Tag Archives: conservative party conference

William Wallace writes…We need to challenge Conservatives on Tax cuts

Right-wing Conservatives like Boris Johnson and Priti Patel are calling again for tax cuts to ‘free’ the economy.  It’s always popular to call for tax cuts, so long as you don’t link them to spending cuts; so it’s a priority for Liberal Democrats to link the two, and point out that the Brexiteers’ agenda is also one that shrinks the state further, and enforces continuing cuts in the NHS, social care, children’s services – the entire welfare state – education, bus services, even police and prisons.

And the Brexiteers have a problem.  They promised, of course, that they could spend £350m a week more on the NHS – a promise given by a campaign master-minded by Matthew Elliott, founder and first director of the Taxpayers Alliance, a lobby/think-tank dedicated to cutting state tax and spending.  He had used the same cynical ploy in leading the campaign against the Alternative Vote, arguing that the cost of the referendum and the new system could better have been spent on the NHS: knowing that this would appeal to hesitant voters, but not intending that any more money should be spent.  

Their problem is that the narrow majority that voted for Brexit were, and remain, deeply divided on public spending.  One of Lord Ashcroft’s latest polls, intended to inform the Conservative Party conference, warns that roughly half of those who still support Brexit support further cuts in spending and tax, while half – the less well-off, the ‘left behind’ and the ‘just about managing’ – want an end to austerity.  Pushing through Brexit, with a resulting fall in tax revenue on top of the corporate tax reductions right-wing think tanks are calling for, would force yet another squeeze on public services of all types – and would lose the Conservatives the working class support they think they have won.

Boris Johnson’s Conservative conference speech relied on the ‘Laffer Curve’ to square the circle: the assertion that cutting corporate taxes will increase revenue, as companies and their owners are freed to increase investment, create more jobs, and spur faster economic growth.  The record of successive Republican Administrations in the USA has shown that this does not work.  The second Bush Administration cut taxes without managing parallel cuts in spending, leaving the Clinton Administration to struggle with the accumulated deficit it inherited.

Behind this commitment to continuing cuts lies a deep antagonism to the public sector and to those who work in it, and an insistence that private provision always works better than public.  Teachers, they argue, are overpaid and underworked, civil self-interested and intrinsically inefficient bureaucrats.  But never a word from the libertarian lobby about rent-seeking executives in the private sector, or examples of corporate failure or corruption in the provision of services.  And it’s corporate taxes they want to cut deeply, more than personal taxation.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 25 Comments

Welcome to my day: 1 October 2018 – a bit like being at the scene of a car crash that hasn’t happened yet…

Good morning, and welcome to another week here at Liberal Democrat Voice.

Something is happening out there, with Liberal Democrat polling numbers consistently edging up into double figures. Is it the start of the long march to credibility, or is it a reflection that, compared to Labour and the Conservatives, our stance on Brexit is beginning to cut through?

Last week, Labour decided that, rather than take a view on Brexit, or on a People’s Vote, they would offer several. Unfortunately, whilst Sir Kier Starmer was enthusiastically received for suggested that a new referendum would include the option of remaining inside the …

Posted in News | 49 Comments

Tim Farron writes…Theresa, put your country first

The largely confected outrage at the EU rejecting the Chequers deal has made me reconsider my view of Theresa May. It seems she is more canny than I had thought, and not in a good way.

I often stick up for the PM, at least on a personal level. I go back a long way with her. In the 1992 general election, we toured the working men’s clubs of North West Durham together as we each cruised to a heavy defeat at the hands of Labour’s Hilary Armstrong. Theresa and I didn’t become best mates or anything but I learnt to admire her for her determination and unfussy straightforward approach. She was a Conservative, but she seemed to put duty before party politics.

Chequers has made me question my opinion of the PM’s approach and here is why:

The EU very clearly stated two years ago, and consistently restated, that they would not accept a proposal of the Chequers sort, so who seriously thought that the EU was ever going to accept Chequers? Was the PM hopelessly deluded? I don’t think so.

Chequers would have only given us a single-market type deal for goods, not services. Services make up 80% of our economy, so Chequers would only have been marginally better than no deal.

Nevertheless the proposal was presented as a kind of ‘soft Brexit’ and dressed up to be a reasonable compromise.

Isn’t it obvious now that the Prime Minister drew up Chequers fully expecting it to be rejected by the EU? In fact, they were more than just expecting to be rebuffed, Theresa May and her advisors were clearly banking on it. It was all part of the plan. Not part of the plan to secure any kind of deal with the EU you understand, but the plan to shift the blame and have a shallow political win.

Canny and disgraceful.

Chequers was a deliberately crafted Aunt Sally ready to be knocked down in order to give the Government the opportunity to make a disastrous no deal Brexit someone else’s fault. And the best kind of someone else: the nasty foreigners!

Which begs the question: Surely Boris Johnson, David Davis et al knew that Chequers was never actually going to happen? Surely they knew that it was only a ruse to make the UK government look reasonable and the EU look nasty? I assume that the thinking behind this strategy was discussed at Chequers? Isn’t that why Boris Johnson toasted the PM after the deal was agreed by ministers? So, why did they break ranks – why on earth did we get the flurry of resignations starting with David Davis and culminating in some little-known PPSs?

I can only assume that David Davis had an attack of vanity, and spied an opportunity for some welcome publicity. What fun to have the chance to be vaunted by the right wing press as some kind of Tory Robin Cook!

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Tim on May’s speech: Tories are reckless, divisive and uncaring

In response to the Prime Minister’s conference speech in Birmingham, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

Regardless of the rhetoric, the Conservatives have moved to the right. The Prime Minister’s words about a pitch to the centre-ground are utterly divorced from her party’s actions over the last few days. The Conservatives are reckless, divisive and uncaring. They are the fence-building, snooping-on-your-emails, foreign-worker-listing party and that is something that most people will be revulsed by.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 26 Comments

Philip Hammond: The Tories are the only party who can represent modern Britain …then the camera turned onto the audience

Posted in Humour | Also tagged | 13 Comments

David Cameron’s speech open thread

David Cameron makes his 10th speech to Conservative Party Conference. His ministers have already sickened many with comments on immigration, young people’s productivity and justifying cutting benefits for poor people by suggesting that they need to work harder. Let’s not forget that the Tories have already given a massive cut in Inheritance Tax for the very wealthy.

It’s almost as if the Tories think they are off the hook. They can say what they like because they feel no threat from Jeremy Corbyn. They feel that their election campaign for 2020 is written. All they have to do, they think, is put out leaflets with his “nuclear button” comments. Will there come a point, though, when that just can’t help them? I certainly hope so.

And before he even gets up, I’m annoyed. The BBC’s Jo Coburn gave us some commentary on Samantha Cameron’s outfit as she and Dave walked over to the Conference Centre. Why?

I guess the question is whether the world will actually last through the speech – a Christian group has predicted its demise today, although that would be unfortunate given that it’s the Bake Off final tonight.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 49 Comments

A woman’s place at Conservative Party Conference – walking with Dave, not talking on panels

Two interesting reports from Conservative Party Conference. First, Isabel Hardman writes for the Spectator that new MPs, many of them highly qualified professional people, are not taking kindly to being put on a rota for walking with David Cameron between buildings. Yes, dear readers, such a thing actually existms.

It appears that the women are none too pleased at being used as “arm candy” while the men are annoyed at being excluded:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 107 Comments

Tory welfare plans are anathema to Liberal Democrats. We should not miss any opportunity to condemn them

I suspect most Liberal Democrats will have what we in Scotland call “the dry boak”when they watched Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne outlining plans to impose even more cuts on those people who can least afford to take the hit. A two year freeze for those who have least, including those who are working. Restricting benefits for young people. The benefits cap was a bad idea in the first place, but reducing it further is really wrong. But by far the most egregious of the measures announced yesterday was Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to introduce benefit cards instead of cash to bank accounts. Talk about illiberal. Talk about creating stigma.

What is very clear is that all these things would be being done now if the Liberal Democrats were not there to stop them. It’s a horrible glimpse into single party Tory rule. We can’t subject people to that.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 42 Comments
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