Opinion: The manifesto and our target demographic

ξυπνήστε (alarm clock) by BatholithI have just registered for conference, and that got me thinking about our 2015 Manifesto.

When he first became leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg defined our target audience as being ‘alarm clock Britain’, a demographic that was derided at the time as being undefined and totally incomprehensible.

Had he defined our target demographic as being ‘people aspiring to improve their situation who are in work on low to middle incomes’ would he have meant the same target group, and what have the Liberal Democrats in Government achieved that is of benefit to that demographic?

The first thing that the Liberal Democrats in Government have achieved for that target group is the ring-fencing of the education budget, the introduction of the pupil premium, and the extension of pre-school education to 3 year olds.

It is the aspirational in work who want to ensure that their children get the best start in life, and they also recognise that giving all children a good start in life helps their own children as competition to learn increases the hunger to learn.

This group also have the opportunity for the first time to benefit from the extension of Tuition Fee Loans to people returning to education, and their children benefit from not only the state bursaries for higher education that Labour opposed but also the local bursaries that Universities are required to provide if they want to charge fees over £6,000.

These are also the people who have benefited from the Lib Dem kept promise of increasing the tax threshold to £10,000 and also from the decision to stop the fuel escalator, cutting the cost of travelling to and from work and of doing work that involves travel as a part of the job.

So, how do we continue to work to ensure that we benefit this group of people?

Firstly they need the security of a decent home to live in, and that means a massive house building initiative is needed.  We need to stop speculative property developers from blocking development buy buying land, securing planning permission to build houses and then sitting on it.  A development charge based on double the rentable value of the land they are sitting on should go some way towards that.

Secondly they need the security of a living wage, and that means increasing the national minimum wage to make it a living wage.

Thirdly they need a taxation system that is fair, and yes that means integrating NI and Income Tax and making all income subject to the same rates of tax.  It also means setting a progressive series of tax bands based on the aggregated national average earnings of men and women in part and full time employment.

If the Liberal Democrats move in this direction then we will be showing that demographic that we, not the Labour Party, are where their best interests lie.

* Chair of Manchester Gorton Liberal Democrats, a member of the NW Regional Executive and the English Council and Vice President of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

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6 Comments

  • Richard Dean 2nd Jun '14 - 3:05pm

    Some questions…

    With these policies, wouldn’t this demographic do just as well with Labour? What makes LibDem a better choice?

    Does the living/minimum wage policy actually re-define the demographic as people presently earning less than the living wage?

    Having identified a demographic, is the idea to adjust policies to benefit that demographic at the expense of other demographics [divisive politics?] or to develop something more along the lines of John Pugh’s “social cohesion”?

    Are LibDem principles more or less important than demographics?

  • Jenny Barnes 2nd Jun '14 - 3:16pm

    “When it railroad time comes, then it railroads”…
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-suggestions-for-the-2015-manifesto-we-can-do-more-for-low-paid-working-people-than-labour-40501.html

    Not only the same idea, but the same words? spooky.

  • Simon McGrath 2nd Jun '14 - 3:35pm

    “Thirdly they need a taxation system that is fair, and yes that means integrating NI and Income Tax and making all income subject to the same rates of tax.”
    It would indeed be a brave Party that fought an election on the basis of a 12% increase in income tax for pensioners.

    ” It also means setting a progressive series of tax bands based on the aggregated national average earnings of men and women in part and full time employment.” What does this mean ?

  • A sense of déjà vu … 😛

    The way to stop speculative property developers is by replacing Council Tax and Business Rates with a Land Value Tax, so land is taxed whether it has been developed or not.

  • How very curious, for the second time in a few days a featured opinion piece in LDV makes exactly the same factual error about the date of the launch of the dreadful slogan — ALARM CLOCK BRITAIN..

    Is there a conspiracy afoot? Or have a number of people in the party been programmed to write the same piece?
    Maybe at the ringing of their alarm clock they foam at the mouth, leap from their beds and start tapping away at their laptops.

    Iain Donaldson writes —
    ” When he first became leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg defined our target audience as being ‘alarm clock Britain’, a demographic that was derided at the time as being undefined and totally incomprehensible. ”

    Almost precisely the same words as the earlier piece by someone else.

    I questioned it the first time this error occurred a couple of days ago. This time I checked and there is no mention of Nick Clegg and Alarm Clock Britain before 2011. If anyone doubts me I suggest you simply Google “Clegg Alarm Clock Britain”. If you do, you will find this rather amusing piece by Charlie Brooker —
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jan/17/clegg-alarm-clock-britain

    Just like the first version of this article , Iain Donaldson goes on to confuse people in work with people who have a direct interest in children at school. Ignoring the fact that many people in work have no children of school age and many people who have children of school age are out of work.

    Iain goes on to suggest – “?.. integrating NI and Income Tax..”, exactly like the first article written supposedly by someone else.

    Amazing coincidence? Great minds thinking alike? Plagiarism? Or has someone e-mailed the same article to a number of people and asked them to put their name at the bottom and submit it to LDV ?

    I think weshould be told.

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