LibLink: In defence of the Lib Dems

Yours truly has a post on the New Statesman rolling blog The Staggers, responding to Mehdi Hasan’s rather provocative question, “What’s the point of the Liberal Democrats?”

Hasan pointed out five areas in which the Lib Dems had (in his view) “sacrificed their distinctive beliefs and principles and received little in return.”

I responded with my own 5 points, including:

1) Ask the nearly 1 million low-paid workers who have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether thanks to a Lib Dem manifesto commitment delivered in government. With the prospect of further significant reforms to come to make our tax system fairer and more progressive, this policy makes people hundreds of pounds better off in difficult times. Consider the counterfactual too – a Tory-only government cutting inheritance tax and the 50p rate for its rich pals whilst doing nothing for the low-paid. Not with Lib Dems in government.

2) Ask the millions of children, parents and teachers who are benefiting from the pupil premium & expanded childcare provision as part of the government’s investment in crucial early-years facilities. Another Lib Dem manifesto commitment, delivered in government, making a real difference to the worst off and those in need of support.

You can read the other three here, and dive into the comments thread if you dare – be warned, it isn’t for the fain-hearted…!

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  • “1) Ask the nearly 1 million low-paid workers who have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether”

    The problem with running this line is that people should be around £350 better off this Christmas. Don’t reckon many people are thinking that way. Perceptions matter much more than reality in politics.

    “It doesn’t matter how much we actually manage, we’re still in government with the tories, and so the reality of the situation is somehow irrelevant.”

    If that were true then why did our polling ratings in the couple of months after the coalition was formed remain relatively strong. ComRes and ICM had us at 20%+ well into June so its what we’ve done in coalition not the fact of it that’s the problem.

  • “1) Ask the nearly 1 million low-paid workers who have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether”

    The problem with running this line is that people should be around £350 better off this Christmas.”

    Actually, the problem is that the net effect of what this government has done is that everyone is worse off, and the low-paid have been hit worse than those in the middle.

  • Richard Swales 17th Dec '11 - 4:56pm

    Good article. I’m not sure that I would use this “try asking” line, because you can always find someone who won’t agree. One line I would like to see pushed more about the cuts is if we were to cut slower now, then we would get even deeper into debt than is currently planned, and later have to cut deeper to catch up, and the groups that are most affected by cuts now would also be most affected by them in the future – the “try asking” line assumes that the people as are whole are going to make that case for us.

    Secondly, trying to introduce salary caps is not an achievement or even a positive move. Firstly as both marxist and capitalist theory agree, a worker never receives the full value of the work they do, as it is necessary for the investor (or “capitalist”) to take his own share, before passing on less than the full value to the worker. The City is a case in point – a young trader might improve the performance of a 100 million pound fund by 2 percent over benchmark (in other words, make an extra 2 million for his, mostly older, clients and pension-fund members), the bank or fund management company (again mostly ultimately owned by older shareholders and pension fund members) would receive performance fees of 20 percent of this (400,000) of out of which they might pay the younger guy a bonus of about 100,000 pounds. Of course Vince Cable wants to rig the market and see him lose that bonus, not so the money is magically sent to the poor in Africa, but so that all 400,000 of the money stays in the companies owned by rich members of his generation and does not go to rich members of my generation. He is playing exactly the same kind of generational politics as with student fees, favouring his own generation over the younger one.

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