LibLink: Nick Clegg – This coalition is stable and the centre will hold

In today’s Guardian, Nick Clegg declares the Coalition isn’t about to lurch to the left or the right in the wake of the governing parties’ bruising election results: “We spent two years on rescue. Now it’s time for reform.” Here are the three lessons Nick says he’s drawing from last week…

1) The coalition must work harder to show that we are governing for the whole country

Both coalition parties got thumped in Scotland, Wales and the north of England. People are afraid for their jobs and their children’s prospects. In my own patch in Sheffield, I know that memories of the brutal recession of the 1980s are still vivid. We are not going to repeat the mistakes of the past. … Our task is to rebuild real economies in these neglected areas. That is why we are investing in our regional growth fund, in high-speed rail and in our manufacturing base. Putting the economy on a more sustainable footing will be hard work. But we have to do more.

2) The government needs to show more clearly that it is on the side of working families

The centrepiece of the budget was a £3.5bn tax cut for ordinary workers. But too much attention has focused on the reduction in the top rate of tax. An impression has formed that this was a budget for the rich, despite the fact that five times as much will be raised from the most affluent as they gain from the change in the 50p rate. We are making huge efforts on behalf of ordinary families – to lower tax and energy bills, increase the provision of free childcare and get more young people into work or training. It is vital for the government as a whole – and especially for the Lib Dems, who have championed these policies – to ensure they get this message across and deliver these policies in full.

3) We can only build a better economy with a better politics

The failings of our politics led directly to the failure of our economy. Power bled across from Westminster to the City and Fleet Street. Regulation was too lax. The political class turned a blind eye to the excesses of casino capitalism – and failed to stand up to vested interests in the City and in Fleet Street. The historic mission of liberals is to stand up for ordinary people against vested interests. Our radicalism is needed as much as ever. Reining in the banks. Reforming party funding to get the big money out of politics. Cleaning up the media: every Lib Dem can be proud of the part we played in setting up the judge-led Leveson inquiry. And, yes, injecting some democracy into the House of Lords.

Nick’s conclusion…

Mid-term can be a dangerous time for any government. Tactics can trump strategy. The long-term vision can be lost in the thicket of implementation. But the Lib Dems will be raising our sights, and pushing harder for reform. This coalition government will not be lurching to the left or to the right. The Lib Dems have anchored this government in the centre-ground, where it belongs – and where it will stay.

You can read Nick’s article in full here.

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49 Comments

  • People just don’t understand do they Nick. Push on and eventually people will get it and give you thanks. Clear the public need to listen to you and you don’t need to listen to them. As you are …

  • “The centrepiece of the budget was a £3.5bn tax cut for ordinary workers. But too much attention has focused on the reduction in the top rate of tax. An impression has formed that this was a budget for the rich, despite the fact that five times as much will be raised from the most affluent as they gain from the change in the 50p rate.”

    And you never saw this coming? Seriously Nick are you actually a competent politician?

  • People will not start to come back to the Lib Dems until their living standards are rising and unemployment is falling. It is as simple as that. That will not be until later this year or early 2013 at the earliest.

    However, in the mean time, we need to start actually communicating with voters on national issues. We are great at communicating on local matters, but we never seem to deliver leaflets about national policy, explaining what we are doing, answering questions about policy and countering the masses of daft anti-Lib Dem propaganda put out every day in the national press.

    We need a long series of national leaflets, delivered to people’s homes over the next three years to explain what we are doing. Otherwise we are never going to get our message across and we are going to suffer the lies and distortions that we do at the moment.

  • To add to the point I just made, I once had a conversation with a much more experienced local campaigner, putting the point I had just made. She informed me, in the tone of one who is imparting long established wisdom, that national policy doesn’t win votes and that the delivery of locally orientated Focus leaflets was far more productive. My bitter reflection on that, two years down the line, is that if it isn’t explained carefully enough and communicated properly, it sure as hell loses them.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th May '12 - 2:59pm

    Does Nick Clegg really think that the coalition policies are rooted in the centre ground? The centre ground is clearly a moveable feast.Many of the policies of the coalition are Thatcherite or worse?

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th May '12 - 3:02pm

    @RC if you really think that the Lib Dems woes are caused by poor communication rather than the policies that you have supported , in my opinion you have been mixing with the ‘wrong crowd’

  • Richard Dean 7th May '12 - 3:08pm

    @RC. People also need to see that the improvements were the consequence of OUR actions. Are leaflets effective, cost-effective, or mostly bin-bound, and might they be counter-productive sometimes? I imagine you’ll agree that other communications channels may be useful too – tv, internet, newspapers, books, all of which can be utilized by local groups as well as nationally.

  • @ Jayne Mansfield

    So having all the national newspapers bar one constantly baying for your party’s blood and crucifying your leader without anyone countering that means you have a fair hearing? I don’t think so.

    As for the “Thatcherite” nature of policies, when did Thatcher ever cut taxes specifically for the poor, tighten regulations faced by bankers, increase capital gains tax, channel more money to pupils from poorer families, fund a major expansion of apprenticeships, fund regional development investment, fund infrastructure projects like railways and set up a state owned bank with a remit for investing in green enterprise? It is simply nonsense to dismiss all of that and put a big label of “Tory” on such policies which on their own they would never have implemented in a million years.

    The “Thatcherite” label is just a lazy Labourite one applied to anyone who has the temerity to try to sort out some of the abysmal fiscal mess they left behind. The fact that some of the policies are Conservative-driven should not surprise anyone who understands that they have 47% of MPs and we have just 8%. Most people in this country don’t seem to register that key and very crucial point and they are also failing to hear about the very real and concrete impact we are making on government policy right across the board in spite of that.

  • Mike Barnes 7th May '12 - 3:29pm

    Those guardian comments are almost 100% negative and pretty brutal in their opinions of Clegg. It’s pretty obvious to anybody that the biggest problem facing the Liberal Democrats is that the vast majority of the population doesn’t trust/like/respect/believe Nick Clegg. Take your head out of the sand please, you’ll see it too.

  • RC

    Poor old Nick – it is all the fault of those nasty men at the Sun. Do you remember the vicious personal attacks on Brown and the hacking of a lot of MPs

    I don’t remember too many LD complaining about that.

    I also think you are overstating the ‘baying for blood’. Perhaps the Mail and the Telegraph but they don’t like any of the leaders.

    Remember also Clegg was happy for Coulson to be the Government press secretary when he was editor of one of these papers in the past

    In fact you find most of the hatred comes from btl ex-lib dem voters. See the Guardian today for an example. Go and argue with them if you think they are all wrong

  • mike cobley 7th May '12 - 3:44pm

    RC quote – “We need a long series of national leaflets, delivered to people’s homes over the next three years to explain what we are doing. ”

    Well, that’s right out of the Thatcherite playbook. Throughout the 1980s the Tories went on and bloody on about how they weren’t getting their message across and how people would understand and come around, oh, if only they could get a fair hearing. Piffle. The Libdems are being judged by what they do not by what they say.You may think that getting bits of the party manifesto into legislation, or the pupil premium, or the tax threshold shift etc should gain the party plaudits and popular support, but in truth we received a kicking at the polls because we support Tory policies that are hurting people! Dear god in heaven, why is this so difficult for certain party members to understand? There is only the 1 government, not 2, and all those who support it must carry the can for the harm and the avoidable suffering that its policies inflict on ordinary people. In the light of this, Nick Clegg’s latest commentary sounds like a communique from another planet – he either does not understand why the party is despised by 84% of the electorate, or he just doesn’t care. Either way, he is not fit to be leader. QED.

  • Andrew Suffield 7th May '12 - 3:51pm

    In fact you find most of the hatred comes from btl ex-lib dem voters.

    Or at least from people who claim to be ex-lib dem voters. It’s a safe bet that at least some of them are hardcore Labour.

  • Andrew Suffield 7th May '12 - 3:58pm

    The Libdems are being judged by what they do not by what they say.

    No. Mostly the LDs are being judged by what other people say they do. Few care what the party says and even fewer people know what it’s doing.

    Tory policies that are hurting people!

    Thing is that they aren’t hurting many people very much. You may occasionally find somebody who’s been hurt by them, but mostly what you see are people who are convinced that others have been hurt by those policies. On careful inspection it often turns out that the situation is rather different.

    Politics is currently being dominated by perceptions that have little to do with reality.

  • Nonconformistradical 7th May '12 - 4:00pm

    @mike cobley
    “we received a kicking at the polls because we support Tory policies that are hurting people”
    And if we hadn’t gone into a coaltion with the tories and there had been another election – which the tories would have won – they would now be implementing even more nasty right wing tory policies which would be hurting the poor very much more.

    Can you see a tory government bumping up the personal tax allowance as it has been? I can’t.

  • @Mike Cobley

    “but in truth we received a kicking at the polls because we support Tory policies that are hurting people!”

    Which “Thatcherite” policies are we supposedly supporting that are hurting people precisely?

    What is hurting people is the need to get the public finances into order after they melted down under Labour, plus high world commodity and oil prices, which is hitting people’s living standards even more. Which bit of that is “Thatcherite” precisely?

    “Dear God in heaven”, is it so difficult for you to realise that any party in power would be suffering a massive backlash because of this situation. Did you not read the articles in 2010 that this was the election that no-one wanted to win because the job facing the incoming government was so appalling?

    I am sick to the back teeth of people saying repairing the public finances is “Thatcherite”. We’ve taxed the banks, we’ve taxed the rich (not enough, but we have), we’ve protected spending on key public services as much as possible given the dreadful state of the government accounts. What do people want, for us to discover the magic money tree or something?

    I just think people average voters have very short memories and very little capacity for informed thought about economic matters. If their bellies are empty, the natural instinct is just to blame the government and kick them when they can, no matter what the real reasons for economic problems are. It is happening to governments across Europe and beyond. Right now, people’s bellies are emptier than they’ve been for decades.

  • @ Andrew Suffield
    “Mostly the LDs are being judged by what other people say they do. Few care what the party says and even fewer people know what it’s doing”

    Totally agree. That is why we need to start changing that by changing how we are communicating. No-one is communicating our national policies in any effective and consistent way and huge misunderstandings are being built up. We have to start communicating national issues at a local level.

  • “We need a long series of national leaflets, delivered to people’s homes over the next three years to explain what we are doing.”

    Yes, that should do the trick. Provided you can find anyone to deliver them, that is. I live in a Lib Dem-held ward and I scarcely get a sausage from them these days.

  • “Or at least from people who claim to be ex-lib dem voters. It’s a safe bet that at least some of them are hardcore Labour.”

    Probably about as safe a bet as that some of the “coalition loyalists” who contribute to LDV are staunch Tories.

  • @Andy Suffield and @RC
    “Mostly the LDs are being judged by what other people say they do. Few care what the party says and even fewer people know what it’s doing”

    Oh come on. That is just disingeneous. The electorate know what the Lib Dems stand for when they see the parliamentary party debating and voting. As so far the Libe. Dem MP’s have waved most things through it is not unreasonable that the electorate consider those hings to represent the party’s stance. It isn’t rocket science. It doesn’t matter what else you are saying. People judge by public actions not good intentions.

  • “…. we’ve protected spending on key public services as much as possible given the dreadful state of the government accounts”

    It’s amazing how quickly after that tax-cutting budget we’ve gone back to “there is no money” again!

  • RC and Andrew Suffield
    Can I join you in your parallel universe where the Lib Dems didn’t break their pledge to vote against rises in tuition fees? The electorate is not stupid. They are judging you on your actions not on words. Any party facing a precipitous decline in support that starts telling itself that all it needs to do is “communicate better” is heading into the electoral wilderness.

  • @RC
    I just think people average voters have very short memories and very little capacity for informed thought about economic matters. If their bellies are empty, the natural instinct is just to blame the government and kick them when they can, no matter what the real reasons for economic problems are.

    Disingenuous again. Hasn’t the party itself spent a lot of time blaming the Labour government and firmly rejecting the idea that any outside event, such as the collapse of the banks in the USA, could possibly have contributed? Reap what you sow on this one. You and the Conservatives have now managed to simplify economics and persuade the electorate that only the government in power is to blame for any financial crisis. They’ve believed you.

    As for the capacity or otherwise of voters for informed thought… it seems commonplace at the moment to hear both Conservatives and Lib Dems bemoaning the fact that if the electorate only had a brain cell between them then they’d understand that these parties were right and vote accordingly. Maybe there are just other points of view, held by intelligent people, who just happen to disagree with yours.

  • I voted Lib Dem at the last GE and again locally last week. I voted last week based upon the excellent record of Lib Dems in local government a trust built up over some period of time. That said I’m not sure I would vote Lib Dem in a GE again at this point in time. And this leads to a point I haven’t seen considered in the autopsy of the results to date. How many more people are like me wavering at a national level but still supporting at the local one? If it is many than the position could be worse than it currently appears.

    There are four massive issues that will affect my choice of voting in 2015.

    1. Trust. Nick Clegg and most of his MP’s lied to me and the nation with the pledge. I still haven’t seen one ounce of genuine contrition for that at the central level. I bought into the “No more broken promises” stuff and feel suckered by the ease and speed at which the pledge was broken. Somehow the feeling of trust needs to be restored arguing that it was OK to break the pledge due to xxxxxx does not cut it for me.

    2. Welfare. I believe that a society is judged by how it treats those unable to care for themselves. I have huge fears over the current state of disability benefits and have followed with despair the actions of both the last and this Government on the issue. The tone of the debate has been borderline Thatcherite. Housing benefit claimants (who usually never see a penny of it as it goes directly (or indirectly) straight to landlords) are portrayed as scroungers rather than victims of an untenable marketplace. If, as I fear, the support and prospects of those unable to help themselves have been affected negatively either by design, complicity, or complacency it will affect my next GE vote.

    3. NHS. This has been a trainwreck. I have a good level of knowledge in this area both professionally and through my contacts and friends a sizable number of whom work in the sector. The Bill will be judged on whether there are improvements and to be honest I cannot see how there can be. I have huge reservations over GP commissioning, the non commissioning services offered by PCT’s are being decimated in their dismantling and the fact the training issue with the Royal Colleges was not resolved has the potential to really affect quality in years to come. This should have been kicked into the longest of long grass and the improvements (which there were some) have been too little, too late for many working in the service.

    4. It’s the economy stupid… I said a lot at the start of this coalition that claiming that the economic situation was all Labours fault was stupid. Anyone reading Hansard can see that in terms of regulation and spending levels there were few predicting the crash in advance. However, Vince was one of the first on the money and his ideas would have made a difference. There should have been a highlighting of what would have been different, and an acceptance of what all three parties would have had to deal with anyway. I say this because now the Government is in the same situation. There is no doubt that many of the current issues are outside of government control, but now Labour will play the same game. All they need to do is show the economy has not improved to the level promised in 2010 and they will win the argument in many quarters. This is no defense of Labour, Ball’s talks balls most of the time and I have no time for Millibland,

    The Lib Dem manifesto was clear in that the approach taken would depend on the circumstances. This is clearly a more appropriate approach than stubbornly claiming that there should be no plan B. I do not expect miracles, but the government do need to have real action to encourage and support growth and they do need to adapt to the situation.

    There are many others issues I have disagreed with, and many I have supported. But these four are key to me. I am not someone influenced by the media, I do tend to read Hansard and Bills themselves. I will make my decision based upon what I believe to be the true state of the party at the time of the election. I don’t need Nick Clegg to tell me I don’t understand I want him, and other ministers, to take note of peoples concerns and properly address them.

  • Simon Bamonte 7th May '12 - 4:46pm

    Well said, @AndrewR. I am sick and tired of the public being blamed for the failings of our party. Nobody forced our MPs to vote for the unwanted NHS reforms. But our MPs decided that keeping the coalition alive was more important than listening to the electorate.

    People will never start listening to the Lib Dems again until we start listening to the people. We are there to work for them, not the other way around. Maybe, just maybe, if the public don’t like what we’re doing, we should be blaming ourselves and our actions instead of blaming the voters or the media.

    We only have ourselves to blame for the situation we are in. Blaming the electorate and saying they don’t understand anything is arrogance I would expect from New Labour, not Liberal Democrats.

  • @ Steve Way

    On trust, I agree with you entirely. The pledge was a huge error partly forced by the party itself which didn’t think through the consequences of what that pledge meant in terms of funding, i.e. that a lot more taxpayers’ money would have to have been found for universities at a time when, frankly, there wasn’t any. Nick Clegg actually tried to back away from that, probably in recognition of the problems it would cause, but was not able to do so early enough to avoid a what would have caused a huge rift in the middle of a general election run-up.

    Sadly, we promised people “free stuff” when we weren’t in a position to deliver it. At least Nick could give us a clearer explanation of why he did what he did.

    On health, I have to agree with you that we were far too lenient on the Tories about the Health & Social Care Bill in its first stages. It really should have been challenged much more radically at white paper stage. The only consolation is that legislation’s real impact is decided in implementation as much as in parliament and we need to be making every effort to ensure that the good things (third sector involvement, local control) are maximised and the bad things (large corporations muscling in on public services) are prevented. It will not be an easy job, but it is our duty as a party to do it.

  • Andrew Suffield 7th May '12 - 5:21pm

    I have huge fears over the current state of disability benefits and have followed with despair the actions of both the last and this Government on the issue. The tone of the debate has been borderline Thatcherite. Housing benefit claimants (who usually never see a penny of it as it goes directly (or indirectly) straight to landlords) are portrayed as scroungers rather than victims of an untenable marketplace.

    I can’t disagree with any of that, but I will point out that it’s the Tories who are portraying them as scroungers, Labour who made the stupid evaluation mess that is proving very hard to stop, and the LDs who are getting ignored by the media and public every time they stand up and say they disagree with all this.

    So what exactly has that got to do with your opinion of the party?

  • Andrew Suffield 7th May '12 - 5:25pm

    I do not expect miracles, but the government do need to have real action to encourage and support growth and they do need to adapt to the situation.

    £2.4bn in the regional growth fund.

    £3bn in the green investment bank.

    Real money going out to businesses and creating jobs today, and leveraging over £20bn of private investment into those businesses.

    It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s every scrap of money that could be spared. What more can you ask for?

  • Simon Bamonte 7th May '12 - 5:40pm

    @Andrew Suffield:
    “I can’t disagree with any of that, but I will point out that it’s the Tories who are portraying them as scroungers, Labour who made the stupid evaluation mess that is proving very hard to stop, and the LDs who are getting ignored by the media and public every time they stand up and say they disagree with all this.”

    It’s all well and good for our MPs to say they disagree with it, but it’s another thing when they go and vote for things they disagree with. This is another trust issue. How can anyone trust Lib Dems when they say they don’t like something, but do nothing at all to fight it and then go and vote for it? Same thing with tuition fees. Same thing with the NHS. Nobody is forcing them to vote for things that go too far or were not in the coalition agreement.

    The public now simply see us as a party with no red lines, where no compromise is too far. They don’t trust us.

  • >when did Thatcher ever cut taxes specifically for the poor, tighten regulations faced by bankers, increase capital gains tax, channel more money to pupils from poorer families, fund a major expansion of apprenticeships, fund regional development investment, fund infrastructure projects like railways and set up a state owned bank with a remit for investing in green enterprise?

    I think you are talking about a cardboard cutout totemic Thatcher here; not a good idea. Whereas any Govt has shades of grey.

    I can make an argument for these, but also for the other side.

    >tighten regulations faced by bankers,
    Not to hand, and I’m not digging through all the history of FInancial Regulation as I have a life.

    >cut taxes specifically for the poor,
    personal allowances raised repeatedly to take more people out of the tax system altogether

    >increase capital gains tax,
    1988: 30% to your marginal income tax rate – so 40% for higher income peeps.
    http://www.ifs.org.uk/budgets/gb2008/08chap10.pdf page 213.

    >channel more money to pupils from poorer families
    Assisted places scheme for one springs to mind. If I recall she actually did more to boost Comprehensive schools than anyone else when she was Ed Sec (!)

    >fund a major expansion of apprenticeships,
    Not sure on apprenticeships, but remember eg the Enterprise Allowance Scheme.

    >fund regional development investment,
    Norman Lamont about 1988. And remember Docklands etc

    >fund infrastructure projects like railways and
    M25 for a start.

    >set up a state owned bank with a remit for investing in green enterprise
    I remember a speech, but I’m not sure what happened.

  • @Andrew Suffield
    “It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s every scrap of money that could be spared. What more can you ask for?”

    1. The government own the banks that are not lending to small business, I know I run one. I could have created more jobs this year (we already grew by 20%) if it were not for Cash Flow. In a service industry it is crucial.
    2. Regional growth funds are yet to really make any impact in my area but SWERDA, now closed did. the airport in Plymouth has now been closed (owned by the council). This has cut transport links to the major cities and discouraged inwards investment. Motorways stop at Exeter, those of us that live further west have poor transport infrastructure, crumbling cliffs affecting the train service and the roads have to support the additional traffic through tourism in the Summer. The Ministry of Defence could have secured the long term future of the Dockyard at Devonport but did not. Regionally the South West has not been blessed by this, or the previous government.
    3. Instead of looking after the very richest (see seperate thread on tax) and the biggest companies (HMRC letting them avoid tax after a cosy lunch) start providing breaks for those who produce employment. I would start with an employers NI holiday for any new posts for a year in SME’s. And that would be based upon total FTE to ensure no employment “hopping” by employers.
    4. Give a tax break to anyone who wishes to risk their income in creating news jobs, including SME’s as corporate bodies. This would allow corporation tax to be ploughed straight into growth. IF the individual or corporate body makes money from the new venture the tax would be recouped plus an amount for the new profit base. For corporate bodies this would only be applicable where the profit in question is not distributed by dividend.
    5. Follow through on the promise to allow SME’s access to government contracts they are able to deliver against. At present “Framework Agreements” where companies have to show they have the turnover to service the whole contract group are being used to prevent SME’s delivering to regional contracts.
    6. Stop organisations such as the HSE creating virtual cartels by restricting accreditation due to “cost”.

    I could go on, as these are the issues I deal with every day whilst trying to run a business that will never be the size to make Government take notice, will never be “important” enough to get taken to lunch by HMRC, but gives over 50 people real jobs on which they pay real taxes and support their real families.

  • @Andrew Suffield
    On welfare, I do not listen to the press, I look to the voting record and contribution of Lib Dem Ministers and MP’s.

  • Ruth Bright 7th May '12 - 6:12pm

    Steve – quite right. Alas the demeaning language about those on benefits has not only come from the Tories. What about David Laws and his chilling remarks in his book about the “wasted lives” of claimants?

  • Andrew Suffield 7th May '12 - 6:46pm

    What about David Laws and his chilling remarks in his book about the “wasted lives” of claimants?

    The guy points out that we’ve got to get people off benefits where they sit around doing nothing, and let them have meaningful and satisfying lives, and you call this “chilling”? Your attitude here is everything that the party stands to oppose.

    The government own the banks that are not lending to small business

    True to a point – it’s an “arms length” deal with the government trying not to end up nationalising them. The debate over whether or not it’s a good idea for the government to meddle here is interminable; those banks ended up with partial government ownership because their finances suck, and they really don’t need more risky investments on their books.

    Regional growth funds are yet to really make any impact in my area but SWERDA, now closed did

    Hrm. Opinions on SWERDA vary. I don’t know the reality.

    the airport in Plymouth has now been closed (owned by the council)

    The last thing we need is more airplanes. They’re expensive, burn through hydrocarbons, and have serious environmental repercussions. The government is trying to get people to move to greener forms of transport.

    Motorways stop at Exeter, those of us that live further west have poor transport infrastructure, crumbling cliffs affecting the train service and the roads have to support the additional traffic through tourism in the Summer.

    These are interesting points; have you raised them with your MP?

    The Ministry of Defence could have secured the long term future of the Dockyard at Devonport but did not.

    The LDs do not favour military spending. In the long term it’s not good for the nation, society, or the world.

    Instead of looking after the very richest (see seperate thread on tax) and the biggest companies (HMRC letting them avoid tax after a cosy lunch)

    Taxes on the richest went up this year, and the stories about HMRC letting companies avoid tax have been disproved (the tax was never owed).

    I would start with an employers NI holiday for any new posts for a year in SME’s.

    This idea is interesting. I’m a firm believer in abolishing NI by folding it into income tax, but a first-year-of-employment bonus is a policy that merits serious consideration. I’ll certainly be talking to people about it.

    Give a tax break to anyone who wishes to risk their income in creating news jobs, including SME’s as corporate bodies

    SMEs already have major tax breaks available for all forms of investment, not just new jobs.

    For corporate bodies this would only be applicable where the profit in question is not distributed by dividend.

    Good news! All reinvested profit on new jobs should be fully tax-deductible as it would be expenses of the business.

    An extra bonus for new jobs would seem to be better delivered on the income tax side, like you suggested above.

    At present “Framework Agreements” where companies have to show they have the turnover to service the whole contract group are being used to prevent SME’s delivering to regional contracts.

    I don’t know the facts of this issue, but if LAs are still blocking SMEs from contracts then this should and can be stopped; please raise specific instances with your MP so that they can be escalated to the appropriate levels of government.

    Stop organisations such as the HSE creating virtual cartels by restricting accreditation due to “cost”.

    Specifics? Sounds like another one you need to pass up the tree.

  • Tony Dawson 7th May '12 - 7:18pm

    It is such a shame that the Guardian edited out the bit where Nick Clegg apologised for his personal responsibility in bringing about the end of the careers of 600 Lib Dem councillors and the effective end of Lib Dem participation in municipal local government.

    Is it only my web copy of the Guardian page that has a photo of candidate Martin Tod with no head?

  • @Andrew Suffield
    To answer your points. Firstly, all have been raised with MP’s and Ministers where appropriate.

    For example the transport infrastructure is something all our MP’s in the West Country shout about at election time and do nothing to support afterwards. You say we do not need more planes, but with a failing rail service, poor roads and no alternatives we still need them. The answer is to improve the other aspects prior to reducing air travel. Road networks have been raised through Chambers of Commerce, Councils, MP’s and Ministers and that is just the times I’ve been involved with. As for Rail, the track is falling into the sea at Dawlish, the trains have to slow down to a crawl at points along the way and fares are extortionate. We don’t want HS2 just an improvement on what Brunel left us…

    Whilst Lib Dems do not favour military spending in the same way as other parties, they would be wiped out electorally if they were so glib about it in the West Country. Between the Dockyard, HMS Raleigh, and the RM and Army Units surrounding Plymouth you have by far the only sizable employers other than the NHS. We will retain some forces and Ships need to be refitted. The economic and political question is where do you place that work ? Or more pertinently for Plymouth, do you remove that work from an already depressed area?

    I’m sorry to burst the bubble on the HMRC but they did write off significant Tax for example Vodaphone. And they certainly did meet large companies in a social setting. It should be a level playing field.

    SME’s do not get the type of tax breaks that allow them to grow, particularly within the service industry. Dont get me wrong I want to be paying loads of Tax it would mean good profit levels.

    It is not Local Authorities that block SME’s but Government agencies and departments, in spite of promises to do otherwise. This means that a body requiring an outsourced service locally is being forced to select from those who have been accepted onto a list of approved organisations. These are the larger corporate bodies who can show they have sufficient turnover to provide for the whole body of organisations rather than proving they have adequate turnover to provide for the individual contract…..

    The HSE thing was passed to the Business Department who passed it straight back to them. I asked the department to investigate a restriction of trade and they totally ignored the email. And that is a Lib Dem department.

  • I have read all of the above and I found it very lively and interesting. I believe that Simon Bamonte’s piece (unfortunately) describes accurately the view currently held by a majority of voters.

  • Ruth Bright 7th May '12 - 8:01pm

    No – Andrew, the party stands to oppose people being by enslaved by poverty and conformity. Most people on benefit are not sitting around doing, they are bringing up children, caring for someone, or as is the case with my daughter’s godfather trying to make a contribution to the community despite severe disability. Laws is a man of privilege who appears to dismiss such lives as a waste of time simply because they are state-funded.

  • Andrew Suffield wrote: “Politics is currently being dominated by perceptions that have little to do with reality.”

    Unfortunately, how people vote is all about perceptions! Every unpopular government claims that its policies are correct but aren’t being communicated properly.

    Andrew also wrote that the Regional Growth Fund is: “Real money going out to businesses and creating jobs today,”

    In my region (the North East) most of the RGF grants announced a year ago today haven’t yet gone out to businesses, whilst a protracted due diligence process takes place. The government is unable to say when the money will be released. Furthermore, academic studies have shown that, due to the number of big-ticket spending programmes taking place in the South-Ease (such as Crossrail), the vast majority of UK infrastructure spending is going into London and the South-East. The economy isn’t being re-balanced, it’s being tilted yet further.

  • Andrew Suffield

    I suppose some comments get made by Labour voters claiming to be LD but do you have any real evidence for that rather than hopeful thinking? You have lost a significant amount of voters – many hundreds of thousands so it is probable there are a good number of people who are not happy how their vote was used!

    Also, I find that some of the posters on here sound more like Tories, in fact one of your most prominent expense cheats definitely sounds more like a Tory than a Lib Dem but I suppose that is acceptable chez vous!

  • People aren’t stupid paticularly when times are tough. Successful local government campaigns in Hampshire ensured that the Coalition was never mentioned. The one exception was in Portsmouth where 3 seats were won and the voting record of the local Lib Dem MP against the Health Bill, Tuition Fees etc was highlighted.
    The David Laws comments are not Thacherite they are Victorian. The concept of the undeserving poor is popular.

  • Andrew Suffield7th May ’12 – 3:51pm…………..or at least from people who claim to be ex-lib dem voters. It’s a safe bet that at least some of them are hardcore Labour.

    Piffle! I am . and I’m not.

    As for all this “vilification of Clegg” twaddle; Milliband receives far more bad press and is rated, by the electorate, well below Clegg (as trumpeted on LDV). That didn’t prevent his party wiping the floor with us and our Tory ‘partners’.

    You, and those like you, refuse to accept reality; the last two elections were, “nothing to do with our policies” “We’re Right”! It’s all due to a mis-understanding, bad press, Labour lies, etc.

    We are seen, by the electorate as, “tory”. The promised appearance, in Essex, of ‘Keith Harris and Orville’ (sorry, ‘Cameron and Clegg’) will do nothing to assure voters that there’s any difference between us and the Tories. Danny Alexander indicated that, after the 2015 election, LibDems will not simply have the same fiscal objective as the Tories, but an agreed programme to meet those objectives. Simon Hughes tried,desperately, to ‘row back’ from Alexander’s statement, but the idea that “A vote for the LibDems is the same as a vote for the Tories’ stuck.

    BTW….Who will deliver the ‘magic leaflets’ that will ‘re-educate our misinformed electorate’? We are losing not just voters but party activists

  • “We need a long series of national leaflets, delivered to people’s homes over the next three years to explain what we are doing. Otherwise we are never going to get our message across and we are going to suffer the lies and distortions that we do at the moment.”

    That’s just arrogant. I’m a Social Democrat and I’m socially liberal and I believe in things like free university education paid out of general taxation, increased taxation on the rich, the decriminalisation of cannabis, etc, etc…

    I DIDN’T know what the Lib Dems stood for (I thought I did but I was wrong) but after seeing them in government I now know exactly what the Lib ems are and I don’t like it. Send me all the leaflets you like, you’ll just kill trees, not change my mind.

    You have gone up and down the country telling different people different things for a long time now. One message to the students, one message in council estates, another message in the richer shires… And now that you’re in government you have been found out. Leaflets will change nothing because I know what the Lib Dems voted for in Westminster.

  • Tony Dawson 8th May '12 - 9:37pm

    @David:

    ” Leaflets will change nothing because I know what the Lib Dems voted for in Westminster.”

    The greatest move towards increasing tax fairness for the low paid in the UK in history and the biggest state pension boost ever. I am sorry that this offends you so much. So vote for the Labour Party which pushed inequality beyond even Mrs Thatcher’s levels eh? or what?

  • Just chiming in to say that I am a lifelong LibDem voter and I totally agree with Steve Way’s first comment. I held my nose and voted LD last week, but as things stand I would have a great deal of trouble voting LD in a general election, for all the reasons Steve gives.

    I was one of the commenters on Mr Clegg’s Guardian article, and assure you I’m not a Labour interloper! 🙂 I’m genuinely disappointed and disaffected, and I suspect I am not alone in this, far from it in fact. I’m as close as you get to “core vote” without being a current party member, and right now I’d rather spoil my ballot than vote at all. No other party represents me *on paper*, but I can’t endorse what I’ve seen so far, which seems to be failed, or non-existent, attempts to contain a tsunami of Tory destruction.

    Kinda miss the days Charles Kennedy, when I would relish the opportunity to support him on election day.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th May '12 - 6:31am

    David

    I DIDN’T know what the Lib Dems stood for (I thought I did but I was wrong) but after seeing them in government I now know exactly what the Lib ems are and I don’t like it.

    Sorry, but you don’t. What you have seen is a Tory government with a little LibDem influence, not a LibDem government. I believe the leadership of the LibDems have played it appallingly badly – and it seems they intend to carry on doing this – by a policy of over-emphasising what they can and have achieved in the coalition. They thought this would impress and win support, but they were wrong, and I and many others told them that at the start. They should have made clear from the start that thanks to the distortions caused by the electoral system the coalition with its 5-to-1 Tory-LibDem share of seats (from 3-2 share of vote) would inevitably be almost all Tory with just a little LibDem filling in of details hereand there – which is what it has been. They should have admitted that their badly run general election campaign let the party down, so leading to a situation where it dare not force the FPTP election winners (i.e. Tories) too hard as the LibDems would be the main losers in an early general election. That would have been the honest truth, and would have saved the party from the sort of criticism you are now making of it – it is unfair because it does not reflect the real postion of most LibDem members nor does it take into account the difficult situation we were left in after the 2010 general election, but it works because of the way Clegg and his clique have so badly managed leadership of the party and its central campaigning.

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