Opinion: A hurting Lib Dem and the stagnant economy

For the first time since his election as leader of the Labour party, I found myself agreeing with Ed Miliband during Prime Minister’s Questions this week.

With his new Shadow Chancellor sat next to him and in response to the news earlier in the week that the economy had contracted by 0.5% during the final quarter of 2010, Miliband urged David Cameron to think again over the upcoming spending cuts and VAT rise.

To make matters worse for the Coalition, the outgoing director-general of the CBI accused the government of putting politics before growth. Sir Richard Lambert argued that “politics appear to have trumped economics on too many occasions over the past eight months”.

And I have to agree. Yes, the deficit needs to be addressed, but the economy also needs to be given time to recover and grow. Unemployment is still increasing, inflation is rising and wages are stagnant. The problem is that it’s very hard to sort both problems at once.

The Coalition seems to have become obsessed with the deficit—something that was true of Osborne and Cameron in the run up to the election—and has taken steps to reduce it. So far, these steps have primarily comprised slashing public spending by almost a fifth and increasing VAT to 20%.

These policies have started to take grip now and their effects will be seen in GDP figures during the coming years. What we are yet to see, however, are any policies for encouraging growth. Yes we have a Green Investment Bank on the (distant) horizon and a lot of talk about encouraging small businesses, but there is no equivalent to the relatively speedy action taken on the deficit.

By attacking the deficit so quickly, the Coalition risks stifling growth for years to come. Two of the determinant factors for GDP are government spending and consumer spending. But the measures so far introduced will decrease both of these.

By cutting government spending, you reduce government contracts. Government contracts are vital in encouraging growth as the money feedbacks into the economy. Firms make money, they contracts create jobs. People get paid, and then people spend their money and pay taxes. Welfare costs decrease.

By increasing VAT, at a time when the cost of living is increasing and wages are stagnant, the spending power of consumers is decreased. Less money is spent, demand is lower, and there are less jobs and lower growth.

The reductions in public spending will remove just under half a million jobs from the public sector. The Coalition is confident that the private sector will more than pick up this tab. What is the basis for this confidence? As Sir Lambert asked “where’s the growth going to come from?”

The old saying “you have to spend money to make money” is surely never truer than when applied to governments during recessions. The deficit needs to be brought under control, but it is a question of timing.

The Lib Dem manifesto reflected this sentiment:

“We must ensure the timing is right. If spending is cut too soon, it would undermine the much-needed recovery and cost jobs. We will base the timing of cuts on an objective assessment of economic conditions, not political dogma.”

And in a statement issued at the beginning of 2010, Vince Cable responded to news that the economy had grown by 0.3% that:

“This news underlines again the folly of rushing into rapid cuts which could push the economy back into recession and inflict further structural damage on the UK, making it harder to sustain our credit rating and creating an even larger budget deficit.”

Unfortunately, it seems that when it comes to these matters, either the Lib Dems in the cabinet have changed their minds, or economic policy is being dictated to them by the blue side of the coalition.

The misguided notion that by tackling the deficit first you can encourage growth because market confidence will be that much stronger ignores the importance that consumer spending plays in economic growth. It also misses the more human consequences that high unemployment and rising prices accompany.

To make matters worse, both the stagnating economy and the deficit reduction tactics will hit the most disadvantaged hardest. As a member of a party founded on equality and fairness, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

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126 Comments

  • “With his new Shadow Chancellor sat next to him”

    I was amazed/appalled to see Ed Balls on this morning’s Andrew Marr Show denying that there was a massivestructural deficit run by the Labour Government prior to the world financial crisis.

    “I don’t think we had a structural deficit at all in that period” were his precise words. Andrew Marr could scarcely believe what he was hearing.

    From 45′ 00″ in on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00yc6zd/The_Andrew_Marr_Show_30_01_2011/

  • One point – you said “welfare costs decrease” – I think you mean “increase” (because of higher unemployment and economic need generally)?

    I agree with your analysis, Jonathan, although surprised it has taken you until now to fully embrace it. I am sure many other party members and supporters will be coming round to this point of view with the current economic stats. Quite an interesting read, Rawnsley’s piece in The Observer today. I think austerity imposed “just like that”can only be harmful. It has been my view for some while that the environmental whammy coming down the track will constitute a heavy dose of austerity, and we should be very careful of public spending cuts before that hits – economic growth will be virtually impossible then, so we should take great care.

  • The problem is that we have in effect returned to two party ideological politics. The truth is that the answer probably lies on the spectrum between Osbourne and Balls. The worrying thing is the Government rhetoric. I would have preferred to see Osbourne and Cameron stating that they are keeping abrest of the changing situation but at this point there is no need to change course. Instead they give the impression that the plan is staying whatever happens.

  • An accurate article at last on LDV wrt the Deficit.

    Seeing Clegg on Marr a week ago trying to belittle the damage the Coalition is doing is unreal. You know they know they’re in trouble when on a sixpence, the announcements from both parties stop being about Greece and start being about how they’re going to promote growth without any substantive points to back it up.

    Miliband has found a rich vein to mine. His assertion – that Tories only know how to cut jobs, not create them will hit home as hundreds of thousands more lose their incomes. That the Lib Dems still slavishly follow the Tory economic medicine shows how lost they’ve become.

  • Colin Green 30th Jan '11 - 7:03pm

    One quarter should not in itself enough to cause a reaction, just as the previous quarter’s higher than expected growth wasn’t. Now if the trend continues, or worsens, you may have a case.

    All sides in the run up to the election said they would cut spending and raise taxes to reduce the deficit. The question was how much of each not how much in total. It is hard for the layman to see which party’s balance, if any, would be best. It remains to be seen whether our current course of action will work. Everyone knew that the cuts would hurt. That is it currently hurting should be no surprise. Of course the treasury should have a plan B in place ready for a second quarter of negative growth. Reacting one way and then the other each time a new figure is released is a bad way to run the economy. Sure, be prepared to alter course when needed, but don’t be blown about by the wind of political weather.

  • Grammar Police 30th Jan '11 - 7:17pm

    “A Liberal Democrat government will be straight with people about the tough choices ahead. Not only must waste be eliminated, but we must also be bold about finding big areas of spending that can be cut completely. That way we can control borrowing, protect the services people rely on most and still find some money to invest in building a fair future for everyone.

    We have already identifi ed over £15 billion of savings in government spending per year, vastly in excess of the £5 billion per year that we have set aside for additional spending commitments. All our spending commitments will be funded from this pool of identifi ed savings, with all remaining savings used to reduce the deficit.

    We must ensure the timing is right. If spending is cut too soon, it would undermine the much-needed recovery and cost jobs. We will base the timing of cuts on an objective assessment of economic conditions, not political dogma. Our working assumption is that the economy will be in a stable enough condition to bear cuts from the beginning of 2011–12.”

    That’s the relevant extract from the Lib Dem 2010 manifesto. The last para is particularly relevant.

  • When I read the article I had to check and make sure I was actually on LibDem Voice. I have really begun to believe recently that there was no one left in the LibDems prepared to present an opposing position to the savage ideological cutting of the Tories.

    The problem with Economics is that it isn’t an exact science and it is often only much later with the gift of hindsight that you can work out what actually happened in terms of the economy and why.

    That is why I have been so terrified – and I ain’t joking – that we have a Tory Coalition which seems absolutely fixed on their Cuts Mantra to the exclusion of all else. It’s as if Cameron has adopted thatcher’s – The Lady is not for Turning – dogmatism.

    I don’t want to see the destruction of a centre, centre left LibDem Party as I think it has an important role to play in our Democracy. But a right-wing LibDem party wedded to Tory ideology will end up as part of the Tory Party if not de jure but in reality because the voters will soon suss it out. I wouldn’t want that kind of party to survive either.

    But I really wonder if there are enough people who can take back their party from the rabid right-wingers that currently infest it. We all know that every party is a broad church but there is usually a unifying vision and ethos – lately the apologists for those currently in charge are brutal in their attacks on fellow party members who raise any questions or objections to the right-wing shift and the inevitable attacks that it brings on the poor and weaker sections of our society.

    So good luck Jonathan – it’s not necessary that I need to agree totally with your position but I certainly agree that cuts alone will not provide the answer unless we are looking at a decade of pain.

    Is that really the price that people who didn’t cause this problem have got to pay – they were never part of the housing bubble and never saw any benefit from it. But now they have got to pay – I am not trying to avoid Labour responsibility for mistakes they made in Government but the current shambles can never be adequately addressed by continually trying to blame Labour for everything.

    It might kid some voters although I think that most people now just switch-off when they hear it – but what really worries me is that people like Cameron and Osborne might actually believe it and that means they cannot break-free from a deficit cutting policy as the main plank of their economic regeneration programme.

    It won’t work – any observer with an ounce of detachment knows that and it appears that Cameron and Osborne had it well and truly pointed out to them in Davos.

  • Paul McKeown 30th Jan '11 - 7:48pm

    Unless I have missed it, LDV seems to have ignored the interesting article Vince Cable wrote about Keynesian economics in the New Statesman (a very short summary can be read here: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/01/coalition-economic-cable-cuts).

    VC is hardly regarded as the most right wing figure amongst the LD’s and certainly not within the coalition. However, he does argue that Keynes would have agreed with the coalition’s economic policy as being the only sensible one to follow, whatever the short term pain, and he suggests that the “Keynesian” rhetoric coming from the left is not only overblown, but also a misstatement of Keynes.

    Would LDV like to give the article some air?

  • Paul McKeown 30th Jan '11 - 7:49pm

    Sorry a parenthesis seems to have appended itself to that link. Try again: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/01/coalition-economic-cable-cuts

  • It is really funny to hear how the Coalition rhetoric has changed. First Labour was called deficit deniers and now they are saying Labour also had plans to cut the deficit. It was also interesting to see how Cameron and Osborne didn’t blame Labour for the deficit at Davos instead it was all to do with the global recession. I think the voters are beginning to see what a lie they have been fed and don’t trust this Coalition government as is borne out by all the polls.

  • OK, here goes. The quarterly growth figures were wrong.

    All the business surveys for the fourth quarter were solidly positive and NIESR, which is normally within 0.1-0.2 percentage points, estimated 0.5%. Forward orders indicators in the business surveys for December were also solid. Since then, the CBI retail sales survey for January was also positive, showing rising turnover. The ONS data for December were heavily skewed towards the first two weeks of the month when the weather was at its worst.
    See this article in the Independent, where Hamish McRae explains the situation.
    h ttp://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/hamish-mcrae/hamish-mcrae-dont-believe-the-merchants-of-gloom-2194345.html

    So basically, although I also believe there should be a growth strategy, particularly focused on the weaker regions, and we should keep a watching eye on the economic recovery, Labour remains utterly wrong in its overall approach. There is no double dip and when this is shown to be the case, they will be left with their reputation for economic expertise even more in tatters than it is at present.

  • John Fraser 30th Jan '11 - 8:50pm

    Clegg made much of the misleading argument (I may explain why I believe it to bemisleading later but i want your thoughs first ) that spending was only going down to 2006 levels. Yet in 2006 :-

    Students did not have to pay up to £9K for their fees.

    The unemployed did not have 10% cuts in their housing allowances after a year.

    Train subsidies were not decimented

    Liberies were not closing .

    The disabled were not having their benafits taken away

    etc

    Does anyone care to explian ??

  • @ John Fraser

    In 2006:
    1) Unemployment was much lower, so less was being paid in benefits;
    2) Interest payments on our debts were much lower; Now we are borrowing 10% of our national income a year, piling up debt and increasing our interest payments.
    3) Massive unsustainable profits were coming in from the financial sector, giving Gordon Brown a tax bonus;
    4) The consumer and property market boom was running full swing, based on unsustainable levels of consumer borrowing, bringing in lots of VAT, stamp duty etc. etc.
    5) We were already running a deficit at the time.

  • @ Matt

    No, Labour’s strategy is to oppose all cuts individually while pretending to be in favour of cuts generally. i.e. hypocrisy

  • @ Matt
    “So you are saying that the ONS is wrong then?”

    Yes, actually. These are only first estimates from the ONS, and if you follow the link to Hamish McRae’s article, that explains why.

    I use ONS figures for my work and, yes, often they are wrong and see major revisions at a later date.

  • Robert C -one of the more compelling arguments that Hamish makes is that of tax receipts, which don’t reflect a contraction.

  • Matt – “But none of the manifesto’s declared where those cuts would be, as it would be politically madness to tell the electorate, exactly where the axe was going to fall. Why do you think the Tories left out of the manifesto,that they where gong to hit Welfare with 25 Billion Pounds worth of cuts.”

    But the point is, the cuts have now been spelt out in some detail, and Labour have utterly failed to say what they would do differently NOW.

    All they do is say they wouldn’t be doing what they coalition are; they don’t / won’t / can’t say where their cuts would fall.

  • Robert C

    Well there is some discussion in Macrae’s article and some points he made are worth taking note of but I find it hard to see why you are taking this article as proof the ONS is wrong. It was not wrong when the figures for Q3 were higher than expected – Osborne was quite happy at that point! If the numbers are revised then they will be in the coming months but do you honestly believe they are so wrong that they are going to show anything but a stagnant economy? Consumer confidence figures have seen a precipitous drop this month and the confidence on of other sectors is in freefall – this is before the cuts really start to hit.

    I agree with the original article – the problem is not so much the position the Coalition is taking (which I believe is wrong) but the fact that there is no indication that any change is possible. How can they say this – what if the ONS are not wrong and we have a double-dip? How will taking more demand out help us with growth?

  • @ Tabman
    Surely it is not for the Opposition party to say what they would do as they are not in power and don’t know what state the economy will be left in when they are in government. The Opposition party’s duty is to oppose and hold the government to account.

  • Tabman, Robert C

    You are right the Labour Party have not announced what cuts they will make over 4 years ahead of the next election – a criticism you are entitled to make.

    You will therefore be able to point me to the cuts that the Tories and the LD had specifically set out in the run-up to the GE. I don’t remember your pal Cameron having any policies until after the financial crash and all the ones he announced before such as lighter regulation etc, keeping to Labour spending plans were wrong anyway

    Perhaps there was some chapters int he manifestos that I missed. As I recall the IFS said no party was being honest. In fact the LD were praised but in the end they have abandoned all their policies so have no longer the ability to say ‘told you so’

  • @Robert C .
    Most of these are probibly correct espacially the one about unemployment. My point being that when Clegg said we were going back to 2006 levels of spending most peoples first reaction would be to think that 2006 service levels would resume.

    Yet another example of Clegg using spin to mislead.

    @ John Fraser

    In 2006:
    1) Unemployment was much lower, so less was being paid in benefits;
    2) Interest payments on our debts were much lower; Now we are borrowing 10% of our national income a year, piling up debt and increasing our interest payments.
    3) Massive unsustainable profits were coming in from the financial sector, giving Gordon Brown a tax bonus;
    4) The consumer and property market boom was running full swing, based on unsustainable levels of consumer borrowing, bringing in lots of VAT, stamp duty etc. etc.
    5) We were already running a deficit at the time.

  • BB / BAZSC – you completely miss the point.

    The Coalition has set out a programme of cuts. Labour say “We wouldn’t do it like that”. To which any rational person would say, “So what would you do then?” The answer? Deafening silence.

    Its a nonsense to say that Labour can’t answer this question. The last parliament was full of instances of opposition parties setting out what they would do differently to the Government. All we have is Ed Balls having the brass neck to deny that he was running a structural deficit BEFORE the crash.

  • Matt – “Because it is only with growth, that the deficit is going to get paid off, as things pick up again.”

    No, no, no, no, no.

    Let’s try that again shall we? “It’s only with growth that the DEBT is going to be paid off.”

    Deficit – the difference between tax receipts and government expenditure IN YEAR

    Debt – the cumulative effect of running a deficit over a number of years (This gets bigger every year if the deficit is not reduced).

    No wonder the Labour Party got us into such a horrendous mess if this is the degree of economic literacy prevalent.

  • This whole thread demonstrates the point I tried to make earlier. British politics is currently missing the third voice that used to be provided by the Lib Dems. Tories will always try to cut public services, it is ideological for them and always has been. Labour will always tend to over rely on public sector growth and believe that spending your way out will always work.

    I think there is a middle way with the pace of cuts being throttled up or down in line with economic circumstance and the general state of the economy. This is of course what the Lib Dems proposed at the last election and a big reason they got my vote. Cameron and Osbourne have made it clear that altering the plan according to circumstance is not an option.

    The Lib Dem manifesto is still spot on:

    “We will base the timing of cuts on an objective assessment of economic conditions, not political dogma. Our working assumption is that the economy will be in a stable enough condition to bear cuts from the beginning of 2011–12.”

    Note they were assuming not dictating that the economy would be ready from april this year. This gave scope to adjust the plan, support fragile growth and accelerate when appropriate. What we need is for some senior Lib Dems to begin repeating this.

  • I see no Iceberg 31st Jan '11 - 1:51am

    The idealogical driven Osborne economic doctrine is easily summed up thusly…

    We have to burn the village to save the village.

  • Tabman

    No need to shout – I can hear you perfectly well.

    I cannot remember any detailed policy information coming out from the Tories at the beginning of 2006 which is what you are comparing the situation to. Labour will have to set out their stall in 2014-2015 which is when the next campaign will be.

    Instead of concentrating on Labour I would like to see some more debate on discussing the LD position and how the philosophy of the party is in support of the policies being put in place by the Government.

    Labour are currently the de facto ‘protest vote’ and will need to do a whole lot of work to retain these voters for the next election.

    My politics have not changed for 15-20 years but the rightward shift of the parties has meant that it has been best covered by Labour then LD (or so I thought) and no nobody. The Coalition though are far to the right of anything I could support so I can no longer vote for the LD whilst they support these policies (and probably for a long time after)

  • @ Matt

    “Why do you use ONS figures for your work, if they are always wrong?”

    1) The FIRST versions are often wrong and are often revised in the light of later data.
    2) They are not the only source of data and other sources often come up with different figures e.g. retail sales. In fact, ONS data often conflicts with itself, for example the Family Spending survey produces vastly different figures from the Consumer Trends report when it comes to estimates of the levels of consumer spending.

    So yes, I use ONS data, but the information is only one version of the truth, and a version that often changes long after the event. Even Denis Healey, ex Labour chancellor, said ONS figures were usually wrong. Other information needs to be considered as well.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Jan '11 - 9:55am

    John Fraser

    Clegg made much of the misleading argument (I may explain why I believe it to be misleading later but i want your thoughts first ) that spending was only going down to 2006 levels.

    Those on the extreme right-wing of economics are fond of this sort of argument, they pump it out through the newspapers they own, and it gets picked up also by people who are not extreme right-wing, just lacking in political sense and the ability to understand what is happening in this world.

    There are plenty of reasons why government spending rises with seemingly no improvement in services and in fact a cut in what government used to be able to provide. Since this is one of the most fundamental issues in politics, any politician who is worthwhile ought to be well on top of these issues.

    The biggest reason is the rise in what we can do, through expensive intervention, to keep people alive for longer. Look in your corner shop and see – they have 100th birthday cards for sale, it is no longer highly unusual for people to live that long. So we have the cost of the intervention, because no-one is going to say “we can keep you alive, but we won’t”, and then the costs of support in extreme old age. When the NHS was founded it was supposed it would pay for itself through a healthier and hence more productive society, but those making that argument did not think through if you keep people alive and healthy until their 70s, they are still going to grow old and die at some time after that.

    The other big reason is we have a more complex society requiring more complex and expensive infrastructure. The growth in the amount of traffic on roads, for example, requires more spending on road maintenance. Big business may see it as more profitable to centralise distribution, but the costs rub off in taxes to pay for the increased wear on roads. Abstract infrastructure is also an issue, this is where the student fees thing comes in. We do have a more complex society, requiring a greater infrastructure of education to pay for people to get the education they need to function in it. That costs. We can no longer have the grammar-school/ secondary modern society where 80% of youngsters end their education by 16, and half the rest end it at 18. Big business demands a supply of those with graduate level education, but refuses to pay the extra costs that needs. Actually, they take the position why educate British kids, when they can just take on the products of other countries which are foolish enough to tax more and educate their kids to a higher standard. So – move your tax base to Switzerland, employ the well-educated citizens of the rest of the EU to do your brain work, “”no questions asked” people from other poorer countries to do the lower paid dirty work, and leave the taxpayer (which isn’t us – we’re Swiss for tax reasons) to deal with the Brits.

    Big business seems to accept that in the private sector the greater complexity and scale of organisation requires more admin staff, and more of that whole thing which is really the admin and bureaucracy part of the private sector called “the finance industry”. That’s all bankers are really – admin people. So, if big business moans about the costs and amount of admin in the public sector, let them deal with the equivalent in the private sector – do we rally need all that we have there, or are they just running around and looking busy and trying to make themselves seem essential in order to try and justify the huge amounts they take? Just like bureaucrats anywhere.

    The other issue which liberals don’t like to talk about because it embarrasses them, is that there is a big and rapidly growing cost associated with a more liberal society. A lot of hidden costs that were met in the past through rigid family systems, are now met by the state. Anyone who deals with education of ordinary people will know the huge costs of dealing with messed-up kids due to their parent’s messed-up lives. I remember when I was a councillor just how shocking it was to see the huge rise every year in costs coming under the education and social services budgets which essentially came down to “problem kids”.

    If the stupid millionaires who govern us know all this, they don’t want to let on. Actually, I don’t think they do, they are so out of touch. That is why they genuinely think this “big society” idea of theirs will work, when it is they and their like who have smashed social structures or the lower classes by the ultra-capitalist commercial society they have imposed. During my lifetime I have seen the strength and self-organising ability of the working class destroyed, not by the welfare state as the extreme right who govern us and dominate published commentary would have it, but by the commercialisation of everything in society, encouraging a passive couch potato way of existence for most people. The “dog-eat-dog, run everything by vicious competition” attitude they have to the way things should be run feeds downwards to destructive social attitudes lower down. All this costs the state big time to try and keep some order, and none of that cost comes in the shape of any obvious improved services.

  • Bazsc – fear not, I think there is a political party that should match your stated position. It’s the Socialist Labour Party: http://www.socialist-labour-party.org.uk/

  • Matthew

    Good post – pity same can’t be said for Tabman

  • MH – a lot of what you say is of course correct. But the change between 2006 and 2010 is only four years, and is not likely to mean the sort of incremental levels of change that you talk about in your post.

    The biggest differences between now and 2006 are as Robert C pointed out above: a far greater level of debt interest caused by Labour’s failure to reduce the deficit during the boom years (instead creating inflationary boom conditions by using Government expenditure to increase wage bills without accompanying increases in productivity) and an increased tax take on an unsustainable bank-driven boom.

  • Liberal Neil 31st Jan '11 - 10:35am

    @bazsc – you will find a list of proposed cuts set out by the Lib Dems in the last section of their manifesto. Quite a few of these are ones which have been implemented by the coalition government, in whole or in part.

    You are correct that the IFS criticised all the parties for not being clear enough about what they would cut, but that they said the Lib Dems were being a lot clearer than the others.

  • Liberal Neil 31st Jan '11 - 10:38am

    @bazsc – the other point here is that the debate is not about what cuts the next Government will make from 2015 onwards, it is about what the Government should do now. Labour’s position lacks credibility because a) they are criticisng the Government’s plans for being ‘the wrong cuts at the wrong time’ but can’t then answer the obvious question ‘which cuts, and when?’, and b) because they only left office eight months ago, so very clearly share a lot of the responsibility for the position the economy is in. This is very different to the position the opposition parties were in in 2006.

  • Liberal Neil 31st Jan '11 - 10:44am

    @Matthew Huntbach – there are some fair points in what you say, and there are certainly a range of factors driving up costs in the provision of services. At the same time there are other factors pushing the other way, such as improvments in technology which continue to dranatically reduce admin costs, for example.

    Some of the factors you describe offer choices to politicians. Yes, there is a potential increase in cost because of the aging population, but we can choose to deal with this increased cost by working longer (a policy which is being implemented) as people stay healthier longer. This decreases welfare spending and increase tax income and can balance the cost.

  • Liberal Neil 31st Jan '11 - 10:50am

    @John Fraser
    @Robert C .
    Most of these are probibly correct espacially the one about unemployment. My point being that when Clegg said we were going back to 2006 levels of spending most peoples first reaction would be to think that 2006 service levels would resume.

    Yet another example of Clegg using spin to mislead.

    I think that’s unfair.

    The point about overall spending levels returning to 2006 levels was in response to accusations that the coalition government was aiming to slash the size of the state for ideological reasons.

    The fact that overall spending levels will be returning to those similar to 2006 in terms of % of GDP fairly answers that accusation.

    It may well be the case that some people would interpret this as meaning that services public services would return to 2006 levels. But for people to believe this they would clearly also have no understanding that our debt interest repayments are rising rapidly and have to be paid for out of that total, along with rising welfare spending.

    There may well be a lot of people in this category, but they are hardly the people one should listen to when deciding future economic policy!

  • Liberal Neil 31st Jan '11 - 10:52am

    @Steve Way – good point, and very similar to the line Chris Huhne has taken in interviews.

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12311019

    I expect this won’t get anything like the coverage given to the ONS’s GDP figures, but there has been a large increase in the number of private sector vacancies, “signs of a strong economy”.

  • Liberal Neil

    Politics is not a fair game though – I wish debate could be more honest but that is the way it is.

    I would also prefer Labour to be more honest about their cuts but tell me why should they? Not one newspaper supports the Labour party (except perhaps the Mirror but that is more a hindrance). The minute they say something it will be jumped on by the Government and the media. They much prefer you taking the flack from you new Tory friends on the right

    They will not take the risk because they have no need to do so

    The LD needs no lessons in playing political games and saying one thing and meaning another – one of the problems you have is you have to sell one line to everyone now and it is clear from polling that the current message is going down better in the South/rural areas than the North.

    Labour will continue to oppose and give as little detail as possible – that has been the role of oppositions ever since I can remember. Concentrate on what your party is actually doing and supporting whilst in Government .- that is something your party can actually influence.

    If you do well in Government and make the right choices then what Labour says will be irrelevant and your vote will hold up

  • Liberal Neil 31st Jan '11 - 11:49am

    @bazsc – I agree with that. By the next General Election the key question will be whether the coalition or Labour are proved to have been right about the economy. If proved right, then there will be second key question for the Lib Dems around what they have achieved within the coalition, by implementing their own policies and by moderating the Tories.

  • @Tabman who stated: ‘I expect this won’t get anything like the coverage given to the ONS’s GDP figures, but there has been a large increase in the number of private sector vacancies, “signs of a strong economy”.

    What tabman is referring to is a BBC link to a press release issues by an Employment Agency – well they won’t have any axe to grind then or not be impartial lol. Reeds are the biggest website agency in the game and they continually churn out basically meaningless press releases for free publicity so that punters will place vacancies with them and unemployed punters will look there for a job.

    But the story says nothing about how many of the jobs are temporary or how many are part-time. The story states: ‘The index is drawn from Reed’s list of daily vacancies from 8,000 recruiters’. Now I’m not actually sure what that means but one thing I do know about employments agencies is that if their staff don’t get vacancies on the books then they end up looking at vacancies. So again caution must be exercised.

    The fact that the BBC used this guff without asking some basic questions makes me fear for the future of professional journalism there.

    So, like all press releases, I take the contents with a huge pinch of salt unless I can check them or even know what the definition of ‘vacancy’ is or actually understand the compilation mechanism. I do understand quite clearly the company motivation.

    But if the LibDem wish to continue building an economy out of straw blown on the wind then keep going if it makes you happy.

    As to a strong economy – well I don’t think that’s what I would take from the press release which says that new public sector vacancies are less than half what they were a year ago and that’s before the employment cuts actually start. Still it’s nice to see that the financial sector vacancies are booming and that this important sector will once again be the engine of growth for our economy 🙂

  • Jonathan Featonby 31st Jan '11 - 12:45pm

    @Stephen W apologies, you are quite right. The “nearly a fifth” is the average reduction to departmental budgets

    @ a whole load of people above

    What I think I should make clear is that this isn’t a reaction to the negative growth ONS reported. While it may make a difference to consumer confidence, there is really little difference between 0.5% growth and -0.5% growth. If you think that GDP should increase, in a healthy economy, at around 3%, then the economy is a long, long way off. Add to this the fact that you need above average growth to reduce unemployment that is far above the long term norm (when the economy is near or at capacity).

    I’ve always taken issue with the way recessions are measured anyway. To say that the economy has to have negative growth for two quarters before it qualifies seems odd when you consider that only one quarter of growth is neccesary to say that the recession has finished.

    I also don’t think Labour have done enough. Yes they are in opposition and so are entitled to say that the Coalition should think again – on that I agree. What they haven’t done, as pointed out above, is lay out the alternatives. Sure this is the normal opposition tactic, but they would have far more to gain by offering a real plan to encourage growth whilst managing the deficit.

  • SociJon – “Still it’s nice to see that the financial sector vacancies are booming and that this important sector will once again be the engine of growth for our economy.”

    Clearly you don’t have any understanding of what it means to work in the non-state sector. Or that “financial sector” means a great deal more than a few thousand bankers in the Square Mile.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    Was interested in various bits of your post and in particular the comment: ‘the commercialisation of everything in society, encouraging a passive couch potato way of existence for most people. The “dog-eat-dog, run everything by vicious competition” attitude they have to the way things should be run feeds downwards to destructive social attitudes lower down’.

    I think you’ve got it in one – it’s not that people are work-shy. It’s more that huge swathes have just given up on life and are accepting their lot and trying to get by as best they can with as little hassle as possible.

    It’s not that they don’t have positive thoughts – they don’t really need thoughts as they are fed a never-ending stream of anodyne TV tripe. Better that they don’t have real thoughts or they might agitate. Everything is being dumbed-down. Newspapers have become a joke and provide fantasy and escape into the lives of celebs even if they are Z-list.

    There are many who just don’t feel up to the hassle and aggro required to break free of the treacle that weighs them down and to be honest I think that many have lost the ability to do so. It’s similar in some ways to the effect of drug addiction but involves many many more people and whole areas are blighted almost beyond belief. Tens of thousands of people are basically sleep-walking through life.

    We are going into 2nd and 3rd generations of this malaise and politicians from every party over a long time have a heavy burden of responsibility to carry.

    I think back to my school education which gave pupils a classification from S1 to S3 at Senior Secondaries and then J1 to J4 at Junior Secondaries.

    Basically at S1 you were top of the educational pile and would be doing English, Maths, Arithmetic, two foreign languages, two science subjects, either history or geography and PE. As the S3 end there was no languages but metalwork, woodwork, techie drawing, home economics and business studies. There was also music and art for all up to third year.

    J1 was interesting as if you did well at a Junior Secondary or were a late developer you could be transferred to the Senior Secondary. The J2 – J4 sections concentrated more on a practical education than academic.

    But and this is what was really important about the system – everyone had a place in society and they had a good idea what that place was. You knew whether you were destined to be going to be a skilled engineering tradesman or a painter or even a labourer and maybe even a teacher.

    I can see the hands being thrown in the air at this and obviously society and expectations have changed. But there wasn’t the current dislocation and alienation from society that we now have and school leavers were 99.9 per cent literate. People knew they would be going into a job – they knew they were part of an overall plan and also part of a community where virtually everyone worked unless they were disabled or had come back from the war a bit ‘funny’.

    Sometimes, in my darker moments, I worry that it has all gone too far. One thing I do firmly believe is that the current Tory ideology will swell the ranks of the beaten and despairing. It will affect future generations and I know in my bones it is wrong and that it must be fought.

  • @Tabman

    As usual you’re wrong Tabman and making pronouncements about things you know nothing about.

    For over 40 years I worked in the Private Sector at various levels from employee to manager to owning and running my own very successful business which one of my children now runs.

    However I have never forgotten where I started and my roots. I have also never ever forgottem my excellent public schooling and my free university tuition combined with a grant I could live on. That’s why I’ll never forgive the LibDem MPs who removed this ladder out of poverty to so many schoolkids and destroyed their dreams and aspirations.

    And as usual Tabman you didn’t answer the very valid points I raised and went off on another tangent making it up as you go along. So I’m still sorry for you Tabman and whatever is eating at you. Btw thanks for the new name you’ve given me as I’m proud of being a Socialist – it’s a badge of honour rather than the yellow badge of shame that Lim Dem Tory backers wear.

  • @bazsc

    “but do you honestly believe they are so wrong that they are going to show anything but a stagnant economy? Consumer confidence figures have seen a precipitous drop this month and the confidence on of other sectors is in freefall – this is before the cuts really start to hit.”

    Yes, I do believe that, had it not been for the weather distorting economic activity and ONS figures, the fourth quarter would have showed steady growth of around 0.4-0.5%. So, continued slow recovery yes, stagnant no.

    @ Jonathan Featonby

    I think you may be getting mixed up between quarterly and annualised growth rates. 0.5% = 2.0% annualised growth. 0.75% = 3.0% annualised. We need 2.5% plus growth per year to stabilise unemployment and 3.0% plus to reduce it. The main growth is not going to come from consumers – it simply couldn’t because they have borrowed so much – nor can it come from government, for the same reason that it has overborrowed.

    That leaves net exports and business investment. The first will come online very soon because falling consumption will hammer imports while our exports are already rising very quickly. The second element is waiting in the wings, with companies having £50bn on their balance sheets available to spend. Unless companies have confidence in the stability of the management of the economy (that includes in public finances), then they are not going to spend that money.

    In basic economics Y(national income)=C(consumer spending)+I (investment)+G (government spending)+X(exports)-M (imports).

    Labour has relied totally on C+G to create growth and this has got us into our current mess of deficits and debt. This is no longer possible, yet it has failed to develop an alternative strategy, saying no to rises in VAT, no to government cuts. The challenge is how to drive the only two possible sources of growth: I + X

  • SociJon – fine, you’re a Socialist. In which case it won’t escape notice that this is the Liberal Democrat Party, and, as such, pursuit of Liberal policies might be expected to happen. Therefore don’t express surprise when this does happen (and if you were a Socialist all along, then why note work for, join, and.or vote for a Socialist party?).

    “For over 40 years I worked in the Private Sector at various levels from employee to manager to owning and running my own very successful business which one of my children now runs.”

    Great, I’m glad to see you subscribing to the tenets of a successful market economy, although you do leave yourself open to the charge of hypocrisy:

    – how you can purport to be a Socialist given the above
    – you seem also to subscribe to the hereditary principle; were there no other suitable candidates to run “your” company other than your offspring? That would go down well at the local Conservative Club (although Labour also subscribe to the dynastic/family conections principle quite admirably these days)

    “However I have never forgotten where I started and my roots. I have also never ever forgottem my excellent public schooling and my free university tuition combined with a grant I could live on. That’s why I’ll never forgive the LibDem MPs who removed this ladder out of poverty to so many schoolkids and destroyed their dreams and aspirations.”

    The people who removed the “ladder out of poverty to so many schoolkids and destroyed their dreams and aspirations” were those who destroyed the Grammar School system (although I note you benefitted from a Private education, so you won’t understand about that). You will also note that when you went to University with your “free” tuition (not free – paid for by the 90% who didn’t go to University), you were among an elite of around 10% who went there.

  • @bazsc

    I would also say that consumer and business confidence are telling two totally different stories. While consumer confidence is on the floor, understandably given the pressures consumers face, business confidence surveys like Markit and the CBI are still mostly very positive, including forward indicators for orders. These have often shown that they are more accurate than the ONS first estimates, which are frequently revised in line with other surveys’ findings.

  • @Stephen W

    Stephen I’m not an economist but I don’t understand how .5 per cent quartrely growth equates to 2 per cent annual growth and wonder if you could please explain and I assume your model assumes a Zero growth start point.

  • The 0.5% is a measure of quarter on quarter movement. 2.0% is year on year movement.

  • @Tabman

    When I read your rants and look at your political viewpoint I often believe I have wandered onto a Tory site LMAO. I would recommend a few Tory sites to you but I’m afraid your far too right-wing for them.

    And as usual you get it wrong – I won’t deal with all of your rather amusing personal diatribe – but I feel I have to state that I did not have a private education. What I said and, watch my lips carefully, is that I had a ‘public schooling’ and in Scotland that is the terminology for State Schooling.

    I’ll let you into a secret Tabman. Have you ever wondered why so many Scots have done well in England? It’s because our CVs show that we all went to ‘Public Schools’ 🙂

    However Tabman please calm down as I really do care about your health but keep the insults and mistakes flying as we’re all having a good laugh at this end in the workhouse.

  • @Tabman

    Wrong again Tabman – go and get a calculator and try again.

    I really do worry about you 🙂

  • SociJon – once again, you fail to address the points put to you. You claim to be a Socialist, yet also claim to have built up and run a private company which you have now handed on to your offspring. Please explain how you reconcile these two positions.*

    You strike me as a champagne socialist dilettante with all the attendant hypocrisy – like Mr Prescott, another member of the affluent middle classes still pretending they’re working class. Well, let me doff my cap to you for deigning to give us the benefit of your “wisdom”.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us will get back to serious discussion of a Liberal approach to government.

    * – you can’t; therefore most serious readers of this board will be able to ascribe value to your opinions commensurate with this.

  • “Wrong again Tabman – go and get a calculator and try again.”

    I left about the bit about compounding for simplicity’s sake – I didn’t want to overtax you.

  • SociJon – http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=192

    Notes:

    Unless otherwise specified:

    Growth refers to a comparison of output in the latest quarter compared with the previous quarter. This is referred to as quarterly growth.

    Annual growth refers to a comparison of output in the latest calendar year in comparison with the previous year.

  • @ Jonathan Featonby

    In absolutely agree with your analysis. I suspect that an enormous number of Lib Dem MPs and party members share many, if not all of your views. Unfortunately, your party is now locked into a conservative dominated coalition and will not be able to reverse any of the disastrous economic policies being implemented by Cameron, Osborne and Clegg. There isn’t even a plan B, apparently. (Osborne only has a 2.1 in History by the way and my God isn’t it obvious). You can only really do anything about the situation from a position of confidence and supply, which I urge upon all Liberal Democrat MPs before the country does indeed follow the same path as Ireland and Greece. The people will never reward you at the ballot box for putting them through the penury they will experience as a result of your Coalition’s reckless and insane economic policies. Even if there is a modest upturn at the fag end of a parliament! Uncouple from the coalition now, cross the floor and join Labour (who are currently 11% ahead in the polls; where are you?) and return the country to economic sanity. Tory voters won’t bolster your support at a general election as they recently did at Oldham East and saddleworth.

  • @Tabman

    I see nothing wrong in a socialist building up a private company and running it. Perhaps that doesn’t fit with your rigid pre-conception of Socialism or perhaps you would rather I adopted a Marxist approach and turned into into a worker’s collective. Or perhaps it’s that a socialist should know their place and always be an employee to make profit for their betters.

    I had a happy workforce who were treated with respect and paid good wages with good conditions – that is still the case. I have no problem with ‘profit’ why would I. Without it we would be unable to run the UK so the point you are trying to make actually escapes me.

    However you are wrong again – this is really getting tiresome – as I did not say I had ‘handed’ my business to one of my offspring. You really must start to pay more attention to detail or Mr Goves won’t present you with your certificate when you finish your education.

    Of course this disdain for detail is a hallmark of this Tory Coalition and the policies it presents. Just for the record I don’t like champagne and don’t drink it as the bubbles get up my nose just like some people who keep getting things wrong and can’t debate without personalised attacks.

  • SociJon – “I see nothing wrong in a socialist building up a private company and running it. Perhaps that doesn’t fit with your rigid pre-conception of Socialism or perhaps you would rather I adopted a Marxist approach and turned into into a worker’s collective.”

    All definitions of Socialism state that the means of production is publicy-owned or an independent co-operative. Perhaps your firm is a co-operative or your workforce hold equal numbers of shares to you. But what you said was “owning and running my own business” from which any reasonable person would infer that you are the majority shareholder. Thus, my pinko friend, it looks very much like you’re a good old-fashioned capitalist.

    “I did not say I had ‘handed’ my business to one of my offspring”

    What you said was “owning and running my own very successful business which one of my children now runs”.

    Perhaps you didn’t hand your business to one of your children. Perhaps you advertised for a new Managing Director, held an open selection process and your child emerged as the best candidate. Perhaps. I think, however, the facts speak for themselves.

  • @Tabman

    You’ll need to stop reading the Communist Manifesto Tabman as it might seriously damage your health. Stick with Chairman Mao’s Red Book or perhaps it’s the Orange Book for your bedtime reading – watch out for nightmares though 🙂

    You have got it wrong again because your mind runs on such tight tracks. I sold my business to one of my sons at the going market rate. My other two children had input into the setting of the price because they each received a third of the sale price. The son who bought the business had his third deducted from the sale price.

    My other two children had no interest in being involved in the business as they are busy with their own careers and projects.

    So you see Tabman I personally made no gain from the sale of the business although it was sold at the market price as verified by two independent valuors.

    The facts speak for themselves and not the fantasies that you appear to be obsessed with. At the end of the day I know what I am and more importantly, I recognise what you are and I do really feel sorry for you.

    I think I have been patient and polite in dealing with your totally wild allegations and I would advise you to cease before you make a complete fool of yourself.

  • The facts do indeed speak for themselves. Your offspring have been given a pile of unearned wealth and (assuming it was greater than seven years ago) you’ve executed a nice bit of IHT avoidance. And all wothin the scope of your infinitely flexible socialist principles.

  • @Tabman

    The ‘wealth’ as you describe it was well and truly earned by me and it was entirely up to me how it was spent. But you can rest assured that professional advice was sought and followed.

    Btw don’t let on to the Tories about your problems with people making a success of their life or they might not let you in. However, perhaps you should think about a move to the Green Party as methinks that colour suits you better.

  • “The ‘wealth’ as you describe it was well and truly earned by me and it was entirely up to me how it was spent. But you can rest assured that professional advice was sought and followed. ”

    Game set and match to me. Tory.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Feb '11 - 12:55pm

    Tabman

    The people who removed the “ladder out of poverty to so many schoolkids and destroyed their dreams and aspirations” were those who destroyed the Grammar School system

    Oh, that is rot. But, anyway, do you know what a “controlled experiment” is? Because if you do there is one for this hypothesis. Some local authorities have kept the grammar/secondary-modern divide, including the whole of the administrative county of Kent, which is one of the largest LEAs in the country. If your hypothesis were correct, we would find that Kent was a beacon of social mobility, with working class origin people from Kent being well placed in society due to the continuing existence of this “ladder”.

    Do we find this? No. Kent in this respect is no different from anywhere else in the country.

    Blaming it on the switch to comprehensive schools is a typical trick of the wealthy elite to try and turn attention away from all the other factors which fuel the growing social and wealth divide in this country.

    I went to a comprehensive school myself, obtained top A-level grades, went to a top university. So do many others now. I worked ten years as the admission tutor for my university department, and most of those I took on came from comprehensive schools. If you were to say the place I work is only a middle-ranking university, I also saw the UCAS forms of many other students from comprehensive schools who put us as second choice but we didn’t get them because they were successfully admitted to their first choice. The applicants I had tended to be from poorer performing inner London schools. Comprehensive schools in the leafier suburbs and nicer parts of the Home Counties send huge number of their pupils to the top universities.

    The idea that merely going to a comprehensive school means your “dreams and aspirations” are “destroyed” is complete and utter rot, a nasty piece of propaganda put about by the super-rich to absolve themselves of the responsibility for how their dog-eat-dog attitudes and commercialisation of everything, and encouragement of passive couch potato lifestyles has been the real wrecking force.

    The biggest problem with our society now is NOT with the top 20% who would have gone to grammar school, but with those below them. How would “bring back the grammars” help them? As I’ve already said, we don’t live in a society where all that matters is educating a few at the top, with the rest left for menial work which at most only requires basic literacy and numeracy skills. So why advocate a form of education which was based on that assumption?

  • @Tabman and Eco John

    To intrude on your private debate I would remind you that Capitalists own the means of production and workers sell their labour. This has led to some confusion because capitalists who also feel that they work hard see themselves as workers (The “we’re all workers now” argument) Similarly Liberals and One Nation Tories who are also capitalists do not believe that they are because they are well intentioned, philanthropic and so on. Some members of the aristocratic ruling class used to distribute food parcels to their estate workers. Such acts didn’t exonerate them from being members of the ruling class no matter how well intentioned they may have been. Similarly, to confuse things, many workers own property and other goods, but if, fundamentally, all they have to sell to earn their daily bread is their labour then it followss that they are workers. The crucial test is whether you own the means of production. If you do you are a capitalist and have only the interests of capital at heart when it comes to the crunch. That’s why all Liberals are capitalists because they support the interests of capital, no matter how “liberal” they assert that they are. Only workers can truly be socialists. The purpose of socialism, amongst other things, is to extract the best rates of pay and conditions from capitalists, and ultimately for the state to own most of the means of production. That’s why we should never enter into coalition with Tories or Liberals.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Feb '11 - 1:36pm

    MacK

    Even if there is a modest upturn at the fag end of a parliament! Uncouple from the coalition now, cross the floor and join Labour (who are currently 11% ahead in the polls; where are you?) and return the country to economic sanity.

    You seem to have forgotten something – “join with Labour” requires Labour to agree to the join.

    During all those years when it was a theoretical question, it was always LibDems who were forever asked “Which would you go into coalition with?”. The others were never asked “Would you go into coalition with the LibDems?” although this was just as relevant a question. The idea that the LibDems would be able to pick and choose was wrong, yet it is the basis of all thee attacks on the LibDems for essentially supporting what the people voted for – a Tory government.

    As I have said before, the people voted for a Tory government when they voted Labour as well. Labour supports the current electoral system ON THE GROUNDS that it gives us a Tory government when the Tories are the largest party but don’t have a majority. So anyone who is Labour or supports Labour is an utter hypocrite to accuse the LibDems of “propping up the Tories”. The Tories have the strength they have in the coalition because our distortional representation system gave it to them – AND LABOUR SUPPORTS THAT SYSTEM FOR THE PRIME REASON THAT THEY BELIEVE THAT DISTORTION IS A GOOD THING!!! By the very argument that Labour uses to oppose full proportional representation – that politics should be about Labour v. Conservative, with whichever of those wins the most votes (doesn’t have to be a majority) should have absolute control of government, and it’s good to have an electoral system which in most places forces people to vote either Labour or Conservative for “fear of splitting the vote” otherwise – we have now the government which Labour thinks we should have (unless Labour does not believe in democracy at all). A completely Tory one.

    The system didn’t quite give us a Tory majority in 2010, but it distorted the representation enough to make it the only viable option. Although I’ve been very critical of Clegg’s leadership, since then, I do recognise he was put into a position of very little bargaining strength.

    It’s no good Labour complaining of the LibDems “propping up the Tories” as if it’s nothing to do with them. If Labour thinks an alternative coalition is viable, let them offer it now. The balance in Parliament hasn’t changed so it is just as viable now as it was in May 2010. If Labour think the LibDems were weak for accepting a coalition with just a referendum on AV as the main LibDem policy accepted, let Labour offer a coalition in which there will be a referendum on STV instead. They can do it NOW. If they don’t, it shows all their attacks are just posturing, they aren’t serious. They know they have nothing alternative to offer, and they want to see the LibDems destroyed rather than offer an alternative, so they can be back in complete control in 2015.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    Labour don’t have to do anything to destroy Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrats are doing that themselves without any help from Labour.

    How can Labour offer a deal when Liberal Democrats made it clear before the election they would not do business with Labour, Blame Labour, Blame Labour, is all I ever see on LDV even for your own downfall you want to Blame Labour.

    I would look to Liberal Democrats partner to see who is helping you to destruction, after all who has been the fall guys with the bad news?

    Yes I do think Liberal Democrats are on the path to self destruction, there is no doubt about it and I don’t think there is a solution to stop it.

  • Who would want to join with Labour they are about as reactionary and right wing as most of the Tories! At least our civil liberties which Labour increasingly undermined are one Lib Dem success (now that Labour were unceremoniously kicked out) – but they (Liberals) need to push the Tories further on this as the Con. Party (or most of them) don’t believe in human rights and civil liberties any more than the last Labour governemnt and will have to be pushed continously in that progressive direction; which as I said most Tories wouldn’t naturally be inclined to do – but a small well done to one Tory ie Ken Clarke!

    I think if the Liberals stand their ground (and this frm someone who doesnt agree with the Coalition) and start to exert their power they could regain some lost popularity – it’s the Tories who will suffer most if the LibDems pull out – just remember that fact and start opposing and voting against any Tory policies that hurt working people and are not any way part of the agreement – like these so called health reforms. Saying that Labour is in no position to criticise as they were bloody top down and authoritarian when it came to people’s choice. I do not know which is worse Tory smugness or Labour hypocricy!

  • ‘That’s why all Liberals are capitalists because they support the interests of capital, no matter how “liberal” they assert that they are. Only workers can truly be socialists. The purpose of socialism, amongst other things, is to extract the best rates of pay and conditions from capitalists, and ultimately for the state to own most of the means of production. That’s why we should never enter into coalition with Tories or Liberals.’

    That is unbelievably naive and simplistic in the 21st century surely. It is very much more subtle and complicated than that today. Labour have abandoned socialism because it was expedient so to do. However thye have also abandoned belief if civil liberties and human rights which is the biggest threat to individuals today. Some of the greatest socilaist were actually members of the aristocracy and landowners; some were capitalists but still believed in tenets of both liberty and egalitarianism. The modern Liberal Party of Liberal Democratic Party differs from both Tories and Labour in believing in human rights and civil liberties as well as egalitarianism; the latter has never in fact required state control but reguation of capital for the benefit of the consumer and ordinary worker – surgeon, pop star, civil servant, refuse collector, teacher …… Your view is incredibly old fashioned and will do nothing to strengthen the power of ordinary folk. The trouble with Labour/Tory view of the world is very authoriarian ie we know better what is good for you in your locality etc so shut up! Tory mouth indivuality but they mean at heart is the naked unregulated freedom of the market – Labour don’t even pretend to listen to what people want and certainly have always been – what’s the expression ‘top down’ – ie authoritarian by any other name!

  • MacK – thank you, you’ve confirmed my point that EcoJon has some romantic (and wrong) notion that he’s a Socialist. His own comments have betrayed him as a Capitalist of the Tory flavour, who built up his own private firm and dispersed the wealth he created to his offspring (thus encapsulating the hereditory principle), and sought professional advice in order to avoid paying taxes. I don’t think this board needs any lectures from someone who so blatantly fails to practice what he preaches.

    Liberals also are not capitalists, but believe in a market economy. We believe in a diversity of ownership of the means of production as providing effective competition that allows the individual to sell his or her labour unfettered by restrictive practices, and removes monoplies and monoploistic accretions of power.

    Matthew Huntbach – I, too, went to a Comprehensive got good A Level grades and went to a top University. But I had middle class parents who, though not wealthy, valued education. The point I’m making is that for those bright but poor children who do not come from such a background, the Comprehensive system utterly fails them, because they are likely to be placed in schools where the pervading culture is anti-education. These children can only be helped (without a major change in society that wil take at least two generations to effect) by removing them to an environment that nurtures them and believes in education.

    You will note that top-performing Copmrehensives are overwhelmingly in middle-class areas and entry to these schools is debarred to the poor because they can’t afford to live in catchment. I find it incredible that you could support a system that excludes the poor to this extent.

    David Orr – one small nitpick to your otherwise good points. Liberals do not believe in egalitarianism, they believe in equality of opportunity. Egalitarianism is equality of outcome.

  • @Tabman

    Wow I’m getting worried – I’m beginning to wonder if you’re dreaming about me as you obviously can’t get me off your mind 🙂

    Quite simply Tabman I have shown your wild, very personalised statement to be wrong in every instance and I have no interest in any of your comments because they seem to emanate from some deep-seated bitterness that eats at you.

    As to your comment: ‘sought professional advice in order to avoid paying taxes’ well that is untrue and libellous and not what I said – the posts are there to read and for anyone to see what was actually said. I clearly stated that I made no profit when I sold my business and there was therefore no tax liability – so once again your maliciousness and vindictiveness has lead your into a lie.

    My interest is in people in the here and now and not in scoring political debating points with some of the ideologically-fixed political anoraks on this site who have little actual relevance to the real world and even less in the political arena.

    With regard to your use of @MacK and his contribution to launch yet another childish and personal attack on myself and my family well that’s a typical Tabman ploy as any regular on this site is well able to recognise. That’s why I feel so sorry for you Tabman – you think on tracks and really have nothing to offer to the principled debate which must take place to prevent our society imploding and that debate must encompass all political shades – all that is required is that the participants have goodwill and respect for their fellow citizens.

    It comes across very clearly that you are an unhappy person – I hope you can find help to address this unhealthy situation and become a more-rounded person who is able to accept that other people, no matter their viewpoint, have a right to it even when patently wrong and to treat them with derision speaks volumes about the abuser.

    What happens on here Tabman is not life and death – what happens outwith may well be just that.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    A Labour LibDem coalition wasn’t viable after the GE and is no more viable now and I believe the LibDems are handcuffed to the Tories for 5 years or until the Tories decide to shed them.

    I suppose if Clegg chucks it or is deposed then a window might open that could allow the LibDems to move to a Confidence and Supply position with the Tories and an understanding with Labour to protect the weaker and poorer sections of society by blocking the most savage Tory moves and by pursuing real growth policies.

    But that can only happen with Clegg going and it would be counter-productive to that desired outcome for Milliband to throw him a lifeline of any sort – indeed such is the public opprobrium attached to Clegg that anyone seen to assist him might well also land in the public firing line.

    I don’t think Cameron would feel the need to go to a GE as he would quite likely lose so he would need to swallow it. But if all the opposition parties combined with LibDems to and created a motion of confidence scenario then Camerom might be forced into a GE. Ordinarily I would welcome that but the possible financial consequences for the economy from international speculators makes it not worth the gamble.

    I also don’t really think that it matters other than in a political point-scoring sense that Labour accuses the LibDems of ‘propping up’ the Tories because the public have already come to that conclusion and they are the ones that count at the ballot box.

    It also might sound nit-picking but Labour can’t offer STV as a sweetener because it isn’t in our Manifesto and in view of recent events I think that is an area that Milliband would be careful about.

    So we have an important time coming up with the referendum, May elections and LibDem Spring Conference and possibly after that things may be clearer. There is no doubt in my mind that many LibDem MPs have already identified Clegg as an electoral liability and that their own chances of survival would be enhanced with his demise.

    Still I don’t think Labour ‘stealing’ LibDem votes is what will destroy the party – it will be the public.

    In a way the public hatred for the LibDems might be assuaged if Clegg went and this could actually allow the LibDems a breathing-space to repair their ravaged party. I have serious doubts that it would be enough to prevent electoral wipe-out at the GE but that’s a while away and strange things happen in politics.

    I also don’t accept your line about Labour wishing the LibDem party be destroyed – I think it depends what LibDem party we are talking about. If it is the LibDem party that we know and love but get exasperated with on occasion then No we don’t want that. If it is the right-wing Tory familiar monster that is being created then we do wish that destroyed, without a doubt. However these issues become clouded dependent on the outcome of the AV referendum.

    And I don’t see any problem in Labour wishing to be the outright winner in 2015 – surely that is the desire of any major political party so that they can enact their policies. After all how many times have we been told that if the LibDems had won the election then ‘tuition fees’ would be scrapped – I speak in general here and realise how the actual policy was watered-down to a weaker Manifesto Commitment – who was behind that move you may well ask yourself.

  • @matt

    Thankyou for that – I genuinely believe that the best way to deal with Tabman and those like him is to ignore them as they aren’t actually interested in the wider picture but only view things from either a narrow personal or party political perspective.

    However I will not allow Tabman to hurl lies at me from his position of anonymity. I have no need to defend my socialist credentials on here – quite simply anyone who knows me personally knows where I stand. I have worked hard all my life driven by the fear of the poverty I was raised in.

    But I have never lost the co-operative socialism that was drummed into me by my mother who was a Co-op bakery worker and Co-op Party activist. That’s why I am driven politically and always have been to try and ensure that poorer and weaker sections of society are actually able to have dreams and aspirations.

    Those are the building blocks that you have to add health, housing, education and an above poverty-line income to so that those dreams are transformed into reality.

    To achieve this I am prepared to do deals with the Devil let alone the Tories and I make no apologies about that. There are many decent people in the Tories who can assist. Of course there are many in the Tories and a growing number in the LibDems who want to grind people down into the mire for their ideology.

    I don’t give a sh*t what label Tabman and his cronies apply to me – I will carry on as I always have and I have a clear conscience and don’t dream of Tabman at night and if I did they would be nightmares 🙂

  • @matt

    Ah one thing I should have said is that it’s not just the the Nelson Eye treatment to seriously important issues that they employ. It’s the lack of rigour and partiality they employ in facts they produce to support their position. I just wonder who they think they are actually kidding – it is no one but themselves and most certainly not the public.

    It’s like the much trumpeted 200,000 private sector jobs jobs that were created over the last 12 months – now turns out that only 6,000 are full time – I wonder how many of these are high-quality jobs rather than shelf-stacking in a supermarket. It’s frightening what this Tory Government is doing and I was depressed yesterday when I saw the Pfeizer announcement of 2,400 ‘good’ jobs wiped out many of them highly-skilled – where is the growth strategy to replace them on a like-for-like basis.

  • EcoJon has apparently become confused between Lib Dems being an independent political party and being a lapdog of Labour that they can whistle to heel when they feel like:

    “I think it depends what LibDem party we are talking about. If it is the LibDem party that we know and love but get exasperated with on occasion then No we don’t want that. If it is the right-wing Tory familiar monster that is being created then we do wish that destroyed, without a doubt.”

    When exactly did Labour and its supporters say it “knew and loved” the Liberal Democrats? Never.

  • EcoJon – “As to your comment: ‘sought professional advice in order to avoid paying taxes’ well that is untrue and libellous and not what I said ”

    EcoJon, you do spout a lot of claptrap. What you said was:

    “The ‘wealth’ as you describe it was well and truly earned by me and it was entirely up to me how it was spent. But you can rest assured that professional advice was sought and followed. ”

    And anyone with any knowledge of accounting and taxation knows that you can structure your affiars in such a way to avoid paying tax , so you are employing sophistry to try (and fail) to wriggle out of the imnplications of the comments that you’ve made which are:

    – you created a business which you gifted (at fairl value) to your children. This is dynastic capitalism
    – you structured this gift in such a way that no tax was payable on the deal. This is tax avoidance (not evasion, which is of course illegal)

    These sit squarely within the mainstream of Conservative philosophy. Socialism, on the other hand, requires that the means of production be in shared ownership. A requirement that you failed to follow. Which implies that you either (i) dont understand what Socialism means or (ii) do understand it, but seek to avoid the implications of it, which makes you either unaware or hypocritical.

    The attempts over the years to apply Socialist principles (as also monopolistic Conservative principles) have done much damage to the fabric of this nation and have made the lives of the poor worse.

    Your ideas for improving the lives of the poor are discredited (and worse) and have no place on a Liberal discussion board without challenge.

    I have to say I feel sorry for you that (a) you have to ascribe attributes to me that I don’t hold in order to make yourself feel better about the obvious contradictions there are in your life and (b) that you have nothing better to do than repeat your socialist cant on this board.

  • @EcoJon
    “Ah one thing I should have said is that it’s not just the the Nelson Eye treatment to seriously important issues that they employ. It’s the lack of rigour and partiality they employ in facts they produce to support their position”

    I laughed so much it hurt when I read this. Labour’s deficit denialists are champions of the exact “lack of rigour and partiality” you are complaining about.

    By the way, the Markit PMI figures for manufacturing for January are stunningly good – best since 1992 – and construction has now returned to growth as well. I forecast both a major revision to 2010s fourth quarter figures and a strong first quarter for 2011.

    What will all the Labour people do if the economy really doesn’t tank as they have been forecasting, if we win on AV, the public finances do come back into balance and if the cuts really aren’t as bad as you and your supporters have been saying?

    We will have to wait and see on all these things, but if the Labour catastrophists are proved wrong, they will look so foolish after all their forecasts of doom and Labour’s previous disastrous record in office that they won’t have a chance of being re-elected.

  • By the way, why when they are neither supporters of the party, nor members, do EcoJon and Matt continue to post here?

    They are not really interested in debate, merely in repeating ad nauseam how (1) Labour isn’t to blame for anything and didn’t have any part in the economic crisis; (2) How dreadful the coalition government is and how everything it is doing is wrong.

    Is there anyone else apart from me who is finding these two utterly boring, repetitive and negative presences on this site?

  • EcoJon “It’s frightening what this Tory Government is doing and I was depressed yesterday when I saw the Pfeizer announcement of 2,400 ‘good’ jobs wiped out many of them highly-skilled – where is the growth strategy to replace them on a like-for-like basis.”

    This is utterly, utterly laughable. Pfizer has decided to restructure its operations so that it no longer operates a R&D function. That is regrettable, but its perfectly entitled to do so and it has absolutely nothing to do with “what this Tory Government is doing”.

    If pharmaceutical R&D is something worth doing in this country, and British research scientists have the necessary skills to do it, then someone else will step in to fill that gap.

  • Actually, Rob C, I suspect they are not very sophisticated attempts to recruit Lib Dems to the REd cause.

  • @EcoJon
    Posted 2nd February 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I agree with everything that you have written in that post, EcoJon. Confidence and Supply is the only way that the Lib Dems can retrieve their disastrous political position with dignity.

    @ David Orr
    ” Labour have abandoned socialism because it was expedient so to do.”

    Not true. Some members may have in the past, Ramsay MacDonald, for example, (part of whose name I takefor my soubriquet, as a grim reminder) but never the whole party.

    “Your view is incredibly old fashioned and will do nothing to strengthen the power of ordinary folk.”

    Your response suggests that you haven’t read my post assiduously. You cannot dismiss the dichotomy between Capital and Labour as “old fashioned”. Capital and Labour are ontological, undeniable realities, and will endure, in some form, as long as the sun and the people on this planet endure. I went out of my way in my post to suggest that the object of socialism is not the destruction of capital but its acquisition by the people, and that, of course, will take many forms. However, in the meantime, because Labour and Capital are in a forced symbiosis deals have to be struck to each other’s benefit. It is you, I suggest, who is being “old fashioned” and ignoring the grubby facts of economic co-existence. You sound like some, romantic, dewey eyed eighteenth century Whig. It’s not civil liberties that makes the world go round, but money, capital and labour. Every gain for workers in terms of wages and conditions strengthens “the power of ordinary folk”. Thatcher, a true capitalist and Tory, understood that, which of course is why she emasculated the Trade Unions. Only when our repressive trade union legislation is repealed will ordinary folk be empowered again. But, of course, Liberal Democrats, for all their posturing about civil liberties and egalitarianism, would never allow that, because intrinsically, like the Tories, they are a party of capital. And when the Tories bring in new anti trade union laws, such as insisting on a 50% plus one participation by a union’s members to make a strike legal, guess which party will be voting with them? That is why Tories and Liberal Democrats make such natural coalition partners. But you may find that too simplistic, of course!

  • Matthew Huntbach 2nd Feb '11 - 11:05pm

    EcoJon

    I also don’t accept your line about Labour wishing the LibDem party be destroyed – I think it depends what LibDem party we are talking about.

    I have always found that most Labour people believe politics should be about Labour v. Tory and hate the idea of any sort of third party, particularly one that is to the left. That is why Labour supports the distortional representation electoral system we have – because they love the idea of people being FORCED to vote Labour for fear “if you don’t, it will split the vote and let the Tories in”. It is this system, the system Labour so loves, that has given us a Tory government because it is this system which distorted the representation to make a Labour-LibDem coaltion unviable, and to hugely reduce the number of LibDems there were in comparison to Tories (Tories less than twice the LibDem vote, but over five times as many seats – this is what the system Labour loves gives us – more Tory MPs).

    It is this anti-pluralist disdain for real democracy that has always turned me against Labour, more than anything else. It is, in a small way, a mark of that socialist hatred for democracy shown in a much bigger way by the Leninist one party states. Ultimately, socialists believe they are so right that democracy should take second place to them getting their own way. As we saw with Tony Blair, they kept this mindest even after they threw away everything else about socialism.

  • Matthew Huntbach: “It is, in a small way, a mark of that socialist hatred for democracy shown in a much bigger way by the Leninist one party states. Ultimately, socialists believe they are so right that democracy should take second place to them getting their own way. As we saw with Tony Blair, they kept this mindest even after they threw away everything else about socialism.”

    Right on all counts.

    It also spills over into their approach to everything: it has to be centrally planned and micro-managed, and only their way is the right way. There is no room for pluralism in any approach to anything.

    Its also interesting that there is a similar mindset in Conservatism, especially the authoritarian right. That is why the coalition is such a success even in its own right – it’s forced this group to share, and they hate it.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    I think it is early days to know whether the LibDems will carry on as is or be wiped-out by the electorate at the next GE or indeed destroyed by internal schism.

    I have the feeling that things will not continue as before and that will make things interesting but I think at a minimum we need to see what happens to the AV referendum before things become appreciably clearer.

    I have never had any problem with a strong Liberal Party and have alwats regarded it as an important part of our Democracy but I have little time for what appears to be a new breed of arrivistes who are further to the right than a lot who are actually regarded at Tory right wingers.

    However, the fight for the soul of the Liberal party is for its members to fight if they have the stomach for it.

    However, the current Tory government in power was delivered by LibDem MPs and not by Labour MPs although I recognise the flaws you speak of which produced the actual numbers.

    As a matter of interest if the Soviets in a Leninist regime had actually operated as they were meant to in theory would you still oppose a one-party State?

  • “I have never had any problem with a strong Liberal Party and have alwats regarded it as an important part of our Democracy but I have little time for what appears to be a new breed of arrivistes who are further to the right than a lot who are actually regarded at Tory right wingers.”

    Well its pretty clear at who that comment is aimed. But its also clear that you have no understanding of Liberalism as a philosophy. For the record, I have been an activist for 30 years all of which has been in-Tory held seats.

    I know you like hanging around here trying to recruit Lib Dems to the socialist new jerusalem, but really, you’d be better off joining King Arthur and disscussing who is “sound” or not, if the Ed and Ed show is too right wing for your tastes.

  • Being part of the public who visit LDV (every day), I can say how I have viewed these constant barrages which appear to be getting increasingly more frequent and intransigently personal. Even to the point of actually goading for responses on other threads.

    It seems as a few have given up defending the indefensible and now just attack using innuendo, it is not good to see, I did wonder if or when any ADMIN was going to put a stop to it.

    It is disgusting to see and if they are Liberal Democrats shame on them, they are doing LDV and their cause disservice

  • Liberal Democrat Voice is the most positive and virtuous thing the Liberal Democrats have to offer the public at the present time. I applaud its pluralism. I applaud its accessibility and its openness as a public forum. It is the best political debating site on the internet. It is a paradigm of British Democracy and for that reason I will continue to post here in spite of the complaints of those who wish to silence me and others.

  • Jim, MacK – when people who clearly are not party supporters incessantly use emotive language such as “shame” and “betrayal” it is not suprising that it provokes a robust response.

    Matt – “I came across this site, after hearing it mentioned on the news one day, and decided to take a look, I have been posting here, pretty much every day since”

    Here we get to the nub of things. It is, how shall we put it, easy for journalists to sift through the site to find comments that fit their agenda (a good example – how often is “Ben Ramm” cited, as the editor of the Liberal, a magazine that no-one reads as far as I can see and doesn’t represent anyone).

    Now, whom does it suit to have stories of Lib Dem unrest? Labour, by any chance? Heaven forfend that they might try to manipulate what gets into the press; it never happened during their 13 years in power at all, after all.

    When you couple that with posters who seem at liberty to post the same line on multiple threads, thread after thread, day after day, and who also don’t seem to practice what they preach, it’s easy to see how suspicions may be raised.

    Let’s leave it there, shall we?

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Feb '11 - 10:48am

    EcoJon

    However, the fight for the soul of the Liberal party is for its members to fight if they have the stomach for it.

    However, the current Tory government in power was delivered by LibDem MPs and not by Labour MPs although I recognise the flaws you speak of which produced the actual numbers.

    No, it was delivered by a combination of the people who voted more for the Conservative Party than for any other party, and the electoral system which distorts representation in favour of the largest party – an electoral system enthusiastically supported by many senior Labour Party people FOR THIS REASON!!!

    No-one who supports the Labour Party while that party opposed proportional representation has any moral right to accuse the Liberal Democrats of “propping up the Conservatives”. Because by supporting Labour they are supporting the electoral system which is what really props up the Conservatives, they are supporting a party which argues against true electoral reform because they support this sort of distortion which props up the largest party.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    I actually made a mistake when I said that the current Tory Government was delivered by LibDem MPs as I missed out the role of the LIbDem Party which supported the Coalition Agreement.

    I did state in my post: ‘I recognise the flaws you speak of which produced the actual numbers’ but even accepting the bias in the electoral system which won’t be ‘cured’ by the current Tory gerrymandering of boundaries – supported by the LibDems. I have never believed that one wrong can be cured by perpetraing the same wrong so that a new government can benefit from it rather than the previous incumbents in power.

    However Labour did have an AV commitment in its Manifesto in 2010 and in spite of what may or may not have happened in the past, and they shouldn’t be forgotten and lessons should be learned, we have to look forward to what is achieveable in the future – always remembering the lessons from the past – and not continually pick over the entrails of what has been lost. That is the downward road to stagnation and despair.

    But on the PR issue why did the LibDems sell out so cheaply in the Coalition Agreement and accept AV. I think you seem to be denying any responsibility on this issue which you hold as vitally important and unless you address the specific LibDem involvement and remain happy to blame everyone else then I’m afraid that little progress will be made internally by the LibDems on this issue which is not at the forefront of the public mind.

    You might argue on the semantics of whether or not it is the LibDems or a flawed electoral system which is ‘propping up’ the Tory government but the public is quite clear as to who the villain is and that is Clegg and the LibDems in general who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder to inflict savage cuts on just about every aspect of their lives.

    This is what is likely to lead to a LibDem wipe-out at the next GE and I don’t think it will make the slightest difference what electoral voting system is in place.

  • Correction

    2nd last para should have read:

    You might argue on the semantics of whether or not it is the LibDems or a flawed electoral system which is ‘propping up’ the Tory government but the public is quite clear as to who the villain is and that is Clegg and the LibDems in general who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories to inflict savage cuts on just about every aspect of their lives.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Feb '11 - 12:27pm

    EcoJon

    As a matter of interest if the Soviets in a Leninist regime had actually operated as they were meant to in theory would you still oppose a one-party State?

    Yes, because it is the mentality that led to the one-party state which meant the regime would never work as its propaganda said it would. I remember when I was younger, and socialism was the ideology young simple-minded trendies tended to pick up, much as extreme free-market “economic liberalism” is now, arguing with such people and they were always full of excuses as to why Leninist Communism didn’t work as as it was “meant to in theory”. It was always “a dog came along and ate my homework” stuff, or “a big bad boy came along and stole it” and you know who the big bad boy was. Oh what crap – they could not see that their system was bound to fall into despotism, or how contradictory it was even if you accepted their argument that it wasn’t, that it should all be wrecked and turned to the opposite just because one big bad boy came along. Always there was some new regime, some new movement around the corner that they said would be “real socialism”, and always when we went round that corner it was the same as before, a big bad boy came along and stole it. It was like an architect who claimed he had some wonderful new way of building homes, and the fact that every time a home was built in that way it collapsed and killed its inhabitants just meant we should try harder and build homes that were even more rigidly in that style. It was like religion, you were asked in some hushed tone “Are you a socialist?” in the same way as you now tend to get asked “are you born again?” and it was for some reason terribly important whether you were or weren’t. Well, I couldn’t stand that sort of tone, so I decided I wasn’t and joined the Liberal Party who seemed to me to be much more practical and didn’t think they had any sort of divine right to rule or some magic unique inheritance of being “The Party” which meant that anyone who didn’t sign up to their party was an evil enemy. These idiots who called themselves “socialists” could never think that maybe there was a fundamental flaw in their way of thinking that meant it was always doomed to fail, and work out what it was, and that fundamental flaw was this hatred of pluralism and worship of The Party and the view that The Party was the sole arena in which politics should take place. I saw this mentality in the Labour Party when I fought it at local government level, how in the borough where I became leader of the opposition the Labour Party had put its tentacles everywhere, and real politics was what happened in the Labour Party and not what happened in the true democratic arena and how your were a nobody if you did not have a Labour Party membership card. It is this same mentality which I see now in the Labour Party, even if they don’t take it as far as a one-party state, it does influence their thinking which leads to supporting our distortional representation electoral system, and wanting to handle the current political situation by destroying the Liberal Democrats rather than working with people like myself who want to pull the Liberal Democrats back from where they have been led into what the party was like when I joined it.

    Or, if you like, short answer:

    Yes

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Feb '11 - 12:41pm

    EcoJon

    You might argue on the semantics of whether or not it is the LibDems or a flawed electoral system which is ‘propping up’ the Tory government but the public is quite clear as to who the villain is and that is Clegg and the LibDems in general who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder to inflict savage cuts on just about every aspect of their lives.

    Yes, because it is the mentality of the Labour Party that tends to put it that way. This shows how it is that the Labour Party has no interest in building pluralism, so that is why it makes out that the Liberal Democrats are the real enemy and wants to destroy them so it can take full power for itself.

    The fact is that if there was an alternative coalition that could have been agreed with Labour, since there has been no change in the balance of power in Parliament, Labour could offer it NOW.

    If the Labour Party or Labour supporters criticise the LIberal Democrats for accepting only AV and not STV, the simple reply is that they should offer STV NOW. If they stand by and refuse to offer the alternative coalition they say could exist, they are either lying because they know it could not really exist, or they are as bad as the Liberal Democrats in not going for it when it is a possibility.

    EcoJon, I am opposed fervently to the current leadership of the Liberal Democrats, I believe they have made mistake after mistake after mistake in the way they have run with the coalition But you don’t seem to be listening because all you really want to do is see political pluralism destroyed. Indeed, this socialist mentality is so fixed in your head that you suppose simply because I still have my Liberal Democrat membership card, I am in full support of everything the party and its leader is doing.

    If people like you were really interested in something different, you would offer it and want to work with people like me. But you don’t., because you don’t really want it. You are a socialist, you want to see one dominant party and all alternatives destroyed.

  • I am a socialist but certainly do not approve of a one party state. Socialism can only achieve its objectives with the consent of the people in a true democracy. That is why I oppose AV. It and other P.R systems will continue to produce a one party state: the perpetual Coalition Party state.

  • Tabman
    Posted 3rd February 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink
    Jim, MacK – when people who clearly are not party supporters incessantly use emotive language such as “shame” and “betrayal” it is not suprising that it provokes a robust response.

    I am not offended by a robust reponse, politics is a robust activity and one should be glad to take it as well as hand it out. I would, however, miss this most stimulating site, if I was prevented from posting on it, for all the reasons I have given above. It would be a tremendous loss to our robust democracy if this site became closed to everyone but Lib Dem members and became a forum only those who wished to debate with the already converted. I certainly do not post on this site to proselytise or recruit but to debate with people who do not share my views. If Lib Dem members are concerned that the views of non-party members will be used to misrepresent the Liberal Democrat Party in the media, then surely, the simple solution is for the managers of the site to make it a sine qua non for posting that everyone who posts has to follow their name with their party affiliation details. i.e MacK (Labour member) etc.

  • EcoJon – “but even accepting the bias in the electoral system which won’t be ‘cured’ by the current Tory gerrymandering of boundaries – supported by the LibDems.”

    The boundaries are gerrymandered massively in favour of Labour. The proposal of reducing the number of seats will go some way to addressing this, but it will only make it slightly less favourable to Labour.

    I’m afraid Matthew Huntbach has it about right when he says “You are a socialist, you want to see one dominant party and all alternatives destroyed.”

    MacK – I have no problem debating with you. I know where you stand, and whilst I disagree pretty much with everything you say you are at least true to your principles, unlike some of your co-contributors.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    Quite simply Matthew I believe you to be totally wrong about the Liberal Party being regarded as the ‘real’ enemy. My experience until recently has never been that either within the party or as an individual but I readily concede that the LibDems have never loomed large in any constituency I have lived in or electioneered in so that could well colour my viewpoint.

    In recent times my viewpoint has been much more determined by the Tory policies that the LibDems are supporting.

    But to go back to the electorate at large I think you do them a disservice when you ascribe their opposition to the LibDems to be the ‘fault’ of the LP and that is a bit of an elitist view in my eyes – they are quite capable of making their own mind up on the cuts and who is responsible. They will determine what part Labour played and what part the LibDems and Tories have played.

    I am beginning to wonder whether you read my post at 2nd February 2011 at 11:45am as your response makes me think you haven’t,

    In summary its says I don’t think a Labour/Lib Dem Coalition was ever possible post GE and isn’t now. I also point out that STV was not in our Manifesto so we cannot offer it. The LibDems didn’t redline STV in the Coalition Agreement – it surprises me they didn’t and I strongly believe if they had threatened a Confidence & Supply position I believe Cameron would have accepted it – I think the opportunity has been lost btw and no way will Cameron accept it now.

    You seem to be saying that some LP members say a coalition is now posible between LibDems and LP and this amazes me because I have never heard any LP members state this.

    On the contrary they recognise the die is cast and things will take their course and the electorate will make the decision on whether to destroy the LibDems electorally or not. I have made my position clear and that is that I have no wish to see the LibDems, as was, destroyed. However, the new party that seems to be emerging I would shed no tears over its destruction. I think there is a little time left for the party to regain its soul but it’s a tight window probably stretching from May to the Autumn Conference.

    After that there is no escape from the Tory handcuffs till they discard you – they and your leaders are the biggest threat to the survival of your party and its credibility and as long as you blame Labour you will never deal with the Trojan Horse within the walls.

  • “After that there is no escape from the Tory handcuffs till they discard you – they and your leaders are the biggest threat to the survival of your party and its credibility and as long as you blame Labour you will never deal with the Trojan Horse within the walls.”

    You demonstrate here both an ignorance of Liberal philosophy and tradition, and old thinlking about politics.

    The Labour Party has lost its point and its soul. It is led by upper middle class public school technocrats. The residual working class doesn’t get a look in. It isn’t socialist, and its managerialists have been proven to be incompetent. It lingers on through a mixture of folk memory and gerrymandered constituency borders.

    No wonder you come here to vent your despair.

  • MacK (Labour) 5th Feb '11 - 2:26pm

    @ Tabman
    “The Labour Party has lost its point and its soul. It is led by upper middle class public school technocrats.”

    Absolute tosh! Apart from possibly Harriet Harman, who is, I believe, a relative of Lady Longford and Lady Antonia Fraser, and who attended St Pauls’ public school, I don’t think anyone on Labour’s front bench could be described as upper middle class. Ed Balls, I believe went to a private school, but most of Labour’s front bench, including Ed Millibant, were educated at Comprehensives. It’s your Tory dominated Coalition that is led by upper middle class, public school educated millionaires and whose front bench is tuffed with them too. And aren’t we suffering for it!

  • MacK (Labour) 5th Feb '11 - 2:28pm

    Er . . . Correction. That should read “stuffed” and “tuffed”

  • MacK (Labour) 5th Feb '11 - 2:29pm

    ha ha, further correction: should read: “stuffed” NOT “tuffed”

  • MacK – the Milibands went to a “Comprehensive” in Hampstead, where the average property price will put the school way out of reach of any riff raff. Saying that the Milibands went to a Comprehensive as some sort of badge of right-on street cred is laughable. It was certainly nothing like the ex secondary-modern Comp that I went to.

  • MacK (Labour) 6th Feb '11 - 2:37pm

    @Tabmnan

    “MacK – the Milibands went to a “Comprehensive” in Hampstead,”

    These are still comprehensives, Tabman, they’re not Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Marlborough, Wellington and Westminster. The Labour front bench is not full of ex pupils from these institutions. The Tory dominated front bench is. I would also suggest that parents pay up to £30,000 to send their childen to public school not just to keep out the “riff raff” but to provide nepotism: the nexus of powerful, rich contacts and social networks that will see their sons and daughters all right later on in life. Comprehensives are free, remember, no matter what nice area they might be in. I’ll remind you of what you said: “The Labour Party has lost its point and its soul. It is led by upper middle class public school technocrats.” Now we might have a debate about whether it is led by technocrats, that’s another matter, but it is simply wrong to say that the Labour front bench is populated by ex public school pupils just like the coalition is. Facts are facts.

  • MacK – the Labour Party manages nepotism pretty well, thank you very much. Milibands, Mandelson, Mr & Mrs Balls, Jack Dromey … I could go on. And to say that Comprehensives are free is specious when they select from a given geographical area. They most certainly are not free; the payment for entry is made in property prices. Why else do houses in catchment for “good schools” command a premium?

  • MacK (Labour) 7th Feb '11 - 9:12am

    @Tabman

    ” And to say that Comprehensives are free is specious when they select from a given geographical area. ”

    I taught in a Comprehensive in an up market area so I know that even the best of comprehensives do not have a homogeneous intake and have their fair share of problem pupils just like schools everywhere else. . If you think otherwise and that comprehensives are equivalent in status with expensive public schools that makes as much sense as your assertion that the Labour Front bench is packed with public schoolboys!

  • MacK – the proportion of “problem” pupils at such schools is small. “Good” comprehensive schools are just as selective as independent schools; the selection is by the parents’ ability to pay the property premium to live in catchment. To pretend that such “good” comprehensives are open to all is sophistry.

    I take it by the fact that you haven’t addressed my point about Labour nepotism that you agree with it? 😉

  • “the proportion of “problem” pupils at such schools is small.”

    Totally wrong. I have taught in many such schools, all over the country. Every one had a far higher proportion of disruptive pupils than Public Schools. The Public schools can simply chuck them out. How many of these schools have you taught in, by the way?

    “the selection is by the parents’ ability to pay the property premium to live in catchment”

    Just because you own an expensive house doesn’t mean your offspring are automatically well behaved, and the state sector has great difficulty excluding or expelling disruptives..

    “I take it by the fact that you haven’t addressed my point about Labour nepotism that you agree with it?”

    No, I don’t. It’s a non sequitor. Networking, unfortunately, is prevalent in every walk of life, but paying £30,000 per year for your child to gain an advantage 20 years down the line from someone they knew at school is in a wholly different category of unfairness. I assume now that you have accepted my point that the Labour Front Bench is not stuffed with public schoolboys? Q E D I think.

  • MacK – I’m rather enjoying this debate 🙂

    “Totally wrong. I have taught in many such schools, all over the country. Every one had a far higher proportion of disruptive pupils than Public Schools. The Public schools can simply chuck them out. How many of these schools have you taught in, by the way?”

    The short answer – none. But my father did, and I went to one, so I’m familiar with what I speak about. But this is besides the point. Its no coincidence that the Comprehensive Schools with the best results are those in well-heeled middle class areas. Such schools (and there is one where I live that people clamour to get into and is evidenced by local house prices and Estate Agents’ blurb) have a small but manageable number of disruptive pupils who can be removed from mainstream classes.

    The real point, however, is this. Comprehensive schools operate a selection by ability to pay system every bit as effectively as the independent sector. I believe this is wrong, and as selection will be bound to operate in any case (as we can see from the present situation), I would rather we embraced it rather than pretend it didn’t exist, and ensure it was based on genuine merit rather than parental income.

    To whit – I bet very few Labour MPs went to tough inner-city Comprehensives rather than those in leafy suiburbs, and as a result there is little practical difference between their schooling and those who went to independent schools, simply a matter of degree.

    “Just because you own an expensive house doesn’t mean your offspring are automatically well behaved, and the state sector has great difficulty excluding or expelling disruptives.”

    Indeed it doesn’t, and just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you don’t value education either. But it is generally true that the more wealthy tend to value education more highly and conditions pertain as descibed above. It is far easier to deal with one disruptive child in a class than 15.

    “No, I don’t. It’s a non sequitor. Networking, unfortunately, is prevalent in every walk of life, but paying £30,000 per year for your child to gain an advantage 20 years down the line from someone they knew at school is in a wholly different category of unfairness. I assume now that you have accepted my point that the Labour Front Bench is not stuffed with public schoolboys? Q E D I think.

    I admit to exagerating for effect (but ACL Blair and Ed Balls spring to mind to name but two). However, the point is still well made that the Labour front bench are all well connected to each other, and there is an established career path within the party based on connections.

    This is in no practice different to that practiced by the Conservatives – indeed you could argue that it is at least open to anyone with the £30k a year to spend, whereas the Labour nepotistic circle is not even that open!

    I am a Liberal because I’m a meritocrat, and I see precious little support for or enacting of meritocracy in either of the two larger parties.

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