I did not agree with Nick

So by general agreement Nick won. He certainly suprised me. He took my breath away: he was clearly the most highly spun and the most misleading.

His pitch was “Trust me, I am the only honest one. I am different”. So let’s have a look at one of his crucial answers to establish trust. His reply on MPs expenses was all too carefully worded. The impression he wished to give was mendacious – unlike the other two parties he implied the Lib Dems had been well behaved. Let’s leave aside the expensive rocking chairs and trouser presses, Lib Dem misjudgements well within the lax rules and standards of the day and no different from misjudgements by many Conservative and Labour MPs. Let’s ask Mr Clegg a thing or two about the Dolphin Square mob.

Several Lib Dem MPs rented nice mansion flats in Westminster near to the Commons. Nothing wrong with that. The landlord wished to change the terms of the leases in his favour, so he offered substantial sums to tenants to agree to alterations in their terms.

Four Lib Dem MPs , the Dolphin Square four, accepted and banked substantial sums for private profit in return for allowing the landlord to put the rents up. The taxpayer was paying the rent in their cases. So why didn’t Nick Clegg tell those Lib Dems that was wrong and demand that they paid the money to the taxpayer? David Cameron made various Conservative MPs repay money for lesser misjudgements. The Parliamentary authorities investigated the Lib Dem cases, found against the MPs and made them pay back sums. Does Mr Clegg now agree these MPs behaved badly? Why didn’t he think so at the time?

In such circumstances Mr Clegg’s approach last night was wrong. Mr Cameron made another fulsome apology including himself and his party in it. Mr Brown used strong language to condemn some MPs, including Labour ones.

Worse than his approach to expenses is his approach to his manifesto. He goes round offering a tax cut, yet he also proposes £17 billion of tax increases. £5 billion of these take the form of closing unspecified tax “loopholes” – in other words a tax increase to be worked out and announced later. He claims his manifesto is “fully costed” and everything can be paid for, yet analysis has shown there are big gaps in the figures.

Of course last night he was able to exploit the position of the third party, escaping analysis and criticism for his programme whilst acting as detached critic of the other two. Meanwhile our country drifts towards a debt and deficit crisis with levels of borrowing similar to those of Greece. That is what we need to debate and tackle urgently. If we do not we will lose jobs, growth and prosperity.

Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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46 Comments

  1. Antisthenes
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Politics has sunk to a level of inanity that beggars belief. It is not about sound governance it is about gaining power and keeping it as far as Labour is concerned. The Conservatives just want to get back into power and the Lib-Dems want to take a larger slice of the vote to have more influence. There is not a hint that any of them understand the reality of the current situation or if they do have not got any solid policies to cope with it. The Conservatives have at least the best chance of tackling the economic black hole because of their natural instinct to put wealth creation above wealth redistribution. However that alone will not be effective if they don't go with their other natural instinct that of a smaller less obtrusive nanny state, they appear to have ditched that philosophy. Talk of big society is bogus in that in the form it is presented is just an extension of the state rather than instead of the state. Cameron last night did hint at doing something about the welfare system which was encouraging, but what did he actually mean by that. The debate last night reminded me of little children fighting over who should be king of the castle and who's lollipop was the biggest. Clegg won the debate not on substance but I believe because he was the most photogenic. Brown on looks would not looked out of place on the walls of the Kremlin during the Soviet era watching the May day parade. Cameron did not look the part of a leader that was needed in a time of crisis if he had been a Churchill or a Thatcher he would have eaten the other two alive. No Britain today reminds me of the last days of the Roman and Byzantium empires.

    • Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Well said. It's a very sad reflection on politics, the media and the public at large that such an uninspiring trio should be the choice we are offered for leader of Britain. No wonder we are in such a mess. Brown has ruined this country and we are left with little or no industry that doesn't involve financial fraud, fighting illegal, immoral and pointless wars for the benefit of American corporations, our privacy and rights have been trampled, our taxes stolen or wasted and have the prospect of ever increasing energy and resource shortages with no plans to tackle anything.
      How can anyone believe that this sham of an election will solve anything? We are indeed in the last days of empire.

    • DavidDavis
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      @Antisthenes

      "No Britain today reminds me of the last days of the Roman and Byzantium empires."

      You were probably there

  2. JimF
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Yes, it's called politics, and last night Nick Clegg came out with the most convincing lines. Remember the New Labour line, it doesn't matter what is actually true, but what you can convince Joe Public is true that counts. Clegg is that man.

    Cameron and Brown seemed to be staring from the sidelines, not looking to camera, with slightly disjointed points being made. Clearly Cameron is passionate about the NHS, and doesn't care too much for waste. Brown is worried that £6 billion given to people to spend instead of the Government will throw us back into recession. No points really made by Cameron as to how that works, nor how £200 billion of printed money has watered down the nation's savings.

    I couldn't help thinking that Thatcher in her day would have made mincemeat of all three of them.

  3. Javelin
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    There was one sentence in this debate that had any meaning, by Cameron, that "for every 4 pounds this Government spends they have to borrow one pound"

    Strategic thinkers will instantly know every policy and every decision must stem from this. Debt is the political axiom of our age.

    They discussed building regulations when they knew a warhead is in the air.

  4. Slightly Green Conse
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I don't doubt that what you say John is 100% correct. Most readers of this blog, including me, will be in agreement with your analysis. But you miss the point. Last night was all about presentation, not details, image not substance. I don't like X-Factor, Britian's Got Talent etc. and I don't like these debates, but they are probably here to stay. so any party needs someone as leader who can perform well in them. DC didn't look at home in this format to me. It wasn't a bad performance, but lacked the X-Factor. I hope lessons will be learned for next time.

    • Eddie
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      As a Scot, who has always tactically voted to keep the Conservatives out of my local constituency ( until this election ) watching the Three Amigos last night left me far from impressed with any of them. The stitch up to deny the SNP and Plaid Cymru leaders the chance to participate in the debate particularly let Brown and Clegg off the hook as far as I'm concerned.

      Wee Eck would have been a major thorn in both their sides and Brown would have been dreading the encounter given his baggage in Scotland. Purcell, Glasgow City Council, the SPT as well as the Scottish MP who hopefully will soon be residing in HMP Barlinnie, areas where Brown would be dreading being asked questions about if Salmond had been there.

      Cameron should use the next debate to apologize to Scotland for agreeing to take part in this stitch up. The Conservatives will never be able to take a large number of seats in Scotland from Labour, the SNP just might if they can get a a fair crack at them and that would work in both the Conservative and the UKs favour.
      BBC Scotland is showing a considerable bias towards Labour, a policy which hurts the Conservatives, however a policy the Scottish Conservative Party seems to be in agreement with somehow!. The Union might just survive the SNP winning a large number of seat in this election but the UK will not survive if Labour or a Labour/Lib Dem grouping get in to power.

      Cameron needs to go out attacking on all fronts, Immigration, the size of the Public Sector, the NHS, etc If this election is not an outright majority for the Conservatives he has to start preparing for the next one which will be in the not too distant future as the labour legacy blows up in our faces.

  5. Magelec
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    My impression of the 'debate' was that it was just a polite slanging match. NC politely slagged off the other two, DC tried to expound some policies but was ofter interrupted by the agressive GB who, as Astisithenes stated, would not look out of place on the walls of the Kremlin. I felt that the whole thing was a waste of time.

    I believe the media are trivialising the whole election process to a glorified beauty contest and are therefore being quite irrisponsible. Britain is pretty well bankrupt and I believe, because of the medias performance, the general public have no idea what is to come post election. Perhaps the general public would rather not know anyway.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Oh Dear.

    Not the performance from any of the three that any serious voter wanted to hear.

    All frightened to tell the real truth and spell out the medicine that is needed and give a possible solution to our problems.

    No one mentioned the huge National debt which is increasing every day, and will continue for the next 5 years and beyond until it eventually strangles our ability to manage our own affairs.

    Dissapointed in Cameron, although I thought he was frustrated by the rules and Alistair Stewart, who kept cutting him off mid flow.

    Clegg had nothing to lose, and played his part well, given he has no financial substance in his policies.

    Brown was just Brown attempting to run the show by asking questions intead of answering them.

    In short 13 years of chaos was allowed to be passed by with little reference as to who was to blame.

    It seemed to be accepted that it was a world wide reccession, it seemed to be accepted that it was nasty Bankers who caused all the problems.
    It seemed to be accepted that the deficit was not a real problem.

    Shame on all three really for not getting the real points across in their answers.

    • Jmaes Clover
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      I believe the third debate is to be on the Economy, and so they were not allowed to wander too much into this fruitful area. I do hope that either Brown or Cameron really push Clegg on his £10,000 personal allowance plan, which will benefit older pensioners hardly at all, and yet would give a bonus of £1400 to a couple of really quite well-off middle income types.
      It is surely mad to cut taxes so drastically (and unevenly) in the face of our dire financial situation. Come on, Brown/Cameron, tear into some of this LibDem lunacy.

  7. no one
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    the debate was sterile

    really not allowing the public to probe more deeply is a big mistake, I can remember in the old days Mrs T being probed by the public on "Nationwide" and that really giving the public a chance to dig deeper than the gloss and for Mrs T to really talk substance

    I thought the first question on immigration was especially bad, the professional jornalists have been really bad a questioning the politicians on this, and the politicians here were allowed to answer with boilerplate answers which ignore the reality on the ground

    1 brown is talking tough but his policies in practise are open doors, as "intra company transfer" visas and the hundreds of thousands of Indian nationals in the country working on them demonstrate – outside his glorious points system, and far too many end up getting indefinite leave to remain

    2 conservative position has no detail, cutting the numbers how? which categories? permanent or temp immigrtion? etc

    and so much more, really what we need is a specialist in each area asking the questions, lets here john redwood ask about monetary policy, let frank field ask about immigration, and so on…

  8. Simon
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Mr Cameron :-
    – failed to make the distinction between deficit and debt , indeed he momentarily mentioned "the biggest deficit" .

    – claimed that N.I. paid by the NHS was a cost to NHS .

    (Surely for public servants NI is merely re-circulated from one years deductions into the next years wage budget – if it is not wasted in the mean time )

    – did not point out that increasing N.I. is merely re-allocating money from the private sector to public sector , not putting more money into the economy .

    – failed to hilite abuse of guilotine motions when the conversation was twisted to democracy or our lack of an E.U. referendum .

    – failed to show the contradiction between Brown's spending committments and Darlings statement on the scale of cuts .

    Meanwhile despotic bully boy Brown is already talking about the irreversible changes his government is going to do in the next parliament .

    Reply: NI is a cost to the taxpayer, which does of course bring money in to pay for it, but the NHS has to find it within its budget.We do have the biggest deficit (as a % of GDP)as well as a huge debt.

    • TCD
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      I agree, Cameron was not combative enough. He should read Eamonn Butler's book 'The Rotten State of Britain' and
      quote from it. His approval of Clegg's tax exemption for those earning under 10,000 without mentioning all the other tax increases the Lib Dems propose sounded weak. To be fair, every time Cameron tried to emphasise output instead of input he was cut short by Stewart and Brown. On crime Cameron was strong, I think: short but determined. His eventual put down of Clegg's holier than thou speech was also good. But he did not counter the Lib Dem economic policies, which are just pure socialism. They do not understand economics, notwithstanding Vince Cable's reputation, and this needs to be brought to light. Real prosperity can only come from private enterprise and the government needs to get out of the way, but they do not seem to understand that.
      On this performance, the Lib Dems are a real threat, and Cameron needs to make sure he counters Clegg more effectively next time. Brown is much easier to deal with: he just wants to spend, spend, spend, as he has done for the last 10 years.

  9. SimonC
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Personally, I'm really surprised the commentators thought "Nick won" I got very board of him saying "vote for us, cos we're not these two other parties you've had for 20 years"

    Overall, I thought Cameron did better than Brown. I really didn't like the way Brown started talking over the others and ignoring the rules of the debate.
    Brown also seemed to be trying to get his sound-byted point across, not answer the questions.
    My impression was that Cameron was answering the questions more than Brown, but the "I use state schools and NHS points" wound me up. Does anyone really believe that if he wasn't a potential PM, he would really be sending his kids to a state school and not to a private one ? Personally I'd have more respect if he said "yes my kids go to private schools, I want to make the state education so good that people in my position who can't choose to use private education don't have to do so for educational reasons."

    • Simon
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Bully Boy Brown proved he was the alpha male and Cameron's performance suggested that he would have problems holding his own amongst world leaders .

      Bottom line is that New Labour with all their strategists , spin doctors , relationships with lobbyists , media complicity are far more politically savvy than the Conservatives .

      The disaster is that they are getting more and more entrenched .

    • Jmaes Clover
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      No, he should have said that he supported the principle of independent education because a state monopoly of education is dangerous. Look around and see the warning signs.

    • Simon
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 2:08 am | Permalink

      Was David Cameron's parents money well spent on sending him to Eton ?

      On the basis of his performance last night no but on the basis that he got a seat at the table yes .

      J.R. I'd like to see David Cameron explain that the during course of the "debate" Britains public debt had increased £31.25 million (assuming debt is increasing at 0.5 billion a day) and that if Labour were to win the election by the end of the next parliament we will only be falling into debt by 0.25 billion a day and then only if the optimistic growth figures pan out .

      DC should also explain that some of this debt is in foreign currencies and can't be addressed by debauching the pound .

  10. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    For what it's worth I thought DC came over rather well – a bit understated but gentlemanly and courteous rather in the manner of MacMillan,Home and Carrington – there is a connection. It is a pity he did not have more ammunition because that lack of strong policy made him seem rather too bland e.g. asking Clegg to confirm that he would give an amnesty to all illegal immigrants which in turn would create another wave of economic migrants. Then there is the EU, Clegg although repeating his Sheffield connection on numerous occasions is as an arch Europhile as they come – no surprise they dropped the in/out EU referendum idea like a hot brick.

    Trident really shows that the Libs have not moved on much from the sandals and duffle coat brigade.

    Brown was his usual awful self.

  11. JT
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Increasing tax allowance to £10k
    – should be more
    Great idea .. and one that should be Tories core policy
    It gets the state off the back off millions of workers
    When the 10% band was allowed .. was it 4 or 5 million that were effected ?
    of course it should be £12k .. which is annual min wage at 40 hours a week

    this would lift a number of people of the credits slavery
    – avoid claiming back the tiny sums that have been paid over to the government .. think of all that paperwork saved.

    on low income .. £1k to £1.5k a year is a massive sum

    Loopholes .. come on … as soon as published, they get round it. But do you honestly think there is not £5bn (from a £450 tax take) that is not going missing ? seriously …

    Reply: Not according to Treasury estimates – and what are these loopholes and how will they close them?

    • JT
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Loopholes ..
      dividend payments
      cross company payments
      paying income offshore
      tax sheltering .. film / forestry / aim listed .. you know the score

  12. Geoff not Hoon.
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,
    You say four Libdem MP's received amounts of money over their Dolphin Square apartments and then 'we' paid higher rental as a consequence. Isnt the reality that many more MP's were paid by the block's owner to vacate so that virtually the whole block could be let at high London prices. As I feel sure you know DS was originally 'key flats' and the facilities etc. well above many 4/5 star hotels around Park Lane etc. but the owner was not receiving Park Lane income before he began his offer buy out leases.

  13. JT
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Trident ?
    The world has changed from the duffle coat brigade
    But neither DC or McGloom mentioned that we pay fur US missles that we can never use unilaterally

    or shall will nuke Iran ?

    Come on .. lets be realistic ..
    We need to pull troops from Europe when we engage in conflicts overseas so we have enough muscle .. All that chat on helicopters (yes, i know DC is exposing McGloom as a liar) would be avoided if we'd used equipment we have sitting in Germany.
    Thats the defense review thats needed …

    oh, yes and we should be selling our atlantic / pacific island military bases to the current users .. USA .. or offer to the Chineese. And make sure Accession is propely equipped

  14. JT
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    And how can anyone defend the Lords in current form ?
    Its time has passed.

  15. a-tracy
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    More people than I thought would watched the debate last night. Many women that I know wouldn't dream of watching QT, most of them don't even watch the news unless it's GMTV news in the morning. They have the same single vote each that all of your politcally minded readers have and I'm sorry but they like their politics in these bite size, presentation spats. It certainly opened up discussion, even my mother watched and called me which believe me is unbelievable. They are divided in opinion on whether Clegg seemed genuine and nice or smarmy with hard eyes. However, they are united in the fact that the camera panned close up on him more than the others, he seemed to find the right camera everytime and spoke to the viewers directly, the shots rarely panned off him when he was talking.

    Clegg writing down everyones name who asked a question's and repeating those names as though he knew them grated on me,
    (as did the Sheffield, Sheffield, Sheffield stuff) the audience participants were merely asking questions all of us wanted answers to. Brown, Cameron and Clegg weren't given enough time to answer in detail and there were too many questions asked I think only three issues should have been covered but in more depth.

    I don't think that anyone came off badly. This was a great opportunity for the Conservatives to see what their competitors main selling points are and now concentrate on telling voters why your policies are better. Target your leaflets, your calls, your websites, to bat the ball back.

    I don't understand what Alex Salmond is getting in a spin about either, Brown is a Scottish MP, Darling is a Scottish MP when he was in the Chancellors debate. If anything the English should be kicking off that they get a vote in our schools policy, our education policy and our health policy when the Scottish MP's constituents and the MP's themselves aren't affected by their vote on these issues.

    • Jmaes Clover
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Has anyone asked Salmond whether he thinks the English should have their own parliament, with no "foreigners" in it?

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        I don't consider the Scottish 'foreigners' to me we are all British from Great Britain in the United Kingdom. I didn't agree with devolution because I knew it would lead to the divisive us and them that people like Mr Salmond are promoting. However, having asked for and gained devolution is it right that having secured free prescriptions and free tuition for Scottish students that Scottish MPs retained the right to vote for these charges on English patients and students? We already had a parliament well represented by Scottish MP's with a voice and a vote.

        I don't really care what Salmond thinks he isn't a British MP, he has no more say in national government than Boris Johnson and isn't in the running for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom government.

      • richard
        Posted April 18, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        New Labour and Tony Blair solved the Welsh and Scottish problem and gave that same problem to the Majority country in the UK – the English!!

        Before I go any further I must declare I am a scot.

        For many years the Welsh and Scots got Maggie when by a large majority voted for Labour. To fix this they now both have their own parliaments, which is great news.

        The problem will come to light at this election – when Millions upon Millions in England vote for a Tory government and get aLab/Lib socialist government.

        What price an English parliament within 5 years? – this tail wagging the dog cannot go on – the wealth creators will save this country and NOBODY else!!

  16. David Burch
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I don't agree with Nick, however a straw poll on the office today would suggest that he did least bad in not a very good debate chaired badly by Alistair Stewart.

    David Cameron came over too nice and failed to attack Brown for his record. If this had been 1979 not 2010 the Conservatives would have gained a ten point lead in the polls and Brown would be planning his lecture tour.

    Please tell David Cameron to drop the nice guy and go on the positive attach. Brown will crumble on the £163 billion pound question and as the pension thief.

  17. Ian B
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    We know that these things, like most electioneering, are just fluff. What I am left wondering is whether, behind the scences, the MPs talk substance with each other. Is the Commons full of astute political thinkers who, due to the nature of the media, dumb down for prime time? Do MPs and party hierarchies actually understand and care about the issues us political nerds moan about in comment sections? Is there an intellectual core remaining in politics behind the PR?

    We can see from blogs such as this that one or two MPs are thinkers. But are they a lonely minority among a horde of casualists and buffoons?

    Mr Redwood, what do politicians talk about amongst themselves? Is it the size of the deficit, or who won the X-Factor? What is the actual intellectual quality of the political class, seen from inside it?

    Reply: Neither – they talk more about polls, moods, how the media will respond etc

    • no one
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      in which case some of this is likley to end up in civil unrest and many of our best folk giving up or emigrating

    • Ian B
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Then it would seem that all we are asked to vote for is lobby fodder. There's surely a strong case for democratically separating the executive from the parliament, to put some pressure on MPs to be constituency representatives rather than mere enablers of Mr Brown or Mr Cameron.

      People have forgotten that we once had something like a separation of powers; the monarch was the executive, the parliament a check on his (or her) legislative authority. Once parliament usurped the executive role we lost that. There is apparently going to be talk of "reform" of the system in the next parliament, with such distractions as proportional representation. Unless we can make parliament powerful as a counterweight to executive power, such "reform" will be meaningless.

  18. Norman
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Someone wake me up in 3 weeks when this is all over and we can stop shuffling deckchairs on the deck of the Titanic and start worrying about that iceberg up ahead.

  19. Posted April 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    The LibDems having made their pitch on not voting for the others because of breaking promises are vulnerable to the fact that they made a manifesto promise to support a democraric referendum on the Lisbon Treaty & immediately, under no pressure, cynically broke it.

    They are also vulnerable as the only party wholly opposed to new nuclear & committed to providing all our power through windmills (& theoretically carbon capture but it doesn't exist beyond the experimental stage & won't for at least 20 years) This is clinically insane & would ensure massive blackouts & indeed deaths but it is inconceivable that they would support or be part of any government not producing blackouts.

    I assume that in the next debates both Labour & Conservative will be putting the LibDims under some real scrutiny. Ot must be admitted that if the LibDims are wholly dishonest on their promises & clinically insane in their policy the other 2 are only a limited improvement. It would have been a better debate if Farage had been there which is presumably why he wasn't.

    I think there is a real chance the LDs will move into 2nd place ahead of Labour which would give Cameron an undeserved victory.

  20. no one
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    cameron should have just said trident was part of the defence review

    i think we could have a perfectly good nuclear force using cruise missiles or similar at a fraction of the cost, this may not "guarantee" wiping out moscow but they would still pack a big punch and nobody could guarantee stopping them

    there are cheaper ways to guarantee wiping out moscow than ICBMS, these days all you need to do is get a few test tubes dropped into the water supply and you can wipe out a city

    so on that one I wouldnt dogmatically support trident

    Reply: There is no need to spend money over the next couple of years on Trident – offering to cut that is a red herring for sorting out the budget problems now, as there is nothing in the budget for Trident replacement yet.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      So Clegg's claim to be able to save £4bn per year as soon as elected cutting Trident wasn't true?

      What is the Conservative position on trident? When is the contract up for renewal? If it's not due in the next parliamentary term he should have been stamped down on this by Brown.

      Reply: NO, there is no need to sign a big contract any time soon. There are two different issues – the submarines that carry the missles, and the missles with warheads. Modest preliminary work is underway within the MOD on boat replacement, but they are nowhere near signing contracts to build new subs. The missle decision is for later.

  21. gac
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I did not watch it as previously intimated.

    It was wrong to include Mr Clegg from the outset. He was always going to be in a win win situation.

    I only hope that any new votes he captures will be from the mad left of Labour because that is where the Libdems now seem to be placed.

  22. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Being a fully paid up masochist, I thought that I would invest some time looking at the financial numbers in the Lib Dem manifesto.

    First, tax receipts – the figures are given in £m in 2011/12 prices. Raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 will cost £16,795m and all their tax increases will gather £17,025m, i.e. more or less neutral. But neutral relative to what? One can only assume that they are content that the total tax take rises in line with GDP, but the total tax take as a % of GDP is slightly on the low side. It would have been more logical – given their own definition of fairness – to raise the standard rate of income tax so that only low income earners benefitted from the raising of the income tax threshold.

    Secondly, their figures for public expenditure increases and savings are given for each FYR from 2010/11 to 2014/15 and expressed in nominal (current) prices. This is the presentation used in the budget report. I can only assume that the expenditure increases and savings are RELATIVE to the budget report figures, because debt interest is not mentioned at all. By 2014/15, they propose a net cut of £10,685 mlion.

    Overall, therefore, they would tax a little bit less and spend a little bit less than Labour. For all the detail, it's fairly small beer.

    On the deficit, the Lib Dem commitment is to accept the Labour figure for 2010/11 and to at least halve the deficit by FYR 2013/14. It's not that different from Labour's commitment and it's not enough. Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

  23. Bill
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    It’s really come to something when the commentators say Mr Clegg won and analysed his body language, the way he addressed the camera, his relaxed voice…

    What about his policies?

    He would have taken and would take the UK into the Euro.

    Wants to scrap trident, cancel the next phase of the Eurofighter, (Yet curiously have an immediate defence review, why bother?) More British high tech jobs go

    Mansion tax

    More than double Capital Gains tax

    Block new coal fired, and new nuclear power stations power stations (Eh? This begs a certain question. Pray for wind)

    Increase the overseas aid budget

    Bus scrap page scheme (To help jobs in Stuttgart)

    Work with the EU to regulate financial institutions (No doubt to help them move to Paris and Frankfurt)

    Never mind, we’ll vote him in because he has a nice suit.

    There is not enough cold analysis of policy and the consequences flowing from the policy.

    • Jmaes Clover
      Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Spot on. It's depressing how much commentary has been on the impression the three men make as personalities, as performers. I have come across almost no professional commentators who have examined the validity of their arguments. We truly are in a dumbed-down age.

  24. Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    You are quite right, Mr Redwood, to say that there is a £5bn hole in the Lib-Dem figures. However, this is not the most significant part of the manifesto. In detail it is a direct appeal to the Liberal Left. It is far more re-distributive than Labour, whilst also scrapping some of Labour’s more authoritarian policies like the ID cards.

    For instance
    – In the army, reducing the top brass to fund increased pay for the lower ranks.
    – Tax increases for the rich (CGT, pension tax relief, mansion tax)
    – Anti tax avoidance measures.
    – Hitting big business with higher corporation tax.
    – Devaluing the Nations investment in the Banks by a banking levy; by breaking them up; through state sponsored competition in the form of a PostBank; and a UK Infrastructure Bank (for green issues).

    Added to this the fact that Labour have created a structural deficit that will undermine public spending for a generation, and you have a strategy to overtake Labour as the party of the left. Perhaps it is Nick Clegg’s strategy to emphasise this in the third debate to further climb in the polls.

    However, like Labour, they will further undermine the City as the world’s number one financial centre, drive other corporations abroad in search of lower taxes and ignore the fact that higher taxes on the rich tends to reduce the tax take.

  25. Simon
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    The thing I find most repugnant about Clegg is the way he reneged on his manifesto promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty / EU Constitution. He truly held the balance of power for a short while on this and his first instinct was to betray the people of this country and order his party to abstain thereby handing victory to Labour and denying us a vote. No doubt similar betrayals will follow if he gets to wield any power. Anyone for the Euro?

    Just as odious are his sidekicks "Trouser Press" Huhne with his anti free speech tendencies and the sanctimonious, whining Vince Cable. I read Cable's column in the Mail on Sunday each week and readers always berate him for his anti-democratic stance on Lisbon, something he continually ignores.

    I didn't know about the other fiddles outlined above but as a whole I find the LibDems the most treacherous and dishonest of the main three. Watching them being bigged up by the media is truly nauseating.

  26. Robinson
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I think I must have been watching a different debate to everyone else. Brown was truly awful; just like his caricature (you're never sure if the stories you read about him are true or not), he was graceless, rude and somewhat odd. His body language betrayed his thoughts, but those thoughts never actually exited his mouth. I'm thinking particularly about his strange laughing at certain points. I sense a deep conflict within him between what he's been coached to say and what he really wants to say. In that respect, I think he's probably the most honest of the 3, or at least the worst at lying!

    Cleg was utterly vacuous. However I can imagine that people not familiar with Liberal policies will be easily taken in by him. This is eerily the same as Vince Fable, who despite not being an economic guru or in any way competent to run the treasury of this country, is head and shoulders above the rest in the public imagination. And may I say, it is a very vivid imagination!

    Cameron was competent and gave some very good answers, when he wasn't being interrupted by Brown. I don't think he made any cheap points unlike the other two. Perhaps this was the problem? The public and media seem to want a bear pit, rather than a rational argument.

  27. Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    The first question that Brown, Cameron and Clegg were asked about, was immigration, and none of the leaders impressed me. I`ve never voted Conservative, but the only MP that I can remember who talked sense about immigration was Enoch Powell. And that was over 40 years ago.

  28. Alexander
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    You are of course correct in what you say about Nick Clegg and the Lib-Dems.

    My only experience with Lib-Dems was living in an incompotent Lib-Dem council until it was kicked out by the voters.

    We know Gordon Brown mocks his parental upbringing and we know Nick Clegg and Vince Cable play fast and loose with facts.

    However, unless David Cameron and the Tories can deal with both parties in the public arena, the Tories do not deserve to be the government!

    Based on the debate, either David's daughter had been kidnapped by Labour and was threatened with physical harm if he performed well OR he needs to forget the "experts" and be himself! We know he's a star – so he needs to behave like one!!

  29. richard
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Hello John,

    I think you have been very gracious in your appraisal of Thursday nights debate.

    Regardless of what was said, TV debates are all about presentation. Reading that Mr Cameron had been taking advice from Amercian coaches on how he should present himself, they were wrong!

    Cameron was nervous beyond belief and it cost him dear, he took 50 words to explain a policy to the man in the street, that is not what is required here.

    Where is the 'Dave' that wooed the Tory party for 40 mins without notes – this is what I would like to see.

    Where is the 'Dave' talking with Anger and passion at the state of the country thanks to Labour.

    The man in the street needs to be informed about the Dangers of the euro, just look at Greece.

    The man in the street needs to be informed that whilst Iran are trying to build nuclear warheads the Lib Dems want to scrap ours.

    The man in the street needs to be reminded that socialists SPEND our money – they do not create wealth.

    For the countries sake 'Dave' forget your nerves – be more Forceful. Dynamic in your delivery – I want to see passion and conviction – if this country is going to the dogs I do not want it to happen with you trying to act 'Presidential' on the TV.

    All is not lost – but we are so close to the abyss!!

  30. Wealth Fanatic
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that "Nasty Nick" is also trying to have his cake and eat it with our Nuclear Deterrent. He made great political capital out of being only party prepared to consider not replacing trident with a "like for like" system and thus saving £100B, yet at the same time he refuses to commit to nuclear disarmament.

    It is a conjuring trick that Derren Brown would be proud of. He makes you think that he can produce £100B, pleases those who support unilateral nuclear disarmament, appears to be more open-minded than the "old politicians" and at the same time flatly refuses that this is a commitment to abandon our nuclear deterrent.

    I think DC should either change policy here or come up with pretty solid arguments (not starting with the words "the Americans") for a commitment to like for like trident replacement.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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