Labour’s “Easter Clegg” – that’s grown up politics for you

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 08.14.13Labour’s Easter weekend headline grab isn’t about their policies. It doesn’t tell you why you should vote for them, why their vision is any good.

Oh no. It’s a highly personal attack on Nick Clegg in the shape of a chocolate Clegg. All very mature.

From the Mirror:

But the packaging warns the Clegg Eggs are “guaranteed to leave a bad taste in your mouth – and like the Deputy PM himself – are “completely hollow”.

The slogan for the campaign on Twitter suggests the eggs, shaped in the image of Nick Clegg wearing a yellow tie, should be “stored in David Cameron’s pocket”.

Labour promises the Clegg eggs are “100% artificially Conservative” and jokes the box contains a “free mug inside”.

The understated response of the Liberal Democrat press office is carefully dismissive:

I can’t believe Labour are getting egg-cited about this.

You can kind of see Labour’s problem. It’s faced with a Government they are trying to depict as a Tory government but which is actually making a better job of things that they should have got right: getting more money to disadvantaged kids in school, creating a more sustainable and better state pension, cutting taxes for the lowest paid and raising them for the richest,  setting in motion cultural changes in the NHS to give mental health the priority it needs and laying the foundations for a welfare system that makes it worthwhile for people to work. And all this is being done against a backdrop of record employment, fastest economic growth in the G7.

Why would you bother to attack someone if you thought they didn’t have the potential to hurt you? It’s unlikely that Labour’s strategists are so desperate and demoralised that they’ve come up with an Easter gag to cheer themselves up. They know that Clegg has achieved in Government. They know that many of the Liberal Democrat policy initiatives have and will improve long term life chances for many of the poorest, young and old and they know that that message is getting through to voters. They know that they aren’t making the inroads that they need to do well this year and next.

If this weekend’s stunt is the best that they can do, David Axelrod really does have his work cut out.

Photo credit: Vincent Moss atThe Mirror

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82 Comments

  • Perhaps a certain lightening of mood is in order or you could be faced with a barrage of images purporting to show potential MP’s promising not to vote for things once elected….

  • mike clements 20th Apr '14 - 10:15am

    Another reason not to go into a coalition with Labour in 2015

  • lynne featherstone 20th Apr '14 - 10:16am

    An attack egg !

  • Nick Collins 20th Apr '14 - 10:53am

    Ok not a particularly good joke from Laour: although perhaps not bad. But I think the LDV piece above somewhat
    egg-zagerates the ” achievements” of the curent government.

  • Nick Collins 20th Apr '14 - 10:56am

    Sorry about the typos above

    By the way, if the Easter-Cleggs are stored in Cameron’s pocket, will they go into melt-down by 22 May?

  • Labour know if they succeed in making Clegg look like a “weak Tory” they will attract left wing Lib Dem voters and win the GE. I actually think it’s been well done – simple but effective – it makes the Lib Dems respond and brings more attention to the message.

  • Tony Greaves 20th Apr '14 - 11:33am

    Whether things like this are effective depend on whether they strike a chord with people. In this case I leave others to judge that.

    By the way what’s this about the Coalition “raising taxes for the richest”? And it certainly has not reduced taxes for the poorest.

    Tony Greaves

  • Steve Bradley 20th Apr '14 - 11:36am

    In the eyes of many voters, Nick Clegg has become the personification of everything they have disliked about the Lib Dems since 2010. It’s unfair, but the media have made him totemic in this way. His personal ratings show this, & that’s why Labour target him personally in order to undermine the entire party.

    The Easter egg is a bit childish, but Labour have form on such antics. It’s obviously working as a tool to draw media attention to negative perceptions of Nick. They know it’s our weak spot, so will keep on focusing on it.

  • A Chocolate Teapot could have been used to mock the Coaition.

    But Steve Bradley is right — Clegg is the weak point. Whilst he is leader the party loses support, members, activists, hope.

  • They know that many of the Liberal Democrat policy initiatives have and will improve long term life chances for many of the poorest, young and old and they know that that message is getting through to voters.

    The first part of this may well be true, but if the message is getting through to voters, it’s not Liberal Democrat voters judging by the polls.

  • Roll on change. Todays polls could not be worse could they, UKIP to gain Eastleigh at the General, Lib Dems in 3rd place.
    Euros we claim 8% probably running 5th.

  • Well, you could try voting against some things maybe?

  • Tony Greaves: the quotation is:

    cutting taxes for the lowest paid and raising them for the riches

    It is not the same as reducing taxes for the poorest. Obviously, the poorest do not pay income tax, so I suppose you are thinking of VAT and whether benefit increases have kept up with inflation. As for “raising taxes for the richest”, do correct me if I am mistaken, but are claims that this government has taxed the richest sector more heavily than the previous government factually wrong?

  • Is it really any less mature than this kind of thing, directed as Ed Miliband – accompanied, of course, by an unflattering personal photograph?
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/that-ed-miliband-speech-in-full-36375.html

  • Not sure anyone in the party can moan about childishness.
    A little what-about-ery maybe, but remember the new Lib Dem website with the silly error message about Labour ?

    The Cl-egg is at least funny. The error message wasn’t.

  • paul barker 20th Apr '14 - 1:55pm

    The current atmosphere in Labour circles is an odd mix, beneath the outer shell of smugness thres a feeling of panic, competing with despair. Its not just the slow but steady decline in Labours Polling average (from 43% in Feb 2013 to 36% now) there are much deeper changes.
    Labours historical strength lies in dual character as a Party & a movement, built on the 3 pillars of “Socialists”, Unions & Co-operatives. Now major voices in both Unions & Co-ops are talking of breaking those historic links.
    Dont expect The Media to cover any of this till its nearly over, the best sources of information are Labour blogs.

  • paul barker
    If the mood amongst the Labour people you know is “a feeling of panic” because they are on only 36%,
    How would you describe the feeling amongst those surrounding Nick Clegg, who for twelve months has had a negative level of support in the opinion polls and is leader of a party on somewhere around 8%. .

    Would “delusional” be an accurate description ?

    I have to say that I would rejoice if Liberal Democrats had the luxury of ” panic ” at an opinion poll rating of 36%.

  • paul barker 20th Apr '14 - 2:18pm

    A quick comment on Polls, Polling for European Elections & for individual Constituencies in General Election both have a very poor record, so poor its wiser to ignore them.
    Average Polls for us have been constant, around 10% for the last 3 years. Expect that to continue till either something very big happens or Feb 2015, whichever comes 1st.

  • Peter Watson 20th Apr '14 - 2:36pm

    As the sort of voter at whom Labour’s joke is aimed at attracting, I was completely unaware of it until I saw this article. Thanks LDV.

  • “Average Polls for us have been constant, around 10% for the last 3 years. Expect that to continue till either something very big happens or Feb 2015, whichever comes 1st.”

    Why February 2015?

  • Peter Watson 20th Apr '14 - 2:52pm

    @paul barker “Average Polls for us have been constant, around 10% for the last 3 years.”
    And Lib Dems have performed worse in European elections in the past than local or general elections, so based on polling and recent local election performances, predictions of 8% next month are very credible.
    Away from polling, Paddy Power seems to be taking bets on whether or not Lib Dems will get more than one seat, so there’s a great chance for the optimists to cash in based on their special knowledge of how the voters will behave. They also have a chance to bet that Lib Dems will have more than 33 MPs after the 2015 general election.

  • Paul In Twickenham 20th Apr '14 - 3:26pm

    @Peter Watson – I have already done that, and believe me I am not a starry-eyed optimist, but a clear-headed realist. I bet on > 1.5 at odds of 5/6. If (as I expect) I win the bet then I will donate my winnings to charity. The polls mask regional variations that will probably result in the return of a single Lib Dem MEP in 2 or 3 regions. Lib Dem HQ will try to spin this as a great result because so many people said there would be a wipe-out.

  • David Evans 20th Apr '14 - 3:45pm

    Heck there’s someone here pointing out they bet on us getting more than 1 MEP. Wow!! I am so encouraged by such reckless optimism. However might I suggest if you win, many local Lib Dem local parties will need your winnings much more than any charity.

  • Chocolate Teapot was my suggestion for a representation of the coalition.

    Not sure if that is why my earlier comment was blocked?

  • Yes, it’s childish and ridiculous. I feel even a bit embarrassed by grown men and women spending their time with jokes like that but really, politics can be very childish and I would think ignoring something like would be the smarter thing to do.

    Clegg eggs and egg-cited. *shudders*

  • My prediction is that before the year is out there will be one of two former Mirror journalists behind bars – I think some of their desperate criticisms of the Liberal Democrats will then have to be seen in a slightly different context.

    The Mirror is in many respects a nasty newspaper.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/detectives-interview-piers-morgan-about-phonehacking-allegations-at-daily-mirror-9128835.html

  • paul barker 20th Apr '14 - 5:12pm

    On the question of how we will do in The Euros. We know that we have been reduced to our core vote in Local Elections but thats what we have always got in European Elections. If 8% is plausible, so is 14%, even if Labour avoid splitting till the Summer. We will know in the early hours of May 27th & not before.
    I have some bets on too but the annoying thing is that when you see what appear to be fantastic odds they will only let you bet a fiver or two.

  • Paul Pettinger 20th Apr '14 - 9:27pm

    An outrageous personal attack, but where can I get some?

  • Steve Comer 21st Apr '14 - 1:52am

    Steve Bradley said “In the eyes of many voters, Nick Clegg has become the personification of everything they have disliked about the Lib Dems since 2010.” Spot on Steve!
    That’s what I’m hearing on the doorsteps from our past supporters. If I had £5 for every time someone has said “we like what the FOCUS Team is doing, but we’re unhappy with the Lib Dems nationally” I’d have enough to pay for a lost deposit.

  • Paul
    Red-Eggs at the Co-op, nest eggs at the Co-op bank. Maybe not.

  • @Steve Comer

    “but we’re unhappy with the Lib Dems nationally”

    That’s because they’ve absorbed all the constant misinformation and distortion they’ve seen in the media since the attacks on Clegg began after the first leaders’ debate in 2010. Have you ever tried asking them what they’re concerned about nationally?

    Nine times out of ten it is based on the wrong and distorted information they have received and they haven’t actually heard about the good things we are doing nationally because the national media have deliberately ignored them.

    It is up to us on the doorstep to correct this, rather than just accepting it as a fait accompli.

  • We could follow this with a Mili-bland flavoured ice-cream, which changes flavour every week according to its audience and melts down on the first contact with reality .

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 21st Apr '14 - 11:44am

    The real tragedy is that the Liberal Democrats, co-architects of this appalling government’s policies, have, in just four years, created a dependence on food banks by a million people in the sixth richest country in the world. How many of those starving people’s children have actually been able to enjoy a real chocolate egg this this Easter?

  • @RC Is this the misinformation about tuition fees, where of course what Nick gave them was so much better than what they were promised, because we know better than they do, or the misinformation about “No top down reorganisation of the NHS” where we had the treasured “Shirley Williams Motion”, or the misinformation about Secret Courts, where conference voted twice to stop it and Nick did, just what he wanted?

  • Mean student politics dressed up as jolly japes from a yet to mature student politician, Milliband is surely Labour’s biggest weakness right now and it’s because of froth like this.
    I quite like the coalition govt and think that history will be kind to it, although I am displeased with the inept own goals out part of it have indulged in.
    Suggest that rather than think up retaliatory silliness for Milliband and co we put his politics under the spotlight!

  • David Evans
    “@RC Is this the misinformation about tuition fees”

    Yes, among other things, it is. I have had conversations about precisely this on the doorstep. I was asked about tuition fees and explained that we only have one eleventh of the MPs in parliament. How can we force the other ten elevenths to vote for our policy if they don’t agree with it and there’s also no money to implement it?

    Also, the fact that the current system works, in terms of what people pay, like a graduate tax and doesn’t kick in until they earn over £21,000. Otherwise, the only fair system would be a graduate tax, which is what they are paying anyway, effectively. The money for university has to come from somewhere, doesn’t it?

    Unless these things are explained to people, they just have no idea what the real tuition fees situation is and they somehow believe that we could have implemented our policy at zero cost to the tax payer. We couldn’t, could we?

    @ Mack (not a Lib Dem)

    “The real tragedy is that the Liberal Democrats, co-architects of this appalling government’s policies, have, in just four years, created a dependence on food banks by a million people in the sixth richest country in the world”

    Another major tragedy is that there are lots of people who somehow believe that the Lib Dems created this situation. Ever heard about world food prices increasing? i.e. nothing to do with government policy.
    When did the government set private sector wages? A lot of this is to do with the working poor and the lack of wage rises, which is nothing to do with government policy.

    The fact is that working age benefits rates have almost kept pace with inflation, with a 5.2% increase in April 2012 on top of a 3.1% increase in April 2011 at a time when there is a massive budget deficit and the real wages of most people in work have been falling because of labour market pressures and increasing world prices of food and energy.

    Are you saying we should have spent and borrowed even more to increase benefits more than wages over the past four years?

  • Lib Dems should really avoid the phrase “grown up politics” . It only serves to remind the rest of us of Nick Clegg promising us that before the election. The other phrase to avoid is ‘no more broken promises’.

    Oh and any reference to “tuition fees ” or “NHS” can only end badly for Lib Dems.

  • @Mack (not a Lib Dem).

    I am just watching a piece on local Italian TV about the increasing numbers of people being forced to look to food charities for meals. In other countries, including Germany poverty has also increased, despite low unemployment.

    So to blame this trend in the UK on the Lib Dems in government is simplistic and inaccurate. The problem is, how to solve it without continuously increasing the benefits bill. Some moves like cutting taxes for the working poor and increasing the minimum wage have already been put in place, but clearly more needs to be done.

    The best long-term solution for poverty in most cases is skilled, well-paid, full-time work with low taxes. This is exactly what the Lib Dems are trying to ensure with a wide number of different policies from training to tax thresholds.

  • RC 21st Apr ’14 – 8:36am
    “We could follow this with a Mili-bland flavoured ice-cream, which changes flavour every week according to its audience and melts down on the first contact with reality .”

    Yes I see you have mastered the art of “grown-up politics” .

  • @ Phyllis

    “Oh and any reference to “tuition fees ” or “NHS” can only end badly for Lib Dems.”

    It’s not going to do any credit to any of the other parties either, is it? Once their claims of unlimited spending money are put to the test, I still hope that people are going to think more realistically about what Labour in particular is purporting to offer.

  • RC “So to blame this trend in the UK on the Lib Dems in government is simplistic and inaccurate. ”

    You may well be right but all I know is that under the last Tory government, we had ‘Cardboard City ” and begging on the streets of our cities. Now under a Coalition government we see poverty increasing hugely again. The LibDems were supposed to be stopping the worst excesses of the Tories but I don’t see it in practice.

  • RC “It’s not going to do any credit to any of the other parties either, is it?”

    So this is ‘grown-up politics’ then? ‘We may be awful but so are the other two’ ???

  • @Phyllis
    Apologies for having a sense of humour. This is not meant to be an official party publication.

    I don’t think I ever used the term “grown-up politics” anyway, so don’t use someone else’s quotes against me, please.

  • @ Phyllis

    I’m not saying we’re awful. I’m saying we can’t promise unlimited spending money when it isn’t there and when it comes to an election Labour won’t be able to either, despite what they’ve done up till now.

    “Being awful” in your book seems to equate almost precisely with “not having the money to spend on things people want”.

  • RC “I don’t think I ever used the term “grown-up politics” anyway, so don’t use someone else’s quotes against me, please.”

    It is in the thread title. The whole topic is about Labour not practising ‘grown-up politics’ !

  • @Phyllis

    “The LibDems were supposed to be stopping the worst excesses of the Tories but I don’t see it in practice.”

    That’s because you don’t want to see them.

    The Tories wanted to limit benefits increases even more, stop under 25s claiming housing benefit, they wouldn’t have prioritised increasing the personal allowance and wanted to increase the inheritance tax threshold, which we also stopped. They also wanted to end any protection against unfair dismissal, which we also stopped. Without us, the Tories would have axed large areas of the state in a far more drastic way than the cuts that have been seen so far.

    Given that we started in 2010 with a massive budget deficit implying huge cuts all round, saying we haven’t stopped the worst excesses of the Tories is actually wildly unfair and inaccurate.

  • RC ““Being awful” in your book seems to equate almost precisely with “not having the money to spend on things people want”.”

    What I am saying us that on tuition fees and the NHS, most people feel that Lib Dems have been ‘awful’ , therefore they should avoid those terms, along with ‘grown-up politics’ and ‘no more broken promises’ .

    You are saying the others have been equally bad.

  • As I said: those were not my words so use them against their author, not me please.

  • Mack (not a Lib Dem)
    The UK has the eighth largest economy , China has the second largest but that doesn’t mean the Chineser are better off .In terms of percapita income the UK comes in at 21st, China 93rd.
    NI may survive on a large public sector but I doubt if the rest of the UK could.

  • RC “That’s because you don’t want to see them.”

    What I don’t want to see is a million people relying on food banks.

  • RCA “Given that we started in 2010 with a massive budget deficit implying huge cuts all round, saying we haven’t stopped the worst excesses of the Tories is actually wildly unfair and inaccurate.”

    And yet we have people committing suicide because of desperate poverty and benefits cut or delayed, so that they are literally starving.

  • I am saying that other parties, particularly Labour, are now making promises about spending and somehow solving poverty and the “cost of living crisis” that they can’t deliver on because there isn’t the money to pay for it.

    Our mistake was to promise something there wasn’t the money for. Yet people are now rushing to vote for parties whose programmes, such as they are, are clearly undeliverable.

    We’ve been punished for over-promising and non-delivery. I am warning that Labour is now doing exactly what they criticise us for and they should expect the same fate if/when they return to power.

  • @Phyllis
    The cases of suicide have been due to ATOS and its maladministration of benefits under the Work Capability Assessment, not due to cuts in rates. ATOS was brought in by Labour, with the WCA coming in in 2007, and has now had its contract ended under the Coalition.

    Again, blaming all problems with benefits on the Coalition and the Lib Dems simply does not stack up.

  • @RC This is a thread about ‘grown-up politics’ and you are adopting the very same approach which the Lib Dems castigated in the “two old parties”. It’s this mismatch between Lib Dem rhetoric and reality which turns people off politics. My comments are directed as much at the author of this article as at you. It was helpful that you neatly illustrated my point with your ‘joke’ .

    I’m still hopefully waiting for one political party to practise ‘grown-up politics’ but perhaps that is just not possible?

  • RC
    Atos was brought in by Labour I agree, but I thought the guidelines they have to stick to were brought in by this government? If so it’s a bit rough to blame the Labour Party.

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 21st Apr '14 - 2:42pm

    @Manfarang

    “The UK has the eighth largest economy , ”

    I’m sure that the million starving people in the UK who are dependent on Food Banks will take huge consolation from that.

    “NI may survive on a large public sector but I doubt if the rest of the UK could.”

    It already does. Virtually the whole of the private sector is dependent on tax payers’ money and I’m not just talking about huge government contracts . There is no distinction between public and private money . If it’s necessary to create money it can be just magicked out of the air as long as you are a bank and aren’t poor and starving. cf Quantitative Easing. In August 2012, the Bank of England stated that its quantitative easing policies had benefited mainly the wealthy. The QE programme boosted the value of stocks and bonds by $970 billion. And around 40% of those gains went to the richest 5% of British households. Plenty of money for them but not for the million dependent on food banks.

    @RC
    “Another major tragedy is that there are lots of people who somehow believe that the Lib Dems created this situation. ”

    They did. Typical Liberal Democrat bad faith: always blaming someone else.

    @RC
    “How can we force the other ten elevenths to vote for our policy if they don’t agree with it and there’s also no money to implement it?”

    If the Liberal Democrats hadn’t been propping up the other ten elevenths because of their joint lust for power without a mandate , the Liberal democrats wouldn’t have been placed in the invidious position of reneging on their tuition fees pledge, or of betraying any of their other principles. On the doorsteps the people know this.
    @RC

    “Are you saying we should have spent and borrowed even more to increase benefits more than wages over the past four years?”

    Yes, you should have increased benefits to prevent people starving Instead of providing 13,000 millionaires with a giveaway of £100,000 each; instead of slashing corporation tax for the already obscenely wealthy, instead of spending obscene amounts of public money on HS2, instead of giving Government money as debt to those who wish to purchase homes costing up to £ 600,000 and don’t want to pay the full deposit.; instead of subsidising land owners with hundreds of thousands of pounds (amounting to millions for each of them over 20 years) so that they can erect wind turbines; instead of giving billions away to companies that were inserted as middlemen between the government and the recipients of benefits so that their profits were deducted from the amount of benefits available to those in need. I could go on and on. Just a fraction of those giveaways to the already hugely wealthy could have saved a million adults and children from starving and facing the humiliation of having to be dependent on food banks just to stay alive.

    “and there’s also no money to implement it?”

    See my previous remarks on QE.

  • Mack
    The private sector is mostly services.How much taxpayers money does Lloyds of London (insurance) get?
    The private sector needs expanding in order to create more jobs although this takes time. of course.
    Companies are reshoring and others are starting to manufacture goods in the UK again for the high end market.
    While some QE is necessary in a recession . Excessive QE will lead to high inflation and hardship for those on fixed icomes as well as creating a run on sterling.

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 21st Apr '14 - 6:27pm

    @Manfarang
    You don’t get it do you? Ask yourself where the money that Lloyds of London gets comes from?
    There is no such thing as public sector and private sector money. There is only money that circulates.
    Do supermarkets refuse to accept peoples’ money because they are so called “public sector” workers? Of course not. Is money earned in the so called “private sector” a different colour to money earned in the public sector? Of course not.. How many “private sector” companies would go into administration if the state pulled the plug on their contracts?
    “The private sector is mostly services”
    So is the public sector. But it need not be. If we wait for the private sector to expand we will wait for ever.( Unless you believe in all those phoney “not real” jobs that the coalition crows about: hundreds of thousands of people on zero hours contracts, part-time work or enforced self employment for nothing wages.) Hence the Food Banks and the cost of living crisis. The state is the only part of the economy that can create jobs and wealth. It already does so anyway. But the Coalition is too ideologically right wing to contemplate expanding the state. Instead it is intent on crushing it, but really what they mean by that is limiting the earnings and pensions of teachers, nurses, fire-officers and so on. If the state were really crushed the jobs of millions of “private sector” workers would disappear overnight because they are wholly subsidised by the state (the public sector).

  • Mike Barnes 21st Apr '14 - 6:33pm

    @RC

    “Yes, among other things, it is. I have had conversations about precisely this on the doorstep. I was asked about tuition fees and explained that we only have one eleventh of the MPs in parliament. How can we force the other ten elevenths to vote for our policy if they don’t agree with it and there’s also no money to implement it?”

    The pledge was clear, I’ve just looked up Nick Clegg holding a poster that says ” I PLEDGE TO VOTE AGAINST ANY INCREASE IN FEES IN THE NEXT PARLIAMENT”.

    Not having enough MPs to implement the Lib Dem manifesto is irrelevant. Nobody expected a Lib Dem majority or a new Lib Dem system of university funding. What they promised was to vote against any increase in fees that was being proposed by other parties, that is all. If that meant the system stayed exactly the same, so be it.

    Please don’t insult voters by twisting the pledge. They said they’d vote against fee rises. It doesn’t matter if the new system is fairer, they still broke the pledge by supporting it.

  • David Allen 21st Apr '14 - 7:26pm

    Well, there’s an element of humour, and it’s been a little while since Labour last attacked Clegg. The Lib Dems have been unrelenting in making personal attacks on Miliband, and few of them are either funny or make valid political points.

    I’d judge this one Labour nil, Lib Dems minus five.

  • Ray Cobbett 21st Apr '14 - 8:58pm

    My daughter sent me the link which I thought was hilarious Yes, that’s right another younger voter who won’t support the Lib Dems anymore

  • Mack
    As the young Vietnamese man said to me when I was in Vietnam a number of years ago, “We don’t have money”
    Đổi Mới has allowed private enterprise to create some.

  • Ray
    If that younger voter thinks she will be rolling along on Easter egg under Labour she will be in for a rude shock.
    The older voters well remember the stagnation of the 1970s and today Labour offers nothing different from then.

  • Richard Dean 22nd Apr '14 - 2:26pm

    Are young Vietnamese men automatically wise?

  • Mike Smithson posted a link to a video of a focus group of people who have switched from the Lib Dems to Labour, from Channel 4 news:
    http://www1.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2014/04/22/at-last-somebody-is-studying-the-voters-who-could-decide-ge2015/

    No great enthusiasm for Labour, but also pretty sure that they would vote Labour next year.

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 22nd Apr '14 - 5:46pm

    @ Mangarang

    Private enterprise doesn’t create money: it simply moves it around. Only Lenders of Last resort, Central Banks, can create money by creating new balances. Magicking amounts out of the air. ( In the case of the failed banks, to buy their toxic debt). Or, conversely, they reduce the money supply by withdrawing the amount in circulation. It’s a chimera encouraged by Thatcher that private enterprise creates wealth. Private enterprise scoops up other people’s money, (especially the poor under this Tory/ Lib Dem Coalition) and redistributes it to themselves. That’s why there’s a Cost of Living Crisis and a million people dependent on food banks. Only the State can create real demand and increase growth.

    “The older voters well remember the stagnation of the 1970s and today Labour offers nothing different from then.”

    I’m an older voter and I don’t remember the seventies as a period of stagnation. If the younger voters could have lived in the socialist seventies they would have thought they were in Eden. There were huge numbers of jobs available, (Forget Thatcher’s “Labour isn’t working” propaganda; you could go from one job to another easily) We lived in a democratic socialist country where people were treated decently and weren’t classified simply as consumers, nameless units of production; or scroungers if disabled and couldn’t work. Workers’ were being paid what they were truly worth at last. The capitalists hated it of course. Then Thatcher came along , ruined it all and bequeathed her legacy to the neo-liberals and the Orange Bookers. Let’s hope Labour can restore the decent, civilized society this country had in the seventies.

  • Richard
    The young Vietnamese have the wisdom to learn English as a world language. The fact is they are a bit skint as youth were in Britain in the 1970s.
    Mack
    Working class youth didn’t have much hope in the 1970s as is reflected in the Punk rock of that era
    As Sunny Jim said at the time,” If I were a young man I would emigrate”
    I remember the unemployment in Wigan in the 1970s .Like many areas of the north it was a depressed region.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Apr '14 - 11:13pm

    Robin Wilde

    That Lib Dems have 57/361 Coalition MPs is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that without the Lib Dems the government could not pass legislation or command the confidence of the house. In essence, while the Lib Dems have only 57 MPs, they have had the opportunity to exercise 100% of the power in government by bringing it down or blocking legislation if it did things they find unconscionable.

    Yes, but exactly the same could be said for ANY 57 MPs in the coalition. So by the very argument you use here, the 57 most right-wing Conservative MPs could dominate the others and force them all to abandon what they believe in and adopt instead the sort of extreme right-wing policies that are found on the far reaches of the Conservative Party.

    How do you think the people of the UK would view it if the LibDem MPs, with less than one in ten of the seats in Parliament held the country at ransom, threatening the instability of no viable government, unless they got their way? Remember, getting their own way would mean the Conservatives abandoning THEIR deepest held policy, that of no increases in taxation on the thing they hold more dear than anything else – unearned wealth. For the Conservatives to do what was necessary to permit full state subsidy of higher education, they would have had to go against their election pledges. Would the LibDems be viewed as heroes, with Labour cheering them on as they stood their grounds? Well, has Labour been seen cheering on the LibDems when however timidly they do stand up to the Tories?

    No, what we would see is panic on the financial markets as Britain would be seen to be “ungovernable”, with both Labour and the Conservatives encouraging it, blaming the existence of the Liberal Democrats for it, and uniting to say “get rid of the Liberal Democrats so Britain can have stable one party government again”. That is no fantasy, because Labour and the Conservatives united with that message was EXACTLY what we saw in the referendum on AV in 2011.

    You may attack me for being “sanctimonious”, or suppose I am only saying what I am saying because I am a fanatic Clegg supporter who would argue in defence of his party whatever it did or said. Perhaps if you looked at some of my posting elsewhere you might see that is not the case. I am simply being realistic about politics, what I say is based on observations of difficult balance of power situations in local government here and in national government in other countries. The idea that a junior coalition partner very much smaller than the senior one can dominate the agenda of the coalition is nonsense, it never happens. The junior coalition partner that can most force their own agenda by threats of instability are those with strong “tribal” support, voters who will never desert them, and whose demands are limited to those which benefit their tribes. Example might be the religious parties in Israel and the Ulster Unionists – you are not going to get Ulster Unionist voters running off and voting Sinn Fein because they are unhappy about Ulster Unionist support for a government. But the Liberals are the opposite of this – the proportion of the population which is die-hard tribalist support of the Liberal Democrats is probably about 2%, and it is geographically scattered, unlike the Ulster Unionists.

    Almost all the debate on the tuition fees issue has been juvenile, because it has failed to recognise that government spending cannot be taken in isolation. It is not possible to support some item of government expenditure without also supporting some balancing way of paying for it. Voting against tuition fees is not just voting against tuition fees, it is voting FOR however universities would be paid for if there were no tuition fees. In the absence of any actual increased taxation, that would be done by more government borrowing. Opponents of tuition fees talk about the debt burden imposed by them, but if the money were borrowed directly by the government, the debt burden would STILL be there on the next generation. I don’t say this because I like or support tuition fees, I don’t, I oppose them. I believe that university education should be subsidised by much greater inheritance tax – but how would I get Tories to support that idea when it strikes at the very heart of what the Tories are for, which is being the Non-Worker’s Party, the party of the idle rich. See how the Tories screamed and howled and got their friends is the right-wing press to scream and howl as ell as the mildest suggestion of a tiny property tax, the LibDems proposal of a “Mansion Tax” only on that value of a house WAY beyond need. And see how Labour did nothing to back up the LibDems on this issue. The LibDems could do hugely more to counter the Tories and win their way in the coalition if there were outside support for it – and that does mean Labour and Labour supporters cheering on the LibDems when they do stand up against the Tories. It isn’t going to happen, is it?

    There is one way the LibDems COULD have kept their pledge and gained Tory support – and I understand this was the factor that pushed the the other way. They could have paid for continued state subsidy of higher education through a MASSIVE cut in the number of university places. There are right-wing Tories who have called for the closing down of all the “new universities”, so again this is not just fantasy. So, suppose this had been done? Would the people of this country have cheered on the LibDems for keeping their pledge on tuition fees? Would they have blamed the Tories for slashing universities? No. The Tories would have been DELIGHTED to have seen all those ex-polytechnics closed down, with the argument “We had to do it because the LibDem forced us to”.

  • Matthew Huntbach – the point is that political parties MUST look after their OWN supporters first and foremost. That is why the Tories are keeping their promises to pensioners. Lib Dems on the other hand have done the exact opposite. Despite the Tuition fees betrayal, they could have turned it round by quashing the NHS reforms. In fact everyone in our family was cheering you all on when there was a ‘pause’. I remember saying to my husband ‘thank God for the Lib Dems – THIS is what they are in government for, to stop the Tories!” But alas they betrayed us again. So I hope you can see the depth of the mistrust if the Lib Dem leadership. This is why the Lib Dems have lost most of their support and become “pointless”.

  • Matthew H “Would the people of this country have cheered on the LibDems for keeping their pledge on tuition fees? ”

    The people of this country who VOTED LIB DEM would definitely have cheered the Lib Dems on. First look after your own.

  • @Matthew Huntbach: “The idea that a junior coalition partner very much smaller than the senior one can dominate the agenda of the coalition is nonsense, it never happens.”
    It has happened, in the United Kingdom, and on a Parliamentary level. After the general elections of 1885, and again in 1892, the Liberals formed governments with the support of the Irish parties — those parties in both cases getting the government to back a Home Rule bill for Ireland (and in the second case, actually getting it through the House of Commons). This was possible because the Irish parties had one very clear item on their agenda, and they made acquiescence in that the price of their support.
    The Liberal Democrats actually started out in a better position, because they were ideologically positioned in such a way that they could have sought support from either the Conservatives or Labour and other parties at Westminster, whereas in the 1880s and 90s, there was no place for the Home Rule movement to look for help other than the Liberals. But by burning bridges in 2010, and adhering fanatically to an outmoded idea of cabinet collective responsibility, the Liberal Democrats effectively cut their own hamstrings, rendering their potential power — which was very great — a nullity.
    In every case in which it is affirmed that the Lib Dems had no alternative, they in fact *could* have kept their pledges, they *could* have blocked Tory programs, but they folded their hands before all the cards were on the table. You can blame it on the wicked Tories or on wicked Labour, but in the end it was nothing more than a series of own goals: a failure on the one hand, to have a solid program that they were prepared to push, but more than that, a fatal weakness: the desire to be accepted by the establishment as “adults,” requiring them to be the good boys, not to rock the boat, not to be radicals, not to be loose cannons, to go along to get along, to be “responsible” and “mature” — which meant accepting a position of weakness and achieving nothing.
    And in the end result, all of these compromises netted nothing but contempt from the establishment and the people at large. As the main purpose of playing the “responsible, mature adult” is to impress people with how well you can handle power, we can say that this ploy was an utter failure; and to justify it in retrospect is to invite doing it over and over and over again.

  • Mathew Hunchbach

    ” It is not possible to support some item of government expenditure without also supporting some balancing way of paying for it.”

    I completely agree with the above and when I voted for the Lib Dems – after seeing Simon Hughes and Nick Clegg make their personal pledges on tuition fees – I presumed that the figures had already been worked out. Now we know that on the Lib Dems highest profile policy they hadn’t even worked out if the country could afford it. When Nick Clegg joined Cameron and Osborne in supporting and then voting for the increase in tuition fees, he should have hung his head in shame – any decent man would have resigned.

  • Peter Watson 24th Apr '14 - 8:06am

    @Matthew Huntbach “Voting against tuition fees is not just voting against tuition fees, it is voting FOR however universities would be paid for if there were no tuition fees. In the absence of any actual increased taxation, that would be done by more government borrowing.”
    In principle I agree entirely and the way to pay for university education is an important issue to debate (though the party seemed to change its position on the matter without having had that debate or presenting it to voters). In practice though, the problem for Lib Dems is summed up in The Guardian story about the IFS report published today which “adds to mounting evidence that the politically catastrophic decision failed to solve the funding problem of the expanded university sector.” (http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/24/university-tuition-fee-rise-student-loan)

  • Nick Tregoning 24th Apr '14 - 8:18am

    Easter Clegg. This from the party led by Wallace.

  • “Nick Tregoning 24th Apr ’14 – 8:18am
    Easter Clegg. This from the party led by Wallace.”

    And back we come to ‘grown up politics’ ! Beyond satire!

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 25th Apr '14 - 10:08am

    @Mathew Huntbach
    You don’t seem to appreciate how unedifying it is to see Liberal Democrats twisting and turning though 360 degrees as they seek to justify the morally indefensible. They made a Pledge: they broke it.. It was disgraceful. No more need be said.

  • Malc – The tuition fees pledge had been costed. Nearly Neadless Nick’s team didn’t choose to defend it in the negotiations.

  • Jayne Mansfield 25th Apr '14 - 11:44am

    @ David Evans,
    The question for many us has been, did he intend to defend the policy or was there some truth in the allegations made in articles such as this one, ‘Tuition fees: Nick Clegg should come clean about what really happened”. that appeared in the Guardian.

    I can understand that manifesto promises sometimes have to be delayed etc. to take into account of new circumstances, (although the economic situation was hardly a new circumstance), but if there is any truth in claim that certain members of the Liberal Democrats were prepared to sacrifice this promise before negotiations started and whilst Nick Clegg was still promising . no more broken promises’ that is for me as someone who actually put my trust in him such a serious matter.

    Until this question is answered, there will always be mistrust and loss of support. The memories of Nick Clegg kicking the manifestos of other parties around during electioneering and his promising ‘No more broken promises’ really sticks in the craw.

  • Peter Watson 25th Apr '14 - 12:25pm

    @Jayne Mansfield “The memories of Nick Clegg kicking the manifestos of other parties around during electioneering and his promising ‘No more broken promises”
    That is the crux of the problem over tuition fees for Lib Dems in general and Nick Clegg in particular. Regardless of the pros and cons of the fees system we now have, Clegg and those around him chose to campaign on notions of a “new kind of politics” and “no more broken promises”, and made tuition fees the subject of publicised personal promises. As you say, that is what “really sticks in the craw”, and is what gives opponents of Lib Dems a big stick with which to beat the party.

  • Jayne and Peter – agree 100% with both of you. That’s exactly the problem in a nutshell. And in my case, the Lib Dem leadership could have got over the tuition fee disaster if they had stopped the NHS reforms but even they they chickened out. Very very disappointing.

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