Tag Archives: public spending

Time for higher taxes!

Calling for higher taxation used to be one of the deepest taboos in British politics. When I was drafting the 1997 Liberal Democrat manifesto, under Paddy Ashdown’s firm direction, I can recall a Labour acquaintance (we were actively talking to Labour then, since they were not sure they would win an outright majority when the election came) telling me that ‘you must be mad; no-one will ever vote to pay more’. The promise of a penny on income tax to increase funding for education turned out to be a vote-winner for us; but New Labour never dared to commit to …

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8 March 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

Govt decision on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe a step in the right direction

Responding to news that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been offered diplomatic protection, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Jo Swinson said:

This is a promising step in the right direction.

I welcome this action by the Government, which contrasts the reckless incompetence displayed by the previous Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.

Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s plight should give us all pause for thought. We must all do what we can to bring her home as soon as possible.

Moran: Fox wastes £2.6m on another vanity project

A Parliamentary Question from Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has revealed that …

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Lord William Wallace writes…Shrinking the State?

Liberal Democrats need to clarify where we stand on how large a public sector we support, the balance of public spending and administration between state, national/regional and local levels, and the appropriate division between private and public provision in our economy and society.  We are now faced with a Labour Party which is likely, under its new leader, to reassert large-scale state-level spending, and a Conservative Party that wants to shrink and weaken both the central state and local government.

The Conservative Government contains a number of convinced libertarians, with an almost anarchist streak in their antagonism to state action, civil servants and public services (I know – I worked with some of them until last May!).  The current rule on regulatory policy, for instance, is that ministers can only introduce one new regulation if they can find three comparable regulations to abolish: a deregulatory bias that will run into problems when the next food or health safety scandal hits.  OECD projections for government spending indicate that the UK currently intends to reduce public spending from 42% of GDP in 2014 to 36% in 2020 – taking Britain from European to North American levels of public provision.  Whitehall Departments are preparing for cuts of between 25 and 40% in ‘unprotected’ public spending.  On some calculations local authorities will have barely half the financial resources in real terms in 2020 that they had in 2010.

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Opinion: Why don’t we throw out the spending plans and start again?

When parties come up with their public spending plans, one gets a sense of deckchairs being rearranged on the Titanic, with a bit more spending on something one year and then a little bit less the next, parties micromanaging (and re-announcing!) their spending plans, making compromises and trying to spread the ‘jam’ ever more thinly.

Of course no one is really fooled. We all know that the number of district nurses has almost halved in a decade, that libraries have closed all over the country, that adult education services have been cut to the bone and that those on benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance are having to jump through ever more hoops to get their money. There have been serious cuts in social care services for the most vulnerable too. This may sound harsh, but it is the reality of living in Britain today.

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Chart of the day: how spending on day-to-day public services will have been cut by 37% by 2018-19

It is simply not true – as our critics on the left pretend – that we are slashing and burning the state. By the end of this Parliament, public spending will still be 42% of GDP. That’s higher than at any time between 1995 and when the banks crashed, in 2008.

    Nick Clegg, 10th March 2013

It’s a soothing line from Nick Clegg, designed to reassure Lib Dems that the Coalition’s austerity programme is simply curbing the spending excess of the Blair/Brown years.

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David Laws: let’s cut taxes and spending. For once, I’m unconvinced. Here’s why…

David Laws has earned himself a generous write-up in today’s Telegraph, with the paper which triggered his resignation from the cabinet two years ago hailing his ‘radical vision of a liberal state’, and lamenting with crocodile tears that his downfall was ‘a great loss to the Cabinet’.

The cause is an interview David has given to the paper in which he makes the case for further public spending cuts and lower taxes — a case he has outlined in greater depth in an article in the current Institute of Economic Affairs journal, highlighted last week on LibDemVoice. Here’s …

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Opening up public sector procurement, creating opportunities for local enterprises

This coming Friday I will introduce the Second Reading of a Bill which has the capacity to permanently change the way in which public sector bodies procure services – whether local authorities, NHS trusts or Government Departments. It will require them to consider how what is being procured will improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area in which the services are being provided. This means that, whilst they will obviously still have to take price very much into account, they will have to assess the social value which different potential suppliers can add to their performance of …

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Opinion: How much smaller would Labour’s cuts have been?

“Too far, too fast” – until recently you could scarcely switch on a TV without hearing Ed Balls repeating his four-word analysis of the coalition’s fiscal policy. It seems to be a line that Balls and Miliband are no longer sticking to. If I were to give them more credit for economic analysis than they deserve I’d speculate that this might be because they realised it is utter nonsense. More likely, their polling showed them that the public just weren’t buying it.

And the public would be right not to believe it, because, on a key measure, the difference between the …

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LDV readers split on Nick’s talk of need for “savage” cuts

A week ago, Lib Dem Voice asked our readers the question on everyone’s lips at conference: Do you think Nick Clegg was right to say that the Lib Dems need to be “quite bold, or even savage, on current spending”?

I was clear on my view:

I cannot see how the talk of “savage” cuts is helpful – quite simply, it’s not the language of Lib Dems. Just as importantly, it’s not backed up by policy proposals. Even Vince Cable has so far come up with some £14 billion of potential savings, while estimating that a total of £112 billion will

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#ldconf podcast: Vince’s speech

There are now many ways of getting your brain around Vince Cable’s keynote speech. Read it on the party website. Hear our podcast below. See what ePolitix thinks – or the Guardian, for that matter.

vince-speech

There was much that was really important that jumped out at me from the speech – here are my favourite bits:

We should not be taken in by the hysterical nonsense about the country being bankrupt. It isn’t.

The Tories are currently getting a free rein to slash budgets. Tories like …

Play
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Will there be a cull of ministers after the next general election?

Whoever wins the next general election, they will have to make some tough choices about public  spending. Will they dare look very close to home though?

In late 1914 when Britain ruled much of the world and was fighting a world war, there were a total of 49 ministers. Gordon Brown’s government currently has 119 ministers – an increase of 143%.

Some of the growth is for reasons most people across most parties would support, such as the creation of the National Health Service resulting in the creation of some new roles. But those areas of ‘consensus growth’ are relatively small, and …

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Nick launches ‘In The Know’ to save taxpayers’ money

Nick Clegg has today launched the Lib Dems’ ‘Ask the People in the Know’ project inviting public sector workers to help identify ways in which government can cut out waste while protecting services in order to save taxpayers’ money.

Anyone working in the public sector can submit their ideas on where money can be saved at http://nickclegg.com/intheknow. Nick has pledged that ideas submitted via the ‘Asking the People Who Know’ website will help inform the work currently being undertaken by the party to identify areas of waste in public spending:

Hard-working nurses and teachers tell me how frustrated they are by

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Opinion: Property and consumption taxes need to rise to fix the fiscal mess

Politicians everywhere are being urged to get real about the fiscal mess. For the last month, this has meant a bitter dispute about the government’s spending figures. Who will cut the most? For any numerate observer, the debate is trivial: a rising bill for interest payments and the social security budget make it inevitable, no matter what contortions Brown attempts in disguising the figures, and no matter who is in power.

CentreForum has just published a new report about Britain’s fiscal mess, called A balancing act: fair solutions to a modern debt crisis. …

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PMQs: Nick tackles Gordon on public spending

Apologies, dear reader, but I’ve been busy at work rather than watching Prime Minister’s Questions (so that you don’t have to). I will catch up with it later, but I have read the Hansard transcript. And if today’s PMQs is remembered for anything, I suspect it will be for this quite sublime Prime Ministerial line:

… total spending will continue to rise, and it will be a zero per cent. rise in 2013–14.

Yes, you read that right: 0% counts as a rise in total spending in Gordon Brown’s eyes. The Evening Standard’s Paul Waugh (admittedly not a Labour cheerleader) sums up his performance today:

It was worse than that: it was bad in an inept, jaded, so-grey-I-make-John-Major-look-colourful kinda way. This was a man with the stench of decay around him.

Don’t forget that the economy and figures are supposed to be Brown’s strong suit. If he turns in a performance like this, it suggests that the only real reason for keeping him – namely a possible economic recovery for which he will claim credit – is disappearing fast.

If I were a Labour backbencher watching today, I would have my head in my hands.

That’s certainly how it read.

When Nick Clegg’s turn came, he also asked about public spending, linking the issue (in his supplementary) to his newly-adopted policy of scrapping the Trident nuclear weapons system. It was in his first question, though, that I think Nick did best, skewering the tortured efforts of both the Labour and Tory parties to avoid levelling with the British public how they will respond to the economics of recession. Full Hansard transcript of Nick’s exchanges with Gordon follow:

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The Independent View: It is our politicians – not the public – who need convincing of the need for spending cuts

Yesterday’s Budget was a stalling tactic. The Chancellor put off having to make the tough decisions needed to regain control of the public finances and gave no plan to move the UK back to black. David Cameron in his response promised that his Party would make these tough choices, but he failed to say how. There is a real opportunity for the Liberal Democrats, if Vince Cable can continue to lead the way as the only politician brave enough to say that the answer lies in tackling the big areas of public spending.

In Reform’s Pre-Budget analysis last …

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Clegg & Cable spell out Lib Dem public spending cuts to fund education priorities

In his 2008 conference speech, Nick Clegg promised the Liberal Democrats would soon spell out exactly how the party would fund its policy priorities – new spending on Lib Dem policies, including tax cuts for the vast majority of citizens:

I want this to be the most progressive – most redistributive – tax plan ever put forward by a British political party. Using just a little of the money the government wastes every day. To help people in their everyday lives. That doesn’t mean cutting help for the poorest, of course. It doesn’t mean stopping vital investment in hospitals and

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  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Jul - 4:37pm
    Well said, John. Like my old friend I'd love to know what experience Mr Pugh and Michael 1 have of being candidates, of fighting and...
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    Michael BG, Why do you ask such extremely loaded questions? David and John are talking about local government by-elections where no leaflets and little effort...
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    Some people have the timing the wrong way round, our date of the 23rd was announced Months ago, The Tories then announced that there's would...
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