Opinion: deficit reduction or political dogma?

The effect of the ‘savage’ cuts as Nick Clegg called them last September are gradually becoming apparent over the course of the week. What both parts of the coalition insist is that these cuts are about deficit reduction and not a deliberate effort to roll back the state. There is a major aspect to these cuts however which are making this very difficult to believe.

If cuts were purely to balance the books, and the economic forecasts of the coalition were correct, there would come a time possibly during a hypothetical second parliament when some of the cuts could be reversed. The labour government realised this when they assured us the 50% top rate of tax was a temporary measure. (Though why they chose this I don’t know).

Let us though look at some of the likely cuts that are unfolding that go against our normal Liberal Democrat principles:- If we lift the cap off of commuter train prices and lower the operational subsidy accordingly, after two or three years of large above inflation fair hikes there will likely be no need for subsidy at all. We will have taken the decision not to subsidize rail to take account of its environmental savings. This would be a dogmatic sea change in transport and environment policy.

There is no provision for reinvesting in Universities when the economy improves. Exorbitant student fees are not being presented as a temporary package. It is in effect government ceasing to be responsible for University education. Leaving i tnearly unsubsidised and subject to the whims of the market place long after the economic situation has improved.

The capping of social security benefits is designed only to save a few hundred million pounds. It will probably save nothing when some large families can’t afford accommodation anywhere and their children are taken into care. From George Osborne’s rhetoric it is clear that this is a symbolic whipping of ‘scroungers’. It is also a piece of long term social engineering which will turn some cheap areas into dumping ghettos. This will also be nearly impossible to reverse.

Likewise once a programme of nuclear power stations has been begun. It will be nearly impossible to justify projects such as the Severn barrier in the future as likely capacity will have already been built.

The only policy with a truly temporary feel to it is the DEFFERAL of a decision on Trident. No it is not being abolished merely deferred.

Trident still has a higher priority to the coalition than housing the poor, transporting workers at a reasonable price, and stopping the young generation drowning in Student Debt. (This is all the more ironic as one of the main arguments for cuts was to make sure that young people did not suffer with debt in the future).

I have no doubt that most in our party are making these cuts with gritted teeth but this style of irreversalable cuts indicates that there are some in our party who are quite happy changing our whole policy agenda.

This leaves me sadly doubting whether the Liberal Democrats will have much of its current policy to salvage, whatever the result of the next election? Will for simply practical reasons our own policy simply have to fall in line with that of the coalition , and if so what is our long term purpose ?

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73 Comments

  • I just heard on the BBC News that the Government have said

    Incapacity Benefit will no longer be paid to people who have assets of over 16k.

    Are they really saying that if someone is a home owner or has a Mortgage with Equity in it, If they become I’ll or Disabled, they will be forced to sell there House and not be entitled to benefit?

    But if you are a home owner or Mortgage Payer and become unemployed you will still be entitled to benefit?

    My god I hope BBC NEWS are reporting this wrong, If not

    How would this be legal? There are Laws against Discrimination and this would clearly be a discrimination towards Disabled People.

    The Government would surly be facing massive legal bills from Disabled or sick people if this policy was to go ahead and people where forced to sell their homes.

    I am getting really annoyed and finding it very difficult to contain myself and my language on this board lol.

    What are you Lib Dems doing? I hope you are pulling your fingers out of your *********** and opposing this.

    You need to pull out of this Coalition NOW if these policies are true.

    Start standing up the Vulnerable who your party promises to protect. Please

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11592700

    Under the changes to Employment Support Allowance, people with assets of more than £16,000, or a weekly household income of more than £90 will no longer be eligible to receive it.

    Welfare groups have warned that the income of partners will also be taken into account when calculating weekly household income and they say this will particularly disadvantage low income couples.

    Government sources say that although such claimants will lose their right to Employment Support Allowance, they may still be able to receive other payments such as council tax benefit, housing benefit and disability living allowance.

    (This is a Disgrace)

    A)People on Incapacity Benefit are going to be Migrated over to ESA

    B) Entitlement is being changed from SAVINGS to ASSETS.

    Therefore anyone with a house who has any equity in it, will not be entitled to ESA and would be forced to sell their House.

    The Government say that although they will not be entitled to ESA they may still be able to claim, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and DLA.

    Who are they Kidding here???
    They are reducing Council tax benefits by 10%, stopping peoples ESA, Making people Homeless, Capping Housing Benefits (Even though there is a shortage of social housing) and forcing people to rent Privately, And taking away peoples DLA.

    This is a clear ASSAULT of the most Vulnerable people in society.

    Would some Liberal Democrats PLEASE speak up and tell us what you propose to do about this??? You have RESPONSIBILITIES!

  • Foregone Conclusion 21st Oct '10 - 1:26pm

    I agree, up to a point – I think some specific cuts are more ideologically motivated than others, many of which you name (tuition fees, a lot of welfare reform stuff, and the preservation of Trident). The Labour call that ‘these cuts are ideological!’ still annoys me, though, because almost everything in politics is based on ideology! If Tory cuts are ‘ideological’, then Labour deficit spending – the flip side – certainly was. Only a fool or a rogue claims to be above ideology (see Tony Blair for an example of the latter). Vision of what’s pragmatic are themselves shaped by ideology. It’s unavoidable! And ideology isn’t necessarily negative – without it in some form, politics would be nothing like how we know it today, possibly completely unprincipled.

    I think what the ‘these cuts are ideological!’ slogan is trying to get at is that the real driving force of the Coalition is cutting the size of the state, and that they’re deliberately hiding behind a veil of pragmatism. That might be true for some, but why should we presume that all Tories and Lib Dems are liars about their true intentions? It makes as much sense as saying that the Brown government was actually hell-bent on turning Britain into a Scandinavian-style social democracy, which some on the left indeed hoped would might be the outcome.

  • On topic, I dont quite get the article. Who is saying that when the outlook improve in years there wont be cash to spend on new priorities? If the decision then is to invest again in rail infrastructure (effectively a subsidy) then so be it. What’s the problem? What if the decision then is to infest loads more in maintenance grants for poorer students to encourage them to go to university? Great! The basis of this article seems to be that someone, somewhere, has a secret agenda to never spend any more money after the crisis…

  • Foregone Conclusion 21st Oct '10 - 1:29pm

    Matt, I presume that, like at the moment with JSA, there will be an exclusion for the family home. Although why Incapacity Benefit should be treated like JSA when they are completely different in purpose, I have no idea…

  • @Foregone Conclusion

    But their is a changing in the wording from Savings to Assets. (Houses are an Asset)

    Now I do not think anyone would disagree that if someone has Savings, Then these Savings should you be used before gaining and accessing any Benefits.

    But if people are forced to Sell their Homes and we are talking about the (I’ll and Disabled) as it those that are being Migrated from IB to ESA. then this is just plain wrong.

    The Devil is in the Details I know.

    But these announcements will be causing a lot of distress to a lot of vulnerable out there.

    People need to know that there are Liberal Democrats out there who are going to fight their corner and make sure this policy doesn’t happen.

    As I said Liberal Democrats have always promised to fight for the poor and the vulnerable. We need to see some Liberal Democrats starting acting on that promise and throw some punches back in the Governments Direction, rather than at the Sick and Disabled.

  • Foregone Conclusion 21st Oct '10 - 1:52pm

    Assets covers a multitude of things – housing, stock, bonds, cash, etc., which is why they don’t just say savings.

    I think that politically, the Lib Dems are in a bind. Even where we do make a difference, collective responsibility means that we can’t disagree in public with the Tories, or even highlight areas where we’ve made a difference. Who knows what our team’s done to prevent these from being much worse? The fights they pick are fought behind the scenes. We can make shrewd guesses (I think that having Sarah Teather at Education made a lot of difference to the eventual settlement there, and the fact that the cut to science funding is only 10% in real terms is probably down to Vince), but they’re only that – guesses.

  • I will give an example of a situation I know of, which is why I have reasons for concern and have such strong views on this.

    My father receives IB as he has Severe Deep Vein Thrombosis and suffers from Dementia.

    My Parents live in a Static Home (No children, we have all grown up and moved out of home) which they own (approx value £20k) although they have to pay Ground Rent of £2700 a year, for the site where they live.

    When My father is moved over from IB to ESA, This announcement suggests that because they own a static home worth £20k.

    He will not be entitled to ESA and they will be forced to sell their home.

    Thats how the announcement reads on the BBC Website.

    And I want to know that if it is the case, there will be Lib Dems out there fighting tooth and nail to stop it!

  • This is going to be shaming for Liberal Democrats who still believe in fighting to protect the poor and vulnerable in society. Nick will never be allowed to forget that he was front and centre in agreeing to this.

    To give a flavour of the suffering that will be inflicted by Osborne’s savage right wing attack on the poor and disabled, here is a typical post from a benefits and work public forum after the cuts were announced.

    I am so worried that I am crying!

    Is the working group the groups which 90% of claimants get put into? Does that mean that you haev to attend various meetings?
    I am dreading them putting me into that group, as I do not have a wheelchair accessible centre near me…. I am awaiting a decision of a medical at home from Atos at the moment…. How will I get to regular meetings if you cannot go to the local centre if you are on crutches/wheelchair dependant and they refuse your access in them (as they are not accessible)….. I have not been able to get any advice or help from anywhere, as I cannot get anywhere easily….
    I have double incontinence increasingly (3 times this week so far)…. I am very worried.
    I have not claimed DLA or anything only ESA contributory at teh mo….

    From a very worried claimant.

  • I suggest you try a find a copy of the Howard Flight tape from the 05 election,he wanted deep cuts back then and that was three years before the crash.These cuts have dogma and ideology written all over them.

  • @Forgone Conclusion “……ideology isn’t necessarily negative – without it in some form, politics would be nothing like how we know it today, possibly completely unprincipled.” I voted Liberal Democrat, everything I voted for, and everything that the LibDems claimed to believe in has been reversed. So as far as I am concerned politics, that is the Liberal Democrat version, is already totally unprincipled. Cable, Clegg, Alexander et al. and their apologists produce thousands of word to try to justify their actions. It is nauseating drivel. The LibDems are responsible for propping up a rather nasty right-wing Tory party, who failed the get a mandate for what they are doing, it is the LibDem collaboration that is allowing them to do what they have no democratic licence to do.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 2:37pm

    “I think that politically, the Lib Dems are in a bind. Even where we do make a difference, collective responsibility means that we can’t disagree in public with the Tories, or even highlight areas where we’ve made a difference.”

    Make no mistake about it – the Lib Dems will be every bit as responsible as the Tories for everything that happens. They will have full responsibility, and they will take the consequences. And that will be richly deserved.

  • MBoy – I can’t understand why you don’t get John Fraser’s point? All he is saying – unless I am much mistaken – is that if you believe it is right to invest in the ways listed by John (always issues close to the heart of LD values), then why not present them as temporary cuts, or in some other way if you wish to avoid being tied to the detailed restoration of specific figures etc. If you DON’T do this, it looks distinctly as if you believe in the cuts per se. And, believe it or not MBoy, there are many of us out here in the Lib Dems, who feel that these cuts are more or less a betrayal of all that we have fought for over the years. Personally, I became active again in the Liberal Party in 1985 to fight Thatcher’s cuts and their deleterious effects on people after a period overseas and with a young family when I had been inactive. I wait to see, but I see these cuts as deeper and in some ways more harmful than Thatcher’s.

    Foregone Conclusion – Of course they are ideological (right wing, Thatcherite, which Labour are trying to imply their approach is not). We should be presenting in a way which emphasises our non-right wing credentials. Our ideology is not the same as the Tories’ – or shouldn’t be. Surely this is the whole point of this thread??

  • Mark Yeates

    Why are you hesitating? Do you think Sheffield voters or any voters with a conscience will vote for a Liberal again?
    Cameron is making a fool of you all, using Clegg, Alexander and Cable as lakeys and a human shield to protect the Tories, while they carry out their dream agenda – the Tories can’t believe their luck. The gloating of the Tories and approval of the liberals for cuts targeted at the poor, vulnerable and disabled was, in my view, one of the most obscene things I have witnessed in a long time. Cameron treats Clegg like a real “junior” – he gives him a lollipop (pupil premium) and takes away his sweetie (Educational Maintenance Allowance), while cutting support services to disabled children in schools and claiming that school budgets are protected. I nearly voted for the liberals, but luckily realised just in time that Clegg was a thinly disguised Tory.
    Clegg has sold his soul and sold out his party. If I were you, I wouldn’t be hesitating.

  • @ Matt: You said ‘My Parents live in a Static Home (No children, we have all grown up and moved out of home)’.
    So you have siblings who have moved out and leading their own lives now. Here’s the thing Matt -IT IS YOUR & YOUR SIBLING’S RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOK AFTER YOUR AGED PARENTS NOT THE STATE’S

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 3:40pm

    “IT IS YOUR & YOUR SIBLING’S RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOK AFTER YOUR AGED PARENTS NOT THE STATE’S”

    Good God. The new face of Liberalism.

  • IT IS YOUR & YOUR SIBLING’S RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOK AFTER YOUR AGED PARENTS NOT THE STATE’S

    how very 19th century of you! what happens if one’s off-spring don’t have the capacity to look after incapacitated parents?

  • @steve

    Are you serious??

    1st of all my parents are not pensioners YET!

    They had worked all their lives and paid their NI Contributions. Until My father became i’ll that is and developed severe DVT

    His condition is that bad he has almost died on several occasions, Including last year when one of the clots went to his lung, He went into cardiac arrest and had to be be resuscitated.

    Incidently my mother also suffers from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) she however does not claim sickness benefits in her own name, or any other benefits.

    My sister can only work Part time, as she spends the rest of her time caring for my parents. (My sister does not claim carers allowance)

    Are you seriously telling me that My parents should not claim any benefits from the state???

    who are you by the way? Are you a Liberal Democrat Activist or anything??

  • Barry George 21st Oct '10 - 3:53pm

    Stevec

    IT IS YOUR & YOUR SIBLING’S RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOK AFTER YOUR AGED PARENTS NOT THE STATE’S

    No need to shout Steve.

    Just out of curiosity. What responsibilities do you believe the state does actually have? We all pay income tax and national insurance throughout our working life so what should that money be used for?

    It is our money; it does not belong to the Government.

    If it is not for the welfare state ( IE a safety net if I lose my job, help if was to become disabled, etc), The NHS, Our children’s education and to know that I will be taken care of when I am too old to take care of myself then what is it for ?

  • Has the entire parliamentary party been brainwashed since the coalition was formed?

    Or are they all intending to stand as conservatives at the next election?

    This is assault on the welfare state is *not* what anyone I know who voted LibDem thought they were voting for.

    And before somebody pipes up and says that this is coalition policy not party policy, we are part of this coalition. That means that come the next election, we will be judged on what we have done in government, not what we say we’d like to do in our next manifesto.

    If we want to take any credit for acting as a restraining influence on the tories, then where we disagree with them, we need to do it loudly, in public, and be seen to win arguments (and not just on little things).

    If we carry on with not a cigarette paper between ourselves and the tories, we can hardly complain if the electorate start to regard us as an auxiliary wing of their party.

  • philinlancs 21st Oct '10 - 4:40pm

    @stevec
    I’m sure that your views are not representative of the majority of thoughtful people in the UK whatever their political allegiancies.

    I suspect that you are a young man with parents who are not of pensionable age(?). You come across as a someone who has a complete lack of empathy for your fellow human beings which makes this observer of your rant very sad indeed…

    According to your comment I should feel very lucky that I buried both my parents before the age of 23 so that they did not become a burden to myself or the state (even though they both paid into the system and never claimed a penny in benefits all their lives apart from Child Benefit). Never mind the fact my father fought in WWII so that you are free to make comments freely without having your front door kicked off it’s hinges and being dragged off to the nearest “work camp”.

    As you live the rest of your life be aware that there are many reasons why and how your personal circumstances can change both individually and as a family unit. People like you stevec have not faced hardship so far in life.

    I hope to God you are a Tory commentator here and not a Lib Dem…

  • @Matt..It would seem the lib dems have become cold hearted pragmatists in their first few months in office and it makes me sick to the pit of my stomach that they will be there for five years but remember you are not alone,there are many people in the same boat and we will remember this bunch of skulldugerous chancers for many years to come.I hope things pan out ok for your folks and please ignore cretins like SHOUTY steve,good luck.

  • Billy MacInnes 21st Oct '10 - 4:53pm

    What will Clegg, Cable and Alexander have to say about the fact the IFS has announced today that the CSR hits the poorest 10% hardest? How can that be fair? When Simon Hughes said the CSR would have Lib Dem footprints all over it did he really mean the poorest 10% would have Lib Dem footprints all over the backs? It’s going to be hard to spin their way out of this but if they can completely reverse their position on the need for cuts and tuition fees, I’m sure they’ll come up with something. Oh, wait, I know what it is….”It’s all Labour’s fault.”

  • philinlancs 21st Oct '10 - 5:06pm

    After watching the news earlier today on the BBC whilst enjoying a lunch break, I was very worried to see Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein giving his thoughts on the cuts on Northern Ireland. Needless to say he was not pleased. Already one of the intangible fall-out effects of the cuts is starting to become apparent.

    Nobody would argue that Northern Ireland is not one of the most economically deprived areas of the UK. The worrying rise in Nationalist circles of the bullet/bomb gaining favour over the ballot box the risk is that these cuts are probably going to prove a short fuse to a return to increased violence in the province on the Nationalist side. This will be a good recruiting sergeant for the “men of violence”.

    I hope that I am wrong.

  • Brilliant article which gets to the nub of the problem.

    The Lib Dems have signed up to the re-alignment of the British welfare state along neo-con US lines. The country since the Coalition is a more selfish, more divided place. We are now either derving or not; on welfare or not. The words are becoming ever more hollow as Cameron, Clegg, Osborne + Alexander do interview after interview trying to build the ‘fairness’ narrative. the CSR shows how pointless it is.

    There is no rewind button; no temporary measures. Clegg has taken your party to sit side-by-side with Cameron on a long-term partnership. There can be no party differentiation in 5 years time. Your policies are Tory policies.

    I may have left the Party but am saddened by Clegg’s leadership still.

  • @republica

    Thanks for your kind words of support.

    I have got to put my hands up and be the first to admit that, I am normally quite vocal on this forum, And I have been very Critical of this Government and of the Liberal Democrats.

    I have always had strong beliefs and feelings towards some Policies that I thought where unfair, Even when those Policies or Cuts to spending do not effect me directly.

    As a guy in a long term same sex relationship (Not Civil Partnered) where we both pay full Taxes, we don’t have children. I have argued against other people from (Childless) Family units who have said they do not agree that they should pay higher Taxes to support Tuition Fee’s.

    It has always been my opinion, that although I do not and will never have children. I firmly believe my taxes should pay towards tuition fee’s, as We all have an invested interest in our young and future doctors, scientists, tax payers etc.

    I have also been Vocal on Child Benefit, as I believe the current policy to remove benefit where there is a High rate tax payer in the House compared to 2 parents earning £80k is just wrong and Unfair.

    But I have to admit, when I heard on the news, the announcements about ESA eligibility will be removed for people with assets over 16k. It scared the hell out of me.

    Things then become very personal due to my parents own situation and I genuinely fear for their future and what this will mean for them.

    I am normally a pretty strong headed guy and manage to keep my emotions in check, I normally let peoples insults roll off, like water off a ducks back, But I freely admit stevec comments almost brought me to tears, I had to get out of the house and take the dogs for a walk to compose myself.

    Like I said I am normally thicker skinned than that, and I certainly am when it comes to things said about me “personally” but it’s a different story when it’s your parents.

    I never thought i would hear such discontent, especially on a Liberal forum. A Tory one I could expect.

    Anyway, I just want to apologise to the forum, I am sure you didn’t need to hear my life story, and that’s certainly was not my intentions when I 1st started contributing on this forum.

    It was certainly not my intentions to turn discussions into personal insults.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 5:24pm

    Here’s a link to the IFS presentation on “Distributional analysis of tax and benefit changes”:
    http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5313

    I don’t understand how the Lib Dems can defend the regressive nature of the plans, given all the assurances we’ve been given about protecting the poorest. But no doubt they’ll try.

    Oh, and the IFS says Osborne was lying with his clever-clever bit of business about whether the cuts were bigger than Labour’s would have been:
    It also points out that George Osborne’s claim that cuts in departmental spending were less than Labour had promised in March is false. Whereas the coalition plans cuts of 19 per cent by 2014-15 outside protected departments such as health, plans in Labour’s Budget implied cuts of 16 per cent.”
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/693df642-dd20-11df-884a-00144feabdc0.html

  • @Matt..Don’t appologise we all have our moments when we gets pushed too far and snap,in fact its a very human thing to do,i am not actually a liberal democrat i’m a lefty but when it comes to the likes steve insulting people in such a damned awful way i think party lines should be put aside and simple human kindness should be shown.I too have mother who has health issues and she didn’t claim a penny for over 20 years because of pride and worrying about what people like steve would think and it took the mps expenses for me to finally convince her she was entitled to get help from the state just as all those fine ladies and gentlemen do in parliment.
    As i said before good luck.

  • Do any of you have anything to say about the Institute of Financial Studies concluding that the cuts are regressive. See this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/stephanieflanders/2010/10/ifs_analysis_of_tax_and_benefi.html

    It may be you disagree with the analysis or agree but say there is no option but it seems to me at the moment this blog wants to discuss any other topic rather than whether the spending review was fair.

    And no I am not a Labour supporter. Came to this website to see what you said in answer to the charge that the cuts are regressive. But there is nothing but blah blah blah on far less important issues.

  • Have you just seen the vulnerable, disabled man on T.V. crying and terrified of the cuts he is facing?
    Can any Liberals out there still support what their leader is doing? I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel ashamed to be British.

  • Emsworthian 21st Oct '10 - 6:50pm

    There are always alternatives and dealing with the deficit in a different way was always an option. The reference to Greece earlier is completely absurd and designed to scare the public into thinking there’s ony one way to go. Osbourne is one of the post politically motivated Chancellors I have seen in 50 years. He is a consumate politician and together with Dave’s well honed PR skills they are engaged in a post Thatcherite project she can only drool over. I do understand Nick’s problem. You can’t be a little bit in coalition and you’re only one sixth of the partnership. Even so I would have expected just a few more challenges from Lib Dem MP’s during the debate which followed. Electorally where will our votes come from in the future. Forget the left of centre-that’s gone for good. Are we really left competing with the Tories, centre right Vs right centre?

  • For the Tories, this is definitely political dogma, they are acting like Christmas has come early with their excited cheers and whoops of delight.

  • John Fraser 21st Oct '10 - 7:34pm

    @ MBoy
    Posted 21st October 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
    On topic, I dont quite get the article. Who is saying that when the outlook improve in years there wont be cash to spend on new priorities? If the decision then is to invest again in rail infrastructure (effectively a subsidy) then so be it. What’s the problem? What if the decision then is to infest loads more in maintenance grants for poorer students to encourage them to go to university? Great! The basis of this article seems to be that someone, somewhere, has a secret agenda to never spend any more money after the crisis…
    …………………………….

    You are quite correct that this is the basis of my article Mboy I do not doubt Osbourne and Co are stamping their neo con agenda onto these cuts . I am also becoming convinced that Clegg has a large amount of sympathy towards this .

    I was specific about susbisising OPERATIONAL costs of rail the same as they do in most other European countries. If there is no subsidy at all it is far more difficult politically to have to negotiate with re-subsidizing private companies in return for price cut.

    It would be difficult in the exterem to cut student fees again whilst still leaving those who have been through university with such a level of loans . It is not just about the poor students we had a prinicapl that education should be free , we also have the paradox that nearly all students are poor (grown ups relying on the generosity of theor parents).

    Nothing is impossible in politics I agree but these cuts are designed to make it as difficult as possible to revese them.

    @all
    The question at the bottom of the article regarding what can we salvage is important to me …the answer I currently have is very little which is why unless I am somewhat inpsired I LIKE MANY OTHERS IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS MAY WELL BE REACHIG FOR MY MEMBERSHIP CARD AND THE SCISSORS. After 25 years in the party on the executive of the Youth Wing , a parliamentary candidate , conference (Hack?) and lots of local campaigning . It is not something I say lightly but something I believe that has to be said.

  • I am beginning to wonder if Clegg and his fellow Orange Bookers took a conscious decision to enter this so-called “coalition” as a mechanism for strengthening (sorry, realigning) the right.

    I wonder, because Clegg must realise that what he is doing is sacrificing the party. There is simply no way that the party can survive the “coalition”, a conclusion that must be perfectly obvious to anyone who has thought it through.

    If the “coalition” lasts the full five years, what is going to happen at the ensuing general election? Those who think the government has done a good job will vote Tory, will they not? And those who disagree, will they not vote Labour? Why would anyone even consider voting for a party that had given up having its own values and policies five years earlier – and has nothing to say to the electorate other than the Tories have done a wonderful job?

    The only way in which Liberal Democrat MPs could survive outside the North of Scotland would be an electoral pact. And an electoral pact almost certainly would split the party.

    Clegg has just given his consent to a package of “savage” (Clegg’s own word) public expdenditure cuts that are intended to be permanent (as Cameron himself has said) and are targeted at the poor. And it looks as if his Parliamentary colleagues, give or take a huff and a puff here and there, will follow him through the lobbies.

    The party is finished. Unless we leave the “coalition” and get rid of Clegg – not next year, not next month, but NOW.

    Cable, Huhne and Webb must walk, then join with Campbell, Hughes and Kennedy in sticking the knife into Clegg. I see no other way to save this party from oblivion.

  • “Incapacity Benefit will no longer be paid to people who have assets of over 16k.”

    Is this true? I’ve been preoccupied with the changes in social housing policy since the speech and this must of passed me by, if it is true then I am in serious trouble.
    I don’t believe this, the party that I’ve supported and many times argued for, are agreeing to this?

    And as for this — “IT IS YOUR & YOUR SIBLING’S RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOK AFTER YOUR AGED PARENTS NOT THE STATE’S” that is beyond contempt, are my children expected to look after me, I am 48 years old, my eldest child has just left university, oh what a great future for the both of us!

  • @george
    But there’s also a permanent (structural) deficit, and this part won’t go away without long-term measures.

    That means the cuts can’t simply be imposed and then relaxed.
    …………………………….
    To some extent you may be right George which is why we are not just xdipping our toes in a regessive package of neo con cuts. The Country and the party could be saddled with the results for many years.

  • @ Sesenco
    I am beginning to wonder if Clegg and his fellow Orange Bookers took a conscious decision to enter this so-called “coalition” as a mechanism for strengthening (sorry, realigning) the right.
    …….
    I share your belief Sensco . Note that Clegg only unilaterily anounced just before the election that he would talk first with the biggest party . When it became clear who that would be . Note the fact that even Chris Huhne was aware of Cleggs hidden agend and challenged him on it during the leadership election.

  • “Incapacity Benefit will no longer be paid to people who have assets of over 16k.”

    Will this happen?

  • If what I am reading and seeing is true, then I think the coalition should offer life centers,

    where those who are sick and disabled, who end up unable to support themselves or do not want to burden their family, or see nothing to life, other than one day dying cold and hungry, the Life centers could offer the solution, a simple injection, let’s not be callus, a painless way out, saving the government all but the cost of the injection and burning the body, a massive saving to welfare costs?

    The sort of centers you see in the film Soylent Green, walk in, nice music, put the poor Bxxxxxds out of their misery, and no I am not really kidding

    If faced with the choice which seems to be on offer by the coalition of placing the burden on those who can least afford it or on their families or partners then at least offer a way out other than suicide, and before any say that is not going to happen it will be in many cases, I would not want to see my loved partner suffer because I am disabled, I would hate to see the person I love, wear and crumble before my eyes because of cuts and financial worry.

    If you are not going to support us, at least offer solutions we can accept, don’t let us wither away in pain and misery.

  • Don’t worry J – it’s all worth it for the rerendum on AV in May.

  • too many rants in these comments. I am getting heartily sick of people’s shouty indignation when what they are yelling about is 90% a figment of their anti-Lib Dem imagination.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 22nd Oct '10 - 8:53am

    Oranjepan

    Just to explain, as you seem to have completely misunderstood – what’s at issue between Clegg and the IFS has nothing whatsoever to do with the size of public spending as a percentage of GDP. It’s a question of whether the changes are progressive or regressive in their impact on different income groups.

    The IFS has concluded that they are regressive, because they hit the poorest very hard – harder than even the richest according to some measures, and harder than those on middle incomes by most. Are you saying their figures are wrong? If so, in what way are they wrong – what factors have they omitted, and what makes you think those factors would redress the balance?

    On the other hand, if you aren’t contesting the accuracy of the IFS figures, can you defend the regressive nature of the programme? That appears to be something no one is willing to do.

  • MrsB – wrote
    “too many rants in these comments. I am getting heartily sick of people’s shouty indignation when what they are yelling about is about is 90% a figment of their.”

    What’s the matter Mrs B? people worried sick about their future livelihood and the roofs over their heads putting you off your breakfast?, talk about lacking in empathy jeeze!
    and as for the “anti-Lib Dem imagination” comment most of the posts I’ve read are from Lib Dems including myself.
    And if this statement is true “Incapacity Benefit will no longer be paid to people who have assets of over 16k.” I personally will lose my home, but hey, I’ll keep quiet shall I? after all I don’t want to upset your day do I.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 22nd Oct '10 - 9:11am

    And the inanity of Clegg’s own response is astounding.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/21/nick-clegg-attacks-ifs?intcmp=239

    The IFS has attempted a more complete analysis than the Treasury of the effect of these measures on household incomes. There were all sorts of changes that the Treasury didn’t feel able to estimate the effects of. The IFS has attempted to do that.

    In response Clegg says that the IFS was wrong to look at the effects on income, because it is “a complete nonsense to apply that measure, which is a slightly desiccated Treasury measure.” He says what people should take into account is “public services, such as childcare and social care,” and accuses the IFS of having “airbrushed [them] out of the picture” (despite the fact that it attempted a much more complete analysis than the Treasury). Of course, he offers no kind of figures himself.

    What seems to have escaped Clegg’s attention is that while spending on a couple of areas of public services has been frozen in real terms, spending on the rest is about to suffer absolutely huge cuts, the effects of which can only be imagined. Does he think that cutting council spending by 25% is going to be progressive, for God’s sake?

    Clegg suggests people should be willing to “call a spade a spade.” Well, I say he’s lying in a desperate attempt to save his skin. How any real Liberal can support what is happening now is beyond me.

  • Mrs B
    I understand bieng in power and having to take flack for your actions is a shock to your average LD but you really will have to get used to not bieng the nice party anymore.Now I dunno abuut the shouty indignation of others but the disasterous effects your Tory policies will have on my job and my ability to adequatley care for my disabled children plus their long term futures are certainley not in my imagination.
    Perhaps I’m mearley ungrateful but i think not and your arrogant dismissal of our very real problems will hopefully put you back in your eccentric minority unelectable safty zone very soon.

  • May I remind Oranjepan that our whole strategy in 1997 (and especially 2001) was based on reinvestment / restoration of public services which had been encouraged to decay by the Tories. We may well disagree with NuLab as to how they implemented reinvestment, and especially the waste of time from 1997 adhering to Tory spending limits, but there is no doubt that that was the direction we were coming from. It seems more than a tad hypocritical now to condemn spending made in pursuit of that type of strategy. Many of us spent a lot of time and energy fighting the effect and spirit of Thatcher’s cuts – and trying to get as many Lib Dems elected in 1997, 2001 2005 nd 2010 only to see it wasted.

    Enter the Orange Bookers (sorry Oranje …?)

  • @nige
    Posted 21st October 2010 at 10:39 pm | Permalink
    “Incapacity Benefit will no longer be paid to people who have assets of over 16k.”

    Will this happen?

    It is concerning, but it does seem that way.

    People currently on Incapacity benefit are being Migrated over to ESA.

    If you look at the following News article.

    It says

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11592700

    Under the changes to Employment Support Allowance, people with assets of more than £16,000, or a weekly household income of more than £90 will no longer be eligible to receive it.

    Welfare groups have warned that the income of partners will also be taken into account when calculating weekly household income and they say this will particularly disadvantage low income couples.

    Government sources say that although such claimants will lose their right to Employment Support Allowance, they may still be able to receive other payments such as council tax benefit, housing benefit and disability living allowance.

    (Notice the change in policy wording from Savings to Assets)

    The way I have always understood it.

    Savings where always classed as Banks/Building societies, Stocks, shares, Bonds etc.

    And assets are Property, Cars etc.

    I may be totally I wrong and am glad to stand to be corrected, But I always thought,
    savings where classed as something you cant see (bank account)
    Whilst an asset was something Physical you can see (House, Property)

    So if they are changing it to Assets over 16k, then yes people with mortgages and homes would be at risk.

  • Thanks Matt
    I wish I could say I am relieved but obviously I’m not, just worried sick, and to think I supported this lot! I feel like I’ve handed my executioner the gun to shoot me with.

  • @Matt and Nige
    This is a fascinating and worring comment you make. It is clear that I think little of the the right wing extremists (by and western European measure) Cameron Osbourne and (probibly )Clegg . My gut instinct was that they meant ‘Savings ‘ and ‘assets’ is just being accidently misused by the guardian.

    ***IT IS SESSENTIAL TO THIS DISCUSSION THAT SOMEONE CLARIFIES WHICH IS CORRECT . iT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO HERE A COHERANT DEFENSE OF THIS AS WELL.***

  • @George Kendall

    The question is not about the cuts being temporary.

    The problem is to do with whetehr the effects of the cuts will be permanent.

    And, yes, they will be.

    As John pointed out there will be ghettoization as a result of the cuts, the rising in student fees may price a lot more people out of higher education.

    These kinds of things will have long-term effects on certain areas of our country and certain demographics of our society. The waythey have been pusehd through in such ill-thought out, disjointed and discompassionate way will cause irreperable long-term damage not just to our society but perhaps our economy as well.

  • It can;t be assets over 16K, can it?. That would be a ridiculously low threshold…. only practically homeless people could benefit from the allowance.

  • @ John Fraser

    “My gut instinct was that they meant ‘Savings ‘ and ‘assets’ is just being accidently misused by the guardian”

    It was not the guardian Newspaper that reported it.

    I first heard it yesterday as a BBC news reader announced it as a breaking news. I then found the article on the BBC Website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11592700

    It appears about 3/4 of the way through the article.

    I just checked and it is still there.

    I Could not imagine the BBC leaving a mistake unedited when they know it is causing distress to a lot of vulnerable people.

    That is why I am still so worried about it, because No Conservatives or Liberal Democrats have come forward to deny it as yet.

    And you are right when you say

    ***IT IS SESSENTIAL TO THIS DISCUSSION THAT SOMEONE CLARIFIES WHICH IS CORRECT . iT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO HERE A COHERANT DEFENSE OF THIS AS WELL.**

  • John Fraser 22nd Oct '10 - 7:49pm

    @ Stephen
    would say a little more than unfortunate .To have a husband or wife perpetually on unemployment benafit forwever because the other spouse is working and they are sick is a dituation that is further dsiabling and demeaning . At least the unemployed have some hope of a job and an improvement of their lot at some point.

    IF SOMEONE IS SICK AND CANNOT LOOK FOR WORK (BUT HAS A SPOUSE WHO IS WORKING) WILL THEY EVEN GET UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT OR WILL THEY HAVE MO INCOME OF THEIR OWN AT ALL .???

    It seems this blog is running out of steam for some reason it did not get in the top 5 blogs for the week even though it had more posts than some who did. ??(Call for a recount LDV 🙂 ) I suggest those who feel strongly about sickness benefit pester any of the more active bloggs for answers or even write one on the subject themselves. Thank you for all your comments . Sadly no one really came up with the answer to my question about where the Lib dems go next. (But that may be an imposible question to answer in any case )

  • @John Fraser

    Sorry I kind of Hijacked your blog at the beginning of the thread. But when those announcements came on the news, It was something that I felt strongly about.

    I have thought about your suggestion to. “I suggest those who feel strongly about sickness benefit pester any of the more active bloggs for answers or even write one on the subject themselves.” But then wondered what is the point, It would just be dismissed and I would get accused of being a Labour Troll again.

    It is concerning though that there was a complete lack of response from Liberal Democrats, considering the seriousness of it.

    I was also surprised to see the LDV Friday five

    (5 active LDV Members’ Forum threads)

    Why politicians should never sign personal pledges.
    The Government plans to store your emails and phone calls
    Equal representation for N to Z
    Party President Campaign Literature
    FOCUS refuseniks

    I am obviously not a member of the Liberal Democrat Party and therefore am not privy to what is discussed in the private members forum.

    But I would have assumed that top of the discussions in the forum would have been a topic on the cuts, welfare and the fact that the spending review is not progressive.

    The fact that there seems to be no discussion on these issues in the private members forum is cause for great concern.

    To be honest, I think it is foolish for LDV to be posting the top 5 active threads of the members only section, when it clearly looks so bad for the party and it’s priorities.

    I really hope that a Libdem Activist writes a story on here about the news article i spoke of. But I won’t hold my breath for it. It seems as though it is a subject the party is fearful to address in public.

  • @Oranjepan

    “Matt,
    I agree the incapacity benefit changes are contentious and potentially very harmful to the wrong people, but I think the lack of definite news on the subject suggests the final plans aren’t set in stone yet, so don’t confuse fear with patience and use the time to get lobbying”

    Thanks for that, that’s what I am trying to do, I have contacted my Local MP, and it’s what I am also trying to do on here 🙂
    But so far it is a subject that not many people seem willing to take up. I am sure there must be someone on this site who has enough clout and could find out more detail.

  • Oranjepan – sorry about the OB reference – I withdraw it. I absolutely agree with you about services and taxes being a package. Being a refugee from the 70s, I remember Harold Wilson’s so-called Social Contract, and believe in the concept it represents. But I think that the so-called welfare cuts absolutely overwhelm in scale the slight improvements in services. I haven’t looked in detail at the various formulae you refer to on calculating whether total packages are regressive or otherwise, but it is clear you have to make various assumptions and it depends what you assume. I also think by saying that richer people “can” opt out it affects them less is wrong. The default assumption should remain that everyone gives, and everyone takes. Sorry.

    I also agree with you about the effect of emotion, fear greed and the words of the media and bloggers on this. But as I have commented on another thread, in order to stay true to our proclaimed values, we either carry on fighting (and find more effective ways of doing that) or we give up on electoral politics totally. What we should not do is as NuLab did, just concede to the Thatcherite consensus.

    When you speak of Gordon Brown’s “massive increases” in public spending, to what are you referring? Surely the bailouts were the main issue, combined with reductions in tax revenues to offset? Bailouts which would have been carried out by Tories, Blair, Lib Dems or whoever? To me, that argument overlays the wrongheaded blame which is being sprayed in Labour’s direction. Apart from the widespread accusations against us of saying one thing in the campaign and doing another in Govt, this sort of action undermines our claim to “a new politics”. It is just more of the same in a new financial situation. Yes, NC and allies have changed our approach totally.

  • @ Matt
    With reference to the word ‘assets’ of more than £1600 instead of ‘savings’, I have just emailed the BBC to clarify their source and it’s accuracy informing them of the fear now instilled into people. I think many more should email. If it is true then I despair. There is a complete lack of any answer coming from Lib Dems on this extremely important issue. Why?

  • @Anne

    Thank you, I am too still waiting from a response from the BBC, My own MP, Liberal Democrat Party and I E-mailed the Conservative Party.

    I have still not had a reply from any of them 🙁

    I don’t want to be accused of getting the Violins out by keeping harping on about personal circumstances, but I am really concerned for my Parent’s. My mother suffers from COPD which gets worse with stress, And she has been in a right ol state the last couple of day’s.

    I have rang Disability Rights Norfolk. Who have also been unable to help, and said they are in the dark as much as the rest of us. They also said there has been many other disabled people contacting them with the same concerns.

    The guy went on to stress me out even more by explaining that they where funded by the Norfolk County Council and faced funding cut’s themselves and were unsure what services they would be able to provide in the future.

    Nobody seems to want to address this issue and it is frightening a lot of vulnerable people.

  • @Matt
    I’m afraid I am one of the vulnerable and to top it all I now have to cope with at least two extra years on my pension age and the worry how to cope with that. There is a lot of fear in the sick and disabled community and no MP or party is allaying it at all. Becoming ostriches no doubt. I have never had a reply from any Lib Dem party, national or local on any issue They just do not care. Vive La France??

  • @Anne

    I hope all works our for you and share your concerns. Please let me know if you get any response from the people you contacted.

    I will any responses as well.

    And please Any Liberal Democrat MP’s, Councillors, Activists, who are reading this thread. I appeal to you to please try and get us some clarification on this issue. I am sure you would have much better resources than us to get these answers.

    Even a pledge to say you would oppose this policy and fight government to reconsider, would be a start to putting peoples minds at rest.

  • @Matt
    “Even a pledge to say you would oppose this policy and fight government to reconsider, would be a start to putting peoples minds at rest.”

    But would we believe a ‘pledge’ Matt?!!!!! I have contacted a few more and will tell you if I receive any reply as well, thanks.

  • @Matt
    Sorry mate you misunderstood my comment .
    It was an important point you raised and more than happy to continue it . It was just that i noticed there was only 3 or 4 postings a day coming up on here and thought it better to continue the point else where .

  • @John Fraser

    Thanks 🙂

    I am not able to submit a story, and everywhere I have tried to post on this issue, it has been ignored.

    Maybe you would be good enough to write and submit an article on it, so we can hopefully discuss it in more detail.

    It would be greatly welcomed by some very concerned individuals who are directly or indirectly effected by this issue.

    Thanks again 🙂

  • This is what Clegg said on Desert Island Discs

    “I have certainly searched long and hard into my own conscience about whether what we are doing is for the right reasons.
    “I am not going to hide the fact that a lot of this is difficult. I find it morally difficult. It is difficult for the country.”

    What sort of man is this? Morally difficult yet he still patted Osborne on the back and nodded it all through? Is he running scared now? Does he know what he has done is wrong yet still continued? Kirsty Young said he was looking ‘very tired and very worn down by it all’ Good. not nearly as worn down as the sick, disabled and vulnerable are. He has sold his soul and now realises the bargain he made?

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