Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Desperate Liberal Democrats

Why doesn't Vince Cable just join Labour have done with it? On virtually every issue he sides with them against the Conservatives.

It was good to hear Justin Webb give him a hard time on Today just now. About time someone did. He gets away with far too much and the media needs to scrutinise him just as much as they do Osborne and Darling.

And while I'm about it, is calling the Tory marriage tax proposals "patronising drivel" really the appropriate way for a party leader to react? Nick Clegg's language seems to become more intemperate and perjorative as each week passes. Why not actually argue the case?

What I find reveal is the patronising attitude by Clegg and Cable on this issue. To many people on low incomes £3 a week is not insignificant. No one pretends that it is a life changing sum, or is intended to persuade people to get married, but it is a way of recognising marriage and civil partnerships are good things which form a critical part of a stable society.


Cynic said...


Must have been thinking of his own manifesto

Lasting Designs said...

I couldn't agree more Iain, just like the Budget, there will always be winners and losers, in this case affirmed commitment wins...

It's rich to say on one hand its an insulting amount and nobody will get married or stay together to get this and then complain if one up's and leaves for another person the "victim" loses. No! surely the tax benefit gets cancelled as the marriage isn't in existence and the leaver become a part of co-habited couple and therefore exempt. In the case of a widow(er) perhaps the rate should remain but other than that, its a good start, with potential to grow as the debt burden decreases over time.

Ben James said...

There can be no pleasing these people; if it was to be a lot more than ~£3/week they'd be going bananas as well!

Johnny Norfolk said...

Well said Ian.

DespairingLiberal said...

If you go to the BBC election seat calculator which shows you the number of seats in a multi-way swingometer, you can see why the Tories are so rattled by any increase in support for the LibDems. The regular odure heaped upon Vince Cable is because he is significantly more popular than most other current politicians.

Tony_E said...

I think we have to assume that the outline of the post election deal has already been done and that Labour and LibDems are going to fight a strictly tactical 'AntiTory' campaign to try to form a left of centre government (most likely with Cable in the treasury).

Conservatives must campaign on this assumed arrangement.

BrianSJ said...

The big change will be altering benefits so that the huge penalties for living together are removed. But presumably this is too sensitive to be talked about just now.

The Purpleline said...

Iain, I agree with you, having worked in the city for thirty years, I do not meet anyone who thinks Vince is any good. Press built him up.

As the saying goes, if he is so good why is he not still working in commerce. I suspect he either has a fat pension from the private sector or just cannot get employed again.

He flip -flops and makes what appear popular comments for a soundbite, basically he and Clegg strut like two peacocks showing their feathers to Labour, hoping the election to give their careers a c.leg up.

The marriage allowance break is extremely good and very significant. I suspect it is the start of a re-distribution of welfare and Tax benefits. It is a statement of social intent and is socially agreeable because it makes the banks who are basically paying for it in a higher Tax more socially responsible. Bravo, Osborne, you are looking like the political strategist we hoped for, a very good advert for public school education.

If only Michael Gove, who I like, would change his tactics and support the re-iuntroduction of grammar schools this social re-adjustment would be complete at this first stage.

Daniel said...

I can understand why a government might want to make a statement about the importance of marriage (and civil partnerships), but this proposal is a daft way of doing it.

First off, at £150 it's not exactly much of a statement, is it? It's like recognising the importance of your wedding anniversary by buying your wife a bunch of flowers from a garage.

But let's look deeper. When people talk about recognising the importance of marriage, isn't what they really mean the importance of creating stable environments in which to raise children?

If that's true, then why not target help more directly by increasing child benefit and extending it to expectant mothers, giving further help in paying for childcare and so on? After all, there's no reason at all to give a tax break to childless couples or couples whose children have grown up and left home. As Alex Barker in the FT points out, a third of the beneficiaries of this proposal are pensioners.

As a non-married taxpayer, I could support that because I see the value to society of raising children. I fail to see why I should help subsidise couples simply because they're married and for no other reason.

Stephen Glenn said...

Here's a couple of differences for you Iain and big one.

The Lib Dems want to lift the personal Income Tax allowance to £10,000 and Labour have just frozen it at £6745 (despite inflation of 3%) lifint 3.5m of the poorest out of tax altogether

We're also looking to return parity between capital gains upper level and income tax something that Labour opened up.

Plus we are looking at closing other loopholes and bring in green taxes to balance the books on this.

So use that obviously underused brain that I know you have just now and think for yourself rather than following Osborne's line of attack.

JMB said...

Haven't the Liberals always spent more time attacking the Conservatives than the government?

It happens in any interview.

There was a picture in the paper yesterday of Charles Kennedy with the Liberal leader on an aircraft. I recognised Kennedy immediately but recognised the Liberal leader when I read the caption.

JMB said...

A few leaks of backroom deals between Labour and the Liberals could put them the defensive.

It would be very hard to prove that they have not made any arrangements.

dazmando said...

I don't see how a deal has been done Tony E. Lib dems don't want Brown so how is that a deal. Personally I would prefer a tory/lib we have had plenty of goes as a party at Labour and are trying to win 30 seats off them. Cable also did get an easy time in the sun the other day then again I don't agree with papers taking sides. Yes we should talk about argument and policy more I agree with Iain on that problem is sound bites are how politicians get a mention on the news not that I agree. So in summary no deal has been done and we are not pro lab or tory. Many say clegg is a tory no he's not he's a lib dem

Boo said...

Hmm could patronising drivel, be patronising drivel?

It seems that Lib dems role is to throw stones from the sideline, then lament about the state of politics.

The decry the two horse race, then use it in the leaflets for their advantage.

The moan about the old Labcon politic, yet they say nothing of the backroom deal they are hoping for.

I don't think the leader debate is going to good for the Lib dems.

I think a well time smackdown by one of the serious parties, could expose publically this smug, juvenile party

CC Baxter said...

I think the Tories should start calling Labour and the Lib Dems, the "Lib-Lab Pact" from now on.

Unknown said...

Good article.

Privileged people like Clegg and Cable do not live in the real world.

I am divorced and so will not benefit from the tax break but the marriage tax break is still a good idea.

Having lived under a Liberal Democrat council, it was no surprise at the last local government elections they were thrown out in a major way and the Council is now 75% Tory.

Liberal Democrats raised council tax but still couldn't get anything done. They say anything but deliver nothing!

Anonymous said...

Not surprised about Saint Vince Cable, the self-styled economic guru. He was Old Labour Councillor of Glasgow Council decades ago and if one carefully listens to what he says, he sounds like what he sounded when he was Glasgow Labour councillor. Libdems want to get into power with Labour: Libdem-Lab pact of 2010. Tories should first show Andrew Neil's interview with Cable and use posters to say if only Liberals had stopped supporting Labour in the Summer of 1978, the Winter of Discontent could have been avoided as the Labour govt would have fallen. We should remember the Lib-Lab coalition in Scottish Parliment which kept many disgraced Labour leaders there in power and which produced policies that people over there do not like has made them not very attractive there indeed. Vince Cable is one patronising idiot. Only in this country we fall for his drivel.

Ian Simcox said...

To quote the great Friedman - "That’s why for a long time now I have been in favor of any tax cut, under any circumstances, in any way, in any form whatsoever."

What is patronising is that Nick Clegg thinks he knows how to spend my £3 per week better than I do.

The Purpleline said...

So there we have it, Balls claiming a man can beat up his wife, leave get married again and then get the TAX BREAK.

Well why do the people not turn the tables on him.

The women can get married again or leave the marriage. £3 as they say is not going to ensure she stays to get hit. (it is a signal of intent)

Is balls saying labour believes all married couples are subjected to the husband beating the wife? Does this not happen in other types of relationships?

The LIBDEMLAB PACT are clearly worried. Great tactical move by Osborne.

I know two young girls who have recently had babies out of wedlock.

First is not working her boyfriend has a poor job they have been given a council flat, rather nice, have had benefits showered on them.

The other girl lives with her boyfriend at his parents house, both have good jobs and get nothing, not eligible for a council flat because they are considered to earn too much.

One will be a benefit liability all her life, the other will be disadvantaged by a LIBDEM-LAB government.
I know where my vote will be going, I would rather commit suicide, than see Brown returned.

DespairingLiberal said...

As usual, your history is confused norman. The lib/lab pact ended before the "Winter of Discontent", but the latter was heavily exaggerated anyway by the Tory-supporting media - many of the best-known stories of that period like unburied bodies have been proven fake.

javelin said...

I was against the tax when I heard it initially. I wouldn't stay with a horrible wife for £3 a week.

David Willets turned me with his argument.

The point of the marriage tax is the point of marriage.

Marriage is a contract for two people to support each other for life. So if one isn't working, for example to bring up children, or they were disabled then they should share the tax burden as well.

I reckon the Tories need to go the full hog and say that tax is shared whilst a parent brings up children.

Together with this the Tories need to publish the marriage contract in full. Marriage is more than a day out for Bridezilla. Marriage is about financial commitment and involves complete trust for life. If the contract were writ large people would be more careful before committing.

Gareth Williams said...

Echoing Dan above, I think there are serious problems with the Tories' policy. It's incoherent and once explained will prove quite insulting to many 'hard-working families'. More here.

Simon Lewis said...

Cable can say what he wants because he'll never be in a position to influence things..we hope..

Anonymous said...

It's beginning to look as if they should call themselves the LabDems

golden_balls said...

and the Tories say Labour are rattled.

I can understand your envy with having to endure Osborne as your chancellor. Darling or even Cable is far better than Boy George.

3 pounds per week !! that is indeed life changing well done.

Unknown said...

I agree about Vince.

He was a Labour member for most of his life and indeed a Labour PPC. He still is a Fabian.

I suspect that being a Chief Economist for an oil company didn't sit too well with the raving socialists at the time and he found a home in the Lib Dems.

He's clearly a socialist in yellow clothing.

As for Nick Clegg. I don't blame him in the slightest for his aggression.

Nick has been treated with outright contempt by both Brown and Cameron and their MP's. Cameron started it by referring to him as "a joke" during an interview with the BBC.

Tell me Iain, just how friendly would you be to your opponents if you were treated in such a way?

That's why I find the late turnaround in new found respect for Nick Clegg nauseating. It seems he might be useful to them after all. If I was him i'd rule out a coalition and tell them both to go self fornicate.

wild said...

I very much doubt if most Liberal Democrats know anything about Liberal Democrat policies. It is simply a middle class way of feeling "progressive" while looking down on the chavs (and mountebanks) who vote Labour.

By "progressive" they mean anti-Tory - a rejection which does not connect with anything other than their own vanity. No serious person votes Liberal Democrat except as a protest against the Labour Party.

Shamik Das said...

Believe me, on the ground they're fighting dirty; there's no love lost between Labour and Lib Dems when I've been out campaigning.

Bill Quango MP said...

The basic state pension is to increase from April 2010 by 2.5%, which equates to a rise of £2.40 per week, or 34p per day.

Is that worth it Vince? Not even £3!
Lets not bother eh?

Bird said...

I can't stand Cable.
As soon as Cameron or Osborne announce something, Cable appears on TV or radio to rubbish it.
I can't remember any ideas of his own apart from the stupid "mansion tax".
Does he get paid for every appearance?
I nominate him for Smug Old Git of the Year.

Hughes. said...

Up until yesterday Clegg seemed genuinely surprised there was an election on, he didn't seem to have anything prepared.

Now he's woken up he can only come out with invective-driven gainsaying. It's amateur hour, every hour on the Lib-Dem campaign.

It's not the campaign of a party that has Governmental aspirations, it's merely revelling in its privileged place as the pointless fly-in-the-ointment of British politics. Shame the leadership aren't worthy of the efforts of the party faithful who'll dedicated time and money to their continuing campaign for perpetual irrelevance.

cassandra said...

The problem is that taxes are far too high and government spending is out of control.
Hundreds of billions of pounds are being wasted to no good effect and its getting worse.
The government takes enough in taxes if only it spent those taxes wisely and with a measure of common sense.
The government does not have to earn the money they take and at the moment they are throwing this money around like there is no tommorow, the waste is staggering and it has just got to stop, the tax revenues do not belong to the elected government yet they certainly act as if the money they take to provide us with services is just that.
It is high time the government were legally obliged to account for and spend every penny wisely, each pound of expenditure should be examined for cost/benefit to the public, government should be legally obliged to live within its means according to a defined tax take agreed with the electorate beforehand.
This nation is being literally taxed to death, millions find it easier to live off the state than earn a living and who can blame them when working a low end job means paying crippling taxes.
All three parties are living in some kind of bubble, they no longer see the stress and strife they are causing to ordinary people, while billions are squandered on ego tripping foreign aid to India and China our own people live in poverty, can you imagine what people feel like when they find out that tax money is being handed out to nuclear/space industry capable nations?
If the political classes fail to grasp the fact that we are coming to a point of rebelion then they deserve everything they get, the political classes seem oblivious to the fact that they are testing the patience of the British people to the limit.

Treacle said...

There's something wrong when the Conservatives want to use the tax system to recognise the importance of civil partnerships, but Chris Grayling thinks it's fine for B&Bs to turn away civil partners.

Paddy said...

I agree to a point, but how will the £150 cut be administered? If you have to fill out a form and prove salary, will many people be bothered? Or will some HMRC computer just acknowledge who is married to someone not working?

And also, it seems a bit of a sexist policy if the incentive applies only to couples where one partner (generally the woman) stays home and keeps house rather than following their own career. If the £150 is largely to do with sending out a message that marriage is good, the flip side seems to be the message that marriage is especially good if one of you doesn't seek a career.

Still, you are quite right, Iain, about the Libs ridiculous toadying to Labour and the easy ride that Saint Vince is given.

I'm intrigued by the Libs' policy of increasing the personal allowance to £10k, as Stephen mentions, which would benefit married couples by £3,325 more than the Tory policy would. But where does the money come from?

Unknown said...

Cable is a master at telling the media what they want to here. He has been elevated to the stature of a God by the BBC. But if you listen carefully he contradicts himself regularly.
To me Clegg and Cable are Buttons and Widow Twankey.

Jimmy said...

"No one pretends that it is a life changing sum, or is intended to persuade people to get married,"

Actually that's exactly what you're pretending.

Jimmy said...

"The big change will be altering benefits so that the huge penalties for living together are removed. But presumably this is too sensitive to be talked about just now."

Spot on. Toynbee pointed this out before. It's not too sensitive, it's just something that would cost serious money.

Helyn Clack said...

Did you see the bbc news Nick Robinson following Nick Clegg, first in a luxurious jet plane, then in a leather couched luxury bus and then in a top of the range Jaguar, perhaps £156 extra a year doesn't mean a lot to him

Gareth said...

Dan Brusca said: "If that's true, then why not target help more directly by increasing child benefit and extending it to expectant mothers, giving further help in paying for childcare and so on? After all, there's no reason at all to give a tax break to childless couples or couples whose children have grown up and left home. As Alex Barker in the FT points out, a third of the beneficiaries of this proposal are pensioners."

Perhaps the Government (of whatever colour) could look at ways to make having children cheaper rather than a simple increasing of the subsidising of it. Labour threw money at childcare *AND* upped the cost of it at the same time by requiring registrations and regulations. No net loss for those receiving the tax credits but more money taken from net tax payers to afford it.

Lady Finchley said...

You know, Dan Brusca there are plenty of people to whom £3.00 a week is helpful. You cannot assume that all married couples who are childless or whose children have left the nest are prosperous. There are plenty who were hit badly by Brown revoking the 10p tax rate. And why shouldn't committment be recognised? Single parents already get loads of advantages in the tax and benefit system. When my family fell on hard times and both my husband and I were out of work I didn't qualify for any of the help that single mothers got and I needed it as badly as they did. In the American tax system you can get deductions for your dependents which is far better than giving handouts in the form of tax credits. And the tax credit system is so chaotic that most people wind up owing HMRC than the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Some people believe Polly, the socialist who lives in Tuscany!
Vince Cable the erstwhile Labour candidate has opened his mouth again against the businessmen and NI. In so doing he has clearly revealed his argument which is also Labour's and clearly indicates that there is a hidden Libdem-Lab understanding. It is very revealing indeed. Libdems now cannot claim that they have a separate agenda different from Labour. Voting Libdem will keep the Labour in power. Cable is ready to serve under the leader who he called Mr Bean!!

Unknown said...

Since Vince is over pension age and presumably receiving the State Pension - can we assume he is rejecting the £2.50 per week increase as insulting!?

Anonymous said...

A poster in the Times blog called the Cable-Clegg duo as Steptoe and son!