Manifesto: A clever shifting of the coalition question

Nick Clegg 2015 manifesto photo by Liberal DemocratsWhen I first realised that the manifesto launch was going to take place in a nightclub, I was slightly concerned, given last year’s lacklustre launch in the Ministry of Sound. Lessons have very clearly been learned from that launch. The backdrop was brightly coloured, the place was full of people. Even watching on the television, the atmosphere was clearly buzzing. One reporter even referred to it as “the love lounge.”

Until the technology failed him and cut the event short, Nick Clegg was on top form. If this party ever needed a leader at the top of his game, it’s now and he delivered. He set out in convincing form why he and not Nigel Farage or the SNP needs to be in the next government. His was a message of optimism underpinned with responsibility. For me, the “enabling everyone to get on in life”, which later morphed into Opportunity for Everyone, is the most important part of our message, and it was elevated to centre stage today:

At its heart is one word that is absolutely central to what Liberal Democrats believe: opportunity. No matter who you are, where you were born, what sexuality or religion you are or what colour your skin is, you should have the same opportunity to get on in life. We want to tear down the barriers that stop you from reaching your potential. We want to smash the glass ceilings that keep you from achieving what you want to achieve. Your talent and your hard work, not the circumstances of your birth, should decide what you can be.

When we formed the Coalition in 2010, three quarters of our manifesto became part of the Government’s agenda. The priorities on its front page: fairer taxes; investment in the poorest children in schools; fixing the economy; and political reform, became central to what the Coalition Government did.

That’s why this manifesto matters. It is a programme for a liberal Government with decency, tolerance and generosity at its heart.

That for me is the best bit of his speech. The heart and brain stuff is what everyone is talking about, with as many Wizard of Oz comparisons as you like, but remember that that leaves us as the little lion who finds out that it actually does have loads of courage.

While Cameron has been telling Middle England that the only way to protect themselves from the nasty SNP doing ever-more ridiculously implausible deals with Labour is to vote for his party, Clegg has come back today and told those same voters: It’s ok, I’m here, I’ve done it before, you know I’m sensible. He’s presented his record, showing how he kept his word and delivered his priorities from last time and outlining how he intends to build on that over the next five years. Values, consistency and clarity may yet prove compelling for the electorate. 

There’s stacks in the manifesto to appeal to Liberal Democrat members and activists, too. There’s a lot we can take out on the doorsteps with confidence. We’ve always been passionate about education and we’ve made some strong commitments. The Institute of Fiscal Studies looked reasonably favourably on our plans. When we talk to young people, we can show we understand their concerns and, unlike the others, aren’t going to take away their entitlement to benefits. Giving them help with bus travel while removing the automatic entitlement to the Winter Fuel Allowance for wealthier pensions is the embodiment of the fairness we stand for.

I’ve always been a bit sceptical about making such a fuss about the balancing the books thing. I am one of the 93% for whom this was not a priority in a recent Guardian poll. However, it is a priority for many voters in our seats, so we have to go with it, If you think about it, though, sustainability has always been our watchword. We don’t do quick fixes, we do long term solutions that consider the planet we hand over to the next generation. Sure, each generation pays a share of the previous generation’s debts. That’s how it works. Today’s workers pay the pensions of their parents. We need to be careful that we’re not lumbering them with too much to pay for, though, with a burden that means that they will be worse off. That’s how it looks at the moment and we need to think of the long-term implications of that.

Nick Clegg is effectively saying that he’s the safe pair of hands. He’s the responsible adult who will keep either of the big two in check. It doesn’t matter which. The coalition question isn’t who would he do a deal with – it doesn’t matter as long as he gets his priorities of responsible fiscal management, fair taxes, investment in schools, childcare and the NHS and green laws. It might well be enough to deliver a healthier crop of Liberal Democrat MPs than anyone expects in just 22 days’ time.

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

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

65 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Apr '15 - 7:44pm

    The Manifesto is such a big document that I can’t read it all, but I’m beginning to warm to it. The part on security and defence is strong, but I still think meeting the 0.7% international aid target is going to put too much pressure on other budgets.

    The prospect of me voting Lib Dem was completely off the table until I read the Europe section. It’s got some good policies on reducing the regulatory burden for small businesses, and even some medium sized ones too.

    I don’t want libertarianism, just a manifesto that supports business and defence too.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 15th Apr '15 - 10:25pm

    Julian, it would be strange if a manifesto launched at 10am this morning had influenced a poll whose fieldwork had been done before then.

  • Julian, the Ashcroft polls show the Liberal Democrats holding on to Cornwall North, St Ives and Torbay. So who is right? Lord Ashcroft, or a poll conducted we know not where and we know not when?

    I will let you in on a secret. A poll right at the beginning of the 1987 GE campaign showed the then SDP/Liberal Alliance on 30%. It was carried out in the village of Crockenhill in Kent (which was assumed to be Britain’s Peoria by the pollster). Beware of opinion polls. They are not always reliable.

    I would suggest that if Mr Blackford’s canvassing indicated that he was going to beat Charles Kennedy, he would not be haranguing Charles Kennedy’s staff. Politicians get nasty when they are losing.

    When the SNP is caught doing something that even they cannot defend, they move into denial mode.

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Apr '15 - 11:36pm

    Hi Nick. I changed my mind a few days later after the plans for tax increases were worse than I thought.

    I don’t really see it as being indecisive, because I received new information and didn’t think regular higher rate taxpayers were going to be targeted.

    It is a lesson for next time though: wait until you see the full manifesto and costings.

  • During elections, I suppose that anyone who is directly involved with a campaign winds up in a little bubble of hope and denial. Under other circumstances, it might be wise to try to prick those bubbles, but at the moment I can hardly see how it matters. On the night of the seventh of May, reality will come rushing back in with great force. It’s for those who can see what’s coming to prepare themselves now to take appropriate action. I do hope somebody is at least thinking about it.

  • And Sesenco, it is hardly “a poll conducted we know not where and we know not when”; it is a ComRes/ITV poll conducted 10-12 April of 1005 individuals in the constituencies of Bath, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Cornwall North, Devon North, Dorset Mid & Poole North, Somerton & Frome, St Austell & Newquay, St Ives, Taunton Deane, Thornbury & Yate, Torbay, Wells, and Yeovil.

    http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/itv-news-south-west-lib-dem-tory-battlegrounds/

    However, you should certainly ignore this information and continue believing what you want to believe.

  • Steve Comer 16th Apr '15 - 5:21am

    David-1: Thanks for the link
    “In further bad news for Nick Clegg, three in ten voters in these seats (29%) say that Mr Clegg puts them off voting for the Liberal Democrats. Strikingly, one in three voters in these Liberal Democrat seats (32%) say that the party has become irrelevant, including one in five (21%) people who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010.”

    That’s the reality outside the Westminster bunker. How the hell are we in danger of losing so many seats to the Tories in the South West? Even the big rise in the UKIP vote since 2010 doesn’t seem to be hitting the Tories.
    Yet still some people in the party think Calamity Clegg is the greatest Liberal Leader since Gladstone. Well you may think that, but this poll shows you that the public are just not buying it.

  • Simon McGrath 16th Apr '15 - 6:20am

    Caron – thanks for highlighting this – the extract from Clegg’s speech is a really good summary of what LDs are about, and have achieved in the last 5 years.

  • Peter Watson 16th Apr '15 - 6:43am

    Anthony Wells makes some interesting points about the differences between the ComRes and the Ashcroft polling in the south west: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9355. He suggests that the methodology in Ashcroft poll (two voting intention questions: national followed by local) might be a better predictor, but that still shows a swing away from Lib Dems and a loss of some seats in the south west.

  • Philip Thomas 16th Apr '15 - 8:31am

    I’m going to go off message and beg those of you on the left in Tory-facing seats who cannot bring yourselves to vote for us straightforwardly to consider swapping your vote with a LD supporter elsewhere in the country.
    http://www.voteswap.org.uk

    If the Tories take our Tory-facing seats they have a majority- even if they lose a few to Labour they could rely on UKIP and the DUP.

  • Sesenco 15th Apr ’15 – 10:50pm …………….. Politicians get nasty when they are losing……………

    Well, that’s settled. After listening to Cameron/ Osborne/Fallon’s attacks I’ll assume Labour to win with a large majority….

  • Paul In Wokingham 16th Apr '15 - 8:48am

    The comres poll has a total sample of 1000 divided evenly across 14 constituencies. So that is only 70 voters per constituency. I’d agree that the overall result is indicating a very large swing to Con (perhaps reflecting UKIP’s decline) but at a seat level its far too coarse grained to make the sweeping statement that all those seats are lost, as the Telegraph suggested last night.

    The actual question in the comres poll is Please now think specifically about your own constituency, the issues it faces, the local MP and the different candidates. At the General Election coming up in May, would you vote Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP or for some other party? I would assume(!) that the party labels are rotated. While we would probably do better if the MP was named, the question is not totally generic.

    I suspect half of those seats are toast but we can still save the other half. The question is : are the resources being appropriately directed to those holdable seats?

  • At the risk of boring everyone, as you all know I have thought for ages we would be 15 seats or less. What worries me most is how some of our colleagues are going to react on May 8th, unless you are of a certain vintage many in the party will not have experienced being in a debacle such as 1970, for which 2015 looks like being an equivalent. Then we lost half our seats, 12 – 6, polling 7.5% with only 339 candidates. including Orpington, Cheadle, Colne Valley and Ross/Cromarty. It is all sounding very similar.
    Paul of Wokingham I note the ICM poll in the Guardian, the gold standard only had us at 8% and its national sample size was 1042.

  • “Nick Clegg is effectively saying that he’s the safe pair of hands. He’s the responsible adult who will keep either of the big two in check. It doesn’t matter which.”

    Yes it blooming does. You know it does. It is the Tories. It has always been the Tories. Under Clegg it always will be the Tories.

    He hasn’t even dared to rule out Cameron’s crazy EU referendum! That’s what proves that he is the little man in Cameron’s pocket.

    He is pretending that he will make welfare cuts his red line. The experience of history is that Clegg has no red lines, except for the red line that says he hates the Labour party with every fibre of his being. The votes know that, so there is no point in pretending otherwise.

    Cameron’s budget planning is, as Miliband rightly indicated, an even worse example of financial illiteracy and dishonesty than the Greens. If elected, a Tory / Lib Dem coalition will simply have to tear up the bogus Tory “plans” and start again. The welfare cuts will change in some way, and Clegg will claim it as a Lib Dem triumph, even if the cuts turn out greater than £12M. So Clegg’s red line is a nonsense.

    If you want a Tory government, do the honest thing. Vote Tory. Don’t kid yourself that by voting Clegg you will get anything different.

  • David Allen – you contradict yourself in the space of two paragraphs:

    “If elected, a Tory / Lib Dem coalition will simply have to tear up the bogus Tory “plans” and start again.”

    “If you want a Tory government, do the honest thing. Vote Tory. Don’t kid yourself that by voting Clegg you will get anything different.”

    So on the one hand a Tory/Lib Dem coalition will have to rip up the Tory plans and start again, but if you elect Clegg into coalition, you’ll get the Tory plans?

    Sorry, my friend, but you’re making no sense.

    FWIW my view is that the first of your statements is correct, and the voters know this.

  • “How the hell are we in danger of losing so many seats to the Tories in the South West?”

    Because the Lib Dems are, in the South West, the anti-Tory party above all else. They exist as the party in opposition on the left on the Tories who have far fewer natural supporters than the Tories but function as a grand coalition, united by their hatred of the Tories. This coalition is now shattered by the act of going into coalition, by representation by candidates who are soft Tories, by having made those who aren’t support Tory laws. The impact on the party was obvious from day one of the coalition. and addressing that impact was in the hands of the leadership, for whom it was not any kind of priority, over the many years since.

    The South West is toast. Laws is toast.

    Rome is burning north of the border and in the South West, and Clegg is on his fiddle.

  • Bolano – “Laws is toast.”

    £50 bet – loser pays to the charity of his choice – that Laws retains his seat.

  • David Allen 16th Apr '15 - 1:20pm

    Sorry Tabman, but your paragraph 4, which you argue makes no sense, was written by you, and is not a correct quote from me. It does indeed make no sense, but that’s not my fault!

  • David Allen – “but your paragraph 4, which you argue makes no sense, was written by you, and is not a correct quote from me. It does indeed make no sense, but that’s not my fault!”

    Its a paraphrase of the two quotes above – which are direct quotes from your post and which I repeat below:

    “If elected, a Tory / Lib Dem coalition will simply have to tear up the bogus Tory “plans” and start again.”

    “If you want a Tory government, do the honest thing. Vote Tory. Don’t kid yourself that by voting Clegg you will get anything different.”

    You are saying in the first quote that a coalition will have to tear up the Conservative plans and produce new (ie non-Conservative) plans. Yet in the second quote you’re saying that there’s no point voting for a coalition because it will only deliver the Conservative plans. Those two statements are contradictory.

  • Julian Tisi 16th Apr '15 - 1:44pm

    David Allen – I don’t normally like going into spats between two people, but you might like to reconsider your last post and re-read your previous one. You do write exactly what Tabman cut/pasted.

    FWIW, as a Clegg-fan I don’t think it’s at all true that we would only deal with the Tories under Clegg. I think he’s been very even-handed and kept to the line that it isn’t his or our choice – it’s for the British people to decide. In fact I’m both impressed and amazed that after years and years of our leaders being asked just one question before an election – “who do you prefer, Labour or Conservative?” we’ve managed to turn the conversation into one about us, our policies and our record. Probably because we said the same last time and stuck to it, despite the many who thought that we would only ever consider a deal with Labour. Most people, myself included, can still conceive of us deadling with Labour this time and a deal with the Conservatives, however unpalatable that might be for you, is always a possibility because we’ve just had one.

  • @Tabman 16th Apr ’15 – 1:13pm

    As I’m not a Loadsamoney character who’s thrived under this Tory government I don’t have £50 notes to gamble. But by all means, try and stifle opposing views by waving notes in the faces of those opposing you.

    Let me follow Galileo. Still, he’s toast. Wave away, Loadsamoney!

  • Bolano – so you won’t put your money where your mouth is. That speaks volumes, and Laws will be MP for Yeovil next month.

    Julian Tisi – thanks for the support! From a personal perspective if we went into coalition with Labour my reflex would be to reach for my party card and the scissors, but in the end I’d back it through very gritted teeth, on the basis that there is a vague hope that interest rates wouldn’t rise through the roof and the economy tank if we’ve got a hand hovering near the one Balls has got on the tiller.

  • @Tabman 16th Apr ’15 – 2:32pm

    You can wave fistfuls of £50 notes in the air, Loadsamoney.

    He’s still toast. Laws is on his way out. I’m a voter in his constituency. You’re not. All you can do is wave your wad in the distance.

  • Bolano – how do you know I’m not a voter in his constituency, or have arranged a suitable vote-swap?

    Personal dislike does not equate to psephology.

  • And by the way it was one £50 bet – to charity. Given your confidence I’m surprised you’re not pulling my arm off, given that its a dead cert I’ll be paying out?

  • David Allen 16th Apr '15 - 3:24pm

    Tabman,

    I see that I have not been totally clear, leaving you scope for what I’m afraid I think was creative misinterpretation. To clarify:

    “If elected, a Tory / Lib Dem coalition will simply have to tear up the bogus Tory “plans” and start again.”

    Well, come to that, a majority Tory government would also have to tear up their bogus “plans” and start again. The Tory plans don’t add up. They are simply there to put a false sugar-coating onto austerity. The Tories know that their plans are not real.

    “If you want a Tory government, do the honest thing. Vote Tory. Don’t kid yourself that by voting Clegg you will get anything different.”

    Both a majority Tory government, and a Tory – LD government, would have to ignore what had been said in the election campaign and decide on a real plan for government. The question is what influence the LDs might have. Now, if they had dared to indicate a red line that meant anything – in particular, if they had made it clear that they would walk away unless Cameron promised to cancel his EU referendum plan – then the LDs might have been able to have some influence. However, Clegg has chickened out of doing anything so bold.

    The reason, in my view, is that Clegg’s real “price” is less than zero. He will do anything to get back into coalition with the Tories, and he does not dare make a serious demand such as scrapping the referendum, because, horror of horrors, Cameron might refuse his demand. So Clegg has instead said he will make a stand on welfare cuts. There he is on safer ground, because all the pre-election plans will in any case be distorted beyond recognition should actual governing plans be required. So, whatever is done, Clegg will be able to claim that he has influenced the programme. But the truth is that he only wants to create the impression of influence. The reality does not matter.

    Lib Dem “achievements” in coalition fall into two main categories. First are the implemented policies for which the LDs have claimed credit but which the Tories would have done anyway, such as scrapping ID cards and raising the tax threshold. Second are the not-implemented madcap policies which the Tory Right have promoted, but Cameron has preferred to drop (because they would be disastrous), so he has falsely told his right-wingers that he has done so under LD pressure. So the “achievements” are largely bogus.

    LDs always used to have real awkward policies, like opposing fracking, opposing Trident, refusing to mess up the EU. But all those have now been watered down so as not to cause trouble in coalition negotiations with the Tories. What do we want? Government jobs! When do we want them? Now!

  • David Allen – you always put the worst possible interpretation on anything Clegg does because of your dislike of him:

    “Lib Dem “achievements” in coalition fall into two main categories. First are the implemented policies for which the LDs have claimed credit but which the Tories would have done anyway, such as scrapping ID cards and raising the tax threshold.”

    No, not true. The Tories had no plans to raise the IT threshold and were reluctant to do so. They only now try and claim credit because it was a popular decision. The tax cuts the Tories wanted were to the 50p rate – bringing it down to 40p (they achieved 45p) and increasing IHT thresholds (which wasn’t implemented).

    “Second are the not-implemented madcap policies which the Tory Right have promoted, but Cameron has preferred to drop (because they would be disastrous), so he has falsely told his right-wingers that he has done so under LD pressure. So the “achievements” are largely bogus.”

    Without the Coalition Cameron would have had no leverage to prevent his party implementing these (by your token) “disastrous” policies. Cameron may have been relieved not to have implemented them, and politically astute enough to blame it on his coalition partners (correctly), but that’s by the by. No coalition – those policies would have been enacted.

    So I simply don’t hold with your premise. The coalition has made a big difference to the way this country would have been governed, and that’s without the counterfactual that Julia espoused on Newsnight. the “what if” that would have followed No Deal.

  • David Allen 16th Apr '15 - 3:34pm

    Julian Tisi,

    I’m sure you, and many other Lib Dems (though not the Tabmans!) can “conceive of us dealing with Labour”. I’m sure Clegg mouths words which appear to suggest that he could too. But I don’t believe he means it. His constant stream of gross exaggeration about the danger of a Labour government belies his claim to be ready to work with Labour.

    The hedge funders who now bankroll the Lib Dems do not do it in order to help Labour into power. They do it to help the Right into power. Clegg is wholly in tune with these plans. As Ken Clarke said, “I like Nick Clegg – he’s a conservative”.

  • David Allen – ” His constant stream of gross exaggeration about the danger of a Labour government ”

    Nick Clegg doesn’t hold Miliband and Balls in particularly high regard (and he’s not alone in that), but he’s also had to put up with piles of offensive personal s**t from Labour. given this extreme provocation its even more surprising that he’s prepared to give them any benefit of the doubt – they’ve demanded his departure before any negotiations, remember.

    Now, can you remind me why saying Labour will be fiscally irresponsible is some sort of gross exaggeration?

  • David Allen 16th Apr '15 - 3:49pm

    Tabman,

    “The Tories had no plans to raise the IT threshold and were reluctant to do so. They only now try and claim credit because it was a popular decision.”

    So reluctant, indeed, that they have plans in their own 2015 manifesto to raise the income tax threshold further! I’ll concede that the LDs were the people who began by pushing on this door, but they then immediately found that the Tories were happy to hold it open.

    “Without the Coalition Cameron would have had no leverage to prevent his party implementing … “disastrous” policies. Cameron may have been relieved not to have implemented them, and politically astute enough to blame it on his coalition partners (correctly), but that’s by the by. No coalition – those policies would have been enacted.”

    Well, that’s speculation. Alternatively, it could be that Cameron would just have had to find other reasons why he wasn’t going to do all the crazy things his right-wingers would have liked to do. Yes, it’s also possible that in a few areas Cameron did genuinely manage to get his own way rather more successfully because he could play off Nick Clegg against Peter Bone. I’m not claiming that LD influence was zero. But it certainly wasn’t big.

  • David Allen 16th Apr '15 - 3:54pm

    “can you remind me why saying Labour will be fiscally irresponsible is some sort of gross exaggeration?”

    Can you remind me why you think it isn’t? Hint, it is not “irresponsible” for Labour to have made some mistakes (in around 2002-2007), if those mistaken policies were supported by the Tories and by most independent commentators at the time.

  • David Allen 16th Apr '15 - 3:57pm

    “Nick Clegg … had to put up with piles of offensive personal s**t from Labour. given this extreme provocation”

    Got any really offensive sh*tty quotes, then? Hint, of course all politicians are quite rude to other parties, so what you’ll need to provide is something worse than normal robust language.

  • David Allen – raising IT thresholds hadn’t occurred to them. When it was started in 2010 they were reluctant. Five (count them) years later even the Stupid Party have had time to realise that its a good idea and put it in their manifesto.

    Strike one to us for changing the political weather.

    Any single-party government is in thrall to its more truculent back benchers – think about John Major and the “[email protected]” – if it has a slim majority. Think also back to those 60s and 70s Labour governments that failed to stand up to the Unions for the same reason.

    Strike two to us for stopping this rubbish from being enacted.

  • @Tabman 16th Apr ’15 – 3:15pm

    “Bolano – how do you know I’m not a voter in his constituency, or have arranged a suitable vote-swap?

    Personal dislike does not equate to psephology.”

    Well, that’s the difference between us, Loadsamoney – I state quite clearly that I am a voter in his constituency, and thus am acquainted with the facts on the ground. You don’t state anything clearly – maybe you are a voter in his constituency, maybe you’re not (you could choose to state you are, and thus you could debate with me the actuality, but you choose not to). But I’d guess you’re not, because you’re not informed as to the facts on the ground. You’re a long way away, complaining about foreigners getting free treatment on the NHS, attacking lefties, waving your fat wad of cash in the air, responding to specific criticism, responding to specific polls with ‘ere, shut up, I’ve got £50!

    You know nothing about the Yeovil constituency. Carry on waving your wad.

  • Bolano – are you a trusted member of Laws’ election team, who’s seen canvass returns?

    No. Thought not.

  • And to repeat – if you’re certain that Laws will not be re-elected*, then I lose the bet, and I’m the one who forks out. In which case I’ve lost £50 (to charity) and been proven wrong.

    So why won’t you accept my bet?

    * – you live there, and by your own admission “know what’s going on on the ground”

  • Alex Sabine 16th Apr '15 - 4:31pm

    Clearly, raising the personal allowance was a specifically Lib Dem commitment in 2010, whereas at this election it is the policy of the Tories too. In 2010 the Tories were more cautious about the affordability of tax cuts than they are being this time round; by far their most ‘expensive’ tax commitment was to reverse Labour’s planned rise in National Insurance contributions.

    However, once it came to the coalition negotiations the Tories soon came on board with the idea of a major rise in the personal allowance, and settled for softening rather than abandoning the NI rise. According to David Laws’s detailed account of the coalition negotiations in ’22 Days in May’, there was immediate agreement on the principle of significantly raising the PA.

    The issues that concerned George Osborne were:
    – the revenue cost, since raising the PA to £10K straight away would be massively expensive at a time when the budget deficit was more than 10% of GDP
    – his desire to deliver the Tory election pledge to stop Labour’s planned increase in NICs (aka the ‘jobs tax’)

    This is what Osborne said at the outset of the negotiations, as related by Laws: “Look, let’s start on the economy. We support raising the personal tax allowance. The issue is one of cost, and how much we can afford. But I am very happy to talk about that. But on tax, stopping some of Labour’s planned increase in national insurance contributions next year is a bottom-line issue for us. We won the argument for this during the election campaign, and I think you also agreed in the election that if we can afford to, we need to stop these rises.”

  • Tabman 16th Apr ’15 – 3:43pm……………..Now, can you remind me why saying Labour will be fiscally irresponsible is some sort of gross exaggeration?…………….

    Try this…
    Average annual spending and taxation were both lower as a proportion of GDP under the last 3 Labour Governments (38% and 35.4%) than under the 4 Conservative governments which preceded them (40% and 35.5%).

    • National debt was lower as a proportion of GDP at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 (36%) than in 1997, the last year of John Major’s Conservative government (42%).

    • In 2010, the UK’s national debt as a proportion of GDP (52%) was the second lowest of the G7 countries

  • Alex Sabine 16th Apr '15 - 4:46pm

    Later in the negotiations, Osborne made it crystal clear that he would prioritise the PA over the Tories’ fiscally much more trivial inheritance tax and marriage tax proposals, and that his only concern on the PA was the rate at which progress could be made towards the £10K goal.

    “On tax, we are very happy to make the £10,000 tax allowance a major tax priority, as our paper indicates. On inheritance tax, we won’t make this a priority – the allowance will come first. The same will be true on the marriage tax proposals which we have… The issue is how fast we can go on the £10,000 allowance. It will cost a lot. We need the Treasury’s advice on what it will cost.”

    This was a perfectly appropriate concern for a prospective Chancellor faced with the largest peacetime deficit in history. Interestingly, it was Osborne – rather than the Lib Dem negotiators – who suggested a way of reducing the cost of the policy.

    “How about if we cap the benefit to just basic rate taxpayers? If we did that we would make it less expensive to introduce, and we would focus more of the cash on people with lower incomes. I might need to do that.”

    This, of course, is exactly what he did do: he reduced the higher-rate threshold in order to limit most of the gains to basic-rate taxpayers and mitigate the revenue cost (dragging millions more into the 40p tax bracket in the process). By contrast the proposal in the 2010 Lib Dem manifesto did not involve reducing the higher-rate threshold.

    I suspect the official Treasury would have strongly recommended this in any case: they would have been alarmed by the scale of the ‘giveaway’ (in Treasury speak) in the midst of a fiscal crisis, irrespective of any offsetting tax rises that might be implemented. But clearly Osborne had already settled on the idea; it did not come from the Lib Dems. Now, though, the Tories have evidently decided that they cannot keep increasing the number of higher-rate taxpayers – hence their commitment to raise the higher-rate threshold to an eventual £50K. (The cost of this might be mitigated by raising the NI upper earnings limit in tandem.)

  • @Tabman 16th Apr ’15 – 4:25pm

    “Bolano – are you a trusted member of Laws’ election team, who’s seen canvass returns?

    No. Thought not.”

    Oh dear. Has my suggestion that you’re not actually from anywhere near his constituency hit home, despite your “how do you know I’m not a voter in his constituency”? Go on, be brave, your can answer my ickle question – are you actually from anywhere near Yeovil? No, I’m not “a trusted member of Laws’ election team”. All I am is someone who’s lived and worked in the constituency for more than 50 years, who talks to his neighbours, who knows hundreds of people here, some of them very prominent Lib Dems. And what this means is that I have an informed view, unlike you, who know nothing about the constituency.

    You wave your wad of money, Loadsamoney, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • David Allen 16th Apr '15 - 5:01pm

    Tabman,

    Thanks for the link to Labour-Uncut, which is presumably the sh*ttiest piece you can find on Clegg from Labour. I’m afraid that although it includes some hard language, it also contains some pretty valid logical thinking. Thus:

    “Nick Clegg has never … come in for much stick for jettisoning the social democratic heritage of his party, or for the alacrity with which he jumped into bed with the Tories at the first opportunity, or for dutifully supporting their programme in exchange for squeezing in a few token policies of his own.

    Labour has spent the past five years treating Clegg with kid gloves.

    ….

    Labour needs to nail Clegg to Cameron in order to stymie any revival of the Lib Dems in the polls. But it needs to do so in a way that doesn’t poison relations with the Lib Dems as a party (and potential coalition partners). Tricky, which is why Labour’s attack should focus on Clegg.

    In fact, with his return to Parliament itself a moot point, Labour should do all it can to take Clegg out in his Sheffield Hallam seat. The latest Ashcroft poll shows Labour two points ahead in the seat. A Vince Cable or Tim Farron-led party would be a better prospect for Labour.

    Nick Clegg remains the biggest single barrier between Ed Miliband crossing the threshold of Number Ten or not. Its time Labour’s inexplicably lenient treatment of this banker’s son who brought us the bedroom tax, ended.”

    Speaking as someone who thinks of Ed Miliband as a lesser evil than David Cameron, I agree with all of that. So should any Lib Dem who sticks with our traditional centre-left political stance.

  • @Tabman 16th Apr ’15 – 4:28pm
    “And to repeat – if you’re certain that Laws will not be re-elected*, then I lose the bet, and I’m the one who forks out. In which case I’ve lost £50 (to charity) and been proven wrong.

    So why won’t you accept my bet?”

    Because I’m not one of those old school macho Lib Dems who think waving a £50 note in the air is somehow more important than cogent argument backed up by facts; because £50 is a lot to me because I’m not some Loadsamoney character who’s made a killing from the current Government; because I think gambling is pathological, not a sign of what a big boy one is.

    You don’t have an argument: you have a £50 note. Wave it long, wave it hard, Loadsamoney, if it makes you feel manly.

  • Peter Hayes 16th Apr '15 - 5:05pm

    OMG all the usual negative posters. If you can not produce anything except get rid of Clegg, and I regret voting for him except for the alternative, why not go to your natural home ConservativeHome or LabourList. The rest of us have Focuses to deliver or canvassing for the more outgoing. There are seats where the Tories have thrown money at it before the limits on spending, lots of Tory leaflets wrapped in pizza adverts, that we now have to support the LibDem candidate if we do not want a ‘pure’ Conservative right government.

  • This “betting” argument is childish. The elections are twenty-one days away. We’ll know then who was right.

    By the way, if you want to give £50 to charity, you can do so on your own account without the excuse of a bet.

  • David Allen – “traditional centre-left political stance”

    And there was me thinking that blindly following tradition was a Conservative posture 😉

    Bolano – by your own admission you live in the Yeovil constituency and know hundreds of people and your collective wisdom is that Laws is toast. Consequently asking me to pay £50 is no risk to you and benefits a charity that otherwise wouldn’t get the money.

    Tell you what – if you accept, I’ll pay out either way. Even if I win.

    I hope that your continual use of the pathetic “Loadsamoney” “insult” makes you feel better too.

  • Alex Sabine 16th Apr '15 - 5:55pm

    @ expats
    I’m not sure that comparing the annual averages in that way proves much about fiscal responsibility. For one thing, it says nothing about the direction of travel, or the legacy left from one government to another. For example, it is obvious that public spending has been higher as a proportion of GDP under the coalition than under the Labour government pre-2008, since it inherited a situation in which spending had rocketed to 46% of GDP and had to bring that down in stages. Likewise the Thatcher government inherited a large deficit of almost 5% of GDP and rising. In 1997 there was still a substantial deficit following the 1990s recession (3.3% of GDP) but it had been falling steadily and Ken Clarke had set the budget on a path to near balance with the spending plans which Gordon Brown sensibly adopted.

    Equally, overall figures for Labour’s 13-year period in office obscure the very striking shifts within that period, from initial retrenchment in the first term to a 5 percentage point increase in public spending in the second term, then stabilisation at that level and then the fiscal blowout following the crash.

    Under the Thatcher government, public spending was initially stubbornly high due to the impact of recession but then fell sharply as a proportion of the fast-growing GDP over the rest of the 1980s. In the 1960s the Wilson government initially increased both taxes and spending very substantially, but balance of payments, budgetary and sterling crises forced it to scale back spending while intensifying the increased taxation. Et cetera…

    But, misleading and simplistic though such comparisons are, I don’t think your headline figures are quite right. If you take the official National Accounts figures from the ONS, annual averages for spending and taxation under the last Labour government were 39.1% and 36.8% respectively. For the last three Labour governments (ie Wilson in the 1960s, Wilson/Callaghan in the 1970s and Blair/Brown in the 1990s and 2000s) the corresponding figures are 41.2% and 38.4%.

    You are right that national debt was lower as a proportion of GDP in 2007-08 than in 1996-97 – the figures for Public Sector Net Debt are 39.9% and 36.7% respectively. After more than a decade of uninterrupted economic growth it would have been remarkable if the debt ratio had not come down. However, this decline was extremely modest compared to the improvements registered in many other developed countries, reflecting the fact that Labour had borrowed £242 billion between 2000-01 and 2007-08.

    As the IFS put it in their assessment of Labour’s stewardship of the public finances: “Labour entered the current crisis with one of the largest structural budget deficits in the industrial world and a bigger debt than most OECD countries, having done less to reduce debt and – in particular – borrowing than most since 1997.”

    Finally, the UK’s debt-to-GDP ratio in 2010 was not 52% as you claim. It was already 62% in 2009-10, rising to 69% in 2010-11. Moreover, these are the figures for net public debt. Many other countries and international organisations like the IMF and OECD use the gross debt measure, which is considerably higher. General government gross debt on a Maastricht basis was 71.5% in 2009-10 and 76.9% in 2010-11.

  • Alex Sabine 16th Apr '15 - 6:02pm

    And despite robust economic growth, the debt-to-GDP ratio had been drifting upwards every year since 2002 (from a low of 29.3% to 36.7% by 2007-08) – hardly fiscal prudence OR Keynesian counter-cyclical stabilisation policy…

  • @Tabman 16th Apr ’15 – 5:21pm

    I must admit that your obsession with £50 bets is beginning to strike me as less Loadsamoney and more in the manner of Mrs Doyle with her legendary offers of tea.

    I give you three specific reasons for why I’m not taking part in your obsessive betting scheme in one post alone and your reply…?

    “Tell you what – if you accept, I’ll pay out either way. Even if I win.”

    I’m calling you Loadsamoney in an obviously vain attempt to try and get through to you, that waving a £50 note is no substitute for rational argument. It’s neither big, nor clever. I think, sadly, lots of Tories are going to get elected in place of Lib Dems in the South West because the leadership took their eye off the ball – and a rather large ball at that. You may not have a problem with that. You may have a rational argument as to why you think that’s not the case. But that rational argument isn’t “go on, have a bet, you know you want to”. It looks like you’re saying “I have no rational argument to make you back down – I know, why don’t I try to intimidate with a £50 bet”.

    Now you can either accept that trying to barrack someone with a £50 isn’t an acceptable substitute for political discourse. Or you can try once more with a “tell you what, why don’t we make the bet…”…

  • Philip Thomas 16th Apr '15 - 7:44pm

    Letting the Tories win seats from the Lib Democrats because you don’t like what the coalition has done is like the legendary man who burnt his house down in order to spite his mother-in-law.

    Whoever is leader after May 7th will have to get any coalition proposal ratified by the members…

  • @Philip Thomas 16th Apr ’15 – 7:44pm

    For your point to have effect one must believe in the possibility of a Labour/Liberal coalition. I don’t believe enough has, is being done to support that belief, both by the leadership and party members. The strategic problem is that the leadership feels it can’t steer any course but the one it is currently – claiming equidistance from both, and that anyone who is unhappy with that position as a voter will just have to accept that. And so those unhappy voters on both sides are accepting that, which is why YouGov again has the party at 8%, with those unhappy voters scattering to the four winds.

    I suspect that while the leadership keeps to this course, the party will keep to 8%, or perhaps even drop a little. In my opinion, for more votes, Clegg will need to tack one way or another – and for it to be convincing it needs to be sooner rather than later.

  • Philip Thomas 16th Apr '15 - 8:52pm

    No, Bolano, for my point to have effect, one need only believe that a pure Tory government will be worse than the coalition. Is there any parliamentary scenario in which a Tory MP is preferable to a Liberal Democrat?

    It would of course strengthen the point if there was little prospect of a Tory/Lib Dem coalition in future, based on the incompatibility of our two manifestos. As it happens, it is my belief that there is no coalition agreement which would be acceptable both to me and to the Conservative Party. I am of course insignificant: but perhaps others would agree…

  • “Letting the Tories win seats from the Lib Democrats because you don’t like what the coalition has done is like the legendary man who burnt his house down in order to spite his mother-in-law.”

    Yes. It also exemplifies one of the ironies of the FPTP system. However it should be also noted that the Tories have made a habit of devouring their coalition partners since the 19th century; that this was known to anybody familiar with Liberal Party history; and that voices warning of the need to keep the Tories at arms’ length, and thrust them away prior to the election, were not silent from an early period in the coalition, or even before. The question that must be asked — after the results of the elections are known, but not a minute later — is why those voices remained unheeded.

  • Bolano.

    You said all the current lib dem mps in the south west would be unseated.

    I disagree with you in particular that David Laws will remain an MP and I’m confident enough to give £50 to charity if that doesn’t happen and £50 if it does if you will too.

    Why are you making such a big deal?

  • Malcolm Todd 16th Apr '15 - 9:33pm

    Tabman

    Come off it, you’re the one making a big deal. I tell you what. I’ll give £50 to charity on 8th May if I don’t see ANY more pointless wagers of this sort being offered on this site between now and then. Deal?

  • @Philip Thomas 16th Apr ’15 – 8:52pm

    “No, Bolano, for my point to have effect, one need only believe that a pure Tory government will be worse than the coalition. Is there any parliamentary scenario in which a Tory MP is preferable to a Liberal Democrat?”

    I think your logic is strong but I think increasingly it’s beginning to look as though a Tory/Lib Dem coalition wouldn’t have the numbers, and thus some movement between the relative numbers of either still wouldn’t have the numbers. What this may do is encourage voters in Lib Dem/Tory facing seats to abandon tactical voting: e.g. if it makes no difference to the government whether I vote Lib Dem/Tory in Yeovil, might one vote Green? Conversely, in a Lib Dem/Labour marginal voting for the former could be seen to let in a Tory coalition.

    It’s complicated, and I don’t think there’ll be definitive movements but… I think it will mean that substantial Lib Dem voters will fall away in either scenario. Curiously, on the other side, I think fear of the Lib Dems joining Labour will motivate a similar but lesser move away for right-leaning Lib Dem voters.

    Ultimately, I think the narrative of voting Lib Dem to keep the Tories out in the South West last time was very, very strong. It reinforced the message of what the party stood for with a strong understanding of what it stood against. I don’t see any narrative of comparable strength in the current campaign. I think there has to be one to stop the loss of votes.

    I agree with your second paragraph and would regard myself of even greater insignificance. Equally so one might argue for a policy of supporting the MPs who represent the party you want. I would vote for TF and CK but not NC or DL. And one might argue that if the party is going to lose MPs, better it lose the ones keen to drive it in opposition to the desires of a voter – but that sword cuts both ways.

  • @Malcolm Todd 16th Apr ’15 – 9:33pm

    Can I wholeheartedly applaud your comments in spirit without endorsing the betting?

  • Bolano. So you admit you’d prefer to see Lib Dem MPs ousted by Conservatives. Remind me which party you are supposed to belong to.

  • Philip Thomas 16th Apr '15 - 10:23pm

    Bolano, there are scenarios other than Lib/Dem Con coalition in which Lib Dem numbers matter. The more Lib Dem MPs the better a deal we can get if we go into a coalition with Labour for example.

  • @Philip Thomas 16th Apr ’15 – 10:23pm

    Yes, agreed. But a coalition with Labour needs to be credible to voters (will the leadership support it?). I think the other problem is that the Lib Dems need to be a credible coalition partner for Labour – why choose the Lib Dems if the SNP are sufficient?

  • Bolano – there is one minor difference between the Lib Dems and the SNP. Let’s see if you can guess what it is.

  • Bolano: “a coalition. . . needs to be credible to voters (will the leadership support it?)

    One wonders how much “leadership” is going to be left standing on the eighth of May. I really have no idea how a decapitated party is supposed to negotiate for any sort of position in government.

  • Peter Watson 17th Apr '15 - 8:50am

    @Tabman “there is one minor difference between the Lib Dems and the SNP. Let’s see if you can guess what it is.”
    Principles? Purpose? Growth? Hope? Go on, give us a clue 😉

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

    No recent comment found.