Opinion: Why Labour members should defect to the Liberal Democrats

If you’re Labour, and want to be an MP in a safe seat, switching to the Lib Dems would be a bad move. Perhaps you like authoritarian policies on law and order, and prefer to avoid difficult decisions on the deficit. If so, the Lib Dems isn’t the party for you.

But maybe you think politics isn’t black and white, that there is good and bad in all the parties, and so working together is a good thing. Perhaps you think that the government should do what will work on law and order, rather than pander to the tabloid press, and that we shouldn’t run a deficit, to live better at our children’s expense.

In 1997, many took a good long look at the Labour party and liked what they saw: the party seemed to be committed to financial prudence, to reforming our outdated constitution and increasing personal liberty.

Today, the picture is very different.

Labour fuelled a consumer debt bubble, ran large deficits in a boom, and failed to regulate the banks properly. Its constitutional reform programme stalled after the first term, and it pandered to the tabloid press with ever more authoritarian measures.

After the last election, with 57 MPs, the Liberal Democrats had a limited hand. But unlike Labour in 1997, 2001 and 2005, they have actually delivered a referendum on AV. Nick Clegg has recently announced progress towards an elected House of Lords. Lib Dem influence has allowed moderate Tories like Ken Clarke to introduce progressive policies that would have been unthinkable under either the Conservatives or Labour.

Opponents of the Lib Dems constantly refer to Tory policies which we’ve failed to stop, and to the austerity caused by the deficit. But considering the massive deficit, and that the Tories have over five times as many MPs, it’s amazing what has been achieved.

The Lib Dems are attacking the poverty trap, taking many of the low paid out of income tax and giving vital backing to IDS’s Universal Credit. We’ve restored the link between pensions and earnings, and we’re changing the funding of schools to give an incentive to take on pupils from poor backgrounds.

And that’s just the headline grabbing initiatives. By the end of this parliament, there will be a myriad of low profile policies in place which help the underprivileged, protect our freedoms and enhance our democracy. Behind the scenes, our MPs and peers are battling to limit Tory initiatives which are poorly thought out or which hurt the poor. They don’t win every battle, but they’ve had a lot of success.

Some Labour supporters pretend that the structural deficit can be fixed with cyclic growth. They argue that Labour cuts wouldn’t hurt, despite what we can see happening in local government.

But perhaps there are Labour members reading this article who know better. Maybe you voted for David Miliband, because you wanted a leader who would be more honest about the country’s financial problems. Perhaps you are appalled to see Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor.

Loyalty to friends and colleagues is commendable. But, if you believe both in social justice and financial responsibility, you have an alternative.

Joining the Lib Dems won’t be popular, and working to deal with the most serious peacetime deficit on record will be incredibly difficult. But anyone who joins out of both idealism and realism has a lot to contribute. And that is reward in itself.

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74 Comments

  • ‘if you believe both in social justice and financial responsibility, you have an alternative.’

    Absolutely. It’s just that joining the Conservatives does not number amongst those alternatives.

    You are entitled to your opinion, it’s just that there is a rather unpalatable tone to this.

    By the way, hasn’t Ken Clarke just privatised prisons?

  • Unforunteately I think most Labour members and supporters for that matter, are too set in their ways to consider moving their alleigance. I mean if Gillian Duffy can be publicly humiliated by a Labour PM and then be briefed and used in a media stunt just a year later then I doubt many Labour members are inclined to admit the faults of their party.

  • I’ve switched my allegiance from the Lib Dems to Labour.

    Miliband apologised for the war in Iraq, repudiated New Labour’s stance on civil liberties, and came out against tuition fees. They were the main reasons I voted for the Lib Dems instead of Labour.

    Meanwhile the Lib Dems reversed their positions on public spending, tuition fees, and on increasing VAT, the least progressive tax. I don’t trust them.

    I simply don’t see the point of the Lib Dems anymore. If I believed in what the government was doing, I would vote Tory, because they are much more likely to win.

  • BCM (with respect, and I do mean that) –

    Do you never pause to think that maybe, just maybe this is not an exercise in self-delusion. I think that the deficit thing is overegged to the extent that no Lib Dem or Conservative was demanding hyper-regulation of the banks. I know Labour supporters who were deeply unhappy about many aspects of the 1997-2010 period. I know Lib Dems who think that the HE fees debacle was a stain that will never be removed. I know tories who watched in horror some at of the policies that were proposed in the opposition years. I even know an SNP voter who thinks that Alex Salmond got off far too lightly for that Arc of Prosperity gaffe. Few outside the absolutist world of the internet disincline to acknowledge the faults of any party.

    We can all run around shouting at each other – few, maybe no, voters are real true believers. What we have ‘allegiances’ to is not each and every detail. This is where Mr Kendall is, I think, confusing politics and government. The truth is that there is probably more that unites us than divides us. Parties do not, can not exist to indulge our every prejudice.

    Hence, I can agree with some of Mr Kendall’s article (Lib Dems probably working hard, don’t deserve some of the flack) and disagree with others (restrictions on civil liberty happened despite Labour, not because of them). That I have a different take on different things does not mean that I am confused or lacking an allegiance. Just that I have my own views which lead me to strike a different balance.

  • Grammar Police 14th Apr '11 - 11:17am

    @ Oliver
    “Miliband apologised for the war in Iraq, repudiated New Labour’s stance on civil liberties, and came out against tuition fees. They were the main reasons I voted for the Lib Dems instead of Labour.”

    Miliband has also been working at the highest levels of the Labour party since the 1990s. He voted against an investigation into the war (on becoming an MP), we’ve seen no proposals to improve civil liberties, and Peter Mandelson made it very clear that tuition fees would be at least six thousand pounds p.a. under a Labour govt (and without the massive improvements to the repayment scheme that the Lib Dems have ensured). At best, he supports a graduate tax instead of fees – which given the cut off point on repayments, is actually what we have now – except that the lowest earning graduates will pay the least back.

    Labour are hopelessly split on fairer voting (I mean turkeys don’t vote for Christmas) and their approach to the deficit is shambolic, and would lead to those with mortgages and private tenants paying more – and much more painful and uncontrolled cuts down stream.

  • I sometimes wonder about the many Labour voters out there who are very sincerely concerned with social justice and fairness…. and I wonder why, while accusing the LibDems of the now familiar list of misdemeanours, they cannot see the hypocrisy on their own side! Let’s just look at two examples…

    The most blatant example might be Labour’s breach of election promises over tuition fees (TWICE – first not to introduce and then not to raise them), and at a time when they had big majorities and no need to compromise. It’s easy now to accuse the LibDems of a breach of promises – but look at the different circumstances! Who had the beter chance to keep those promises? Tribalist Labour supporters like to spread the vitriol without seeing the very obvious contradiction.

    There is also Labour’s accusation that the LibDems do ‘everything to get into power’ – and that from the most cynical party out there when it comes to winning votes? A party which is capable of announcing the sacking of 2000 people on the day of a by-election? Can any party which is capable of acts like that claim to be concerned with people’s wellbeing over its own electoral advantage? And we haven’t even started to ask whether Manchester really needed to sack those 2000 people, when most other councils managed with much lower job cuts under similar circumstances: but of course, with Labour in opposition such actions might bring electoral advantage, people’s livelihoods be damned. That kind of cynicism is simply despicable.

    I really wonder sometimes how anybody who claims to have a social conscience and any sense of honour could possibly stay loyal to Labour at the moment …. when have they last been *really* on the side of the disadvantaged?

  • I agree with the article. Many people were fooled by ‘Teflon Tony’ in the mid nineties and voted Labour. As time has gone by they saw the stark failure of Labour to manage the economy which the current government is redressing. The overspend problems started in 2002 not just 2008 as some of the Labour party would like us to believe. Even more relevant is Balls and Miliband, who were part of the financial problem now being proposed as the solution! No wonder some Labour voters are dismayed. Until the Labour party produce a budget with actual numbers against departments, and not the vague ‘half this by about then’ nonsense they have produced so far they are not worthy of the support those drifting voters gave them back in the nineties.

    We are a broad church and as long as the newcomers recognise the words Liberal and Democrat they should be made welcome.

  • @Duncan

    Whilst it is true, for instance I tend to overlook my parties own faults (for instance I believe we should never have made the tuition fees pledge in the first place and it was a serious error to do so bourne out of a period of complacent oppositionism, and I do also believe raising VAT was a mistake on the grounds of inflation) as overall I agree with the Liberal Democrats far FAR more than any other party, I do however often find Labour supporters to have somewhat short memories particularly at the moment.

    For instance the massive change in position on the defecit which can only be attributed to the fact they realise they don’t have to deal with it so they can say whatever they like. Also Ed Miliband’s ‘sincere’ and ‘deeply held’ beliefs about civil liberties and iraq are somewhat hard to swallow when he made absolutely no attempt to follow those beliefs in government (notably voting against an independent inquiry into the Iraq war several times).

    I just feel like the public, and many Labour supporters, seem to have think Labour have magically turned over a new page from the Blair Brown era despite containing exactly the same people who uncritically supported the government just a year ago. Notably Gillian Duffy is now a big supporter of one of Gordon Brown’s closest allies.

  • Maria – Maybe some of those people you are ostensibly appealing don’t like being hectored and lectured to? Just a thought.

  • I left Labour in 2010 after twenty five years membership and having been an activist for most of that time.

    I joined the Lib Dems earlier this year after a lot of deep thought and consideration. I haven’t regreetted
    it once.

    Labour has nothing to offer anymore unless you want a career.Their only campaign strategy is trying
    to scare people and they are authoritarian to the core.

    Stalinists without the politics is my description of them now.

    In contrast the Lib Dems here in Reading are going from strength to strength. We have a great set of
    new mostly young activists and our councillors have made a real difference since joing a new council
    administration last May.

    They have made me feel welcome which is a nice change from the local Labourites who only wanted
    to talk to me when their was a candidate selection on or if they needed money.

    Labour is in terminal decline they just haven’t realised it yet.

  • @Oliver

    I think the whole not trusting the Lib Dem thing would have more weight as a reason for switching if it was not to Labour, when I heard the exact words of ‘I don’t trust them’ said about Labour just 5 years ago over everything from Iraq to tuition fees. This is especially relevent given all the senior Labour figures at the moment displayed none of these beliefs they now profess over civil liberties and iraq in government, which they were all quite senior in.

  • The main issue I have with Labour is all the wasted years. They had massive majorities, a favourable economy and the world was their oyster. There is not much to show for it, and when they say “here is problem X and we would do Y” I find myself thinking wearily “have you only just noticed this problem and why couldn’t you have used the power you had to fix this when you had the chance?”
    By comparison – the Lib Dems have a very tough economic climate – and don’t have the freedom of a massive majority. Under these circumstances – I’m proud that they have been able to implement key policies like raising the income tax threshold and the using the pupil premium to direct education funding to the children who need it most.

  • BCM – It is a thoughtful post. The stark reality is that few, if any, politicians can ever avoid one charge or another. It may all make for good talkboard knockabout, but nothing more. A demand for absolute purity, for there to be no fault in the context of what happened in the past is to ask to be deceived. I am nowhere near as hostile towards Nick Clegg as others are. I would say though that the fees pledge was a particularly egregious example and one I find difficult to defend, reading your comment I suspect you don’t disagree. Overall though, there needs to be more recognition that regardless of party, some things we disagree on (we do not need an Iraq inquiry) and some things we agree on (I struggle to believe the commitment to civil liberty). The rest of it really is heat not light.

    Similarly, I would expect that if you were to put your hand on your heart, Labour’s increase in NHS spending, intervention in Sierra Leone, removal of most hereditary peers and Human Rights Act might appeal to your mind.

    This sentiment, not some feel-good knockabout spreading the word, ‘hypocrite,’ like confetti is what makes for a better politics.

    As one final point – Duffy. I thought that was wildly overplayed in the election and I didn’t like this week. But it is more a comment on media stunts than anything else.

  • @Dave Warren

    Wow, what a quick turnaround. It took you 25 years to realise your true feelings?

  • George Kendall 14th Apr '11 - 11:47am

    @Duncan “You are entitled to your opinion, it’s just that there is a rather unpalatable tone to this”

    Sorry if you don’t like the tone of the article. It’s sometimes hard to strike the right balance between being provocative, and so getting a reaction, and sufficiently nuanced to not be too triblist.

    Like @Duncan, I think parties should be, and are, broad churches. One of the things I like about the Lib Dems is that, in, general, they are less tribal than the other big parties (it would be silly not to be, as we believe in coalitions).

    I’ve said in previous articles that there are a fair few areas where I disagree with the coalition. But a lot of Lib Dem MPs would agree with me, and they’re working behind the scenes to fight for our shared values.

    Over the years, I’ve known a number of Labour members. And many of them are honorable, idealistic people.

    The reason I wrote the article was not to score cheap points, but to say, from the heart, that I think there are a lot of Labour members whose values are better represented by what the Lib Dems are fighting for, than what Labour is currently fighting for. And I’d be delighted if some of them would join us.

  • Miliband was a parliamentary aide in the 1990s. He only became an MP in 2005, the same year as Nick Clegg.

    As you well know, he would have been bound by collective cabinet responsibility when he did enter the cabinet, and hardly had a major role. Besides, Labour only ever voted to delay the inquiry (see: Public Whip). The Chilcot inquiry did, afterall, start while Labour were in office.

    Labour hasn’t proposed any changes in civil liberties – but haven’t opposed them either, oppositions typically don’t introduce such laws, and Miliband has publicly said that Labour were wrong.

    The old guard of Labour are opposed to AV, but I’m agreeing with you that New Labour was crap. I don’t think AV is particularly great since, like FPTP, it’s too reliant on boundaries.

    The worst part of the increase tuition fees is that it makes no consideration for those who don’t graduate who tend to be from the poorest backgrounds, leaving them with a huge burden of debt and no opportunity to return to University later in life. This hugely limits social mobility.

  • @Duncan

    I don’t deny that Labour did some good things in government. Not nearly as much as I would have wanted or expected them to do with the resources at their disposal (both financial and parliamentary). It’s just above all I find it immensely irksome when now Labour supporters tell me they just don’t trust the Liberal Democrats and that they’ll never vote for them again and cite things Labour also did just a few years ago in much more promising circumstances, and when I can still remember when they said they didn’t trust Labour and would never vote for them again.

  • @George Kendall

    The problem with your article is that your leader Clegg has already stated that there is no place for Labour leaning ‘lefties’ within the LibDem party. Now if this is a call for right wing Blarites, then I would hazard a guess and say that many Labour supporters would welcome their defections. Getting rid of the carpetbaggers would be seen as no bad thing. Something the LibDems will in time, agree with.

  • BCM – The trust thing is overplayed, but I can’t say I disagree. Best of luck to you.

    George Kendall – Thank you for your reply.

    I, of course, appreciate the difficulties, but quite frankly the article is a bit of a hectoring lecture. One of the things I have not liked about the Lib Dems post-Coalition is the sense that opposition is seen almost as, ‘how dare anyone disagree?’ However your comment is a worthy afterthought. As you can probably glean from my comments, I expect we agree on a lot. I’d probably even buy you a pint.

    Now for the problem. Let’s be honest here, and I do mean this with all respect. The people aren’t stupid. Saying the word, ‘deficit,’ over and over again might be nice, but people are aware that Lib Dems and Conservatives were not exactly going for hyper-regulation of the banks. Similarly with civil liberty, would you put your hand on your heart and say that had there been Lib Dems in government post 9/11 there would have been no restrictions? The Conservative’s voting record is there for all to see. People are not going to buy into the idea that Britain would be a land of milk and honey had there been a Lib Dem government and that everything ever is all the fault of evil Labour.

    Similarly, it is not as if every Lib Dem idea is without flaw. I never, for example, liked the pupil premium and its implementation is seriously flawed. This is not a political attack, just an honest view. It should not be taken as an affront when people disagree from time to time.

    Maybe reaching out to Labour supporters is a good worthy exercise done for the right reasons. It’s just that my instinct is that a lot of good Labour supporters will see this as disingenuous. I think that deep down you know that.

  • Duncan – increase in NHS spending – a flat no there. Labour pretended it was enough to increase spending. Human Rights Act – yes, definitely, but can we now have some credit for saving it? and an admission that this may mean we haven’t “joined the Tories’? I also don’t get your claim that the regressive moves on civil liberties under Labour occurred despite rather than because of Labour.

    Even though I may be mad as hell at Labour (i.e. I’d say yes to almost every word of Chris Davies MEP’s post the other day) I do recognise that we have common ground. Still, I feel uneasy at Labour assumptions that joining with a party in coalition somehow equals merging with it. How would you view us in a Lib Dem/Labour coalition?

  • George Kendall 14th Apr '11 - 12:10pm

    @jayu
    “The problem with your article is that your leader Clegg has already stated that there is no place for Labour leaning ‘lefties’ within the LibDem party.”

    Except he didn’t. I agree with what he actually said: that we are a party in our own right, not just a temporary repository for Labour supporters who were annoyed with the Labour government for not being leftwing enough. Just as we should not just be a repository of temporarily disillusioned conservatives.

    “Now if this is a call for right wing Blarites, then I would hazard a guess and say that many Labour supporters would welcome their defections. Getting rid of the carpetbaggers would be seen as no bad thing.”

    I think there are a lot of Labour people who supported Labour from 1997 to 2001, who became steadily more disillusioned with Labour after that, due to its record on civil liberties, constitutional reform, and deficit spending,

    Labour members who think we should pay our own way, and not live at the expense of the next generation are not rightwing Blairites nor carpetbangers. The fact that they are called that by some elements within the Labour party says more about the Labour party than it does about them.

    People who believe in improved public services, but only when the funding is sustainable, are exactly the kind of people I’d like to see join the Lib Dems.

  • George @12:10 – exactly. He said it wasn’t a party for protest voters. He wants to see people voting Lib Dem because they think the party can win – either outright, or win within a coalition. And so do I.

  • “The most blatant example might be Labour’s breach of election promises over tuition fees (TWICE – first not to introduce and then not to raise them), and at a time when they had big majorities and no need to compromise.”

    That would be a telling point if it wasn’t false. There was no commitment on tuition fees in the 1997 Labour manifesto. In fact it talked about the need for introducing some form of contribution by students. I’m afraid it’s simply a myth that Labour broke a promise when they introduced tuition fees. It is true that the 2001 manifesto ruled out top-up fees which they then went on to introduce in 2006 which was indeed pretty poor behaviour but hardly compares to the Lib Dem volte-face.

    As to the substance of the article I’m reminded of the story of James Joyce, who, after he left the Church, was stopped on the streets of Dublin by a woman who congratulated him for becoming a Protestant, and said “Madam, I have lost my faith; I have not lost my reason”.

  • Valeriet –

    Well, on the politics of the issues, we can (should) debate it all day. You have your view, some I agree on, some I don’t and I respect that.

    You ask

    ‘Still, I feel uneasy at Labour assumptions that joining with a party in coalition somehow equals merging with it. How would you view us in a Lib Dem/Labour coalition?’

    Certainly I don’t think this is a merger. I would say though that I have been disheartened by some of the assertions (OE&S byelection) that somehow the ‘Coalition vote’ outweighed Labour. That suggests that some may see this as a more formal arrangement. I however do not see this as anything more than a short-medium term deal. The two parties are distinct – end of.

    For me, governments are collectively responsible, this idea that junior partners are ‘less responsible’ is nonsense. The Lib Dems stand on their record of government. Some of it good (higher personal allowances), some not good (fees, VAT). What does seem to have been lost is that politics and government are not the same thing. Parties don’t get to tell the voters what gauges to use when assessing candidates and parties. As I said earlier, the public aren’t stupid and they can decide for themselves about the links between the parties and performance in government.

  • Good article. I am an ex-Labour now Lib Dem member.

    Oliver said:
    “Miliband apologised for the war in Iraq, repudiated New Labour’s stance on civil liberties, and came out against tuition fees.”

    Errr what? Miliband voted FOR the war in Iraq unlike the Lib Dems and then he voted AGAINST investigation into the war, unlike the Lib Dems. Oh well, at least he has apologised!

    He has come out against tuition fees? Errr what? He voted FOR tution fees a few times, despite his parties manifesto saying otherwise. Now he stands for a Graduate Tax, which is very similar to the new system. That’s hardly against fees is it?!

    I don’t know his current stance on civil liberties. Did he vote FOR increasing detention without charge to something like 100 days? I’m guessing yes. No doubt is still FOR the expesnive ID card too…. or has he changed his mind on that too?

    My current beef with Miliband is:

    1. Saying he wouldn’t share a platfrom with Clegg at AV events. Pathetic beyond belief. Changing the system is far too important to play your silly little political games….. especially consider he is only getting the chance to vote YES because of Nick Clegg (needless to say that all of Miliband’s party’s manifesto’s promised a referendum… never came!)

    2. His speech at the anti-cuts march. Not because of the riots, that’s not his fault. But talking about the civil rights movement, suffragettes,apartheid etc was deeply offensive… especially considering the anti-cuts protest would have happened if his party won the General Election too!

    Sorry for the rant.

  • @George Kendall

    Do you think that only the right believe in sound public finances? It annoys me no end, when I hear people talk about us living at the expense of future generations. It simply isn’t true. Let’s simplify it shall we, as that seems to be the fashion nowadays. Say you have four children, you own four houses. The plan is for each child to inherit a house. You want each child to inherit an appreciating asset. Now, over the ensuing years, you have many misfortunes. In order to maintain the properties, and still be able to provide for your young family, you find yourself having to borrow the value of the properties. The full debt may have to be settled by your children. Will they be cursing you for leaving them with a debt? Or will they be grateful that although they have debt to repay, they also have a very valuable appreciating asset?

  • daft ha'p'orth 14th Apr '11 - 12:38pm

    @Maria
    “I really wonder sometimes how anybody who claims to have a social conscience and any sense of honour could possibly stay loyal to Labour at the moment ”

    I really wonder sometimes how anybody who claims to have a social conscience and any sense of honour could possibly stay loyal to any political party. None of them are particularly worthy constructions – none are honest, few are consistent, none are blameless. Tribalism is part of the problem across the board. Hearing the chants and looking at the team strips, politics looks like a form of football – televised in bite-sized chunks for the entertainment of supporters.

  • That should read, “borrow against the value of the properties”.

  • This is a great article George, and also your considered responses to comments made.

    @ Duncan

    I fully respect your sentiments, however I do have to disagree that reaching out to Labour supporters is no more ‘disingenuous’ than (and please forgive me, I cannot remember the exact press conference) that Ed Milliband, tried to reach out too LibDem supporters.

  • @John
    “Errr what? Miliband voted FOR the war in Iraq unlike the Lib Dems…”

    No he didn’t. He wasn’t an MP until 2005.

  • “I however do not see this as anything more than a short-medium term deal. The two parties are distinct – end of.
    For me, governments are collectively responsible, this idea that junior partners are ‘less responsible’ is nonsense.”

    I agree completely.

    What I think is pointless is the idea that the Conservatives are so evil and so clever that any party that forms a coalition with them is tainted by their presence/reduced to a human shield. There will always be tension between the proportion of MPs that a party in a coalition has vs. the fact that it could “pull the plug now.” Still, I think “we do what we can” can be reconciled with collective responsibility.

  • jayu: I think the analogy would be that the children would lose the houses, i.e. the size of the deficit would mean they were paying so much in interest that they wouldn’t be able to afford any decent public services (i.e. have “no houses.”) We’re not talking about them inheriting a debt, we’re talking about them inheriting rapidly-growing interest payments that they wouldn’t be able to cover.

  • “Saying he wouldn’t share a platfrom with Clegg at AV events. Pathetic beyond belief.”

    Putting Clegg on the platform would have killed AV stone dead. It’s just simple political calculation. What’s more important to you AV or one man’s ego?

  • in other words, the deficit threatens the public services of the next generation.

  • ‘After the last election, with 57 MPs, the Liberal Democrats had a limited hand. But unlike Labour in 1997, 2001 and 2005, they have actually delivered a referendum on AV. Nick Clegg has recently announced progress towards an elected House of Lords. Lib Dem influence has allowed moderate Tories like Ken Clarke to introduce progressive policies that would have been unthinkable under either the Conservatives or Labour.’

    Whilst labour certainly made a number of mistakes during their 13 years of office, I do seem to vaguely remember something called devolution and the minimium wage.

    The problem is if you keep only attacking and blaming everything on labour while at the same time never critising and indeed flowering the conservative with praise, like in this article, the libdem will (have?) became seen as a right wing party no matter what the policies. Given that outisde of our core support a sizable majority of libdem voters came from left-of-center (in 2010), we are going to take a pummeling at elections until this changes.

  • Shauny – I’m not really an Ed M fan. If he wants to reach out to Lib Dem’s fine, but I’d be happier if he did it in terms of we can offer XYZ, rather than Coalition with the Conservatives means ABC. Voters can see for themselves what ABC is and can make their own value judgments. They don’t need Ed to tell them what is right and what is not. Similarly, I wasn’t totally convinced by the article seeming to suggest that the political world in 2009 should be pickled in aspic. Shouting, ‘deficit,’ or, ‘Iraq,’ over and over again is not an argument, however much some might want it to be.

    Valeriet – I’d certainly agree on collective responsibility and as I said earlier, credit that the public can understand it. If anything, I’d go a step further and say the Coalition Agreement was probably as good a deal as the party could have got if one accpets that HE fees was a self-inflicted hit. The tensions you talk about effectively exist in any government, however it is made up. What I would say is that part of the problem is the model of coalition we have.

    The model taken is that the junior partner is over-represented, spread thin across departments. This does give rise to ‘human shield’ issues. Undeniably, Lib Dems have allowed themselves to be wheeled out for the camera. A better model is taking one or two ministries wholesale. I also think that some of the leadership’s earlier speeches were not well advised.

    It probably comes down to the article’s strongest point – about behind the scenes work. If at election time voters feel that there is a ‘good Lib Dem’ contribution – it will be reflected. If they feel that the government, Lib Dems and all, need to be replaced they will do just that. But to fight on battles already gone will not, I bet, impress many, that is where I found the article lacking.

  • Duncan – yes but we don’t have anyone on disability issues in the DWP and look at that!

    Got to go now, unfortunately.

  • @jayu
    “Or will they be grateful that although they have debt to repay, they also have a very valuable appreciating asset?”

    I find it hard to believe people in this Country still have that attitude towards property speculation. How is a house an appreciating asset exactly? At best, they keep their value in real terms, but only if you spend lots of money maintaining them, insuring them, etc. They’re depreciating assets; always have been and alway will be, unless you’re a speculator who manages to buy at a low point in a cycle and sells near the top.

  • Dave Warren 14th Apr '11 - 2:13pm

    @jayu it wasn’t mean that changed it was the party. I stayed loyal to them for far to long.

  • Dave Warren 14th Apr '11 - 2:16pm

    That should read me not mean.

  • @jayu
    “Will they be cursing you for leaving them with a debt? Or will they be grateful that although they have debt to repay, they also have a very valuable appreciating asset?”

    If you borrowed the full value of the property in 2007 and your children inherited now then for example, in some parts of the Country where property prices are 40% below 2007, they’d have inherited a massive net debt. Nice.

  • @Valeriet

    That is a totally wrong conclusion to draw. You, along with many others have swallowed what was first a Tory lie, that as no become a coalition lie. The last Labour government left the finances in such a state that we are now paying LESS in debt interest than we were in 1997. The line that we were fast becoming the next Greece was just another lie, that LibDems found themselves having to voice. The level of debt is not really a major concern of international markets, it’s the level of debt interest wrt GDP that is the main concern. Even during the financial crisis the government had no real problems selling bonds at trend rates. Which shows that investors were not concerned that the UK might struggle to pay its debts, or to offer attractive returns.

  • George Kendall 14th Apr '11 - 3:11pm

    @jayu “Do you think that only the right believe in sound public finances?”

    Absolutely not. I get really annoyed when the right claim that only the right are prudent. Bill CLinton was far more prudent than Reagan or G W Bush, Roy Jenkins than Barber, and the list could go on and on. But that doesn’t change the fact that Labour have left us with totally unsustainable overspending.

    “Will they be cursing you for leaving them with a debt? Or will they be grateful that although they have debt to repay, they also have a very valuable appreciating asset?”

    They will thank you, if, despite the debt, the total value of the estate was greater than it would have been.

    Sadly, Labour did nothing of the kind. If all that debt had been invested in appreciating assets, the country wouldn’t be going through such appalling pain to recover from Gordon Brown’s stewardship of the economy.

    Instead, Brown and Balls have undermined the very meaning of the word investment. Much of their “investment” took the form of PFI deals, designed to defer the cost of capital programmes even more than would have been the case if they’d just borrowed the money.

    Much of their extra spending was on generous public sector wages settlements. Not a bad thing in themselves, except there wasn’t the long-term revenue to pay for them.

    Even government capital spending doesn’t work in your analogy. Because government capital spending often results in increased revenue spending, which makes the deficit problem even worse.

    I’m not arguing against improved public services. We needed to increase spending (and tax) from the Major years. Unfortunately, Labour just kept increasing the spending again and again, on the assumption that the boom would go on forever, and it refused to raise the necessary taxes.

    The result was that a later generation would pay for this excess. If Balls had his way, he’d kick the problem further down the road, which would only mean even greater pain, deferred a few years.

    Many, many Labour supporters are appalled by this. You can see this is the fact David Miliband won the membership vote, and only lost because of the union machines.

    My article is an overture to these people. That if you believe in honest, responsible government, as well as good public services, why not think about joining the Lib Dems?

    @daft ha’p’orth

    I agree that all parties are fallible. They all make mistakes. No one with strong opinions will ever agree with all the policies of their party. But parties are also the most effective way to influence the democratic process.

    Even though I have my arguments with Labour, I have no argument with individual members remaining in that party. I just think some of them would be happier within the Lib Dems.

    @Duncan “I expect we agree on a lot. I’d probably even buy you a pint.”

    I suspect you’re right. And I’d probably respond in kind 🙂

    “but people are aware that Lib Dems and Conservatives were not exactly going for hyper-regulation of the banks”

    This is a fair point. I don’t thing we should go overboard on Labour’s failure to regulate the banks. It was a collective failure of the political class, a worldwide problem, and it’s hard to regulate well. My main criticism is the way Labour ran deficits of up to £40bn/year, used all sorts of tricks to hide other liabilities, and relied on the temporary revenue of a bubble to fund their spending. The current mess was mostly caused by that, not the banks.

    “would you put your hand on your heart and say that had there been Lib Dems in government post 9/11 there would have been no restrictions”

    No. And I wouldn’t oppose some of those restrictions. But I remember only too well the way Labour used to campaign in by-elections, using our opposition to authoritarian legisation to attack us as soft on crime and soft on terrorism.

    As for disagreeing with some party policies. There are some I don’t like. For example, I was never a fan of the Mansion Tax. Though, it so happens, I really like the pupil premium.

    “a lot of good Labour supporters will see this as disingenuous”

    Of course the tribal ones will. But they’re not the Labour members I’m trying to reach. And even the ones I’m trying to reach won’t say so in public until they’ve made up their minds to switch.

  • @George Kendall

    Great posting – looks like I’m late to the fray although it’s been great to read the discussion.

    Personally, I think that we’re the best party simply because of us, the party, we are the single most powerful constituent of the LibDems, and for now anyway, will continue to lead our leaders through consensus.

  • George Kendall – Thank you for your reply. This is a good thread by and large.

    On banks/deficit – I agree. What I would say though is that whilst there was, no doubt, a bubble I do wonder really what would have been done about house price hyper-inflation. Would a Lib Dem government have taken on the public and stopped runaway house prices? I’d like to think so, but I really can’t see it.

    On Civil liberty – Again, it looks like we agree on the substance. But I diverge on Labour using it as a campaign – that is politics. If Lib Dems (or anyone else) wants to take on petty authoritarianism, fine by me. But there should be no suspension of politics. If the voters are OK with restrictions on civil liberties, I don’t think blaming the voters will change anyone’s mind.

    Mansion Tax – Again, broadly agree. Better ways of doing it – not least reform of Council Tax, which seems to have dropped off the radar. Pupil Premium though is like some of the worst of Labour – throwing money at a problem rather than actually looking at causes. I was never convinced.

    Always good to agree!

  • @ jayu

    If the markets were not concerned about the UK government’s ability to repay debt why did the cost of insuring against a UK government default double between October 2009 and January 2010. To what do you attribute the drop in the interest rate the government had to pay to borrow between the summer of 2009 and the summer of 2010?

    I strongly suspect that had Labour won the 2010 election a higher proportion of our taxes would be going on interest than they are now.

  • @ George Kendall
    “Many, many Labour supporters are appalled by this. You can see this is the fact David Miliband won the membership vote, and only lost because of the union machines.”

    David Miliband lost because the election was held under AV. The only election system under which the no-hope Liberal Democrats can ever get more seats. (Latest YouGov: Lab: 42%, Tories: 37% Lib Dems: 9%) By the way, (No to AV: 44% — Yes to AV 37%)

    Why should any Labour member want to join a party that can only aspire to the compromises of coalition? I sense that you are all getting rather desperate. George is appealing for Labour members to join you and the Coalition is playing the race card. And that from a party that only last year quite honourably wanted to grant citizenship to half a million illegal immigrants. Disgraceful. Must an election coming up or something.

  • This whole thing about the deficit / debt is a bit disingenuous from the Liberal Democrats. There has been very little difference from either the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats or Labour on the issue of business regulation. Blaming Labour for a lack of regulation when when the Conservatives and the LDs would have done exactly the same is not exactly on.

    It should be openly admitted that in reality no party proposing stricter controls on the City would have got anywhere near government. The mass media would have made sure of that. I would be more impressed to hear that from the LDs, other than just spouting the Tory line.

    The global crisis (linked to financial deregulation) and the bail out is the root of all our problems not Labour’s overspending. The position of the economy would have not been vastly different from the Conservatives (or LDs). That is disingenous as well.

    All this is made worse by the LD conversion after the election to the Tory position that enabled a Conservative economic policy. I understand the rough and tumble of politics and all incoming governments blame the previous one for the economic or other woes but it doesn’t make it right or true.

    Good luck to try and convince Labour voters of your record, as most just see that you have enabled a vicious Conservative government. I know George Kendall is trying to enthuse the activists but I had to take a double take when I saw the headline.

    I speak as an independent voter who has never endorsed a Blairite government and haven’t voted Labour at a General Election. Labour were mistaken on many things including civil liberties and the Iraq war but x2 wrongs don’t make a right. Good luck with some of the electorate that voted for you as well. My wife, a nurse voted LD at the last election and a LD MP won in a 3 way fight, I pity the poor LD canvesser coming to the door as she is not happy with what is going on, particularly in terms of health and the NHS.

  • Perhaps back when Blair was in power and the lib dems looked like a more radical (albeit rather wet) option you might have had a point, but now that labour has regained some sense of its historic role as the left counterpoint to a patrician, establishment cabal, while the libs dems have shown themselves to be little more than Tories without the honesty to admit it, prepared to back a rabid Thatcherite government of the likes of Gove and Osbourne, because you went to the same schools and believe in the same free market system I do hope you are joking. Except of course none of this is funny. You have taken your once proud party into a train crash where you get wrecked and the Tories ride on.

  • @Oliver:

    “Labour hasn’t proposed any changes in civil liberties – but haven’t opposed them either, oppositions typically don’t introduce such laws, and Miliband has publicly said that Labour were wrong.”

    Prisoner votes.

  • George Kendall 15th Apr '11 - 12:48am

    @duncan “Would a Lib Dem government have taken on the public and stopped runaway house prices? I’d like to think so, but I really can’t see it.”

    We weren’t perfect, but Vince Cable did constantly bring up the issue of consumer debt.

    And have a read of: https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-we-were-prudent-in-opposition-time-for-labour-to-follow-our-lead-23665.html
    “Alternative Budgets show that in every year from 2001 onwards, our tax and spending plans led to a smaller deficit than Labour planned”

    I confess I didn’t know that until Rob Blackie’s article (thanks Rob).

    “Always good to agree!”

    I you agree with me that much, maybe you should join. 🙂

    Believing in the pupil premium isn’t a membership requirement. In fact, thinking for yourself is a very welcome quality in members.

  • George Kendall 15th Apr '11 - 7:28am

    @Mack “Why should any Labour member want to join a party that can only aspire to the compromises of coalition? ”

    I confess that when I thought of Labour supporters who might switch to the Lib Dems, your name wasn’t first on the list. But then, perhaps behind the hostility, seeing how much time you spend on LibDemVoice – must be something about us you like 😉

    The reason they should join is as I’ve stated.

    The Labour leadership have failed to live up to the promise of 1997. Rather than provide improved public services, they’ve created a financial black hole, which meant that whoever was in power would have to cut back savagely, before we’ll be able to start rebuilding on a sustainable basis.

    I think, privately, most Labour members know this, but out of loyalty, don’t say so in public. My article is aimed at those who are fed up with being called rightwing Blairites, because they believe in prudent finance as well as a caring society.

    Much better to join a party that is fighting for what you believe in, than remain in one that has caused severe harm to the country’s finances, and is refusing to be honest about their part in this crisis, or the need for very difficult decisions.

    @Malcolm Redfellow

    Consumer debt may, or may not, rise in the coming years. But that won’t be the doing of the coalition. All choices available to the country are painful ones, because Labour not only overspent, but locked us into long-term contracts, such as PFI’s and high wage contracts.

    Way back last May I thought sorting out this mess would be extraordinarily painful. [ https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-enter-the-storm-with-our-eyes-wide-open-19653.html ] I don’t doubt that we’ll continue to take a temporary electoral hit, but it’s absolutely necessary. And a lot of Labour members privately know it.

    @Jack Timms “Blaming Labour for a lack of regulation when when the Conservatives and the LDs would have done exactly the same is not exactly on”

    As you’ll have read in my reply to Duncan, while there were differences in the Lib Dem position, I don’t entirely disagree with you.

    Where I totally disagree is with the standard Labour defense of something like the following: that everyone is culpable for bad regulation, so as the deficit is all the banks fault, Labour is no more culpable than the other parties.

    That is, of course, nonsense. Labour were running a deficit of up to 40bn/year up to 2007. This was at the end of the longest boom in living memory. Any honest student of Keynes would acknowledge that, while deficit spending is justifiable in a recession, this is only acceptable if you run surpluses in the good years. Labour not only did the opposite, they fuelled the boom and refused to take the advice of Eddie George and may others that this would end in tears.

    As regards the NHS, I too am unhappy with Lansley’s health reforms. And so was the Lib Dem conference. Our leaders are fighting this battle behind closed doors, and we don’t know what the full result of that battle will be, but I know one or two of them, and I have confidence in them.

    @N Makhno “now that labour has regained some sense of its historic role as the left counterpoint”

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that. But if you mean that Labour has regained the reputation it earned in the 1970’s, for appallingly imprudent economic mismanagement, then I agree entirely.

    Some leftwingers may celebrate that. I don’t. I think the future health of our democracy will be damaged if Labour continue down this road, as I said last August in https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-why-we-should-wish-labour-well-20735.html

    Back then, I hoped that Labour would find their way again. And if Labour members want to fight within their party for economic responsibility and honesty, I wish them well. But if some have lost heart and are looking for a new home, they should join the Lib Dems.

    @donpaskini

    Like you, I dislike the way Pickles has frontloaded the cuts for local government. But that’s no excuse for Manchester and councils like them, to make the cuts harsher than they need to be. That said, not all Labour councils are doing this. Some are doing their utmost to protect services that the vulnerable rely on, and they should be applauded.

    @John (14th April 1:27 pm) “flowering the conservative with praise, like in this article”

    If you read my other articles, there are plenty of things that I disagree with the Tories on.

    I don’t flower them with praise. While I think some of the policies of IDS and Ken Clarke are good, there are lots of policies I wish we could stop. But with 57 MPs, there’s a limit to what we can do.

    As for what Labour did well. Frankly, most of it was in their first term. After that things went steadily downhill. You’re right to point out the good from that first term, but that ended ten years ago.

  • very interesting article and a pretty brave call in the current political climate but
    Well said Jack Timms – 100 per cent correct
    Labour got plenty wrong over 13 years in power but the LDS should be anathema to anyone who says theyre on the left of politics given what theyve done in the last 12 months

    Some of the claims regarding removing people from Poverty are insulting – yes im £200 p.a ( thats 54 p per day ) better off which will go nowhere to off setting the VAT rise and reduction in income we’re having to endure – thats because my Wife was made redundant from the state owned company she worked for and because of a small company pension and i mean small – she is disallowed from claiming JSA or any unemployment benefits thanks to the changes the coalition have brought in

    take it from me and im a basic rate tax payer on a part time wage – the Liberals in power have made us a lot poorer!!!!!

    and
    delivering a referendum on how we elect MPS doesnt really cut it for most ordinary people – we have greater priorities and just on that- i vote for someone i want to win – im happy that my mp works hard enough already and i dont want someone 2nd or 3rd in the popular vote to represent me.

    The liberals offer very little to those who need it most and thats why the perception is that the decision to go with conservatives wasnt too difficult irrespective of the numbers

    Im not a member of any political party but Join the Liberal democrats – definitely NOT-

  • @George Kendall

    “Where I totally disagree is with the standard Labour defense of something like the following: that everyone is culpable for bad regulation, so as the deficit is all the banks fault, Labour is no more culpable than the other parties.”

    Name me a country that regulated the banks so effectively they avoided the Global Financial Crisis. You can’t. Why? Because it was GLOBAL. It originated in the Shadow Banking System that was completely unregulated. Nobody saw it coming. Nobody realised the extent of the contaminated instruments that were being traded on the back of penniless mortgagees in the States. This was a Global crisis and the public should not be conned by the morally bankrupt attempts of the Tories and the Liberal Democrats to suggest that it was entirely caused by the UK’s -2.7% deficit of GDP (2007) and the fact that they invested in the schools and hospitals that your coalition partners had neglected for years prior to 1997. Read Gordon Brown’s “Beyond the Crash”. You might learn something.

    Why do I keep posting on this excellent site? Because by supporting the Tories, some Liberal Democrats are allowing them to destroy everything Labour achieved, including the NHS, without any mandate whatsoever. They are destroying the fabric of our civilized society and neither party passed the winning post last May. I want to keep reminding people of this.

  • @George Kendall

    I also invite you and others to visit the Red Rag website where you will find, under the story: ‘Lies, damn lies and Osborne’s statistics’ further evidence that refutes your assertions about Labour’s handling of the country’s finances and reflects very badly on the Tories’ own record in that area.

    http://www.redrag1.blogspot.com/

  • MacK – “neither party passed the winning post last May.”

    And Labour did? The problem is that you seem to assume that only Labour has the moral right to rule (and that people will continue to be willing to give Labour the right to rule by itself). And that the Tories are the evil other lot who shall never be touched. It’s a pretty scary view.

    Re. the recession being global – yes, it was. But other countries were able to deal with it better because they were in a better position – not the same level of structural deficit and not such a lop-sided economy.

    And again – putting money into the NHS doesn’t equal investing in it or enabling it to continue functioning in the future.

  • (People may well be willing to give Labour the right to rule by itself. But if they’re not, you’ll have to form a coalition. And if the numbers don’t stack up, you’ll have to be willing to let someone else form a coalition. What is there to object to about that?)

  • @ Valeriet

    “Re. the recession being global – yes, it was. But other countries were able to deal with it better because they were in a better position – not the same level of structural deficit and not such a lop-sided economy.”

    By the end of 2009 (after the global crash) seven countries exceeded the OECD average deficit of -7.9% of GDP . They were Ireland, Greece, UK, Spain, USA, Portugal and Iceland. In 2007 (before the global crash) Ireland, Spain and Iceland were running surpluses. Before the global crash the UK had the same level of deficit as Portugal -2.7% of GDP. The other two countries had higher deficits: USA -2.8% and Greece -5.4%. So actually, before the crash Britain and Portugal (on your criteria) were actually in a better position than the USA and Greece. Ireland, Spain and Iceland were running surpluses but that didn’t help them. And when you speak of Britain’s lop sided economy you must mean the huge imbalance between the huge private sector and the relatively tiny public sector, surely?

    “The problem is that you seem to assume that only Labour has the moral right to rule (and that people will continue to be willing to give Labour the right to rule by itself). And that the Tories are the evil other lot who shall never be touched. It’s a pretty scary view.”

    It certainly would be a scary view if I believed that! If the Tories had passed the finishing post and been given a mandate I wouldn’t have liked it but I would have accepted that it was the country’s democratic choice. I believe that political parties should set their stalls out and try to pass the finishing post. If they don’t get enough votes to take the seat it means that the majority of people there don’t like their policies. If no party wins an overall majority I believe that the minority government should be supported on a confidence and supply basis. That way, the opposition can pass legislation that doesn’t compromise the principles of their MPs and their supporters. Shirley Williams took this view about the present situation, I believe. By joining the Tories in coalition and compromising so many of your principles and policies (several of which I supported prior to the general election, by the way) the Lib Dems have brought further discredit on MPs, and further reduced the integrity, credibility and dignity of politicians, which was already at an all time low. That’s why I believe your party should leave the coalition and join
    the opposition.

  • George Kendall 15th Apr '11 - 1:50pm

    @MacK

    I said: “I don’t thing we should go overboard on Labour’s failure to regulate the banks. It was a collective failure of the political class, a worldwide problem, and it’s hard to regulate well. My main criticism is the way Labour ran deficits of up to £40bn/year, used all sorts of tricks to hide other liabilities, and relied on the temporary revenue of a bubble to fund their spending. The current mess was mostly caused by that, not the banks.”

    You said: “Name me a country that regulated the banks so effectively they avoided the Global Financial Crisis. You can’t. Why? Because it was GLOBAL.”

    Erm … as I’ve explicitly said that the financial crisis isn’t the main issue, why would I need to?

    The question Labour have to answer is why the *structural* deficit increased so enormously in 2008.

    The conventional Labour excuse is to blame it on the downturn triggered by the international crisis. But downturns cause cyclic deficits.

    Other countries were effected by this downturn, but haven’t ended up with the enormous structural deficit that we have. Why? Partly because they weren’t running a 40bn deficit in a boom. Partly because they hadn’t continually fueled an enormous debt-fuelled bubble economy, and then relied on the temporary tax revenues from that bubble.

    The UK isn’t the only country to have made this mistake. The USA did. Some other countries had other, even more serious problems, such as Iceland and Greece.

    So do I blame Gordon Brown exclusively? No. George W Bush was similarly irresponsible, so were the governments of Iceland, Greece, and a number of other countries.

    But as I’m involved in the politics of this country, I’ll ignore the Republicans in the USA, and I’ll aim my fire at Gordon Brown, and his acolytes Ed Balls and Ed Miliband.

    And I’ll keep criticising the current Labour leadership for advocating a continuation of this head-in-the-sand approach to our deficit crisis.

    But, in doing so, I am not criticising honorable Labour party members, who are holding their head in despair, and wondering what has happened to the responsible social democratic party they thought they were part of in 1997.

  • @George Kendall

    Come on. Now you’re being disingenuous. You know that the coalition has been trying to link the wake of the global financial crisis to Labour and have described it as “Labour’s mess.” They need to blame Labour for it to justify the coalition’s ideological cuts. That’s why, when you blogged: —- “Where I totally disagree is (sic) with the standard Labour defense of something like the following: that everyone is culpable for bad regulation, so as the deficit is all the banks fault, Labour is no more culpable than the other parties.”—- I asked you to name one country that regulated their banks so effectively that they avoided the global financial crisis, knowing that you wouldn’t be able to because it was global. So Labour is perfectly justified in saying that they were no more culpable than the governments of other countries and it is not Labour’s mess. (The Tories, your coalition partners were, as I recall, calling for even lighter touch regulation, at the time)

    But now it appears, despite appearances, you weren’t really saying that at all. Now you’re saying that Labour left a 40 billion deficit in a boom. That’s why it is Labour’s mess. Well, John Major is always telling us what a wonderful economy he handed on to Labour. Yes, really! In 1997 John Major’s government had amassed a defict of 3.4% which by 2003 Gordon Brown had reduced to 1.9% of GDP. Even when the global financial crisis struck Labour’s deficit was, at 2.7% of GDP well below Major’s 3.4%. So how is it Labour’s mess? If anything, it was the Tories’ mess.

    Well, I can see that we’ll never agree. But I’m not criticising those Liberal Democrat members who are holding their head in despair and are wondering what has happened to that socially responsible, principled party they thought they were part of in 2010.

  • @MacK
    while the other parties and politicians from across the world may have been advocating the wrong policies it is the party in government at the time that has to take the responsibility for the mistakes – that was LABOUR

    I and many of my friends had spotted the crash coming 5 years before it hit so that gave LABOUR 5 years to prepare and instead they failed to do so.

    Credit where credit is due though – the efforts of both Alistair Darlng and Gordon Brown did help to stabilise things in the immediate aftermath of the crash but im sure that even you can accept that paying out vast sums in debt repayments hinders our ability to build the services and facilities that we all want for our society. It is for that reason that the Government had to take action.

  • @ Ian James.

    “while the other parties and politicians from across the world may have been advocating the wrong policies it is the party in government at the time that has to take the responsibility for the mistakes – that was LABOUR”

    Generally, I would agree with that. But the banking crash was the first crisis of globalisation and was so exceptional and widespread. I don’t think that it can be characterised so crudely as “Labour’s Mess” or any government’s mess. Even amongst the knockabout of politics there has to be some respect for objective truth.

    “I and many of my friends had spotted the crash coming 5 years before it hit”

    I have no reason to doubt that but unfortunately, in my experience, hindsight gives everyone 20/20 vision. I think that we could all see that there was an excess of credit card debt and an over reliance on inflated house prices but I don’t think anyone, appreciated the range or extent of the toxic instruments in the shadow banking system where this contagion started. Apparently, at one point the shadow banking system was generating $20 Trillion, nearly double the amount of credit generated in the traditional banking system. Perhaps you work in the banking system. That’s what gave you your prescience.

    “but im sure that even you can accept that paying out vast sums in debt repayments hinders our ability to build the services and facilities that we all want for our society.”

    Of course.

    It is for that reason that the Government had to take action.

    I agree that some action has to be taken to legitimately reduce the deficit gradually over the long term but I disagree with the coalition’s aims which go way beyond that and are intended to use the Global Financial Crisis as a justification for removing every trace of the Welfare State. Why? Because the result will be social rupture. Economically, the depth and extent of the cuts will also destroy confidence and inhibit growth. Atlee’s government despite a massive war debt was able to create the welfare state and the NHS. MacMillan was able to build nearly a million council houses and produce high levels of growth. All, this was being done while the national debt was slowly being reduced. Gradualism remains Labour’s Policy. It seemed to be the Liberal Democrats’ policy until
    they grabbed power.

  • @ George

    Thanks for replying, I wasn’t really meaning to speficially attack you or the article, it was more the general strategy of the party (up until now, but perhap the interventions from Cable & Lamb are a sign that this is changing), of constantly attacking labour (sometime fairly, other times not so much) whilst never attacking the Tories. Even now we have ‘differences of opinion’ with the Tories but Labour have apparently practically destroyed the country.

    Take a step back and think how this comes across to any voter who is left of center who is not particularly attached to a party. It makes us sound right-wing, except in actuality in terms of ideology and policy we are not. We are in effect alienating our natural voters, and coming over as insincere to those who are in the centre. It is killing us in the polls at moment, and one can only hope that it will not have a similiar effect in elections.

  • Cllr Nick Cotter 15th Apr '11 - 10:11pm

    George,

    One of the best if not the “bestest” article I have read on Lib Dem Voice in VERY many a Month !!

    There is lots I am unhappy about re: OUR Coalition Govt – However I for One remain committed to OUR Party as the very “bestest” of the Lot !!!

    I genuinely believe that the History Books will be Far Kinder to the 2010 – 2015 Govt than the Govt of the preceeding 13 Years – And in particular the “Blair Era” !!

    More Articles like this one please Lib Dem Voice !!!

  • George Kendall 16th Apr '11 - 4:26am

    @MacK
    Thank you for your comments. This is an important subject, and I’ve written about it a lot over the last six months. I think I answer all the points you make in the following article:

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/what-the-think-tanks-are-saying-the-ippr-on-how-much-is-labour-to-blame-22996.html

    @John
    Thank you for your reply. I agree that a change in approach is important. But I don’t think that attacking the Conservatives in the way you imply would be wise.

    We are part of a coalition. The country desperately needs stable government to get out of this crisis. We owe it to the country not to jeopardize that stability by undermining the cohesion of the coalition, even if that means we take a short-term electoral hit.

    @Cllr Nick Cotter
    Thanks. Very nice of you to say that.

  • matthew fox 16th Apr '11 - 5:47pm

    I see the author has failed to mention the VAT increase, the National Insurance increase, the reduction of the Working Families Tax Credit.

    How do people gain from the above?

  • George Kendall 17th Apr '11 - 1:17pm

    @matthew fox
    “I see the author has failed to mention the VAT increase, the National Insurance increase, the reduction of the Working Families Tax Credit.
    How do people gain from the above?”

    Hi Matthew, Thank you for your comment.

    I mentioned those issues indirectly, when I said:
    “we shouldn’t run a deficit, to live better at our children’s expense”

    and when I said:
    “Joining the Lib Dems won’t be popular, and working to deal with the most serious peacetime deficit on record will be incredibly difficult. But anyone who joins out of both idealism and realism has a lot to contribute. And that is reward in itself.”

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    There is no way that we can control the debate in a General Election, it would be the usual confused mess & we & Brexit...