Lines of attack against the Lib Dems becoming clearer

The Labour Party and the media in general are still figuring our how best to attack the Lib Dems – a party which, they all believed not so long ago, could be ignored, safe in the knowledge that it would never get near power.

Back then the strategy was simple: ignore when possible and insult when not. Rarely would you hear a mention of the Lib Dems in the press. As far as the tabloids were concerned, the party hardly existed except when some scandal erupted. Labour and the Conservatives rarely felt the urge to address Lib Dem policy (except to grab the odd snippet to present out of context).

So what now? The Lib Dems are part of the Coalition Government, Lib Dem policies are being put into practise and Lib Dem ministers are making the tough decisions our opponents previously claimed we weren’t up to taking.

The press are out looking for senior Lib Dems to attack. They were sadly successful in forcing David Laws’ resignation. Chris Huhne has rightly brushed off the more recent attacks on him.

We may well see a bit of a power tussle developing, with the press perhaps feeling rather bruised at the way their exhortations were largely ignored by the public during the election campaign. The Conservative’s poll rating barely changed from the day The Sun switched to supporting Team Cameron right up to polling day. The Sun, Daily Mail and their fellow organs now need to prove their power, and how better than to claim a few ministerial scalps.

Labour are sensibly trying a few different tactics as they try to figure out how to dent the support for the coalition parties, which has remained stubbornly at about 60%.

There’s the “we thought you were like us” cries, such as the claims of Lord Prescott that the Lib Dems have somehow done the dirty on their socialist comrades. Sorry, my lord, but the Lib Dems were never Labour’s soul-mates and we genuinely believe you got things badly wrong over the last 13 years.

We have Ed Milliband harking back to a golden tradition of liberalism which, he claims, the Lib Dems are throwing away by going into coalition with the Conservatives. Very kind of you to mention it, Ed – perhaps a shame you never thought to say so before, which would rather be a precondition to taking that point seriously.

Or perhaps the Lib Dems are merely doing the Tories’ dirty work? Let’s ignore the appalling state of the country’s finances. Let’s ignore Labour’s own pre-election plans for £44 billion of cuts and 20% across-the-board cuts for Government spending. Let’s ignore that the coalition agreement is chock full of Lib Dem manifesto commitments, many of which are introduced in this budget. And let’s ignore the way senior Lib Dems have been warning of the need for big cuts for over a year (yes, Nick did use the phrase “savage cuts” last Autumn).

Then there’s the “attack the cuts” approach. Some of that is fair. There are of course entirely valid debates to be had over how and what we cut, and which taxes we increase. Labour will, naturally, continue to evade that debate. Not for them the question of “if we don’t do it this way, how should we do it.” Rather, this attack pretends that everything’s really alright and we can somehow get away without cutting very much at all – continuing to live well beyond our means and worrying about the debt later.

Whether or not any of these attacks from the media and our political opponents are fair or right, they are a fact of life. Oppositions oppose and the media knocks people down. Labour will doubtless settle in comfortably to all the habits they criticised others for when they were running the country – there’d be something odd if they didn’t.

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  • Perhaps you can maintain growth while cutting the deficit quicker.

    What exactly were Labour preparing to cut? Any details Richard?

  • Daniel Furr 24th Jun '10 - 4:52pm


    We had a fiscal crisis before the financial crash, which was Labour’s fault. The Labour plan would’ve resulted in a downgrade in Britain’s credit rating and we’d be off to the IMF within a year. Hearing Ed Miliband wanting this budget to fail is a clear signal he, as Labour leader, would want to create a massive economic and constitutional crisis in the United Kingdom.

    That’s one way to protect the poor *rolls eyes*

  • Paul McKeown 24th Jun '10 - 4:54pm

    Richard: it is all Labour’s fault.

    The most idiotically stubborn, shortsighted and partisan man to hold the post of Chancellor in living memory understood nothing about counter-cyclical fiscal measures. Gordon Brown was utterly lacking in self-awareness or the necessary humour to hold his own opinions to the light of sensible scrutiny. In the end he borrowed and borrowed more still for the best part of a decade, for he fell for his own propaganda that boom and bust were ended as if by some miracle. When the pyramid scheme collapsed, the bust was made so much worse as borrowing was severely constrained by what had already been borrowed.

    Truly Gordon Brown will be reviled, a figure that school children will in centuries to come condemn in their essays on 21st century history.

    Alistair Darling predicted that Labour’s cuts would be worse than any under Thatcher, for which he had to endure the furies of hell. I’m sure AD, though, is one senior Labour figure that has managed to retain the sympathy and respect of the electors.

  • Financial regulation – Gordo Macavity wasn’t there, was he?

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 5:16pm

    I see a lot of people are not used to being attacked. Just ignore it, support our leadership, and discuss amongest our selves where we want to take things next. The worst thing one can do is react to any of it. If people bite then they will keep going for that piont more and more. Really we don’t want to discuss vexed pionts in public till the confrence before the next election, at which time we should develope our manifesto and anything goes. Hopefully that will not be for foyr years by which time we will have a clearer idea of the mood of the people about the coalitions progress. I think to do otherwise will really turn people of make us look badly split and incapable of goverment. Play the hand that is dealt well and people will respect us, after all surely we want to win next time. Either that or we can be a pack of jokers.

  • @ Richard Ian Hill

    My point of attack is a little more simple in that I’ve voted LibDem since 1997 on the basis that I consider myself a Social Democrat.

    Thus far, I have been nothing but disappointed by the powers that be in government with their right wing behaviour and I can’t imagine voting for them again unless something drastic changes very soon.

    So, sure, carry on talking about it amongst yourselves but you’ll have to talk to your faithful voters at some point or other.

  • George Kendall 24th Jun '10 - 5:35pm

    @Richard Ian Hill

    I’m not one for responding to trolls, but I think it’s a good idea to respond to Labour members commenting on our site. It’s a public site so they have every right to comment. It wouldn’t look good if their arguments weren’t rebutted.

    Actually, Labour contributors to this site are doing us a favour. Debate helps to think through the issues. And Labour criticisms that fail to acknowledge their government’s culpability just remind us why this ghastly budget was necessary, and what we are fighting.

  • Elizabeth Patterson 24th Jun '10 - 5:36pm

    Iain, good post. The most irritating thing is that the attacks are crude/incorrect or both, from both Labour and the media.
    Perhaps with practise they will learn to be clever and amusing, even satirical and truthful.. One can only hope.

    Among the few I have liked was John Prescott’s blog indignation at the thought of Clegg being in charge during the PM’s coming trip abroad. This from a former deputy PM who was always a joke!

    The most annoying thing is when Labour bloggers gatecrash this site with abusive commentary. Any chance of a filter? It is supposed to be our voices not theirs.


  • Me a Labour troll?

    Fine, dismiss me as one and carry on having a chat amongst yourselves.

    Consequently, my details are contained on your membership database.

  • John Fraser 24th Jun '10 - 6:46pm


    i have never heard so much nonsense about labour Trolls and the like why can’t we have a debate like civilised Liberal democrats . Its like we are looking for scapegoats rather than admitting when we are part of a budget that is poor to say the least.

    It is being widely reported and not yet denied by the party that we went into the Lab Lib negotiations demanding that very large cuts were made this year . Something not in EITHER of our manifestos . Whatever Labour did next , if that was our one of our first demands it rather makes me suspect that WE were not taking the negotiations seriously and had already decided that a coalition with probibly the most extreme mainstream right wing party in western europe was a better option to make .

  • Andrew Suffield 24th Jun '10 - 7:03pm

    The worst thing one can do is react to any of it.

    Not necessarily, although there is a certain amount of trolling to which that applies. The best thing to do is to ignore all the posturing and hand-wringing, and cut through to the facts they are claiming support them. If they aren’t offering any, call them on it. If they’re vaguely handwaving about unspecified material, demand their source. If they’ve given you enough data to work with, identify the point where they are misrepresenting it and point that out. Don’t bother with the rest of the argument – just point out the sloppy thinking or deception underlying their claims, and leave it there. Example:

    Labour have set out their plans for cutting the deficit, whilst maintaining growth, the deficit would have been halved in 5 years.

    Citation needed.

    It is being widely reported and not yet denied by the party that we went into the Lab Lib negotiations demanding that very large cuts were made this year

    And the same here.

  • Chris Smith 24th Jun '10 - 7:04pm

    The heat is rising unsurprisingly. We are third in my part of the country (SE London) yet the vitriol locally against us, even from friends, is surprisingly strong. On a bit of digging it is coming from Labour voters and members, who see this as a game changing opportunity to wipe us out, and LD supporters who were fed up pre election anyway (Nick is a Tory, where have my sandals gone approach). This is good – they are worried this coalitionmight work and their best shot is to kill it now (and us) before the recovery takes shape.
    Of course we are not always going to get our own way in this coalition, and being the smaller coalition partner in the current economic atmosphere was never going to be comfortable. If you believe our parliamentarians, people many of us have known and listened to for years, really have been as corrupted as some appear to think, and in such a short time – then leave. If you believe, as I do, that they are genuinly trying their best, with mistakes along the way, then fight back.

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 8:11pm

    I am all for civilised debate. I like to think of the Lib-Dems as a central party treating all sides equally and realizing there is good and bad in all groups including our own. Rebuffing false critisisum needs to be done as well. Labour have been masters of lies and spin in recent years. So remember don’t let them get levers inbetween our party and good people of other parties As I say they are probably the best at it and it looks to me that most of them are maintaining that course. I want us to become one of the two main parties because Labour always mess up the economy by promising impossible dreams at that piont in time and throw money at them in desperate bids to stay in power. If anyone is power crazy it is them. If we survive the situation they have gotten us into again we may not be so lucky next time so work hard to make the coalition work. At least the conservatives are good on the economy but they need our social concious to balance it because most of them don’t really experience that side of life. That is one of the reasons we must always maintain our individuality, hold our heads high and go forward as a unique party for now and for always.

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 8:30pm

    Dream on mate. I think we did prety well in the budget. The truth is they need us because if it fell apart I can imagine who would say I told you so, twist it and have a good chance of getting back in power. I am pretty sure the conservatives don’t want that.

  • Richard Dawson 24th Jun '10 - 8:43pm

    I really don’t understand the views of people like tony et al.
    We are a party that espouses coalition politics ,we have a substantial portion of our manifesto in a programme for govt surely that the point of any party.
    We are not an annexe of the labour party !
    The moaning from right wing Tories and the Left tells me we have it about right

  • paul barker 24th Jun '10 - 8:50pm

    A lot of the Labour attacks come from genuine rage but there is a strategy of sorts, coming from the top. They think we are the weak link in the Coalition, they beleive we will break up. We must prove them wrong.

  • Richard Dawson. Agree wholeheartedly. I cannot understand all these whinging letters from people purporting to be Lib Dems (see today’s Indy for example). We are not an adjunct of the Labour Party and we believe in coalition politics.

    Paul Barker “attacks come from genuine rage”.

    Labour has no right to genuine rage when they will not spell out their alternative.

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 9:02pm

    They rage against anybody that does not do what they want ,typical bullies. A lot of the time they are wrong in my mind. We are happy to sit down and talk the issues through and I am happy to do that for ever or until we find ways that all parties agree work.

  • Chris Smith 24th Jun '10 - 9:21pm

    Richards – completely agree


    Thanks for engaging in this – I’m all for debate even though I disagree with nearly everything you say.
    I strongly dispute your comment that the all the policies coming out of the coalition are Tory – not enough space to go through all of the influence we have had so far. However on VAT – we said during the campaign that we had costed out our proposals to help the less fortunate (many of which we have started) without a need for a VAT increase. Since then 2 critical things have happened – 1) we did not win an overall majority and 2) the numbers the new government found on getting in were far worse than was anticipated (ref Byrne note). Hence into the lesser of several evils land.

    Two other points. One I, like many others, spend hours tramping the streets knocking on doors, leafletting, fending off pit-bull terriors etc. I respect any LD member who feels that this is no longer their natural home. What I find more difficult to be charitable about is having the door slammed in my face with a volley of choice words (only a minority thank goodness!) I know one ex member who tried the Greens and has already deserted them – my suspicion is that he will return to us. Two, re your armageddon scenario. Never underestimate the British public or take them for granted. The majority know how difficult a position the government are in and particularly the Liberal Democrats within the government. They have seen the partisan attacks on us by the media and the opposition and they are not stupid and BTW we are not saintly in this regard and we all know that if its too hot get out of the kitchen and all that.

    Staying v positive over here!

  • @Chris Smith
    The economic numbers weren’t worse than was anticipated, actually the OBR found they were better than Darling put in the Red Book in March. Why won’t any Coalition supporter admit that?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 24th Jun '10 - 9:52pm

    “Me a Labour troll?
    Fine, dismiss me as one and carry on having a chat amongst yourselves.
    Consequently, my details are contained on your membership database.”

    All that means is that you’re a Labour troll who’s a member of the Lib Dems, though …

  • *We are not an adjunct of the Labour Party*

    Yes,yes but a lot of silly people thought you were to the left of Labour and voted for you accordingly.The fools.

  • Richard Dawson 24th Jun '10 - 9:54pm

    @Chris Smith

    Quite right if the Govt goes full term and implements its full programme we will get our share of the credit .Our political bravery will be recognised and rewarded keep the faith !

  • Anthony Aloysius St 24th Jun '10 - 9:56pm

    “Citation needed.”

    Citation needed.

  • “Yes,yes but a lot of silly people thought you were to the left of Labour and voted for you accordingly.The fools.”

    We’ll have to see whether there are as many of them as there are those who previously didn’t consider voting for us because we didn’t appear to have any ambition to get into government and implement our policies.

  • @DM Andy

    OBR changed its assumptions from lower end of range to central forecasts from March to June hence the perceived improvement. Lies, damned lies and statistics I know but the central issue of an enormous pile of debt remains.

    @ tony

    Betrayed??? We, like the other parties, are a broad church, and stronger for it. You, the coalition and the country, will see the benefits of that in the coming years.

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 10:04pm

    Also getting fingers bit through the letter box. Ow! I think they are mainly talking about the structual debt being worse, however one looks at it it is amajor shambles. As one should respect that the voters are quite smart, one should not think the tories are dumb either, they need us. It is not a matter of must make it work, we will make it work. They are not fools they are just learning the wisdom of our ways. Would I get angry with a five year old for not understanding caculus (only on a bad day). Me, I like the heat whether it be the frying pan or the fire,bring it on. Smoke me and have me for breakfest if you can.

  • Yes only 2 hospitalisations for dog bites this time round here – safer in the flames!

  • Paul Craythorne 24th Jun '10 - 10:14pm

    You have lied to the electorate and ditched your principles to get your hands on political power.

  • Patrick Smith 24th Jun '10 - 10:20pm

    Let`s get real with the economics when the Lib Dems choose rightly with no alternative choice on the table, to form the `Coalition Government’ ?

    Ther was a constant drain of 80K each minute being paid on the outstanding interest `structural deficit’ that has now been staunched as a result of the emergency Budget.

    The emergency Budget is a tourniquet to stop the blood flowing from the Economy, that if not stemmed, would have soon made it a potential lifeless corpse.

    I am a founder member Liberal Democrat and recognise that any Government would have faced the same stark choices to bring under control the terrible mess that Labour had left the nation`s coffers.

    I want that all progressive Liberals give their approval to passage into law of all stated progressive Liberal Democrat on `Fair Taxes’ and `Fair Votes’ .

    These Liberal reforms will only be implemented as part of the joint `Coalition Agreement’ but it will 5 years to achieve everything..

    The emergency budget is the mother of economic necessity to provide the platform later for the outlined Liberal reforms that will hopefully meet most of expectations of the 7 million voters on May 6th and be targeted at the worst off and lowest earners , as the main beneficiaries.

    Labour had succeeded from all hype to the contrary over 13 years, in leaving Britain almost economically bankrupt with the second highest national deficit in the EU.

    Greece,Spain and Portugal all have vulnerable Euro reliant economies and now with the former having to be baled out of the hole by the stronger members of the EU that includes Germany and France,Holland and Belgium.

    In a time of high national deficits a novel cross party approach is best applied to fully respond to the crisis.

    J.S Mill said, `When society requires to be rebuilt,there is no use in attempting to rebuild it, on the old plan’


  • It is being widely reported and not yet denied by the party that we went into the Lab Lib negotiations demanding that very large cuts were made this year

    Andrew it is you who are being sloppy and verging on the offensive . If you would like to point out who in the party has denied this you comments might make some sense but at the point they make none at all.

    There is paranoid creeping into youtr arguments about labour properghanda

    John Fraser
    Lib Dem Member of 25 Years and obviously a Labour Troll !!

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 10:28pm

    We did not lie we dealt with the situation at that point in time, cicumstances change, Greece etc. I get the impresion there is a few labourites about, they were the ones so desperate to keep power. We are just helping clean up the mess. No cracks here I, afraid. We do seem to have lost some supporters but I get the impression we have gained far more. Like I said before there is good and bad in all groups. We are working,as best we can, with the good ones. I am still waiting for my new membership card, been nearly two months, they say they can’t keep up with the demand. At leat we tried to form an aliance but seems like more lies to me.

  • “Paul Craythorne
    Posted 24th June 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    You have lied to the electorate and ditched your principles to get your hands on political power.”

    Pretty good summation of New Labour, there.

  • Enjoying Vince Cable on question time.He looks like one of those hostages forced to read out a pre-prepared script at gunpoint.

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 11:15pm

    I have just been watching Vince as well. He seemed to be very aware of all the facts, in control of the situation and a good understanding of the reality in which we live. He is worthy of the title grand master as he has obviosly spent a lot of time working things out with his keen mind and ,as far as I am concerned, getting it right.

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Jun '10 - 11:24pm

    Have been enjoying watching Vince on Question Time and projecting onto his demeanour what I thought he should be feeling in the first place. 😉

  • Anthony Aloysius St 24th Jun '10 - 11:29pm

    “He is worthy of the title grand master as he has obviosly spent a lot of time working things out with his keen mind and ,as far as I am concerned, getting it right.”

    You mean getting it right now, presumably? Not getting it right when he was giving us the benefit of his wisdom during the election campaign? When, according to the current story (which, I can quite easily believe will change again completely in a few more months), he got it quite wrong about the timing of spending cuts and the lack of any need to raise VAT.

    The problem with all the crap we’re being fed at the moment about people changing their minds in the light in information that only became available after polling day is that the poor bloody public only gets one chance every four or five years to influence how the country is run, and if all the politicians lie through their teeth during the election campaign, and if the “winning” side(s) turn(s) round immediately afterwards and say “Sorry, but things have changed in the last few weeks, and we’re going to do something quite different from what we said when we were trying to get you to vote for us”, doesn’t it all get a bit bloody pointless?

    I am almightily glad I stopped wasting my time running around knocking on doors and sticking bits of paper through them on behalf of the Lib Dems a couple of years ago, because, funnily enough, it struck me that the end result of it might be that the Lib Dems would end up supporting a Tory government.

    If there really is “no alternative”, and if there really is no room for manoeuvre and there are no significant political choices to be made any more, maybe you should all save yourselves a lot of time, get a life, and have one big ConLabLibDem party.

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 11:35pm

    Stop living in the past, that was nearly thirty years ago. These are modern people of the internet comunication age, judge them by what they say and do not what somebody else said in another age. Vince looked great to me a great sage preparing himself and his mind for the battle ahead. You can read owt you want into a look, with practice you will start to see it as it really is.

  • oh dear….Vince Cable on the Tory plans for free schools.That really was painful to watch 🙂

  • Lib Dems need to start walking up. Latest opinion poll has us at 17% down six points from teh election, but disturbingly the Tories are up to 42% which is about 5% up from the general election. Now I know its early days, but someone, somewhere needs to be looking at this, and asking why. Really fast!!!!

  • Richard Ian Hill 24th Jun '10 - 11:46pm

    I take your a peep. We were just as happy to support Labour, unfotunately they had little imagination or understanding. Once you understand how the phisical universe truly works you will realize there is no other choice. On schools ,if achid is good at dance send him to dance school, if a child is a good muscician find him amentor, if he is a book worm supress its’ thoughts. That does not sound right to me. I could not care about the polls, we have nearly five years to go yet. If we do what is good we will earn the rewards.

  • The German FDP are frequently in coalition with the German CDU/CSU. Why are so many on the Left therefore surprised that Britain’s equivalent of the FDP is in coalition with the British equivalent of the CDU/CSU?

  • Mpg – 17% in a yougov poll. Take a look at poliyicalbetting to see how they consistently underweight us

  • Anthony Aloysius St 24th Jun '10 - 11:57pm

    “Lib Dems need to start walking up. Latest opinion poll has us at 17% down six points from teh election, but disturbingly the Tories are up to 42% which is about 5% up from the general election. Now I know its early days, but someone, somewhere needs to be looking at this, and asking why.”

    The LIb Dems being 6 points (or is it 7?) down from the general election – or indeed just over half as popular as they were at the height of “Cleggmania” – is scarcely hard to understand.

    Most of those who voted Lib Dem didn’t think they would get an emergency budget that even on the most easily calculable measures of tax/benefit changes would be judged regressive (that’s by the IFS – in case Andrew Suffield pops up to say “citation needed”!). And if anyone thinks that public spending in non-protected areas (that is, everything but Health and International Development) can be cut by 25% without hurting the poorest rather than the richest – they are certifiable, not to mince words.

    This is a world away from the party’s posture during the election campaign. And clearly it was nothing but posturing.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 12:05am

    No gain without pain. It’s like cutting down on salt and other junk in ones consumption seems rubish at first but after a bit the effects can be amazing.

  • @Richard Ian Hill
    Vince Cable is now to the right of Peter Hitchens on the issue of education .And worst still, the nation saw it.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 12:14am

    Personaly I would bring back grammer schools even though I failed my eleven pluse, so Vince still has to learn a bit about that one, but he is going in the right direction.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 25th Jun '10 - 12:51am

    Well apparently Vince Cable has now said – in defence of the VAT increase – that “It’s better to tax spending than income,”

    Would anyone here like to defend that as a principle? Or can anyone quote him as saying anything remotely like that when he was standing for election last month?

  • Labour – the complicity in torture-illegal war-ID card – DNA database -control order – police impunity-child detaining-Gary McKinnon extraditing party.

  • SomeRandomHash 25th Jun '10 - 1:19am

    Conservatives did not win a majority – They don’t like to be reminded that they failed to win a majority.

  • SomeRandomHash 25th Jun '10 - 1:21am

    Labour did not win a majority – They don’t like to be reminded that they failed to win a majority.

  • SomeRandomHash 25th Jun '10 - 2:08am

    Was is not agreed provision was made for Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain on budget resolutions? In the current climate any abstention (on the grounds of conscience) would generate an awful lot of press whilst not being accused of voting against the coalition.

    We must up our game and look at the bigger picture and the longer term.

    IMHO the ‘real’ danger in this coalition is Osborne, he is much more of a strategist (and by definition calculating) than Cameron and he is three moves further ahead. Some of the announcements in the Budget are VERY well placed if not immediately obvious. HIS overall aim is a majority Conservative government in five years’ time. I don’t think HE really gives a toss for the coalition ‘partners’ they are simply a means to an end. I also strongly suspect he has HIS eyes on an even BIGGER prize. It would not be the 1st time a ‘chancellor’ moves from Number 11 to Number 10.

  • Andrew Suffield 25th Jun '10 - 2:28am

    It is being widely reported and not yet denied by the party that we went into the Lab Lib negotiations demanding that very large cuts were made this year

    Andrew it is you who are being sloppy and verging on the offensive . If you would like to point out who in the party has denied this you comments might make some sense but at the point they make none at all.

    Repeating the same rumour two times in a row without citing your source, despite the fact that the only thing anybody’s said to you is that you need to cite your source gives us:

    obviously a Labour Troll


  • Andrew Suffield 25th Jun '10 - 2:36am

    Most of those who voted Lib Dem didn’t think they would get an emergency budget that even on the most easily calculable measures of tax/benefit changes would be judged regressive (that’s by the IFS

    No it isn’t. See, this is why citing your source is important: then we can correct you when you completely distort it.

    What the IFS director actually said was:

    The Budget looks less progressive ­ indeed somewhat regressive ­ when you take out the effect
    of measures that were inherited from the previous Government, when you look further into the
    future than 2012-­13 and when you include some other measures that the Treasury has chosen
    not to model.

    That’s not a statement that the budget is regressive. It’s a statement that if the budget had been different – if it had thrown out some old Labour policies – then it would have been regressive.

    That’s probably true, but not really relevant to anything more than petty political point scoring. We have this budget, not the hypothetical one that discarded Labour policies.

  • @ Chris

    I’ll first say that I am an ‘erring’ Lib Dem and have always supported the party (as long as I have been political). I even distributed leaflets this election and convinced people the the Lib Dems wouldn’t eneter a coalition with the Conservatives when there were rumours flying about.

    2) the numbers the new government found on getting in were far worse than was anticipated (ref Byrne note). Hence into the lesser of several evils land.

    That is utterly false and you know it. Darling illustrated that the deficit (what was being tackled in the budget) was better than anticipated.

    I’m tired of all this out and out lying and these yellow-livered excuses. The state of the deficit does not justify the kind of budget was that was made. That budget was made for ideological reasons, against respected economic advise, against Vince Cable’s strong opinions which he reiterated throughout the election campaign. I’m pretty sure men like Nick Clegg feel more comfortable moving the party to the right…. but I won’t be voting Lib Dem at the next election.

  • It’s pretty absurd and illiberal that you are accusing all disaffected liberals like myself of being ‘Labour trolls’. I hope the party reforms itself, but with that silly tribalist attitude which opposes all criticism, I doubt it will.

  • How can the top echelons of the party completely reverse the economic opinions they advocated throughout the entire election?

    They are not just ‘reluctant’ in accpeting the regressive measures of the budget but are actively supporting them. Nick Clegg keeps on calling this farce a ‘progressive budget’.

    Perhaps I have always mistook where the Lib Dems stand politically, perhaps they have always been a centre-right party. That said, it was shameful of the party to present itself as progressive this election in order to win Labour votes.

  • Rob, please define “progressive”.

  • Andrea Gill 25th Jun '10 - 7:36am

    @Richard Iain Hill – Blood letting at local elections you say? Have a look at yesterday’s local election results on this very site…

  • Andrea Gill 25th Jun '10 - 7:50am

    Apologies the last comment was @Tony!

  • Andrea Gill 25th Jun '10 - 8:07am

    @AJ – on many issues right now, even the Tories are to the Left of Labour…

  • @Andre Suffield

    I think that the Lib Dems have a PR problem. . The fact is that Clegg during the GE campaigned on issues like the Tories VAT bombshell. He campaigned on the dangers of immediate deficit reduction. He campaigned against Tory Free Schools. Now on the first two issues I always thought that we would have to act faster and introduce VAT increases. The problem is the rhetoric he used during the GE and the rhetoric now. Whatever the reason it can easily be read as inconsistent or duplicitous. If he knew that he might go back on these things he should have used more cautious language (and you can’t blame it on the coalition, we are now saying we’ve changed our minds on these things).

    From what I’ve seen so far, I think the Lib Dem leadership have acted incredibly naively and need a strategy to either win back the support we are losing, or gain new support.

    We ate not the FDP. They work in a system where coalitions ar a necessity. The LDs have to earn the privilege of coalition, and it lolls like we will have to do that for a very long time.

  • @Chris Smith
    I’m not saying that there’s no debt problem, clearly there is. But it’s not worse than Alastair Darling was reporting in his March budget. This idea that when the Coalition looked at the books it was somehow much worse than Labour in government let on is simply not true. Now I expect deceit from the Tories, that’s what they do, but I thought that Liberal Democrats were on the whole rather decent people. I am upset with Cable and Clegg because I expected better from them.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 8:36am

    On VAT, I think it is agood tax. A lot of the VATable goods in the shops come from China etc where they have paid no British tax at the production stage. With the extra money we get we are able to avoid damaging the poor even more by safegaurding their benifits and adjusting their allowances. Allso we do not have to over tax the British industry to maintain a welfare net, hopefully allowing them to be more competitive and create more jobs paying better than dole money and giving people a chance to get out the poverty trap (one of Labours most evil products). I am glad the Lib- Dem guys in the position are changing their views on these matters, it shows the signs of healty flexible minds, something often far to lacking in politicians.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 25th Jun '10 - 8:39am

    “Rob, please define “progressive”.”

    I suppose the next thing we’re going to be treated to is a campaign to convince us that the concept of progressive/regressive taxation is meaningless and part of the obsolete “old politics”.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 8:43am

    No I would never do such a thing, but I might ask how you define these words in this context because I have a feeling our definitions might not be the same. Also I think it is the structual deficit that they where saying is much worse. hence the VAT increase.

  • Chris Smith 25th Jun '10 - 8:49am

    @ DM Andy, Rob

    No party, including the Lib Dems, were open enough about the REAL action that they would have to take on the deficit if they won. A plague on all their houses for sure yet “twas ever thus” and, as I said before, the electorate were not stupid and realised the game would really start after the election. I personally thought we were better than the others (predictably you would say) but the reality was that they were all too afraid to deliver the bad news in technicolour pre the polls – they should have done..all of them.
    We can argue over how the numbers have changed over the last 3 months but surely 1) this is all within the margin for error, 2) you could cut them some slack for the fact that they only saw the full detail once they got in and 3) hopefully we can grow our way out of this mess as quickly as possible and, yes, with some Keynsian help along the way where it makes sense. As long as we continue to fight for fairness for all and to protect the less fortunate we deserve a little less venom. Some hope I know!

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 8:52am

    Regressive: “taking a proportionaly greater amount from those on lower income” (Oxford English) Did we not raise the tax allowance £1000. Well if that is regressive I am a Dingos back side.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 8:55am

    The electorate are not stupid but sometimes they may be a bit wishful. With that in mind, that is nin of the paties said what they were going to do. Also we did not have the books infront of to make an informed decision, Labour did.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 9:09am

    I don’t think of people as being better or worse, as far as I am concerned we all have equal potential. It is just that natural evolution of the mind makes some of us, like yourself, a bit further ahead of the others.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 9:13am

    I think if you really understand the economy you should see that the problems started before the world economic problems, Yes, there willbe an increase in the number of unemployed but we know whos fault it really is, LABOUR.

  • First a disclaimer – I voted for the coalition at the Birmingham Conference. We have to be realistic about the fact that our principles will lead to coalitions. But we did not have to swallow whole the economic assumptions and policies and prospectus of a Tory party which hasn’t had to move away from its comfortable assumptions. There are many of us on what might be described as “the left” of the party – radical liberals, some social democrats, many green lib dems – who knew that the fact of the coalition would make life very difficult. In a sense, many of us would not have joined Labour, ever, or despaired of Labour ever taking “radical”, “progressive” decisions, and the Lib Dems have been a major stronghold for those who never accepted the “Thatcherite free market settlement” that NuLab did. For those of us, the prioritisation of what we would see as the “right” of the party in the coalition is a major danger sign for repeats of the 20s – splits, marginalisation etc.

    Personally, I cannot understand why Nulab were not courted as a coalition partner by the Tories, or why in our negotiations we did not lobby for a “Grand Coalition”. But having got to the point we did, with the arguments we had, we should have pushed on to ensure we got at least some change in economic thinking from them. I think the jury is still out on the environmental side of the argument, as to whether Chris Huhne’s claim that “this will be the greenest government ever” holds water. I was certainly disappointed at the lack of an underpinning of green advances in what the budget seemed to be saying. It is likely that the environmental hit which many are already taking, see BP in the Gulf of Mexico, to take the most widely reported current example, will be huge, as compared with the debt crisis. So let’s urgently address it, in a way that makes media and people sit up and listen.

    People may accuse me of being oppositionist, and “unable to accept the realities of power”, but we are all in politics to achieve a better world, and if we believe some of the underlying goals could be moving away from that better world, then is it not right to voice that?

  • charliechops1 25th Jun '10 - 9:17am

    Political parties are a representation of interests. What over-riding interest does the Lib Dems exist to promote? The Lib Dem/Social Democratic divide illustrates the difficulty. Might it be true that the majority of Lib Dems are happiest with small governement with its inevitable social and econonomic differences that to a Social Democrat are of such importance. The effects of small government on millions of families will become overwheming soon. Of course every feeing person wants to do something about that. But why create the problems in the first place? The true, and modern divide in politics, is between a right wing vision of small government and left wing support for strong enabling government. How do you divide?

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 9:22am

    Ithought the Lib-Dems wanted a balanced goverment, having the public and private sector working in harmony and creating a good state for all.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 10:16am

    Gordon Brown was spending to much in the good years when he should of been putting something aside for the lean years. He was loving the attention of the bankers and letting them when do more or less what they wanted when he should of been seeing what they were doing, like increasing their leverage. He allowed a masif bubble to happen in the housing market, a problem I still see as unresolved If I thimk about it for to long I will probably jam up the internet.. And typical Labour , it was all somebody elses fault. They should look closer to home.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 10:25am

    I am a Liberal Democrat. I believe in having my say but at the end of the day I support what the majority of the party want whole heartedly. Another one, he let consumer credit get totaly out of conrol. If anything is going to cause a double dip the debts will when intrest rates go up again. Because by the time we have paid all the intrest we will owe we will not have anything left t buy anything else, mark my words.

  • @Rob “I even distributed leaflets this election and convinced people the the Lib Dems wouldn’t eneter a coalition with the Conservatives when there were rumours flying about.”

    Sorry but that was a pretty stupid thing to do – we are a centrist party who differ from both Tories and Labour, to assume that we’d automatically hop into Labour’s arms to prop up a failing government is preposterous and in this context downright foolish.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '10 - 10:33am

    The Labour Party would rather we did not exist at all, or at least were a historical relic rather than a party active in most places. If we did not exist or had seats in numbers as we did before the February 1974 election, we would not be having this discussion because we would have a Conservative government with a big majority.

    The Labour Party supports the current electoral system on the grounds it thinks it’s good to distort representation in favour of the two biggest parties to increase the chance of one of them having an overall majority. Again if your position – as Labour’s is – is that politics should be Labour v. Tory, you have what you want, well almost. Had there been a proportional system, the Liberal Democrats would have had a much stronger negotiating position with the Conservatives, and a LibDem-Labour coalition would have been viable. It’s Labour who supports the electoral system which distorted the vote to push the Tories up to more seats than they should have as a proportion of the vote. That is why a vote for Labour was really a vote for a Labour government first and a Tory government second – and you have (almost) your second choice. If you didn’t want that, you should have voted for proportional representation, and only one big party was offering that – us.

    We need to remember that the Tories won the election, at least on the Labour and Tory agreement that politics means either one or the other of those. The Liberal Democrats’ hands were tied – the coalition we have was the best we could do to get some influence, but what the government is doing is obviously not what we would do if we were governing on our own. For those moaning about “betrayal” or “I did not vote Liberal Democrat to get this”, well, what else would you want us to do? I’m sure the Tories would be DELIGHTED to hold another general election on the theme “the LibDems are getting in the way and making government unstable – vote out all their MPs and give us a clear majority.

    Democracy means if you lose you accept it, we lost, Labour lost. You give the winners chance to prove themselves. I think that has to be around two years, the LibDems are in the unusual situation of having some say, but it’s limited. If Clegg says to Cameron “that’s our bottom line, go against what we say and we pull out” I suspect Cameron would reply “Go ahead, make my day”. Let’s see Labour pull themselves together, present some decent alternative ideas, drop a lot of what made them so unpalatable when they were in government recently, and Cameron might be a bit more willing to give in rather than face another election. At that point those of us in the LibDems who aren’t fans of Clegg can poke him to fight our party’s side a bit harder if we think he isn’t. Supporters and members of the Liberal Democrats who are to the left need to stick with us till the day comes when we can do this. If Clegg pulling out, or the LibDem membership pulling out of support of Clegg looks like winning us votes big time, it’ll happen. Right now, however we may dislike what the coalition is doing, it’s turkeys voting for Christmas for Liberal Democrats to pull support for it. Cameron knows this, that’s why he’s getting what he wants more than we are.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 25th Jun '10 - 10:34am

    “Regressive: “taking a proportionaly greater amount from those on lower income” (Oxford English) Did we not raise the tax allowance £1000. Well if that is regressive I am a Dingos back side.”

    Oh, come on. You must realise it’s the budget as a whole people are talking about, not individual measures.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 10:36am

    Hi Andrea, don’t worry about it, hindsight is a great thing. It is how we learn and helps us prepare for the future. Personally I will use good ideas from were ever they come, be it tory or labour. I just like ours the best most of the time

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 10:43am

    Anthony, of course i realise it is the budget as a whole, that was just one example. If my understanding is correct the lowest paid workers do the best which is the way I think it should be.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 11:00am

    The importance to bringn down corporation tax is to stimulate the private sector to grow and create jobs. If we do not do this then where will all the people go who will lose their jobs in the public sector which would happen under all perties plans. Increasing VAT allowed us to raise the tax free allowance helping mitigate the effect for the lowest paid workers. I agree with Vince. More jobs in the private sector is more revenue for the goverment, not just money being borrowed to keep people in work, buy foriegn products and then need to borrow more.

  • @ Richard Ian Hill.

    Gordon Brown allowed a massive bubble to develop in the housing market, but homeowners want the value of their property to rise – the more the better. Whenever housing prices fall there are loud cries of outraged disappointment from homeowners because they have a vested interest in rising house prices.

    Over the last 40 to 50 years property prices have risen much more than inflation under both Conservative and Labour governments. In 1964 my parents sold a four bedroom detached house in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, with a good-size garden for £7,000 to £8,000. I don’t know how much that house would fetch now, but it would be several hundreds of thousands of pounds.

  • @Andrea Gill
    Yes we are a centrist party but over a number of years our policies have become more centre left and recent leaders – Steel,Ashdown, Kennedy, Campbell would not recoil from that description. Clegg is taking us in different direction which may lead to us becoming a centre right party perhaps only capable of governing with the Conservatives.

    I would suggest this is a strategic mistake and one made largely by an elite at the top of the party without the membership engaged in that process. There is a danger in pretending that we are gaining anything more than minor policy concessions plus AV from the Coalition. These small gains do not offset the overwhelmingly Tory thrust of policy. Simon Hughes is trying to find a way to differentiate us and more power to his elbow as this is essential if we are retain independence and soe degree of equidistance. The danger is we rule ourselves out of potential coalition with Labour and smaller parties, nationally and locally and are seen increasingly as the nicer end of the Tories.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 11:16am

    On the subject of benifits, if you had lived on the dole as long as I have, about fifteen years at one point you would realize the problem. The welfare net is supposed to be a safety net for people who fall upon hard times through no fault of their own, not support people in relatively good conditions for the rest of their lives. I know , once I had worked it out and all the lies to say, I had a brilliant time. The only thing that stopped me was I did not think it was right and actually now I am out the trap I am beginning to think life is better and that I was deluded. I wish somebody had given me a kick up the backside and got me going sooner. But is hard to turn down the ammount of money the state gives people, it is too much. The reason it is better is because I feel good about myself now, money can not buy that.

  • *The welfare net is supposed to be a safety net for people who fall upon hard times through no fault of their own, not support people in relatively good conditions for the rest of their lives. I know , once I had worked it out and all the lies to say, I had a brilliant time*

    @richard Ian Hall
    I doubt very much you are a) a Liberal Democrat and b) telling the truth .People keep talking about Labour trolls but they seem to be ignoring Tory trolls who try to pass themselves off as Lib Dems.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 11:35am

    Andrea, we just have to stay in the centre and always treat all other parties as equal and be willing to negotiate with any of them. One of the main reasons I think that we should always mentain our independece is what I am starting to see as a ten year itch type thing. The voters just want a chage and get fed up with the party in power. Voting for another party acts like a safety valve on society and we need a good second party, which Ithink should be us, having observed over many years and understanding labours failings at the moment. I remember when I was younger coming across the socialist workers, at that point in time they had worked out that it only took a few of them to join a union go to the meetings and take over the unions at the votes because so few other people turned up. It appears to me that the socialists are trying to do the same here, Fortunatly these days we have the internet and can comunicate so much better.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 11:44am

    AJ I am telling the truth, if you have access to old news of the world papers there was a good centre spread on what at the time were called the mutants, based near haverford west, We were on newsnight to and in a lot of the other papers. I remember the lead up to the battle of the bean field, the convoy getting stopped on the motorways, the riots in bristol and much more. What do you know

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 11:46am

    AJ PS my membership number is8628742,check it out

  • Anthony Aloysius St 25th Jun '10 - 12:01pm

    “If my understanding is correct the lowest paid workers do the best which is the way I think it should be.”

    What can one say? The IFS, which is an independent, expert body, has looked at it in great detail, and has concluded that it is likely to be regressive.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 12:09pm

    Anthony, if they think it is only likely then there is a good chance I am right. Time will tell, it certainly does not mean we have attacked the lwest paid workers. Also at the next budget and with hindsight we will do our best to support that group because that is what we stand for.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 12:18pm

    Jon, Well we do take more from the rich except the ones that expliot the system, but that problem should be treated as one specific problem. I am not saying take more away from the poorest workers I am aiming at the non workers. I know what is like to work hard and be on minimal wages. I have done it for years and know those people deserve every penny they get.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 25th Jun '10 - 12:24pm


    Sorry, but looking at the quality of your arguments and your (tenuous) grasp of the facts doesn’t suggest to me that you’re likely to have outwitted the Institute for Fiscal Studies on this one.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 12:33pm

    Anthony, you don’t seem to have any information of your own you are just going on what other people tell you. I have learnt not to always trust what I am told and look deeper into these matters useing as many sources as possible.

  • Following Cowley Jon’s comments – the “neo-liberal piffle” has been growing considerably over recent years, especially in the South East. Alex KN, in addition to your list of former leaders who would recognise the centre left description, there is particularly Jo Grimond, who kick started the Liberal revival in the late 50s and 60s. Without Jo’s radical insights, it is arguable that Clegg and the current leadership would never have got even a sniff of power at this time.

    In the dark years for Liberalism after the splits of the 20s and 30s, Lloyd George had lost his youth and radicalism, and tthe National Liberal Conservatives had been created, only to ally with the Tories, people simply couldn’t see the value of a Liberal vote. We became a party of the margins, and fortunately didn’t quite expire. The worry this time is that the party outside the southeast will suffer defections and lack of enthusiasm among supporters, leaving nowhere to provide the new growth if or when the cycle returns in the southeast itself.

    Matthew Huntbach – it would be good to take your advice and “stick with it until….” – but I am not sure how realistic it is to think that will happen generally, as the months go by. Let’s see how a similar discussion goes in 12 months.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 25th Jun '10 - 1:22pm


    “Anthony, you don’t seem to have any information of your own you are just going on what other people tell you.”

    Well, of course I’ve looked at the data for myself. But it’s equally obvious that if I’d expressed my own judgment, it would just have been greeted with cries of “You’re a Labour troll!”

    Are you really a representative sample of the remaining party membership?

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '10 - 1:44pm

    Matthew Huntbach – it would be good to take your advice and “stick with it until….” – but I am not sure how realistic it is to think that will happen generally, as the months go by. Let’s see how a similar discussion goes in 12 months.

    And if we don’t?

    I’m not happy with where we are, but though I’ve seen plenty of moaning about it, I haven’t seen anyone with even the hint of a plan to take us elsewhere. We were tied up to this by the election results.

    Now, some may say Clegg and his immediate supporters in the party shouldn’t be looking so happy about it all. I agree. However, I do have to say that I was hammering out the “don’t vote for Clegg” line in our leadership election, so my sympathies for those who did and now go “wah, we weren’t expecting this” are limited.

    The party is more than Clegg. We control it, he doesn’t though he thinks he does. Anyone who really doesn’t like what he’s doing with it and who has a realistic alternative should remember that. Is pulling out your membership/support and letting the party crumble or go down the National Liberal route the best way forward? I’d say the best way forward is to stick with the party, and remind its leadership that it’s a democratic party so its members are the ultimate boss. He has to prove that what he’s doing will work to keep our confidence. I’ve said “Two years”. Fair deal, yes?

    In the meantime, get organised for what might have to be done in two year’s time – party conference 2012. Get the alternatives worked out, the grassroots organisation in shape, and keep up the grumbles if you don’t like what the leadership is doing. I’ve been defending the leadership now when others who weren’t so firmly against it as I was earlier haven’t, because I think it does need time, and I appreciate the difficult position it is in. Ultimately, however, we may have to table a vote of no confidence in it.

    The point here is that whatever happens we must have an exit plan. Sensible planning ahead considers all options. Surely we are not just going to stumble on till the next general election and then think “what now?”. If there is a plan by some to turn the party into a wing of the Conservative Party I for one am certainly not going to let them get away with it by pulling out before the fight happens. Because if everyone who thinks like that does so, what’s left? Do you really want the Labour Party back in government and nothing else except the Tories?

  • Keep on trying to justify this budget by bringing up Labour doesn’t make any sense.

    There were big problems, personally I think anybody would be crazy to have voted Labour last election.

    That said, you’re preaching to the converted… your own members… not Labourites.

    This budget was a choice by this party…. a decision on what kind of ideology they favoured. The leadership of the party chose for the party to become a centre-right party when it supported this budget. I won’t vote for another centre-right party, not now that Nu:Lab and the Conservatives are all centre-right parties that cover the same ground.

    Every time someone tells me it’s ‘Labour’s fault’ I am less likely to vote Lib Dem next election. Yes the deficit is Labour’s fault… the regressiveness of this budget is the Lib Dems fault (we all knew the Tories would push for the small state agenda).

    The most worrying thing is that Lib Dems are just switching off and completely ignoring addressing these concerns. The best we get from people here is ‘You are a Labour troll’.

    I truly believe (perhaps because I am biased) the majority of Lib Dem voters would identify with the left or at least the centre ground.

    This election Lib Dem MP’s in Lib Dem-Tory marginal seats went around telling people that they should vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out.

    People are being stupid an inconsistent. Why, when throughout the election, VInce Cable and Nick CLegg constantly warned against cuts this years…. advocated a NI rise…. and warned against a VAT raise. How can these people pretend they never held these opinions…. and that this budget is somehow ‘progressive’.

    People keep on bringing up the raise in the tax threshold. That is absurd. The net effect of the budget is to take money out of poorer people’s pockets disproportionately to that of the rich. This tax-threshold rise does absolutely nothing really…. the only reason the Tories agreed to it was because it fitted their small-state agenda.

    I supported the coalition at first…. when I thought there was going to be true compromise. The truth seems to be that the party leadership are deliberately lying to us. This is meant to be the ‘new politics’. I think the leadership secretly favoured this move to the right whilst campaigning on being a left-wing party the entire election.
    There was an alternative… a Tory minority government…. that would have been best for the party and the country.

    The only way to get the Li b Dems to move back from the right is to not vote for them next election.. So I won’t be voting for them at the enxt election.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 25th Jun '10 - 3:07pm

    “Lines of attack against the Lib Dems becoming clearer”

    Nothing to do with the LibDems position becoming clearer, I suppose?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 25th Jun '10 - 3:11pm

    I’m just wondering how you will present the spending review this Autumn as being progressive and fair? Will all the spending cuts be aimed at the prosperous voters in Sheffield Hallam and Twickenham??

  • ROB SHEFFIELD 25th Jun '10 - 4:36pm

    On Question Time last night, Vince Cable failed to defend the Free Schools plan against accusations from Peter Hitchens that it would increase inequality.

    An audience member suggested that when the LibDems appear to be to the Right of Hitchens, then surely that is the end of the LibDems.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 5:17pm

    Tony, they should of spent more time working on getting value for money instead of just throwing money at the situation. Had fewer daft targets and and leaner managment,. therefore being able to still have the improvements in the services we all want. I remember the end of the last time labour were in power, where they overspent again, schools and hospitals were getting closed all over the place. It is no good spending a fortune on improving them, then have to close them because we have run out of money because the IMF has been called in again and there is no opption left. So yes we have to live within what we can afford and spend our money wisely becuase when really bad cruches come it is always the poor that suffer the most.

  • Paul McKeown 25th Jun '10 - 5:28pm

    Dear Rob Sheffield,

    Rather a silly debating point. Hitchens was doing his usual promotion of grammar schools; according to him comprehensive education leads to greater inequality. He denied that Vince Cable was to the “right” of him. Vince stated clearly that he was not in favour of grammar schools.

    I know that that the less strategic, more spittle throwing Labourites would love their Manichean dream of a red and blue duopoly to come true. It seems unlikely.

    However, let me point out that the West Lothian question is to be resolved in this parliament. So what you say. Well, just to make it clear to any dim Labourites, let us spell it out.

    Labour introduced Scottish devolution, allowing Scotland considerable control over its own affairs. An important and fair minded reform. However, Labour being Labour, retained its gerrymander whereby Scottish MPs retain voting rights in Westminster over affairs that in Scotland have been devolved. That is fundamentally undemocratic. People who are unaffected by any legislation have no business interfering in it. The Liberal Democrats, being democrats, are mandated to reform this unjust situation. I imagine that consequences might include two budgets, one for England and one for the United Kingdom. The UK budget would be for non-devolved matters such as defence, foreign affairs, etc., and a Barnett Formula style annual financial settlement for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The England budget and legislation applying to England only will be voted on only by English MPs.

    The consequence might well be that Labour can achieve a majority in parliament for UK matters. I rather doubt that it will manage to do that in England for the forseeable future. One consequence will certainly be that Labour will seek to form coalitions to push through English legislation. I rather doubt that farthinking English Labour strategists will wish to see the Liberal Democrats collapse at all. I suspect instead that STV will be a core plank of the Labour manifesto by the time of the May 2020 General Election.

    The Liberal Democrat party in government will push as hard political reform as hard as possible in this parliamentary term. It understand that is has this golden opportunity to reshape British politics.

    The Liberal Democrats will not neglect to punish Labour for its false promises and shabby treatment of Paddy Ashdown in 1997 and the years leading up to it. What goes around comes around, as they say. A little harsh treatment should earn a little respect in the longer term.

    I look forward to seeing Labour and the Liberal Democrats co-operating in the future, but on the basis of equals, not on the basis of the master-serf mentality that Labour’s Jurassics see the relationship.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 5:46pm

    Yes Tony, sorry if I am a bit vague sometimes. I have experienced a lot in my life which forms the coclusions I come to now. When I work these things out my logic is impecable, but trying to remember all parts of the sequences when I am having a bit of fun is not easy and would be a bit boring. Good times get one through times of no money better than money gets one through bad times.

  • Andrea Gill 25th Jun '10 - 5:51pm

    @Richard Ian Hill – are you signed up to the forum section of this site? Just wondering as I don’t recall seeing you around here before

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 6:13pm

    Tony as far as I am cncerned all my answers are lib-dem ones as I am a member of the lib-dems but we are a democratic party and if the majority choose otherwise I will support the choice. As it is partly based on liberal ideas I have my ideas and other people have theirs. To me it’s about us all putting our ideas forward and trying to evolve them so that between us we find the best way forward

    Andrea, sorry, there are some things I do not have a clue about. I don’t know what the forum is yet, sounds Roman, think I might have to look into it.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 6:40pm

    I certainly will not be like some people. If I can’t have it all my own way and the majority choose otherwise leave the party. Looks like your stuck with me unless you throw me out, but that does not seem very liberal or likely.

  • Richard Ian Hill 25th Jun '10 - 8:17pm

    Andrea, found myself on the forum, logged into it awhile ago but prefered this more in some ways. I will start putting in the odd commet and see what happens. My log in name is illuminati. Thanks for the tip, if it works for me I will use it more.

  • Andrea Gill 25th Jun '10 - 8:45pm

    @Richard Ian Hill: Click the Member’s Forum link at the top, you need your member number to sign up:

  • Richard Dawson 25th Jun '10 - 9:45pm

    I think the editorial in the times today sums up the LD position perfectly and rightly heaps praise on Clegg for his political bravery

  • @ Richard Dawson

    Good to know that people are happy about Rupert Murdoch being on Clegg’s side after the way that the Lib Dem party was treated during the election.

  • Richard Dawson 25th Jun '10 - 10:30pm

    @ Rob

    I’m no Murdoch fan and agree they hate the LDs but I thought the article sums up the dilemma rather well and its historical context

  • In the 1950’s it was a Conservative Government that promised to build half a million council houses. Apart from Ken Clarke & Michael Hesaltine there are virtually no Tories left who have any connection, however minute, with that kind of Toryism..The reality is that without LibDem input, however much it disappoints us, the Tory party would demand that the disgraceful transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich that so characterised the outgoing Labour administration was continued or even stepped up. Cameron would be powerless to resist, even if he wanted to. So although the Emergency Budget is grossly unfair (despite all the spin to the contrary) it does have some constraint on what might otherwise have been. Excluding WWII, there is at least some pretence of democracy in the House of Commons for the first time in 65yrs. This coalition just has to be made to work. But it is a coalition – NOT an electoral pact & we must continue to furiously attack both Labour & Conservatives at elections to come.

  • charliechops1 29th Jun '10 - 4:31pm

    Here is a question for commentators. What are the prospects of the Coaliton surviving do you think? And when and under what circumstances might it judder to an end?

  • Has it ever occurred to you that just maybe Labour are more in touch with Joe public than your beloved coalition? The simple fact is, many of the labour MP’s are preaching what many normal taxpayers are thinking.
    While I’m sure it’s a nice thing being in power…..technically the Lib Dems nor the Tories earnt that position. As a result of a split vote we got 2 parties – neither of which got a majority vote. Rather than attacking a party which got more votes then the Lib Dems, why not listen to some of the things they have to say?

    The recent budget has hit the poorest and most vulnerable people in our country hard. Higher VAT means less spending, which will only result in more closures, more unemployment and another recession. It’s unacceptable that instead of tackling the people responsible for our situation (which BTW despite your constant cries wasn’t labour…(I believe many of the financial laws were brought into place by the previous tory government) you seem intent on blaming labour for the lot. Rather than have the impact I’m sure the LD & Cons wish for, all you will do is alienate the public who have stood by you despite the awful betrayal. Do you honestly think people care who was to blame right now? All people want is to know they can find work/pay the mortgage/plan a family. When will MPs realise this? It’s all PR and yesterdays news is tomorrows fish and chip wrapping. Unless you start talking about the present and future you’ll find the LD annihilated in the next election.

    Some of the budget plans are ludicrous as well. I mean how the hell can people get off benefit when currently there’s around 70 applicants per job? I mean these are the ideas coming from a supposed economic genius? Bah.

  • charliechops 30th Jun '10 - 6:34am

    If we thought the world would come to an end in 5 days rather than five years I expect most of us would want to behave differently. We might be less concerned with getting our own way. whatever that might be, and more concerned with our nearest and dearest; and if there was time for reflection we might give thought to our neigbour. The point being, the wider interest.: people in work, the elderly cared for, peace in our time with justice and dignity. If you see what I mean.

  • Andrea Gill 30th Jun '10 - 7:19am

    The lastest poll results from ComRes are interesting, on the face of it we lost a lot of support – until you look at the actual data:

    If you actually look at the data for this poll, among this sample support for the Liberal Democrats has actually increased not decreased for this particular sample. While 18% would vote Liberal Democrats now, only 15% of this sample say they ACTUALLY voted Lib Dem in the general election.

  • Andrea Gill 30th Jun '10 - 7:25am

    @Julie – Thanks for the laugh!

  • charliechops 30th Jun '10 - 7:38am

    Comfort ye not! All the major polls show Lib Dem support around 16 percent. Some of us with memories remember a time when Lib support was at 5-6 percent. Impossible! Check again after the Pre- Budget Statement in the Autumn!

  • you are all kidding yourselves if you think you have not sold out your values for the lure of power. This budget is the most devastatingly regressive for a generation. The poor are being punished for the excesses of rich bankers, the so called bank levy is a smokescreen, the banks will get more back from the treasury from the corporation tax cut than they will loose through the levy while hard working families with two parents in work will be forced out of work because the loss of tax credits will make employment impossible. Many economists assert that the cut go far beyond what is necessary and worse is a redistribution of wealth away from the poor and the middle class into the pockets of the greedy bankers who caused this whole mess in the first place. This shameful ideologically driven budget is no more than what you would expect from the Tories but for a party who have positioned themselves as progressive to attach themselves to this monetarist, Thatcherite agenda is the most shameful act of political hypocrisy I have ever have had the displeasure of witnessing and when the reality of this governments agenda becomes more widely felt you will loose forever the trust of those who would have once been your core voters

  • @Tony. If other people airing there views make you feel trampled on, I feel sorry for you, it must happen a lot..

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