr '13 - 6:05pm

    @Dave Page:
    “You may remember a certain Vince Cable warning Gordon Brown about the pending financial crisis long before it happened and being dismissed as delusional by Mr “No More Boom and Bust”.”

    You may remember a certain Vince Cable saying at the 2010 election that austerity would be self-defeating. You may remember a certain Danny Alexander saying, before the 2010 election, that the way Labour was treating the disabled was appalling and that ATOS had to go. You may remember a certain Nick Clegg saying, before the 2010 election, that the books cannot be balanced by taking from those with the smallest shoulders.

    Of course we now have the opposite from these men. Danny Alexander now thinks ATOS are doing good work and that the disabled in social housing with a spare bedroom are “bedroom blockers”. Cable now broadly suppports austerity and as for Clegg, there’s already been enough said about his opinions which change with the wind (or, more accurately, whichever way Dave tells him to go).

    But, yes, it’s nothing to do with LibDems. It’s all Labour’s fault. After all, Labour forced LibDems vote for cuts to the poorest while giving massive tax breaks to millionaires. It had nothing to do with putting the survival of the coalition by keeping the Tories happy above the survival of vulnerable members of society. Our dear MPs are simply automatons who keep quiet and do as they’re told by the whips.

    I get it now. Thanks.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Apr '13 - 6:05pm

    Jenny, I am afraid you are looking at this the wrong way, but with the best of intentions. Working and investing must always pay otherwise neither would get done. If there is a cap, most people would stop working and investing once the cap had been reached. Human beings are not entirely selfless and failure to understand this is a perennial problem of the hard left.

    The only way a 100% tax rate could be introduced would be via a global government, which would not be desirable because the public would not be able to escape it, it would be an overpowering tyranny, surely taking away individual freedoms one by one and exerting its power its people.

    In summary, a 100% tax rate would raise less tax revenue, not more, because of the disincentive to work, invest and global tax competition. The answer you are looking for is a fairer tax system, and a fairer welfare state, not simply higher taxes and a bigger welfare state. A citizen’s income would further disincentivise work and be entirely unaffordable.

  • “Liberal Democrats have taken a pounding across the Labour supporting media over the past few days”.

    I’m honestly not being awkward or tribal here, but would really appreciate you identifying this Labour supporting media because I can’t find any. Many thanks.

  • Ryan Dungallon 8th Apr '13 - 12:45am

    paul barker 1st Apr ’13 – 2:21pm-” . If we can hold our nerve & avoid talking ourselves down we can win back the voters “lost” to Labour & take more”.
    Exactly how is this going to happen?

  • Ryan Dungallon 8th Apr '13 - 12:57am

    paul barker 1st Apr ’13 – 5:55pm. “One of the trends of the last 3 years thats been mostly ignored is the steady decline in numbers actually coming out on the streets against the Coalition, its the “Dog that didnt bark.”
    Its most likely their waiting to get their revenge in the ballot box.

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