Tag Archives: budget

Lib Dems react to Budget

Well, there you go. Another Conservative budget served with more invective directed against the Lib Dems than you might expect. You would be forgiven for thinking that they were frightened of us in the Blue Wall. Tim Farron was quick to jump in on Twitter:

The Chancellor wouldn’t waste his breath slagging off the Lib Dems if he wasn’t terrified of losing to us.

A speech carefully crafted into soundbytes for social media. Lots of impressive sounding numbers, but being a big number doesn’t mean it’s an adequate number. It’s so annoying when politicians of all flavours do this. Here’s £xoo million to build y million houses. Why don’t they express themselves in terms that actually reflect the human impact and the scale of the problem?  Because their solution is simply not good enough.

Anyway, what do our leaders make of the electioneering effort put in by Jeremy Hunt today? Ed says that it’s time to just get on with the Election:

This is a bottom-of-the-barrel Budget from a Conservative government that has given up on governing. Rishi’s recession is being followed by Hunt’s hangover, with years of unfair tax hikes while local health services are stretched to breaking point.

This Budget had nothing to offer for people seeing their mortgage soar due to Conservative chaos or being left waiting for months in pain for NHS treatment.

The public will see this for what is: a desperate last throw of the dice by a Conservative government that has neglected the NHS, trashed the economy and overseen a record fall in living standards. It couldn’t be clearer that we need a general election now so voters can finally kick this tired and out-of-touch government out of office.

The thing is, people still feel under a lot of economic pressure. They blame the Government for it and that is bound to affect their vote.

By-election winner Helen Morgan echoed Ed’s message:

Don’t be fooled by the Chancellor’s efforts to pull the wool over people’s eyes. This budget won’t touch the sides for people facing soaring mortgage bills, paying more at the fuel pump, and seeing the cost of going to the shops rise every week. We need a General Election now.

Helen also mentioned a crucial omission:

The Chancellor spent a lot of time listing parts of the country today (notable exception of Shropshire). Yet the Budget itself includes NO mention of rural areas and NO mention of farming. Further proof the Conservatives don’t care about the countryside.

Alistair Carmichael says that voters are past listening to the Conservatives;

The Chancellor has tried to paper over a Tory recession and Tory tax hikes which have hit families across the country. Ministers have searched for election gimmicks but voters are past listening. Few would take this government at its word after years of falling living standards.

Wera Hobhouse was right to point out that the extension of the Household Support Fund for 6 months was far from enough to tackle poverty when the safety net has so many holes in it that it is barely there any more:

I am glad that the Chancellor has heeded my calls to extend the Household Support Fund in today’s Spring Budget. But for the thousands in Bath who rely on its support to put food on their plates and heat their homes – a sixth month extension simply doesn’t cut it.

Wendy Chamberlain did highlight one Lib Dem win, though:

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9 January 2024 – today’s Welsh press releases

  • “No more tinkering, we need bravery”- Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds sets out her priorities for new FM
  • Welsh Lib Dems urge for clarity over future of Bwndel Babi scheme
  • Welsh Lib Dems criticise Welsh Labour government over “lack of vision” with budget
  • “Communities must feel that they are being listened to when it comes to their safety”- Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh Government

“No more tinkering, we need bravery”- Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds sets out her priorities for new FM

Today, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds has urged both Welsh Labour leadership candidates to set out a new vision for Wales.

Current Health minister Vaughan Gething and Education minister Jeremy Miles are both in the race to become the new FM following the resignation of Mark Drakeford.

Commenting, leader of the Welsh Lib Dems Jane Dodds said:

The start of a new year brings with it a chance for renewed optimism. And with a new First Minister set to take charge this coming spring, a chance for a fresh approach to how Wales is being run should in theory be just around the corner.

What we have heard from both candidates so far is that they will be taking the same “steady as she goes” approach. More tinkering, more managerialism, and not the vision for the future that people desperately need.

We don’t want to see any more conservatism from Welsh Labour, what we need is a First Minister who is willing to take a bold and brave new direction for our country.

We need a new vision for a thriving economy, a fresh start for our NHS, an innovative democracy, and creating a nation of second chances where everyone has the opportunity to get ahead. We need a fair deal for every corner and every person across our country.

For far too long now the Labour party have stood by and watched as our country, our government, and our parliament has been dragged into the mud by an indifferent UK Conservative government.

We need a Labour party, at both ends of the M4, willing to stand up and demand that Wales gets its fair share.

No more tinkering about and searching for excuses, now is the time for bravery.

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Reactions to the Budget – “Conservatives so out of touch they are living on another planet”

Here’s some of the Lib Dem reaction to today’s Budget. Mary and Caron will keep updating it as the day goes on.

First up:

And Wera Hobhouse amplified this point:

Ed Davey’s first reaction was that the Budget showed how out of touch the Conservatives are:

This Budget shows the Conservative Party is so out of touch they might as well be living on another planet.

Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak had a chance to show they care about the cost-of-living crisis that’s hitting millions of Britain’s families and pensioners but they failed miserably.

People are desperate for real help especially a cut to their energy bills – but all the Chancellor could offer is empty words and more unfair tax hikes.

We also saw a total failure to invest in fixing our crumbling hospitals and supporting local health services. It shows the Conservative Party doesn’t understand that you can’t get Britain ‘back to work’ without fixing the crisis in our NHS and social care.

Tim Farron was quick to get a cheeky comment in after the story about Rishi Sunak paying for the grid to be upgraded for his private heated swimming pool.

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Welsh Government Budget – Welsh Liberal Democrats Lay Out Priorities Ahead of Budget

Ahead of the Welsh Government’s budget, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have outlined the areas in which they would like to see further progress by Labour and Plaid Cymru including an increase in funding for NHS dentistry, a greater commitment around capital investment for home insulation and the protection of Natural Resources Wales’ budget from cuts.

  • The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been campaigning to reduce inequalities in dentistry and raise spending per person to similar levels to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • On insulation the party have highlighted that under Labour’s current scheme it could take up to 135 years to insulate every household

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17 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Wales Ambulance Waiting Times – Emergency Lights Should be Flashing for Labour
  • Budget: Everyone being forced to pay the price for Conservative chaos
  • Cancer Treatment Waiting Times Intolerable
  • Conservative giveaway to big banks set to cost taxpayers £18 billion
  • 5 Hidden Horrors in the Autumn Statement

Wales Ambulance Waiting Times – Emergency Lights Should be Flashing for Labour

Responding to the news that Welsh ambulance response times have hit their slowest on record ever for red calls Jane Dodds MS said:

When someone is in a moment of crisis and chooses to call 999, they want to know that there will be someone at the other

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30 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Truss urged to hold mortgage lender summit in Number 10 as millions left in “anxious limbo”
  • OBR forecasts: Economy left “flying blind” for two months
  • Calls reiterated for Welsh Government to Close Qatar Offices After Death of British National

Truss urged to hold mortgage lender summit in Number 10 as millions left in “anxious limbo”

The Liberal Democrats are urging the Prime Minister Liz Truss to host an emergency summit with mortgage lenders in Number 10 this weekend, instead of heading off to Conservative Party conference.

The call comes as hundreds of mortgage products have been withdrawn from sale since the Government presented its mini budget last week.

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The Conservatives have plunged our country into an economic crisis and what’s worse is that the damage is purely self inflicted.

Rather than head off on a jolly to party conference this weekend, Liz Truss should hold an emergency meeting with mortgage lenders in Number 10 to fix the chaos caused by her budget.

Millions of people are being left in an anxious limbo. Some are struggling to get the mortgages they need to get on the housing ladder while others are being left worried sick about losing their homes, all because of this Government’s catastrophic failure.

It would be unforgivable for Conservative ministers to sit around talking amongst themselves instead of taking action to sort out this mess.

The buck stops with the Prime Minister, she must not leave innocent mortgage borrowers to pick up the bill.

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29 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Truss must cancel Conservative conference to deal with economic crisis
  • Revealed: 32 crumbling hospital buildings including in PM’s backyard
  • Truss in complete denial on BBC Local Radio round
  • Liz Truss refuses to guarantee people’s pensions are safe
  • Fracking interview: Truss shows contempt for rural communities

Davey: Truss must cancel Conservative conference to deal with economic crisis

Ed Davey demands Liz Truss and her ministers spend time fixing the budget as new research finds Government energy bill support will be wiped out by higher mortgage bills

Typical family faces £2,000 rise in mortgage bills following last week’s disastrous budget

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative party conference this weekend, and instead recall Parliament to vote to fix the disastrous mini-budget. The party is also calling on the Government to bring forward a rescue package for homeowners unable to pay higher mortgage bills as a result of last week’s budget.

Ahead of the energy price cap rising on Saturday (1st October), new analysis by the Liberal Democrats reveals the predicted rise in mortgage bills is more than double what the Government has offered to support households with their energy bills.

The Government has pledged to freeze energy prices at £2,500 for the average household, which would have equated to around £1,000 support for the average household.

However, the fallout from last week’s budget is predicted to force the Bank of England to raise interest rates to as much as 5% next year, costing the average mortgage borrower on a Standard Variable Rate a staggering £2,100 per year. Those on an average tracker mortgage would face an even higher annual increase of £3,000 per year if interest rates rise to the predicted 5% next year.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

There is no way the Conservative Party can hold their conference whilst the British economy nosedives. The arrogance of Liz Truss and Conservative Ministers is frankly an insult to millions who now face higher bills as a direct result of last week’s budget. From this weekend they will abandon their posts in Downing Street, leaving a mess behind them and heading for the cocktail parties and mutual back-patting of the classic conference season.

In one fell swoop, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng crashed the economy, trashed the pound and paved the way for record interest rate rises.

Innocent mortgage borrowers will be left to pick up the bill of this gross incompetence. It is time Parliament is recalled and new measures passed to save families and pensioners unable to cope with this mortgage crisis. This botched budget cannot survive any longer.

Revealed: 32 crumbling hospital buildings including in PM’s backyard

  • Dangerous roofs not set to be replaced until 2035, Freedom of Information request reveals.
  • Hospitals in the Prime Minister’s and Health Secretary’s local areas have roofs at risk of collapse.
  • Liberal Democrats call on Government to fix the budget to save NHS from real-terms cuts amid rising inflation

32 hospital buildings across the country are fitted with dangerous roofs at risk of sudden collapse, data uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The Freedom of Information request has revealed that 32 buildings at 19 NHS Trusts are fitted with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) which is said to be ‘structurally weaker’, ‘lightweight’ and ‘cheaper’ than a regular fitting. NHS England has also revealed that the dangerous roofs are not set to be fully replaced until 2035.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, near Liz Truss’s constituency, is the worst in the country with four buildings fitted with the dangerous material. The chief executive of the hospital has previously likened the material to a “chocolate Aero bar” with bubbles that could break and collapse at any point. Liz Truss this morning refused to guarantee that the hospital would be fixed in an interview with BBC Norfolk, adding that she couldn’t make any promises on the Health Secretary’s behalf.

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25 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Families facing £290 tax hike next year despite 1p cut, new analysis reveals
  • Kwarteng’s budget “staggeringly out of touch”
  • Mark Fullbrook saga: We need an urgent investigation into conflicts of interest

Families facing £290 tax hike next year despite 1p cut, new analysis reveals

A typical family will see their taxes hiked by £290 next year despite the 1p tax cut, new research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed, while top bankers are handed a tax giveaway of over £100,000.

It comes as analysis shows the total tax hit from the Conservative government’s freeze on income tax thresholds is now set to reach £32.4 billion over the next two years – £6.5 billion more than previously expected. The figures are based on an update of the OBR’s previous forecasts undertaken by the House of Commons Library, taking into account soaring inflation.

Liberal Democrat research shows a household with two adults paid the median salary of £31,876 will pay an additional £290 in income tax next year as a result of the freeze, despite the basic rate being reduced from 20% to 19%. This tax bill will rise to £590 by 2024-25, due to the tax threshold remaining frozen as inflation goes even higher.

A teacher on a starting salary of £25,700 will see their taxes rise by £121 next year (2023/24), once the freeze of the income tax threshold is taken into account, while an NHS nurse will see a £107 rise.

Meanwhile, a top banker earning £2.5 million will see a tax cut of over £117,000. It means the Conservative government’s tax giveaway to one top-earning banker would be enough to cancel the tax hike for over 1,000 nurses.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

It is staggeringly unfair that this Conservative government is hiking taxes on struggling families while giving big businesses and banks a massive tax giveaway.

Cutting taxes for the most wealthy while hammering ordinary people with years of stealth taxes shows just how out of touch this government has become.

The facts are clear: Liz Truss and the Conservatives are only cutting taxes for the few, while millions of people will pay more.

Kwarteng’s budget “staggeringly out of touch”

Responding to Kwasi Kwarteng’s performance on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Kwasi Kwarteng and this Conservative Government are staggeringly out of touch. He showed in his budget that banks and billionaires come first, while families and pensioners come last.

This Government has shown its true colours, making regular people pay in the long run for their economic vandalism. Now, they must cancel recess and allow Parliament to have a say on these shambolic plans.

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Todays Announcement: 3 March 2021

Budget betrays children, parents and teachers

Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, reacted to the Budget:

“It’s simply astonishing that the Budget has nothing to tackle child poverty, nothing for children or young people or their early years education or schools.

“Tens of thousands of childcare providers are at risk of closure, whilst school finances are at breaking point.

“The Chancellor’s Statement needed to give children and young people the opportunities to regain the learning time they have lost over the last year.

“He has failed to extend free school meals permanently to ensure no child living in poverty goes hungry, he’s failed to give nurseries and early years providers any certainty and he’s failed to deliver much-needed extra funding for schools to help meet the additional costs of being open safely during the pandemic.

“This is a huge betrayal of pupils, parents and teachers by a government whose handling of the pandemic has wreaked havoc on their lives for a year and is now failing to invest in their future.”

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23 September 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Government refuse to address evictions loophole leaving 55,000 households at risk
  • Short-term plans no replacement for full Budget

Government refuse to address evictions loophole leaving 55,000 households at risk

Today, the Conservatives blocked the Liberal Democrats’ attempt to close the loophole in the Government’s legislation to end the eviction ban, which has left an estimated 55,000 households at risk of being evicted since Monday.

The motion, put forward by the Liberal Democrat Housing spokesperson in the House of Lords, Baroness Grender, would have effectively abolished the Government’s Statutory Instrument, forcing Ministers to address the issue.

The motion was defeated 126 votes to 266.

Following the vote, …

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Budget Response: The most vulnerable are being left out in the cold

Back in March, at the very outset of the crisis, the chancellor Rishi Sunak said that: “Now more than at any time in our history, we will be judged by our capacity for compassion.” That was true then and it is true now. Yet the mini-budget announced yesterday regrettably showed that the government has failed that test. At a time when millions of people across the country are facing the threat of poverty and unemployment, this plan fell far short.

There were some important and welcome measures, in particular, the £1,000 incentive to persuade employers to keep on furloughed staff. But the decision to reduce stamp duty for landlords and second homeowners, for instance, the wrong priority at a time when so many are struggling to get by.

The total projected cost of cutting stamp duty is £3.8 billion. That is money that could have been spent on helping the hundreds of thousands of families being pushed into poverty by this crisis. This measure will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest, while poorer households that rent have been left out in the cold.

While a landlord buying an additional home costing £500,000 or more will now pay £15,000 less in stamp duty, a family of for relying on universal credit will struggle to get by on little more £280 a week. A discounted meal at a restaurant will be little comfort to those struggling to pay their rent each month.

Figures I uncovered yesterday, reported in the Mirror, show the number of families struggling to pay bills has more than doubled since the coronavirus outbreak, rising to almost one in nine. The Government needs to step up and provide extra support to these hard-pressed families, including by scrapping the heartless two-child cap on benefits which is projected to push one million children even deeper into poverty by 2023-24.

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Tory “Wafflenomics” and the Expected Macroeconomic-fiscal Costs of NO DEAL

In my last piece, I outlined the expected consequences of a depreciating pound and that a looser fiscal response was the only feasible short-term policy response that would be available to deal with the massive macroeconomic shocks that are likely to ensue (an uncoordinated) NO DEAL Brexit.

Three and a half questions follow:

  • What is the Boris math for the litany of fiscal promises issuing since his “inauguration”?
  • Are these spending promises feasible & credible in terms of the macro-fiscal context the UK will face in a NO DEAL scenario?
  • What should our response as LibDems be to unpick if not defenestrate the Tory Wafflenomics in the run-up to October 31st? The half-question I leave for another occasion, what should be our policy response to deal with the after-effects from November 1 should a No Deal actually take place.

Math on Boris’ Fiscal Promises and projected values

(…mind you we’re just a few weeks in..)

  • 20,000 new police officers: £1bn (one-off)
  • Rise in 40% tax threshold from £50k to £80k: £10bn
  • National Insurance contributions at higher trigger: £11bn
  • Schools: reversing cuts in Education envelope: £5bn
  • Health: Unclear but: 20 New hospitals £1.8bn + wooing female voters £2bn + ??promised £350m per week: £3.8bn – £20bn
  • social care: £10bn
  • new railway Manchester – Leeds: £2.1 – £3.6bn depending on sources, assume £3bn
  • Help to farmers: £0.5bn (but is this just for the Welsh lamb?)
  • No-Deal Planning: £2.1bn (let’s assume £100m no-deal advertising part of this budget line)
  • Unbudgeted thus far: other sectors e.g. Fisheries, medicines, food shortages, …you get the picture…cost of increased policing…

Totting these figures gives £42bn excluding the £350m/week which alone would imply a further £18bn…and per year if the red bus promise is to be kept strictly. Large numbers in absolute terms (a billion has nine zeros) but not in relative terms as the UK economy is £2 trn in value (a trillion has 12 zeros), meaning that £42bn equates to around 2% of GDP or 5% of the current budget and therefore chunky but not a huge fiscal expansion…of itself..

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Willie Rennie pulls Lib Dems out of Scottish budget negotiations

While all eyes are on a key vote on a proposal put forward by a minority government at Westminster this week, another political drama looms. On Wednesday  the Finance Minister of a minority government at Holyrood will present his budget.

Derek Mackay is going to have a hard time getting his proposals through. All Willie Rennie asked for as a preoondition to negotiaions for Lib Dem support was that they just drop the idea of an independence referendum in this Parliament, fulfilling a key part of our manifesto. It chimes with what we are hearing consistently on doorsteps – that people don’t want to go through 2014 again. They want to concentrate on getting rid of Brexit.

The arguments that all parties apart from the Conservatives, have united behind in the Scottish Parliament against Brexit apply equally to breaking up the UK. While you don’t expect the SNP ever to give up campaigning for independence, keeping it off the agenda for the time being is as sensible for them as it is good for the country.

The SNP lost 21 seats in the 2017 General Election as Scottish people reacted with horror to the prospect, floated by Nicola Sturgeon, of another poll. All tests of opinion so far suggest that they would lose another referendum, which is why they won’t call one. The problem is that if they explicitly say they’ll delay, their own people will kick off.

So they wouldn’t agree Willie’s pre-condition. And so Willie has withdrawn the Lib Dems from the negotiations.

From the BBC:

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said he had met Mr Mackay and Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes on two occasions “to explore what could be done” with the budget.

Mr Rennie said his party had been willing to “step in to help address the problems that have been mounting since the SNP came to power 11 years ago”.

This included investment in education and mental health services, an improved deal for councils and action to help tackle staffing shortages in hospitals and schools.

But he said the talks ended when the SNP politicians “could not agree to even a short cessation in their independence campaign”.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Brexit’s real life impacts are already hitting the UK hard

Vince was up in Edinburgh this week (not, contrary to some reports, flying business class and staying in luxury). After an early start to do budget media stuff, he voted on the budget at 6:30 or so and caught a flight an hour later. He and Christine Jardine got to the Edinburgh West dinner at about 9:45 and both were in sparkling form.

In fact, I think that the speech Vince gave was better than his Conference speech. There was none of the schoolboy, carry-on style humour, and just a very simple, effective liberal message. He talked about needing to be honest with people about the future funding of public services – we will need to pay more tax. He talked about Brexit and our desire to stop it too, but he had plenty of vision about helping those who need it most – putting more money into Universal Credit and stopping its rollout until the problems with it are sorted out. He talked of his surprise that Labour had abstained on he Tory tax cut for better off people as he led our MPs to oppose it.

Timed to coincide with his visit was an op-ed in the Scotsman which he used to describe the detrimental impact that Brexit is already having on us:

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Unlike Labour, Lib Dem MPs will oppose Budget tax cut for better off

As I said on Monday, the bit that annoyed me most about the Budget was that better off people were getting  a tax cut when the benefit freeze continued and only a third of what was needed was put back into Universal Credit. Add to that the people who have their much-needed disability benefits cut back for the most arbitrary of reasons after deeply flawed assessments and you can maybe see why I am so fuming.

Astonishingly, Labour is backing the Tory plansalthough some may revolt.

So it’s good to see that Vince Cable will lead Liberal Democrats in voting against the tax cuts and asking for the £1.3 billion to be spent on reversing the cuts to social security. The press release actually says welfare, but I really wish they wouldn’t call it that. Social security is important for everyone. There needs to be a safety net to help those in the most difficult situations at any time. It’s what a civilised society does. It should be enabling and freely given, not grudgingly given with unreasonable expectations written into its heart as it is at the moment.

Vince said:

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What do you want to see in the Budget?

I learned pretty soon after Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 that Conservative budgets were things to be feared. Tax cuts for the rich paid for by paring public services back to the bone was the order of the day.  I’ve never yet met a Tory budget that I liked. There were some mitigating factors during the coalition years, but we only managed to stop the cruellest of Tory policies. Some of the ones we let through, like the Bedroom Tax, should never have seen the light of day.

My expectations of Philip Hammond tomorrow are therefore pretty low. I’ve …

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Budget drama in Scotland – Willie Rennie wants “an education focus as never before”

The Scottish Government unveils its budget this Thursday. The SNP mislaid their majority in Holyrood in the elections last year so there could be a bit of drama between now and February when the Finance Bill is finalised.

The last time a Budget fell was in 2009 when the Greens, to everyone’s surprise, voted against. A couple of weeks later, to nobody’s surprise, they voted for it but hadn’t extracted anything of consequence from the Government.

When John Swinney was Finance Minister, he used to engage pretty well with the other parties. Willie Rennie was able to get things like free school meals, tens of thousands of college places and nursery education for 2 years olds put in. However, now that we have started beating the SNP pretty comprehensively, the atmosphere has turned a bit nasty.

New Finance Minister Derek Mackay is playing games with crucial inter-island ferry services in Orkney and Shetland, both represented by Liberal Democrat MSPs. Various SNP Ministers have been giving the very strong impression that they would help the Islands Councils with the cost of these ferries without which some remote communities simply could not survive.

Now, however, they are inferring that it’ll only go in the Budget if the Lib Dems promise to vote for it. That sort of posturing doesn’t play well in those communities. The issue was debated in Parliament last week during a Lib Dem opposition day and the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf made a pretty blatant threat.

There is a window of opportunity for Liberal Democrat members of the Scottish Parliament. Either they can engage positively in the budget, have a discussion about this important issue and side with their constituents, or they can play party politics.

I mean, we’d brought the issue to the floor of the Parliament, which was discussing it at that time and made its view plain by passing the Lib Dem motion. If SNP ministers fail to honour Parliament’s wishes, that is a pretty serious thing. 

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Lib Dems respond to the budget: We would kickstart the economy back to growth and exit from Brexit

So, we’ve seen the extent of Phil’s spreadsheet and it didn’t make pretty reading. An economy on the slide, a disastrous Brexit on the horizon, growth forecasts crumbling – and that’s before we even get to the awful bit. Hammond’s response to all of this seemed so, well, inadequate. It’s like your town is flooding before your eyes and someone goes to Boots and buys a bath sponge to mop up the damage.

If this country is going to survive the oncoming storm it needed massive investment – a social housebuilding programme to rival that in the post war years, investment in infrastructure, a boost to the NHS. What do we get instead? A bit of tinkering and a few little traps set for the SNP to try to bolster the Tories in Scotland.

Vince Cable told Adam Boulton that we’re in a mess, the slump in economic growth costs each of us £700 and that the Chancellor has put more money aside in the event of a horrendous brexit no deal crash than he has invested in the NHS. Watch him here.

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Vince: Only Lib Dems offer strategy for growth and prosperity

Earlier, we brought you a flavour of Vince’s big pre-Budget speech.  Here is the speech in full:

As Leader of the Liberal Democrats, it is one of my responsibilities to give a serious Lib Dem analysis of the economics around the Budget, and to present an alternative.

I have recently been returned to Parliament from exile.

One of my regrets, however, is that the previous competition between the parties on economic competence no longer exists.

The likes of Gordon Brown, George Osborne, Ed Balls and Oliver Letwin were all serious players and thinkers even if I often disagreed with them.

Now, the economy – pivotal still to people’s lives – has been relegated to the margins of political debate.

The June election produced minimal discussion of economic policy.

The Conservatives didn’t produce any economic numbers in their manifesto.

Labour did, but as the IFS caustically pointed out at the time, there was a strong element of fantasy.

My Party did much better than our rivals at the hands of the IFS and serious commentators at the FT and The Economist but few noticed. And, now, economic debate is drowned out by the politics of Brexit and an unstable government.

Yet this is an unusually important and difficult budget.

The Chancellor has foresworn the use of a second budget, traditionally used to correct the mistakes in the first.

And the potential for a massive, if unquantifiable, economic shock from an unsatisfactory deal – or, even, ‘no deal’ is palpable.

Brexit hangs over the forecasts.

The environment of radical uncertainty is already spooking business investment and depressing growth, including the growth in government revenue.

I want, then, to set out some analysis of where we are and some ideas for where the Liberal Democrats think Britain could and should go.

Our focus is on freeing up capital spending to build the homes and infrastructure the country needs, on reviving the NHS with a targeted injection of cash, and on giving a leg up to young people with a learning account as they begin their working lives.

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Rennie says SNP Government must put more into mental health, the police and helping disadvantaged kids in schools

It’s time for the Scottish Parliament to debate the Government’s budget plans for the coming year. It’s particularly interesting this year as the SNP no longer has a majority and must secure the backing, or at least the abstention, of others in order for the budget to pass.

Willie Rennie has written to Derek Mackay, the SNP’s Finance Minister, to set out the changes that the Liberal Democrats wish to see before they could consider supporting the budget.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that he is sticking to the priorities we outlined in our manifesto for the Scottish elections last year – more money for disadvantaged kids in schools as we implemented successfully south of the border, an expansion of mental health services, particularly for young people, and more funding for the Police who are struggling to cope with the SNP’s disastrous centralisation.

It’s quite important that we have all this in mind in everything that we do during this Parliament. We need to think about what we want to achieve and what we will have to say to voters in 2021 about what we have fought for and where we are not prepared to settle for tepid, unambitious half-measures. In the last Parliament, where the SNP had a majority, we still made issues like early years education, colleges, the Police, civil liberties and mental health our own and won significant concessions from the SNP in budget discussions. Now that there is no majority, we need to push for more.

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The Greatest Show On Earth

 

From the great theatrical showman in Las Vegas to the street-hustlers on trestle tables asking tourists to watch the cups; misdirection, the foremost requirement of magic, is a deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.

No matter in what forum they perform, from street magicians to TV illusionists, magicians have the ability to use their skills to create something out of nothing, of reordering the universe to defy the rules of logic before our very eyes – and who knew that the Conservative government was creating the greatest show on earth.

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Independent: Liberal Democrats’ “major and under-rated contribution” to Budget success

Budget 2010 photocallYesterday’s Independent editorial had some very complimentary things to say about the Liberal Democrats’ influence on the Budget:

It is widely said that George Osborne had a decent Budget this week, aided in no small part by Ed Miliband’s curiously weak response. But the Liberal Democrats, as has frequently been the case during this parliament, made a major and underrated contribution to its success.

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Alan Reid MP writes… Time for the Chancellor to be fair on Scotch

WhiskyAs the local MP for Islay, I see frequently just how important whisky is to the island. Eight distilleries (and another planned), and the world famous brands they produce, help to drive the local economy and attract tourists from around the world to a remote corner of the Scottish west coast.

What is less easy to understand is why the UK continues to penalise the industry in its home market. Today, nearly 80% of an average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky – four pounds in every five you spend on a bottle – is accounted for by tax, making whisky one of the UK’s highest taxed consumer products.

Excise duty on whisky has increased by 44% since the introduction of an annual 2% above inflation duty escalator in 2008. The result has been predictable and damaging. The UK market for Scotch is now 12% lower than it was when the escalator was introduced, a loss of 6,500 bottles from the market every day.

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Budget 2013…..Live Blog

George Osborne is about to get to his feet to deliver his Budget.

IF campaign Budget Dy

In Parliament Square this morning, Enough Food IF campaigners gathered to remind him to stick to the 0.7% overseas aid pledge.

Join us for our budget live blog.

“It was of course inevitable that debit reduction would impact on growth, but what the independent OBR figures show quite clearly is that other factors – namely the weak international picture and higher-than-expected inflation – have had a much greater impact on economic growth. Given the risks of not …

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Opinion: Liberal Reform urge MEPs to oppose a secret vote on the EU Budget

European Parliament chamber, StrasbourgIt probably came as a  surprise to most Lib Dems to hear  that it is possible to have a secret vote in the European Parliament at all, let alone when as few as 20% of MEPs call for one. Press reports that some members want a secret vote so they can safely vote against the EU Budget are shocking, because knowing how elected representatives vote is surely the most basic piece of information required to hold them accountable.

If the EU Budget is rejected, after a secret vote, there is not the slightest doubt that it will be seized upon by those in the UK who want us to leave to leave the EU.  Not only should our own MEPs, but also ALDE as a whole, should be opposed to a secret vote in this case, and they should act to change the Parliament’s rules to make secret votes impossible.

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Kirsty Williams AM writes: Welsh Liberal Democrats will fight for more for disadvantaged children

Yesterday the Welsh Labour Government submitted its £15 billion draft budget which reveals its spending plans for the next year.

In its current form, the Welsh Liberal Democrats cannot support this budget as we don’t believe it goes far enough to tackle the problem of making sure that children from deprived backgrounds get the fair start in life they deserve.

Last year, the Welsh Liberal Democrats vastly improved the Welsh Government’s budget by agreeing to support it in return for the introduction of a Welsh Pupil Premium. Despite failing standards in our schools and an ever growing spending gap per pupil when compared …

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Labour leaning think-tank IPPR backs Osborne on ‘granny tax’

George Osborne has received support from an unexpected source: the Labour leaning think tank, the IPPR.

In an article entitled “Why Osborne’s ‘granny tax’ makes sense“, Senior Research Fellow at the IPPR, Kayte Lawton says:

It is right for older people to contribute to deficit reduction…

Older people have been relatively protected from the spending cuts imposed by the coalition. The young have taken the brunt of the pain… Asking older people to contribute to tackling the deficit and shoring up the country’s tax base in the long-term is not unreasonable…

Osborne’s pleas of simplification have not played well, but he is right that age-related allowances add

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LibLink: Redressing the balance between the generations

Chris Nicholson, Director of CentreForum, has posted his take on the Budget on Total Politics.  He concludes:

It is often said that the best Budgets are usually those that get the immediate negative headlines. While the press has focused on the alleged “unfairness” of the Budget, history is likely to be rather kinder in suggesting that the budget has been much fairer than it at first sight appeared.

You can read the reasons for his optimism here.

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How do you keep a secret? Or why Chris Leslie shouldn’t become an undercover detective

Imagine you have something you want to keep secret. You’re going to do something, and you don’t want anyone to know.

Chances are, you’ll take a look around and make sure there aren’t any  TV cameras pointed at you and rolling away live coverage to several channels. Perhaps the memory of politicians running into problems with comments caught on microphones come to mind, and you’ll take a good look around to ensure there aren’t any in the same room as you that might be used by a national radio station or two.

Then you’ll remember to check you’re alone. Don’t want to …

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LibLink: David Laws on the Budget in the Telegraph

David Laws penned his thoughts about the Budget in the Telegraph yesterday, under the headline “Budget 2012: Not so much a gamble, more a grand strategy”

He writes:

Despite its scratchy origins, this was a strong Conservative-Lib Dem Budget, reminiscent of the earliest days of the Coalition at its best. It was radical and combined both enterprise and fairness. It did not duck difficult decisions or end up with lowest common denominator compromises. At times, the run-up may have looked like Coalition politics at their worst. I would argue that what resulted was Coalition policy-making at its best.

The Liberal Democrats challenged the

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