Vince: Deal on Mansion Tax vetoed “from above”

If I have to be inside on a glorious Summer Saturday, I am glad it’s here at Social Liberal Forum Conference in Manchester.

Vince Cable has just done a highly informative session where he outlined key differences between us and the Tories on the economy. You can get the main points from following #slfconf on Twitter.

The whole speech deserves more attention than I can give it while half listening to another session, but I thought you would like to know that he confirmed that for last year’s Budget, he had a deal with Osborne to introduce a Mansion Tax if the top rate of tax was reduced to 40%. He said that the deal was vetoed from above, “I’ll leave you to guess by whom.”

He later said that he hoped his comments on immigration (in which he endorsed Sarah Teather’s comments today) and on the need for us to present radical policies which differentiated Liberal Democrats from Conservatives.

There will be more to follow, including a bloggers’ interview with Steve Webb.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • John Roffey 13th Jul '13 - 1:53pm

    VC is clearly trying to give the impression that the Party has and is battling to help the ordinary people through their negotiations within the Coalition – much needed – but very difficult to seem credible given the chummy relationship that has been demonstrated between Cameron & Clegg. However, better late than never – it might also be VC’s bid for the leadership if NC does resign after a disastrous showing at the EU Elections.

    Not sure that Sarah Teather is helping the cause, in election terms, by criticising immigration reforms when immigration is such a contentious issue for the majority:

    Farage has stated that he hopes that UKIP can take the greatest share of the vote at the EU Elections elections – not impossible given their recent surge in popularity [might also explain his forays into Scotland]. The vote share in 2009 was:

    Con: 27.7; UKIP: 16.5; Lab: 15.7; L/Ds 13.7

  • Thank goodness somebody had the sense to veto the arbitrary and easily avoidable mansion tax with its disproportionate rate set at the equivalent of half a property’s rental yield. Except we got 7% stamp duty which is arguably a mansion tax already.

  • “Not sure that Sarah Teather is helping the cause, in election terms, by criticising immigration reforms when immigration is such a contentious issue for the majority”.

    Just because immigration is a contentious issue doesn’t mean those opposed to some of the government’s rhetoric on immigration should say nothing. One of Sarah’s points was that the three main parties seem to be engaged in a damaging contest to see how ‘tough’ they can be on immigration. I only wish other backbench LibDem MPs were prepared to speak out (not just on immigration) like her.

  • @ John

    I was viewing the issue in the electoral context [the whole of my comment was in this vein]. People’s views on immigration are becoming an emotional cauldron – with many seeing this as being the most important issue in UK politics today.

    Analysis has shown that UKIP’s popularity is now more based on their promise to halt immigration for 5 years – if they came into office – rather than their opposition to our membership of the EU.

    The issues that ST is protesting are likely to be supported by the majority.

  • @ John Roffey

    But why do people want a halt to immigration and why is it the emotional cauldron you say it (I’m inclined to agree by the way)? Immigration, like welfare, is used by politicians as a distraction from the real concerns people have, which I think are more likely to be can I afford to feed my family? Can I see a doctor when I need to? Can my kids get into the local school and will they get a good education? Unfortunately, when politicians are seen as failing to meet this concerns, they are either happy to let some sections of the press blame immigrants or welfare recipients, or worse play into the rhetoric,

    I’m also troubled by the thought that policy should be dictated by polling. If the role of politicians is to do what the public supports, then we don’t need elections or politicians, merely technocrats that can implement policies based on polling figures.

    I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the idea of the Liberal Democrats pursuing an illiberal immigration policy, and certainly not comfortable with our party leaders failing to challenge the immigration rhetoric that the Conservatives, UKIP, and a large proportion of the Labour party are more than happy to use. Just as an example, around Easter Miliband, Clegg and Cameron all made speeches on immigration. I am fairly certain they could have swapped speeches and no one would have noticed.

  • Paul In Twickenham 14th Jul '13 - 7:09am

    @John Roffey: “The issues that ST is protesting are likely to be supported by the majority.”

    Don’t we take it as read that Liberal Democrat policy will never appeal to broad swathes of conservative middle-england.

  • Andrew Colman 14th Jul '13 - 9:19am

    I am very concerned about the latest wave of anti-immigration feeling

    It is something that parties who believe in freedom such as the Liberal Democrats should be very careful about responding to. The easy answer is to give the mob what they want and reduce peoples freedom to travel. This will hurt the economy and worsen life for most.

    I expect if one were to dig deep behind this anti-immigration hysteria, one would find people are concerned about jobs, housing and crime and have heard though the media or gossip that these are linked to immigration. These are the concerns that the Lib Dems should answer by making sure young people have access to good careers advice, training opportunities and future job prospects for example. Housing policy needs ton be shifted to meet the needs of ordinary people, not just the richest 10%.

    Check the link below to see how the media misleads people

    Two of the worlds most prosperous counties, the British empire of the 19th C and USA in the 20C were built on immigration and tolerance. Going back on these today will ruin our country which depends on international trade for its wealth.

  • @ Paul in Twickenham

    My comments on this thread have been directed towards how the Party could hold onto its 2010 share of the vote, as it does appear to be the case, based on the comments I have seen on LDV, that the leadership and members want to continue to be part of a coalition government. Your reply suggests that this does not concern you and that you are content for the Party to continue to have its ‘quirky’ image – even if this does lessen its chances of being in ‘office’.

    It seems to me that the Party is at a crossroads. It was something of an accident that it became part of the government – as we know, hung Parliaments are rare. However, if this experience is something that the membership would wish to become a regular occurrence, a much more realistic approach is required.

    Essentially the leading centrist party should be vying to become the party of government at each GE – particularly as it is not obliged to do the bidding of either big business or the Unions – and can govern for the benefit of the people at large. However, this does mean dropping policies that are disapproved of by the majority – until they have become accepted as a result of patient and continuing explanation.

    I hope that it will take the ‘bull by the horns’ and take on the goal of becoming the governing party – for their cannot be many times since WW2 when the nation and its people have faced such an ominous future.

  • @Andrew Colman

    I don’t know where you live Andrew, but if it is your town of birth and you had seen such an influx of immigrants that the majority of its original inhabitants had moved out and the most common language used was not English or if you live in an inner city where a high proportion of school children do not speak English and, as you say, jobs and homes where taken by immigrants and that these did seem to account for an increase in crime – you too might have joined the ‘anti-immigration hysteria’.

    The problem is that the impact of immigration has hit different areas of the UK disproportionally – because the immigrants tend to settle close to where there is an existing community of their own people. Also, the birth rates amongst immigrants is much higher than amongst the indigenous British, which does mean that there is a point in time, not too far away, that can be calculated when ‘white’ British will not be the majority. I don’t think your comparison with the US is valid as that is a nation almost entirely composed of immigrants who have displaced the indigenous people.

    However, for me these are not the most concerning issues with regard to immigration. We are a small over crowded island that can only feed 50-60% of it population. The global corporations, having achieved a monopoly in oil & gas, banking, pharmaceuticals, GM crops and much else besides have started to obtain a over-riding control of food production. We can be sure that as with fuel, the price of food will steadily rise way beyond the rate of inflation in the coming years. Now, as hard as it may be to do without other basic ‘necessities’ – we simply cannot live without food.

    It is for this reason that I believe immigration should be halted and that as many as possible should be encouraged to return home – until we have got much closer to having food security.

  • Andrew Colman 14th Jul '13 - 3:11pm

    Currently, I do not live in an area with many immigrants but I did so a few years ago. My experience of immigrants (and foreigners in general) is that they are generally better behaved than Indigenous white residents. I regularly travel to Africa and parts of SE Asia and on return am usually shocked on how badly behaved many Brits are. Swearing in the street, trying to provoke fights just for fun, tormenting others (eg the disabled) just for kicks. I have not come across this behaviour outside the UK

    In my view , Immigrants enhance our culture with their restaurants, shops open late at night for example.

    Yes there are some parts of some cultures that are abhorrent eg forced marriage, FGM. There should be zero tolerance against this type of thing with severe enough punishments to deter the hardest fanatics. I believe only a minority are involved in such things or terrorism, but yes these people should be weeded out and dealt with

  • A Social Liberal 14th Jul '13 - 3:13pm


    Can you tell me the last time we were self sufficient food wise? Certainly not in the 21st or even the 20th century. Malthus was arguing in the 19th century using your rhetoric. Of course, his bugbear was the working class whereas yours is immigration.

    So tell me, which of the immigrants should we get rid of? The scientists? The engineers? The doctors or nurses or dentists? And where edxactly would you stop? Just immigrants, second generation, third? You do realise even second generation immigrant cleansing would include Nick Clegg, the Millibands and – if he were still alive – Sir Winston Churchill.

    British society will not function without immigration, we depend upon it to proctect us, to keep us healthy, build our infrastructure and look after us in our dotage.

    You’re arguements are of the far right and in common with them are simplistic and childish.

  • Andrew Colman 14th Jul '13 - 3:23pm

    Re potential food shortages in future . This is a genuine concern but immigration is a red herring here

    The problem is global population. If everyone lived like the average, Brit we would need 6 earths to provide the resources (look up best foot forward on google)

    What is needed is to slow down human population growth everywhere. This can be achieved by not subsidising procreation and empowering women. Italy and Russia have achieved reasonable birth rates without any prom active government action.

    There is also a need to reform social stuctures to come with a large proportion of ederly people which might continue for several centuries until the human population reaches a sustainable level

  • John Roffey writes that the Liberal Democrats should drop policies that are disapproved of by the majority.

    Firstly, I don’t think politicians should necessarily always do what the “majority” wants. Governments have to take the long view, even if it isn’t always popular at the time.

    But secondly, your views don’t represent the “majority”. Polls do not show that most people want a total ban on immigration – most people recognise the benefits of attracting highly-skilled workers and students.

  • John Roffey 15th Jul '13 - 5:19am

    @ Andrew Coleman

    I certainly tend to agree with your comparison between the behaviour of immigrants & indigenous whites – although this is difficult to quantify. In my view the major difference is that most immigrants do have a strong faith in some religion which provides a morality and demands a high level of civilised behaviour – which is not the case for most white British. With little or no religious belief, they are the victims of the consumer society that the political class has constructed for their clients – the global corporations. Morality is now seldom mentioned and virtually any wrong doing is ‘redeemed’ by paying a sufficiently large fine.

    However, politicians are expected to govern their nation for the benefit of the indigenous people – not try to replace them because they prefer immigrants!:)

    Although food shortages is a global problem and a UK government can try to influence global trends through international groups, the harsh reality is that all they can really do is view the problem from a UK prospect and act accordingly.

    As I tried to explain, food was not such a problem in the past for a comparatively rich nation like Britain – we could always get all that we needed by paying the, not too high, going rate. However, in recent years the global corporations have invested heavily in the sources of food production with their usual aim of creating a monopoly – as has been done with gas & oil – with the purpose of maximising their profits in this most basic of necessities. The result will be that food prices, just like gas & oil, with soar in relation to general levels of inflation.

    For a bankrupt and over-crowded nation like Britain – that can produce only 50-60% of its food requirements – all that the government can do to provide food security, apart from trying to get as much land into food production as possible, is to try to reduce the population.

    The only practical way this can be done is to strictly limit immigration and to get as many of those that are here to return to their land of birth. This problem is compounded by the fact that immigrant birth rates are so much higher than the indigenous whites – from the Telegraph:

    One in four British babies born to foreign mothers

    Immigrants have fuelled a mini-baby boom in Britain over the last decade, with one in four children now born to a record 200,000 foreign mothers a year.

  • John Roffey 15th Jul '13 - 5:51am

    @ A Social Liberal

    As I have tried to explain in the above comment, we are a ‘a bankrupt and over-crowded nation – that can produce only 50-60% of its food requirements’ and ‘the global corporations have invested heavily in the sources of food production with their usual aim of creating a monopoly – as has been done with gas & oil – with the purpose of maximising their profits in this most basic of necessities. The result will be that food prices, just like gas & oil, with soar in relation to general levels of inflation’ – as a nation that has great trouble producing goods or providing services to the global market at low enough prices – our position is dire and can only get worse.

    Coupled to this ‘one in four British babies born to foreign mothers’.

    Obviously – if a policy of encouraging immigrants to return home were put in place – those immigrants with the least needed skills would be selected first. However, if any kind of planning is to be made possible – we need to leave the EU so that controls can be put in place on those coming here from EU nations.

    WW2 demonstrated what could be done by the populace in a crisis. I have no doubt that the British could rise again to the challenge.

    I believe that the surge in immigration only occurred after Blair came to office – so those adults encouraged to return to their land of birth would only need to include those who were not born here.

    Although I can understand that you see these suggestions as right wing, simplistic and childish – I think if you view them objectively you will see that I am trying to face a problem head on – usually my views would be considered left wing.

    For too long our politicians have refused to deal with serious and fundamental issues, because their main concern is to win elections [not genuinely solve problems] and using ‘sticking plaster’ remedies suits their goal. However, this and other problems have steadily built and are now making any real progress virtually impossible – time to face the facts.

  • John Roffey 15th Jul '13 - 6:10am

    @ John

    Since you have raised the issue of polls – here are a few:

    This by ComRes at the beginning of the year:

    Topline results:
    • 79% of British people oppose ending immigration controls on new EU states Bulgaria and Romania from 2014.
    • 7% support removing immigration controls.
    • 89% of those aged 65 or older oppose ending immigration controls.
    • Across all social classes there is consistent opposition to ending immigration controls. 79% of both AB and DE classes oppose ending controls. C2 voters are most likely to be opposed at 81%.
    • Opposition is strongest in Yorkshire and Humberside with 88% of respondents against ending controls. In the West Midlands the figure is 87%. The South East (82%) and Scotland (81%) follow behind.
    • Support for maintaining immigration controls is consistent amongst all voters for political parties, even those who have been supportive of immigration in the past. 60% of Green voters, 73% of Liberal Democrats, 75% of Labour voters and 86% of SNP voters oppose ending immigration controls on these new EU member states.

    From UK polling – 30 June 2013:

    Asked about various groups of immigrants, 70% of people think we should allow fewer (or no) low skilled workers to come to Britain, 59% think that we should allow fewer relatives of people already living in Britain to come here to join relatives. People are actually far more positively disposed towards other immigrant groups – only 28% want to see a reduction in high skilled immigrants looking for well paid jobs, only 27% want to see a reduction in foreign students coming to study in British universities. Asylum seekers split opinion – 42% want to see a reduction in the number of people fleeing persecution allowed to come here, 47% are content with present numbers or would allow more.
    Viewed as a whole it suggests people are far more positive about some types of immigration that you would think. It’s one of those times that, in hindsight, you wished you’d asked an extra question – in this case to find out what proportion of total immigration people think is made up of those groups. Given overall public hostility towards immigration I imagine they think it is mostly unskilled and relatives, rather the skilled workers and students they are apparently well disposed to, but it would be good to test.

    Asked about specific government policies on immigration, views are once more the typical anti-immigration responses: 71% support requiring a £3000 bond for visitors from high risk countries, 84% support the idea of forcing benefit claimants to learn English or risk losing benefits.

    However, an interesting survey by Peter Kellner [YouGov] in the Telegraph at the beginning of June showed that the British simply do not believe politicians any more – hardly surprising given recent revelations!

    Although support for tougher measures is overwhelming among UKIP and Conservative supporters, it is also backed by a majority of Labour voters and around half of Liberal Democrats.

    When people are asked which party they trust most to handle immigration, UKIP comes top, chosen by 25% of the public as a whole, followed by the Tories (18%), Labour (14%) and the Lib Dems (6%). However, as many as 29% trust none of the four parties.

    Put another way, 18 million Britons pick one of the three traditional parties, but as many as 24 million reject all three by saying UKIP or ‘none of them’. No wonder David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are all trying to find ways of talking about immigration that reassure their traditional supporters.

    What, though, is the best way to do this? Increasingly, mainstream politicians are offering apologies for the past: we have been letting in too many people and will admit fewer people in the future. Ministers say the coalition’s policies are working. Just last month Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister, said that by cracking down on abuse, the rate of immigration last year fell dramatically. Net immigration fell from 242,000 in 2011 to 153,000 in 2012.

    Yet this news has done nothing to stem the tide of defections to UKIP – mainly from the Tories but now, increasingly, from Labour and the Lib Dems. YouGov’s latest survey helps to explain this.

    Bluntly, the news that immigration is falling has not been noticed or, if noticed, believed. We asked people what they think had happened to immigration ‘in the last year or two’. Fully 59% think it has increased, while a further 17% think it continued at around the same level. A mere 15% think it has fallen at all. And almost all of them think it fell by just a little. A mere 2% of the public (included in the 15%) think that immigration has ‘fallen a lot’ – a description that would seem to be justified by the one-third reduction in the net flow.

  • @John Roffey

    Two factors you’ve overlooked:

    Firstly the ONS population data that has been reported in the media, both the hard facts and the projections, which clearly shows both the level of real immigration (not net) and the impact this has on both our current and future populations – something no major party wants to talk about. Basically, the growth of the ‘immigrant’ population is more than sufficient to mask any of the falls we’ve seen in net immigration.

    Secondly, there is the legacy of New Labour’s approach to immigration, which was basically to open the gates and not worry about the ramifications – something that the coalition has so far failed to get under control and that we are having to live with. So another media topic that will impact people’s perceptions of immigration.

  • Andrew Colman 15th Jul '13 - 10:28am

    John Roffey Wrote

    “However, politicians are expected to govern their nation for the benefit of the indigenous people – not try to replace them because they prefer immigrants!:)”

    Many English people (a significant majority I suspect) also detest the behaviour of indigenous yobs, However the media and politicians prefer to blame alcohol rather than the culprits directly. I wonder why?

  • @ Roland

    Thanks for reminding me of the ONS data .

    I do always have in mind Blair’s opening of the flood gates to Eastern European immigrations when discussing this issue. A matter that Miliband has tried to back-track from yet Blair remains defiant.

    What is not said, however, is that Blair’s action was aimed at creating greater competition for jobs in order to lower UK pay rates for the benefit of big business – as was his generally relaxed policy on immigration from outside the EU.

    This policy was continued by Brown and gleefully seized by Cameron/Osborne [VC’s criticism of GO] – they all have adopted policies for the benefit of the global corporations, whether UK or overseas based. This has become the norm for the leaders of the two main parties – it is a pity the L/D representatives in the Coalition have not done all they could to protect the people from what are in fact their enemies.

    I have argued that the Party has reached a crossroad. It can continue as a ‘quirky’ party and wait for another chance to be in Coalition – which could be in the very distant future – or take advantage of their current position to start introducing policies that are for the benefit of and supported by the people.

    This is really all that UKIP has done – and they are a right wing party – think what could be done by a left of centre party with Labour, under Miliband, likely to make a pretty poor fist of their surprise opportunity.

  • Another factor to bear in mind and which I overlooked is the relative behaviour of the ‘immigrant’ population and the media coverage of their ‘grievances’.

    I draw a comparison with the activities of the IRA in the decades prior to the Good Friday Agreement. I suspect that at the time many English people were strongly against Catholic Irish people, based solely on the actions of the IRA both in England and in N.Ireland, which received significant press coverage.

    If we look at many people’s objection to immigrants (I’ll ignore ‘nationalist’ parties such as the BNP), we will tend to see that they object most to the more recent groups who have not been slow in coming forward and claiming their ‘rights’ and expressing their dislike of our society which doesn’t pamper to their every whim. In all the debate, I suspect that very few will make any mention of the ethnic Chinese example and others from China and neighbouring countries, along with other groups that have come here over the decades and just quietly got on with life.

  • The hypocrisy of this seems to the forefront, Roland, when you consider the expression by expat Brits of their views on things in the countries where they are located. Rarely “backward in coming forward”.Neo-colonialism seems to me very close to our behaviour as a people (I speak here of the majority, not of the tolerant minority). In fact when you consider that “we” view one of our British characteristics as honesty and ability to tell it like it is, we should actually welcome it when people from other countries or heritages tell it like they see it. After all, one of the key points about integration, which is always pushed by politicians as an important part of “immigrant” behaviour, is the understanding and adoption of British values!

  • John Roffey 15th Jul '13 - 4:51pm

    I think your argument is difficult to sustain Tim, when the greatest problem with various immigrant communities is that they do not generally integrate, unlike those from the Far East.

    It is where these communities do accumulate that the worst violence is likely to occur.

  • Tim13, whilst I don’t doubt that British expats do gripe and moan about the countries they’ve relocated to and that such complaints are probably inversely proportional to the extent to which they have “gone native” and integrated. It has little to do with the situation here in the UK, because the majority (at home) have no exposure to the behaviours of expats.

    So trying to pitch the idea that UK residents views on immigrants and their demands are hypocrisy isn’t going to help the “immigration isn’t an issue” cause.

    My personal viewpoint on integration is that it is something that takes a long time and it is probably only the second (and later) generation born in the UK (to mixed heritage parents) really understand British values, because to them Britain is their home country and English is their first language from birth.

  • I am afraid we will have to agree to disagree, Roland. Have you had any substantial overseas experience, by the way? Incidentally, I think many more have had exposure to expat, or part-expat views these days than you give credit for, as many more are living overseas at least for part of a year. Can I also say that it drives me round the twist when people express views about “speaking English”, when what becomes apparent is that quite a lot of people are more or less allergic to hearing another language spoken in this country. They are pretty bad when it is Welsh being spoken in Wales – paranoia sets in, but when it is in England it is even worse. And, of course, they are even more allergic to learning others’ languages!

  • Tim I’m not quite sure of the real point you are trying to make, with respect to UK resident’s perceptions of immigration into the UK.

    I totally accept that people’s perceptions may be hypocritical; particularly those held by some expat’s. But I’m not sure how that helps put a positive spin on UK immigration to the British public. Remember many people also come into contact with individual ‘immigrants’ and they are quite capable of separating their specific (good) experiences from the undifferentiated mass of immigrants.

    My use of ‘English’ was just a lazy way of saying “a language and accent, native to the UK normally spoken at home by both their parents ie. the parents adopted/chosen first language rather than the language of their grand parents”.

    As for your comment about languages in the UK, yes, it has been and is very difficult to meaningfully expose children to multiple languages in the UK. Sitting in various European meetings, I’ve often been reduced to quiet admiration of some of my (non-UK) colleagues who have been able to concurrently hold conversations in several languages and switch languages mid argument without really pausing for breathe.

  • John Roffey –

    With respect, the polling statistics you quote do not support your claim that the “majority” of people want a halt to immigration. On the contrary, “only 28% want to see a reduction in high skilled immigrants looking for well paid jobs, only 27% want to see a reduction in foreign students coming to study in British universities. Asylum seekers split opinion – 42% want to see a reduction in the number of people fleeing persecution allowed to come here, 47% are content with present numbers or would allow more.”

    So whilst there may be public support for LESS immigration, most people recognise that certain categories of immigrants are good for Britain.

    As for your suggestion that immigrants who arrived here after Tony Blair became PM should be ” encouraged to return to their land of birth” – how would you go about doing that? Cash incentives? Forced deportations? Furthermore, many of those immigrants may have become British citizens by now, and you can hardly expel UK citizens from their own country.

    I agree that politicians should listen to public concerns about immigration but your proposals are draconian and unworkable (and actually go way beyond what the public are demanding).

  • @jedibeeftrix Thanks for pointing my grammatical error. But it did take a few moments for me to realise what it was you were referring to. 🙂

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