Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Scrutinising the LibDems

An interesting piece in The Guardian today by David Aaranovitch on the lack of media scrutiny of political promises. We Conservatives didn't escape, but it was the following passage that espeically caught my eye. No doubt it'll get my LibDem readers bellowing in indignation, but Aaranovitch makes a very good point. Read on...

"There's a special category of under-questioning that seems to apply to the Liberal Democrats, in that they are never, ever questioned about policies. They, too, want to increase certain popular areas of spending and they, too, don't want to put taxes up. They want to pull off this trick by cutting certain ministries and programmes, which they name but are not asked about. For example, the Lib Dems claim to be as concerned for the poor and disadvantaged as Labour. But one of the schemes that they want to cut is the Child Trust Fund, under which the most disadvantaged children will have £500 invested for them at birth, the money to be available at 18 to spend as they see fit. This week, Charles Kennedy claimed that this money would be better spent on limiting class sizes to 20 for five- to seven-year-olds. But that is a sleight of hand. As we know, the Lib Dems will also abolish tuition fees for students, and that will cost a huge amount. Now, suppose you add the social effects of cutting the Child Trust Fund to those of abolishing tuition fees (which, remember, won't be paid by the worst-off). What you get is a huge subsidy for middle-class teenagers and a reduction in direct support for working-class ones. The same goes for pensions and the care of the elderly. In fact, the Lib Dem programme, as I understand it, is a series of measures that take money from the least well-off and redistribute it to the self-pitying middle classes. Except for the local income tax, which will redistribute money, not from rich to poor, but from those who work for a living to those who own capital. So, tell me true, have you heard any of these questions being put to the engaging Mr Kennedy? Do you expect to? Or is it going to be the same pointless puff about who he will support in a hypothetical hung parliament?  Posted by Hello

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