Two Lib Dem MPs rebel over VAT

The Guardian:

The coalition faced its first rebellion last night when two Liberal Democrat MPs voted against a budget proposal to increase VAT to 20%.

Bob Russell and Mike Hancock voted with Labour to oppose the increase, which has alarmed many Lib Dems who warned during the election of a Tory VAT “bombshell”.

To shouts of “shame” from the Labour benches, the 2.5% increase in VAT from January was backed by 346 to 270, majority 76. Russell, MP for Colchester, and Hancock, MP for Porstmouth South, had earlier supported a backbench Lib Dem motion demanding a Treasury investigation into the impact on the poor of the VAT rise.

The backbench amendment was not put to a vote.

So far, so reasonable as reporting goes. But the paper does rather strain its own journalist credibility in an attempt to talk up the rebellion by adding:

Hancock has a special status because he was a founding member of the SDP.

Um, yeah.

The Spectator is more on the button:

In the last few days, there’s been much speculation about how many Lib Dem MPs would vote against the VAT rise. In the end, only two did—Bob Russell and Mike Hancock.

I suspect that the Lib Dem whips will be quite happy that the rebellion was so small. Other Lib Dems with misgivings about the policy are clearly not yet prepared to cross the Rubicon of rebellion.

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90 Comments

  • And I am sure that it will help their reputation for independence in their constituencies. Good work.

  • Nick Collins 29th Jun '10 - 8:24am

    Well done, Mike Hancock and Bob Russell.

    This was a Tory budget. LibDems have been conned into providing lobby fodder for a Tory government. They will pay a heavy price at the next election.

  • doesn’t this kind of sum up the current state of the Lib Dems? … resorting to the refuge of the Spectator over the Guardian? It seems Lib Dem colours have been nailed to the mast and that colour appears to be blue!

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Jun '10 - 9:24am

    @Joe: Perhaps the two rebels have in mind the third (and best) means of cutting the deficit: stimulating and establishing economic growth. Remember all those Vince Cable speeches before the election?

  • Anjali Shah 29th Jun '10 - 9:56am

    Good for them and shame on the other Lib Dem MPs on not voting with them, all of whom stood during the election on a LibDem spending platform and warned of a Conservative VAT rise. A blanket LibCon 2.5% tax increase that affects everyone is not rooted in fairness. The Lib Dems have sold out and I feel ashamed of having gone from door to door just 2 months ago to urge people to vote Lib Dem. Hearing Nick Clegg refer to ‘gold plated public sector pensions’ with such ease makes me wonder exactly how much of his true feelings were kept under wraps. The petty removal of low cost but rewarding spending such as free swimming shows that the LibCon govt have lost the plot, using the language of fear around the deficit to wield the idealogical axe. Is taking away free swimming from pensioners really going to cut the deficit? Or is Clegg actually quite happy with cuts like this as its just another benefit given to these ‘gold plated pensioners’.
    Where is the push from the Liberals for real brave progressive taxation. Why not a 95% tax both on the bankers and banks on all bonus sums paid out (including retrospectively for 2009 and 2010) where there has been a government bail-out. Why not a more progressive, fairer income tax system where those earning just over the top rate threshold and those well over are treated differently. 40% for those on 40K – 75K, 45% for those on 75K – 100K and the 50% on 100K and above.

    The Lib Dems in cabinet need to think of a better defence of their complete abandonment of their manifesto pledges, policies and ideals than ‘the finances are in a worse state than we thought’. That may be the case, but choices made are driven by ideals and values. We are seeing the true beliefs of those Lib Dems in the leadership and in the cabinet, true blue Tories who only became Lib Dems because of the Tories lack of social liberalism (David Laws – Section 28, Nick Clegg – Europe). True liberals may believe in a smaller state as I do, but not at the expense of the poor and there is complete delusion that the Tory budget has fairness at its heart and real hypocrisy from the Lib Dems in cabinet in supporting measures it so vehemently attacked just a short time ago. Say one thing to get elected, and do the opposite in power. At least the Conservatives are sticking to their word. Can the Lib Dems really ask us to trust them at the next election?

    I was apprehensive when the coalition was announced, but reserved judgment until we started to see what it would deliver, now all I feel is an increasing sense of shame.

  • As a constituent of Andrew George’s, I was pleased that Andrew tabled a motion calling for a study into the impact a VAT rise would have on the poor. His reasons for doing so can be found here: Andrew George MP

  • To all those bemoaning the coalition, one question. What is/would have been your alternative? Given the electoral arythmetic in place?

  • David Boothroyd 29th Jun '10 - 11:52am

    The post is surely wrong. Two Liberal Democrat MPs, Mike Hancock and Bob Russell, voted for the policy your party put before the country. 51 ratted on their promises and voted for something you had said you were specifically against. Four did not vote of whom at least one (Sir Robert Smith) seems to have done so deliberately, because he voted in the next division about a different issue.

    Mike Hancock and Bob Russell were being loyal to their election pledges; the others were ratting on them.

  • Well done Mike Hancock and Bob Russell. Men for all seasons! At least two men of integrity amongst the Orange Tories led by Mr 180 degrees.

  • David Boothroyd: “The post is surely wrong. Two Liberal Democrat MPs, Mike Hancock and Bob Russell, voted for the policy your party put before the country. 51 ratted on their promises and voted for something you had said you were specifically against. ”

    Tosh

    http://www.libdems.org.uk/our_manifesto.aspx

    I’ve had a good look through and nowhere can I see a manifesto pledge that says “Under no circumstances will we support4 a rise in VAT”

  • @Anjali Shah

    Absolutely agree with you. Higher rates of income tax for high earners and more specific taxation of the private sector is the way out of the crisis but it takes a brave person to advocate it within this cultural hegemony.

  • @Anjali Shah: “Hearing Nick Clegg refer to ‘gold plated public sector pensions’ with such ease makes me wonder exactly how much of his true feelings were kept under wraps”

    Clearly you had your head in the sand (or in the clouds?) during the election campaign and leadership debates, because these gold plated pension comments do not actually differ from what Clegg and Cable have been saying for a *long* time.

  • “To all those bemoaning the coalition, one question. What is/would have been your alternative? Given the electoral arithmetic in place?”

    They don’t have any alternatives in mind. They are simply typical of a certain type of LibDem supporter. One might charitably describe them as idealistic. Or one might less charitably describe them as something quite different and altogether less ‘complimentary’. They are fundamentally un-serious, and tend to be very uncomfortable when it all becomes real. Feelings before reason, each and every time.
    They should ALL go to Labour. Each and every one. The Labour ‘idealists’ would welcome them with big smiles, then laugh at their attitudes behind your backs, and NEVER trust them with anything remotely important. Then after they had served their purpose, Labour would snack on them, just for entertainment. It’s not that Labour does not ‘like’ them ; it’s that Labour has no respect whatsoever for them.

    As soon as things get serious, a portion of LibDemmery gets twitchy. It can’t help it. Rubber meeting the road in theory is great, but in practice — not so much.

  • Well done to both of them. Bob’s my MP, so I’m feeling rather proud.

    I’m not an economist, so have no answer as to where the money might otherwise have come from, but VAT will not increase fairness, the Lib Dems main election pledge.

    What I’m finding hard to accept is the number of Lib Dems defending policies they apparently disagreed with three months ago. Why the hypocrisy? If they don’t agree why can’t they simply say “I don’t agree, but this is a coalition in which we are the minority partner, so compromises must be made”. What happened to new politics?

  • This just goes to show that it may not be such a good idea for PPCs to campaign on personal agendas such as opposing a rise in VAT, because contrary to the lies spread by some of the trolls on here and elsewhere, NO major party actually ruled out a rise in VAT*. I guess in Bob Russell’s case it is somewhat understandable, presumably he hadn’t expected to end up on the government benches but none the less, it highlights the question whether or not MPs should be campaigning on personal pledges that are not in line with party manifesto pledges and could cause problems further down the line.

    * In fact yesterday it was revealed that Whitehall public servants were told by the previous government to prepare for a rise to 20%

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm100628/debtext/100628-0015.htm

    Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): … “We know that Labour prepared position papers in the Treasury for a 20% VAT rise, which, most importantly, the party failed to rule out in its election manifesto.”

  • Good for Mike and Bob. One hopes this is a harbinger of things to come, and that rebellion sweeps through the ranks of the Parliamentary party right up to the serving ministers who ultimately come to realise that the compromises they have made are simply too great.

    Unlike most Lib Dem MPs, Mike Hancock and Bob Russel know what it is like to go without. I applaud them.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th Jun '10 - 12:52pm

    “They are fundamentally un-serious, and tend to be very uncomfortable when it all becomes real.”

    If “seriousness” involves telling people one thing when you are trying to get them to vote for you, and doing something quite different once you’re elected, and if “reality” involves making the most vulnerable people bear the heaviest burden – after having promised you would defend them – you can keep “seriousness” and “reality”. You’re welcome to them.

    You urge people who don’t like it to “go to Labour”. Of course, they will – in droves – because they will have been left no alternative.

  • David Boothroyd 29th Jun '10 - 1:03pm

    Tabman: See Jon Swaine, “Clegg warns of ‘Tory VAT bombshell'”, The Daily Telegraph, 9 April 2010, p. 4:

    “When questioned yesterday, Mr Clegg himself repeatedly declined to promise explicitly that VAT would not rise under the Lib Dems, before eventually saying it would not.”

    The Lib Dems pledged that there would be no VAT rise if they were in government and yesterday 51 Lib Dem MPs voted for precisely that. You’re ratting on your election pledges.

  • Dougf wrote.
    ‘They should ALL go to Labour. Each and every one’

    What a great idea, at this rate us ‘idealists’ , or should I say those of us with principles, will have no where else to go if things carry on as they are.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th Jun '10 - 1:26pm

    “Where Vince Cable justified increasing VAT on the other thread, he made reference to the IFS which demonstrated that VAT is “mildly progressive”, see http://www.ifs.org.uk/budgets/gb2009/09chap10.pdf.
    Personally I found that very reassuring …”

    As discussed on other threads, the trouble with that “demonstration” is that it relies on expressing the effect of VAT of as a percentage of _expenditure_ rather than _income_. Or, alternatively, on grouping households by expenditure rather than income (which results in the “poorest” decile having an income three times greater than its expenditure on average!).

    In fact, the IFS acknowledges that VAT is regressive if the conventional procedure is followed – that is, if households are grouped according to income, and if the effect of VAT is expressed as a percentage of income:
    http://www.ifs.org.uk/budgets/budgetjune2010/browne.pdf

  • Who can honestly say they felt the effects of a 2.5% reduction in VAT, and the subesquent 2.5% increase this year? I suspect if you are honest, then very few of you, regardless of the wage you earn or ammount of cash in your account.
    The VAT increase will affect those people who are looking to spend their money. Some one buying a new flat screen TV might pay £600. I doubt the extra £15 attributable to the VAT rise will stop them buying, and if it does, then they should box clever and search the web for deals. Furthermore, it’s not as if the rise is immediate. We have more than 6 months to buy the bigger items before the rise is implemented, so where is the issue?
    £12 billion is raised to fill the hole by a tax that few of us will notice. I will take that as fair.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th Jun '10 - 2:10pm

    “£12 billion is raised to fill the hole by a tax that few of us will notice. I will take that as fair.”

    It’s remarkable the number of new definitions of the word “fair” people are coming up with these days.

  • Steve Hicks 29th Jun '10 - 3:34pm

    Andrew George MP has today said he will continue to press the Governmnet to justify its proposed VAT rise: Andrew George MP

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Jun '10 - 3:38pm

    Andrea: “…contrary to the lies spread by some of the trolls on here and elsewhere, NO major party actually ruled out a rise in VAT.”

    Not quite true. In an admittedly late and desperate move, Gordon Brown DID explicitly rule out a VAT increase in a TV interview with Jeremy Paxman a week before the election.

    More to the point, it really does nobody any credit to claim that the Lib Dems have done nothing wrong on the spurious basis that they didn’t rule out a VAT rise in their manifesto. We have all seen the photos of Nick Clegg standing shiftily in front of the now infamous “Tory VAT bombshell” poster. We can all remember Clegg’s rousing words in the accompanying Lib Dem press release :-

    “We will not have to raise VAT to deliver our promises. The Conservatives will. Let me repeat that: Our plans do not require a rise in VAT. The Tory plans do. Their tax promises… come with a secret VAT bombshell close behind.”

    Of course, in retrospect we can easily see how Clegg was – to be euphemistic – choosing his words carefully here, perhaps concealing a “secret VAT bombshell” of his own, but most voters at the time would have inferred (perfectly reasonably) that the Lib Dems were opposed to an increase in VAT.

    When asked yesterday by the BBC whether the Lib Dem “VAT bombshell” campaign had all been a big con, Vince Cable offered this candid explanation :-

    “We were trying to score a point against the Conservatives, if you like. OK, well that was in the election. We have now moved past the election.”

    Oh dear.

    The Lib Dems hoodwinked the electorate on this issue, pure and simple. They may not be any worse than any other party in this regard; but we know for sure that they aren’t any better either. Congratulations to the Lib Dem rebels (all two of them), who at least have the integrity to stick to the spirit – if not the letter – of the Lib Dem’s pre-election VAT policy.

  • Very well said Stuart.

  • coldcomfort 29th Jun '10 - 4:21pm

    If this Coalition means anything in terms of new politics it should mean that Liberal Democrat MPs in particular,.(but also Tories) can vote against measures that they believe are wrong & that the power of the whips should be curbed and that, except on a Vote of No Confidence, a defeat in the House is not a reason for the Coalition or the Government to collapse. If such a defeat means an item of policy has to be re-thought so be it. With respect to VAT, if there was a previously undisclosed black hole of £12bn why not a levy of £14bn on the Banks instead of a piffling £2bn? Of course they would squeal like stuck pigs & some Tory MPs might vote against. Hooray. Then, at long last, we will have a legislature that approximates to being democratic.

  • Andrew Suffield 29th Jun '10 - 5:07pm

    In fact, the IFS acknowledges that VAT is regressive if the conventional procedure is followed – that is, if households are grouped according to income, and if the effect of VAT is expressed as a percentage of income

    VAT is a tax on expenditure. Income tax is a tax on income. It is conventional to analyse income taxes based on income and expenditure taxes based on expenditure. If you don’t do this, then you get anomalous results like you do with VAT (which appears “regressive” because all the non-working rich, who do the most spending on luxuries, fall into the lowest 10% of income).

    You know that, and yet you repeat the same nonsense in each thread.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th Jun '10 - 7:12pm

    Andrew

    “VAT is a tax on expenditure. Income tax is a tax on income. It is conventional to analyse income taxes based on income and expenditure taxes based on expenditure. If you don’t do this, then you get anomalous results like you do with VAT (which appears “regressive” because all the non-working rich, who do the most spending on luxuries, fall into the lowest 10% of income).
    You know that, and yet you repeat the same nonsense in each thread.”

    Rubbish. It’s absolutely conventional to assess taxation by comparing it with income – with the ability to pay. That’s why the poll tax – a flat rate tax per head – was notoriously regressive.

    What you are saying now makes just as little sense as saying that the poll tax is a tax on heads, and therefore isn’t regressive because everyone has the same number of heads.

  • I have searched the broadcast media in vain for reports of the first rebellion by coalition MPs. Obviously the Tory’s friends in the media are burying this story. Yet, every nuance of discord in Gordon Brown’s government was flagged up as headline news and any rebels treated to full interviews in which they were allowed free rein to put their case. Disgraceful.

  • Joe Otten
    Posted 29th June 2010 at 4:04 pm | Permalink
    Stuart, Deniece,

    You elected a mostly conservative government, and you got the VAT rise you were warned about. By all means damn the Tories, but we told you this would happen.

    Did we?? All by ourselves? Damn we’re powerful!

    (Thought I’d voted for Bob Russell actually, pen must have slipped)

  • While I appreciate the headline is following media coverage, I take issue with it – surely it is the other way around – 55 MPs rebel and 2 stay loyal. There was no sentence or paragraph in the coalition agreement that said that the coalition will introduce a 2.5% increase in VAT. The other tax measures were in the agreement. Some we disagreed with (e.g. no mansion tax), some the Tories (e.g. CGT) disagreed with.
    While I appreciate the difficulty in changing Budget measures from the agreement because of the nature of the Budget process, it is surely the case that any major changes to the coalition agreement should go through the same procedure as the initial agreement. If not, what was the point of the agreement, the process and the negiotiations?
    The taxation section of the coalition agreement is pretty specific and makes no mention of a VAT rise. I can see no reason why any Lib Dem backbench MP should be considered a rebel (whether you agree with them or not) on a measure unless it was in the Lib Dem manifesto or in the coalition agreement.

  • Andrea Gill 29th Jun '10 - 9:50pm

    Saying it again: Yesterday it was revealed that Whitehall public servants were told by the previous government to prepare for a rise to 20%

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm100628/debtext/100628-0015.htm

    Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): … “We know that Labour prepared position papers in the Treasury for a 20% VAT rise, which, most importantly, the party failed to rule out in its election manifesto.”

  • Barry George 29th Jun '10 - 10:27pm

    Clearly that future is already here Andrew. I would be less concerned with ‘Labour trolls’ and more concerned with the voting public, whom may also consider us to be no different to the Conservatives. Therefore negating any reason to vote for us and making the party redundant.

    I would certainly suggest that we watch closely the opinion polls as it appears we are heading to a single digit % of the vote.

    I suggest we spend as much effort as is possible to highlight the differences between us and the Conservatives. Our survival may depend on it…

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th Jun '10 - 10:30pm

    Andrew

    Could you just clarify something for me? Are Bob Russell and Mike Hancock now officially “Labour trolls”?

  • @ Andrew Tennant

    “I don’t think the Labour trolls realise that by lumping Lib Dems in with Conservatives and repeatedly telling us there’s no difference, that they plant the seeds for a future in which Liberal Democrats are more sympathetic to the Conservatives and less to them…”

    If you were a homogeneous party I suppose that might possibly be a consequence but if so it could convince Labour people such as myself who might be in favour of PR that FPTP is actually better for Labour if PR was constantly going to produce Lib Dem Con coalitions. However, I believe that the electorate will see only blue and orange Tories next time. Might be good for you, might not.

  • @Andrew Tennant “I don’t think the Labour trolls realise that by lumping Lib Dems in with Conservatives and repeatedly telling us there’s no difference, that they plant the seeds for a future in which Liberal Democrats are more sympathetic to the Conservatives and less to them…”

    Indeed, I find it increasingly more difficult to even fathom a coalition with the Labour party, based not on the old Maggie Thatcher Spectre as is the case with deep-rooted Lib Dem fears of the Tories, but on very much current experience and attitudes/policy by Labour.

  • vince thurnell 30th Jun '10 - 7:15am

    How old are some of the posters on here ?. With all respect calling people ‘Labour trolls’ and suchlike makes you seem like a group of school children. If you really want your views to be taken seriously you could start by realsing the whole world doesnt agree with you. I have found you normally get your point across a lot better if you treat people respect rather than coming up with stupid kiddy names for anyone that has a differring view from yours.

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Jun '10 - 7:42am

    @Andrea: Did you not see my previous post? Gordon Brown DID explicitly rule out a VAT rise before the election. This was very widely reported, even in the Tory press: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1270154/Gordon-Brown-Bigotgate-I-thought-wanted-foreign-students-kicked-out.html

    Try defending the Lib Dem’s position (difficult though that seems) rather than making things up about Labour!

    Government’s tell civil servants to “prepare” for all sorts of contingencies, many of whch never happen.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Jun '10 - 8:27am

    If the consequence of Labour attacks is that the Lib Dems politicians and remaining members become “more sympathetic” to the Tories – as Andrew’s and Andrea’s comments suggest – I think that will suit Labour down to the ground. Even a formal electoral pact between the Lib Dems and the Tories would be far from disastrous for Labour, considering that (other things being equal) the withdrawal of Lib Dem candidates from Con/Lab marginals would tend to favour Labour.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Jun '10 - 10:39am

    Andrew

    Was that an answer to my question about Bob Russell and Mike Hancock?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Jun '10 - 10:45am

    “even to committed Party members like Anthony”

    Just to be clear, I am no longer a party member. I was a mere Lib Dem voter in May.

  • I would be very worried if I were a Lib Dem that although the Lib Dems’ poll ratings have slumped the Tories’ have gone on rising. Or is that all Labour’s fault too? Looks like the people out there are telling you that when it comes to a choice between the blue and orange Tories they’d much rather have the real thing. I foresee a big identity crisis for you. The kind that the trophy wife of the successful husband undergoes.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Jun '10 - 11:38am

    Andrew

    “Of course not; I do not know their reasoning, I would therefore be pleased to see any public statement that they have made on this issue.”

    Google News is always handy for this kind of thing. Here’s a sample of what it brings up (in “0.19 seconds”):

    Colchester Liberal Democrat Bob Russell said VAT was the most unfair tax, but it hit disproportionately the poorest members of society.

    “Millionaires will not notice the extra 2.5% on bills, but people on very low incomes will be really hit by this increase.”

    Mr Russell, however, did not criticise Chancellor George Osborne for having to push through massive tax hikes and spending cuts to try to rebalance the economy.

    “Labour left this country in an appalling mess. We have been spending way beyond our means and something had to be done.

    “However, VAT is regressive. The poorest families will have to bear the brunt.

    “Child poverty under Labour has rocketed, even though Gordon Brown and Tony Blair said their main aim was to eliminate it.

    “It now stands at 3.9million – what a shocking indictment of 13 wasted years of Labour government.”

    http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/politics/russell_rebels_over_vat_increase_1_468862

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Jun '10 - 12:31pm

    Andrew

    “Yes people on low incomes may spend a higher proportion on VAT, but they also spend more of their income as a whole; if you look at it as a proportion of expenditure then the impact on their spending is lower than it is on those on higher incomes.”

    Yes, I know this is the argument being put forward now, but frankly I’m amazed to hear Lib Dems saying this kind of thing.

    Would you – to take a simple example – really equate the effect of taking away 10% of the income of a poor man, who has to spend everything he earns, with that of taking away 1% of the income of a miserly rich man, who can afford to save 90% of what he earns – just because these represent the same percentages of their expenditures?

  • Anthony Aloysius St
    “Would you – to take a simple example – really equate the effect of taking away 10% of the income of a poor man, who has to spend everything he earns, with that of taking away 1% of the income of a miserly rich man, who can afford to save 90% of what he earns – just because these represent the same percentages of their expenditures?”

    An excellent description of the position. And one mustn’t forget that the rich man’s saved 90%, if wisely invested, would cushion him against the VAT increase further, even with today’s interest rates.

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Jun '10 - 1:22pm

    A brief word on the subject of “Labour trolls”.

    I openly support Labour (think I said so in my first ever post here), and only ever started posting on this site after taking the trouble to check that the site policy explicitly welcomes contributions from supporters of parties other than the Lib Dems.

    If LDV were to change that policy then I wouldn’t hang around for a second longer.

    Trust that’s OK.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th Jun '10 - 2:49pm

    “No, not really, but I do think VAT an effective way to raise revenue, and one which is hard for the rich to avoid; if such an approach causes poverty for some then we should be looking how we can extend exemptions to mitigate this or to help them obtain a higher income; I’d argue we’ve started already here by increasing the income tax threshold.”

    That would be a better approach than trying to make out VAT isn’t regressive.

    The trouble is that, as already discussed ad nauseam, the progressive measures in the budget are not sufficient to compensate for the regressive ones. The _overall_ effect of the budget tax and benefit changes is that the poorest are among the hardest hit as a percentage of their income. (Incidentally, that is true whether you group households by income or, as some prefer, by expenditure. In fact if you group by expenditure the IFS analysis shows that the bottom decile is the very worst hit group in 2012-13.)

    And that is just the tax and benefit changes. There will also be the effects of general cuts in public spending. While people may be arguing about the defects of the particular model of those effects that was published at the weekend, I don’t think anyone is seriously suggesting that the poor won’t be hardest hit by these cuts.

  • @Andrew Tennant.

    “Are you really suggesting that those on a higher salary should not have a higher disposable income,”

    Now you do sound desperate. Of course I’m not. I’m merely suggesting that those on higher incomes possess more opportunities to cushion themselves against VAT. It’s your coalition which wants the top rate of pay in the public sector to be 20 times the lowest. I think that’s absurd, but if you want to impose it, it should be imposed across both the private and public sector equally for the sake of equity. (Oh, sorry, I’d forgotten that public sector pounds are a different shape and colour to private sector pounds) I happen to think that the fairest form of taxation is income tax. I thought that the Lib Dems thought so too, that’s why they advocated a local form of income tax instead of council tax. Or has this policy been dumped too along with the amnesty for illegal immigrants which was really intended to be a cap all along?

  • John N Clarke 4th Jul '10 - 5:16pm

    Two good men abandon sinking ship – yo ho ho and a bottle of pro activia….

  • George Kendall 9th Jul '10 - 1:33am

    @Stuart Mitchell
    “I openly support Labour … the site policy explicitly welcomes contributions from supporters of parties other than the Lib Dems … Trust that’s OK.”

    I agree. The site policy is very clear.

    Personally, I welcome any contribution that carefully reads what the other person says, is polite, and, especially, if it’s willing to generously concede valid points from the other person in the debate. Some Labour contributions to this site have been excellent.

    As for trolls, the less said the better. Arguing with a troll is just feeding their ego. Trying to ban them makes them seem more important than they are.

    Besides, most people who are called trolls aren’t; they’re just aggressive and confrontational debators. From a brief scan of a few of your posts, you’re neither. 🙂

  • Paul McKeown 9th Jul '10 - 1:47am

    @George Kendall

    I agree, trenchant criticism is to be welcomed, as it allows both sides of a debate to be put forward.

    Astroturfing, though, is altogether something else, and the mods should take a hard line when it is discovered, as the site might otherwise lose credibility. Someone who claims to be a supporter of an LD MP, but is actually an activist for another party, that is wrong, and in fact it ought to be taken up with that other party.

  • George Kendall 9th Jul '10 - 8:19am

    @Paul McKeown
    I don’t like Astroturfing either. (Admission time, I had to look it up: “The disguising of an orchestrated campaign as a spontaneous upwelling of public opinion”).

    But is it worth getting too worried about? The individual I think you’re referring to has been exposed. Frankly, the fact he was exposed shows he’s hardly a genius. When I read him, he came over as a politico engaged in a game, not someone with passion and sincerity. I suspect his net effect on readers has been to repel people from Labour, rather than attract them.

    His kind of remarks have made the site a bit nastier, which is a shame. But can the mods really stop that, without being so heavy handed as to harm the site? A site that’s neurotic about trolls is not going to be attractive to new readers.

    The standard advice for dealing with trolls is not to feed them. So let’s just ignore them. If we concentrate our time on answering comments from those who seem more sincere, any spurious arguments they make will be answered soon enough anyway.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 9th Jul '10 - 9:36am

    “The individual I think you’re referring to has been exposed.”

    Have I missed something here? Hadn’t the individual been quite clear about being a Labour supporter? In what sense was he “exposed”?

    Considering this site is supposed to welcome comments from all, people seem to spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing about the fact that there are contributors who aren’t fully paid-up Lib Dem cheerleaders.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 9th Jul '10 - 9:53am

    I think I must have missed that. The comment that stuck in my mind was:
    “I voted for John Thurso, but would sooner have stuck my head in a bucket of horse urine than vote for a LibDem candidate pretty much anywhere else”

    That didn’t strike me as sounding like someone pretending to be a supporter of the party!

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRossMcL 20th Nov - 12:18am
    I agree that Jo did well here. She is at her best in these kind of face-to-face situations, I think. It will be interesting to...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 20th Nov - 12:16am
    Same old same old of a failed Tory policy. It is not Democracy when only one viewpoint is discussed. Fact Check UK reminds me of...
  • User AvatarJohn Barrett 19th Nov - 11:53pm
    Jo was lucky not to be in the earlier debate with the 2 so called "main party" leaders. She did very well in a much...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 19th Nov - 11:35pm
    Neither of the 2 main parties are worth a penny.Equally some of the questions asked were pathetic when we have the most monumental period in...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill. 19th Nov - 11:29pm
    Jo Swinson was asked about the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson resigning. Boris Johnson has purged the Conservative Parliamentary Party of Remainers and...
  • User AvatarMark Valladares 19th Nov - 11:27pm
    Hywel, The Chair of the Federal Appeals Panel and the Returning Officer are one and the same, Alan Masters... and he may well have ruled...