What have the LIberal Democrats contributed to the Coalition?


          We have learnt today what the Liberal Democrats want for their party conference. They want a plastic bag tax. We hear that the Coalition government may be about to grant them their wishes. The Lib Dems will be at home proposing a new tax with “green” associations. It’s not something Conservatives have been asking for at  their party conference.

          In government the Liberal Democrats have made a distinctive contribution in  two crucial departments of state where they have the principal Minister. At Energy they have driven forward the dear energy policies of the green movement, keenly advancing windfarms against reluctant Conservatives. They have stayed true to their anti global warming instincts, presiding over closures of cheaper carbon based energy generation and substituting dearer intermittent systems.

            At Business surprisingly their man designed and pushed through a scheme for higher student charges and loans. In the 2010 election Conservatives said they would keep Labour’s student loan scheme, and would consider higher charges. Lib Dems campaigned stridently in favour of abolishing student loans, and condemned any suggestion of increases. Dr Cable’s scheme and the Lib Dem 3 line whip to support it came as a surprise.

           The Lib Dems main claim for themselves is that they have pushed through the big increase in Income Tax thresholds, taking more lower paid people out of Income Tax altogether. It is true they backed this scheme at the election and in government, but also true that Conservatives have been equally enthusiastic about this policy, pushed through by a Conservative Chancellor with the keen support of both parties. Had there been a  majority Conservative government there would also have been Income Tax cuts for the lower paid.

                  Both parties have signed up to cutting the deficit and both agree that it should be made more worthwhile working. The best welfare policy for the many of working age  is a job.

                 Conservatives helped the Lib Dems secure a referendum on the Alternative vote, which has settled that issue.

                  Lib Dems do not want to help cut the costs of politics by reducing the number of MPs, and no longer want to vote for a referendum on our EU membership, though they advocated one in opposition. They have succeeded in stopping the Coalition government doing either, even when the referendum is delayed until 2016/17. Conservative MPs  have blocked the Lib Dem’s scheme for Lords reform, which did not establish sufficient support in the Lords either.

                 Conservatives have felt constrained by the Lib Dems most importantly over the matter of the EU. Most Conservatives want to get on with negotiating a new relationship with the EU now, and want to stop and curb the powers of Brussels in many areas. The Lib Dems in government as out of it have remained true to their belief that EU membership is good for us, and more EU government would be welcome.

                   Come the European election and the General Election there will be plenty for Conservatives and Lib Dems to disagree about, so the public can have a choice on big issues like the EU, the constitution and energy policy.



  1. lifelogic
    September 15, 2013

    A sensible party should be against almost everything that the Libdems support. About the only things they have ever got right is their sometimes anti war position, some civil liberty issues and the ratted on policy for a referendum on the EU.

    On the EU, the size of the bloated state sector, taxes, expensive religious energy subsidy, the voting system and constituency boundaries, green tosh, HS trains, inheritance tax, payments to the feckless, the voting system, job creation & growth they are simply 180 degrees out. Alas Cameron clearly is too in most of these cases.

    You say “Most Conservatives want to get on with negotiating a new relationship with the EU now, and want to stop and curb the powers of Brussels in many areas.”
    Is it really most conservatives? I rather doubt this. Certainly not “heart and soul” he will not even tell us what powers he wants to get back and keeps rubbishing a Greater Switzerland.

  2. lifelogic
    September 15, 2013

    Where does the Tory party stand on MPs employing their wives, sons and daughters etc. at tax payer expense?

    I thought this had been stopped but it is more then ever I understand. One assumes they get pensions & pay off too when the MP is voted out. Still I am sure they are just the best people for the job and no nepotism is involved. What does Cameron think? It seems he likes it just like it is as he has not stopped it?

    Reply I do not employ any relatives etc. It is legal under the IPSA rules, so MPs of all parties do it.

    1. Hope
      September 15, 2013

      Well said Lifelogic. JR, still waiting the outcome for taxpayer dinners for Tory donors. Cameron was there it does not take this long to investigate.
      Lie Dumbs have contributed towards the destruction of the Tory party. Cameron saw it as an opportunity to change his party and allowed the Lie Dumbs a free hand at DECC to erect as many wind machines as possible on the green fields of this beutful country, only to increase our energy bills without any sound reason or basis. Cameron might claim it is the greenest government ever and the voters will turf him out. I hope Owen Patterson will give a proper ripost to Davey’s criticisms of him. Cameron needs to sort Davey out, I fear a task above Cameron’s ability.

      Cameron also uses them as an excuse for other stupid ideas ie more EU, more powers given to the EU ie arrest warrant, reduce defence while increasing overseas aide. Labour off the same as the Tories. therefore only one party offers change. I could go on but hopefully people vote with their feet and vote for a true Conservative party in UKIP. All marginal elections going to UKIP, even from Labour. Ashcroft has good reason to be worried. All wasted on the two posh boys who do not listen.

      1. lifelogic
        September 16, 2013


    2. Bazman
      September 15, 2013

      I’m Brian and so is my wife. Again.

    3. Mike Stallard
      September 15, 2013

      ….and why shouldn’t they?

  3. Brian Taylor
    September 15, 2013

    The Lord Ashcroft poll suggest that unless you get the policy right on the EU then UKIP will scupper the chances of an overall majority in 2015!
    What do you suggest?

    1. sjb
      September 15, 2013

      @Brian Taylor
      Lord Ashcroft has “long argued, on the basis of plentiful research[1], the answer has relatively little to do with policy, and constructing a UKIPesque manifesto would be not just ineffective but counterproductive, putting off potential [Conservative] voters who might otherwise be attracted from other parties.”[2]

      [1] http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2012/12/the-ukip-threat-is-not-about-europe/
      [2] http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2013/09/labour-still-on-course-in-the-marginals-but-its-not-over-yet/#more-2507

    2. lifelogic
      September 15, 2013

      They will struggle now anyway, Even if Cameron espouses sensible policies (much to every one’s amazement), no one will ever believe a word the ratter says and quite rightly so.

      If he looks like winning Miliband will just make EU promises too, and he has not as yet ratted and was right on Syria too unlike Cameron. He cannot be much worst than Cameron and might at least be less of a war monger even if he is the voice of Unison.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        September 15, 2013

        lifelogic–Disagree–Cameron is absolutely awful and I don’t trust him an inch but Miliband (and Clegg) even worse

        1. lifelogic
          September 16, 2013

          Worse I agree, but not very much worse. Cameron is slightly better but only because his party has perhaps just 100 sensible members to drag him back to reality very occasionally and the party has a different type of supporter than Labour.

          Cameron himself is just Blair two, a pro EU, fake green, say one thing do the opposite, big tax and big state ratter of the first order.

  4. Old Albion
    September 15, 2013

    I’m still waiting for one of the so-called ‘big parties’ to offer a resolution to the unfair, unequal and un-democratic devolution policy that ignores the existence of England……………………..

    1. Martyn G
      September 15, 2013

      So am I but doubt that I shall live long enough to see that happen. I curse those in power at the time who agreed to the removal of England as an identified country on the map of the EU. The Welsh (protested ed) when Wales was ‘accidentally’ also removed from the EU map and its removal was hastily corrected.
      I questioned the EU over the removal of England from the EU map and was told that it was our government who had agreed to it at the time. Which about says it all, really.

    2. JoolsB
      September 15, 2013

      So are most of England Old Albion but the Tories have proved they care no more about the rotten deal England is getting post devolution than the anti-English Labour party who started it. Only difference is, the Tories rely on England for their support but they are too stupid to realize that if they addressed the English Question, England would no longer have to put up with useless and pathetic coalitions as we have now but Cameron is too busy wooing the Scots to care about England. BIG mistake!!

  5. Andyvan
    September 15, 2013

    So what you’re saying Mr Redwood is that people voting Conservative in the last election have got in return leftie/ socialist policies of higher tax and more EU regulation and a Tory lead administration that does exactly what it’s told by Clegg and Cable. Not exactly great is it.

    1. Bazman
      September 15, 2013

      They get more socialism for the rich is in effect what you are saying. Now you would think Sillyband would be trying to counteract this, but giving rights to cleaners to ‘opt out’ tells us this is not true.

      1. Edward2
        September 16, 2013

        You are assuming Baz, that all your cleaners are Labour supporters and will vote Labour always and forever.
        Being given an easier way of opting out from having their subscriptions given away to a particular political party doesn’t seem a bad thing to support.

  6. Roger Farmer
    September 15, 2013

    If we are to believe Lord Ashcroft’s poll then both the Lib /Dems and the Conservatives are on their way out at the next general election. Cameron has not given true conservatives any reason to think otherwise during his lack lustre term so far. The only tactical light I see is for UKIP and the 100 or so Tory MPs who wish to be rid of political Europe to come to an agreement not to oppose each other at the election. There are also a few Labour MPs who could benefit from such an agreement as they too are against political Europe. From a financial point of view UKIP might welcome only having to fight seats where the sitting MP is a Europhile or so beholden to his party that he/she will vote as instructed by the leadership. Those who put political career before the wishes of their constituents deserve to be trounced by UKIP. I am fortunate in that my MP is a real Conservative and rejects political Europe, so he will get my vote. If things are left as they are, in actions if not in words, then we can look forward to a large Labour majority in favour of political Europe so guaranteeing our third world status as a nation.

  7. Richard1
    September 15, 2013

    At the election people should remember that. libDems stand for windfarms, higher student charges, and now a plastic bag tax. Beyond that their most distinctive policy is Eurofederalism.

    With Labour its not at all clear. They oppose almost everything the govt does but won’t say whether they will reverse things. Their only policy at the moment seems to be to go back to a 52% marginal rate of tax, one of the highest in the OECD.

  8. oldtimer
    September 15, 2013

    I am unable to think of anything about LibDem policy contributions to the coalition that is complimentary. Much of it appears, to me, to be gesture politics when it is not actually making things worse as evidenced by the actions of their two Secs of State at DECC -, Messrs Huhne and Davey. The latter was/is enthusiastically supported by Mr Cameron.

    One of the two most interesting developments of the past month (the other being the US-Russian rapprochement over Syria) has been the election of the Abbott government in Australian on a ticket to abolish its carbon tax. This tax, when introduced, was also enthusiastically supported by Mr Cameron along with other green measures and institutions. I believe this election result to be significant as well as interesting.

  9. Denis Cooper
    September 15, 2013

    There’s an article in Scotland on Sunday:


    It’s mainly about the possible effect on the Scottish independence referendum result if there’s no cast-iron pledge of further powers being devolved to the Scottish Parliament in the event that the Scots vote to remain in the UK, but note what Clegg has to say:

    “In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says that Labour and the Conservatives must now make an unambiguous commitment to a more powerful Scottish Parliament, to woo hesitant voters to the pro-UK camp. He says: “People like me need to challenge Ed Miliband and David Cameron to look at the alternative vision to independence. It can’t be the status quo.”

    Clegg also insisted that efforts to drive further Scottish devolution could not be held back by a lack of enthusiasm for reforms in the regions of England.

    He said: “I do not want to see the further expression of Scottish nationhood being somehow held hostage by a debate on what’s happening in English local government.””

    So for the eurofanatic anglophobe Clegg the further expression of Scottish nationhood would be devolution of yet more powers to the Scottish Parliament, while his preferred expression of English nationhood would be to break up England into EU regions.

    If those Tories who are not themselves eurofanatic anglophobes like Clegg really want to differentiate themselves from his party then they should bite on the bullet and propose a Parliament for the whole of England, and they should demand that on the same day that voters in Scotland are asked about independence voters in England should have their own referendum with a question along these lines:

    “Do you believe that should there be an elected Parliament for the whole of England, separate from the United Kingdom Parliament in Westminster, and with devolved powers similar to those of the Scottish Parliament?”

  10. Chris S
    September 15, 2013

    This morning Clegg has again said his plan for entering into a new coalition would be to first talk to the party with the largest number of seats or votes.

    I suspect key members like Clegg himself, Danny Alexander and David Laws would prefer to continue with the Conservatives, even though it would be against the wishes of 2/3 of LibDem Councillors. He’s left himself the option of first talking to David Cameron in the likely scenario that the Conservatives have the most votes but, because of electoral arithmetic, fewer seats.

    This time Conservative Red Lines might be more difficult for Clegg to swallow : after all, EU renegotiation with no preconditions or prevarication will be top of the list for Conservatives. It will be vital that all aspects of this policy are under the complete control of a group of Conservative ministers.

    One hopes that a new secretariat will be formed to deal with the detail so that pro-EU Civil Servants in the Foreign Office can be excluded.

    Other Red Lines :

    A fundamental shift in policy to reduce the size of the state to ensure that we return to a proper low spending, low tax economy. ( We should target VAT at no more than 10%, the integration of income tax and NI at a much lower overall rate and a lower rates of CGT with a return of taper relief ). Absolutely no introduction of a wealth tax disguised as a London “mansion tax”

    World wide inward immigration to the UK under proper control. (Including from the EU)

    A UK Human Rights Act.

    The equalisation of Westminster seats – the policy that’s sitting there on the shelf ready to implement.

    and finally :

    Solve the West Lothian Question once and for all.

    In the unlikely event that a single party gets a working majority, I suspect that Clegg will fly off to Brussels at the earliest opportunity : after all, the EU has a long history of appointing has-beens and political minnows to high office : just look at Barroso and Van Rumpuy. ( I can’t bear to even think about Ashton ).

    Clegg would at least be hugely better than any of them and at the end of the day, he would be “our” nobody.

  11. Peter Stroud
    September 15, 2013

    I think Clegg displayed his untrustworthiness when he took his MPs into the NO lobby, for the boundaries change bill. After saying that the proposed changes were democratic, and for the best. This alone has, in my view, proved that he is a completely unprincipled party politician.

    On energy matters the LibDems blind faith in the CAGW hypothesis is costing our population and industry dear. The strange, weird Chris Huhlne has been replaced by an even stranger, weirder Ed Davey, who even wants sceptical scientists to be gagged. Why did Cameron allow this?

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    September 15, 2013

    JR: “Most Conservatives want to get on with negotiating a new relationship with the EU now, and want to stop and curb the powers of Brussels in many areas.”
    We all know that your party wants to keep the UK in the EU. The “new relationship” is no more than a political ploy designed to stop the flight of voters to UKIP. You know that being members of the EU means you have to abide by their rules and determination for an ever closer union, leading to complete integration into a country called Europe.

    Reply Certainly not what I want

    1. Mike
      September 15, 2013

      But it is what the vast majority of your party want, and their clear policy.

      It isn’t that long ago that your party threw a three line whip at the EU referendum debate, which was only brought about by petitions.

      “The Lib Dems in government as out of it have remained true to their belief that EU membership is good for us, and more EU government would be welcome.”

      This is also your party’s position, though I accept ( and unusually believe) that it is not yours.

      1. Mike Stallard
        September 15, 2013

        I just wonder what you, Mr Redwood, make of the State of the Union speech by M. Barroso. It plainly states that Europe (his Commission in fact) needs to take over the running of just about everything and that there should be no real check on the money spent. He openly advocates that Europe should aim for political unity as soon as possible.

        Reply: I make of it that I was right to vote No in 1975, and am right to try to get a majority in this country to change our membership of the EU.

    2. Martyn G
      September 15, 2013

      Indeed, and I suspect that by the time a referendum is actually called about our membership there will be so many immigrants of all hues from across the EU entitled to vote through being on the electoral rolls that the answer will be a resounding ‘let’s stay in’. Labour’s master plan, (substantial ed)immigration seems to be running unabated at the moment, despite claims to the contrary. (The figures show a decline following policy changes ed)

  13. Man of Kent
    September 15, 2013

    I see there has been no warming for 202 months now.
    Indeed some sceptic scientists are forecasting a cooler period for the next 10-15 years due to sun spot cycles.
    This could be the perfect storm for the Lib Dems and Greens – cooler winters – more expensive electricity – greater fuel poverty – more cold weather deaths .
    A warming of 2C is our only hope of mitigation !

    1. Leslie Singleton
      September 15, 2013

      Man of Kent–Absolutely right–As I learnt from living on the Canadian border it is the cold that kills you

    2. uanime5
      September 16, 2013

      Firstly there has been warming during these 202 months.

      Secondly the 11 year long sun spot cycle was recently shown not to be causing global warming because sun spots have started becoming less intense while the average global temperature continued to rise.

      1. David Price
        September 17, 2013

        You continue to parrot drivel, there has been no warming at the level predicted by the IPCC and AGW proponents. On that basis there is no justification at all for the extremist tax and energy production constraints imposed by the leftist eco-loons who have wormed their way into power.

        Strange that you miss out the other solar cycles that scientists believe have a much greater impact on our climate …

        Here is a quote in April this year from Dr Yuri Nagovitsyn of the Pulkovo Observatory;

        “Solar activity follows different cycles, including an 11-year cycle, a 90-year cycle and a 200-year cycle.

        Evidently, solar activity is on the decrease. The 11-year cycle doesn’t bring about considerable climate change – only 1-2%. The impact of the 200-year cycle is greater – up to 50%. In this respect, we could be in for a cooling period that lasts 200-250 years. The period of low solar activity could start in 2030-2040 but it won’t be as pervasive as in the late 17th century …”

  14. Bert Young
    September 15, 2013

    The biggest mistake Cameron made was not going to the country again after the last election ; the coalition agreement was a great mistake . The result has been not only all the points of criticism you have raised in your blog , but , the diminished respect the public now have of the system of representation and of the role of MPs who have been a part of it during the past few years . The run up to the next election is going to be full of fudge and promises no-one will believe ; I feel desperate for a leadership of integrity and wisdom who can show that this island nation can maintain its right of independence and place in the world .

  15. Denis Cooper
    September 15, 2013

    One of your problems is that most people still don’t fully understand the constraints imposed on Cameron by his coalition partners.

    But another of your problems is that many of those who do understand the constraints of coalition with the LibDems believe that he actively wanted to be constrained and that is why he threw the last general election.

    By rights it should have been more or less a walkover, with the Labour party virtually annihilated and the Tories romping home with a huge majority; so how did it come about that the Tories couldn’t even get an overall majority, unless that is what Cameron wanted and worked hard to achieve?

    1. Leslie Singleton
      September 15, 2013

      Denis–Don’t forget ‘Clegg mania’, wholly the fault of Cameron and the combination of his conceit and execrable judgement

    2. zorro
      September 15, 2013

      Lots of us have said this many times, but it really needs to sink in……..He couldn’t convince the British public to vote a majority parliament for him or his party in 2010…….2/3 years into one of the worst downturns in our history ably assisted by 13 years of overspending by a party led by Gordon ‘Jonah’ Brown……Has it sunk in now?


      1. Denis Cooper
        September 16, 2013

        I think that even now, after more than four years, many people still don’t understand that thanks to the recklessness of the Labour government we faced catastrophe in early 2009. We were close to going down the same tubes as Greece, the crucial difference being that because we still have our own national currency the UK government could get the UK central bank to create more money to enable it to continue with its overspending during the year leading up to the election, while in contrast the Greek government could not do that and had to rely on external assistance to avoid running out of money. As I said in comments on this blog during the spring and summer of 2009, the resort to “quantitative easing” to fund the budget deficit would inevitably have political as well as economic consequences, and the political consequence of Osborne’s signal failure to explain and condemn it was that he let the Labour party off the hook. One brief outburst in the Commons about “printing money is the last resort of desperate governments” – and as it happened, a premature outburst, because at that point the government scheme did not actually involve printing money, that came a few weeks later – followed by silence while the Bank printed up £198 billion and the government spent it.

    3. forthurst
      September 15, 2013

      If you read the thoughts of Jeremy Browne in the NS, he believes that ‘moderate’ Tories led by Cameron, in a coalition with the libdems, hold at bay 25-30 mad swivel-eyed loons that lurk on the Tory backbenches, having more in common with UKIP and presumably those of their constiuents who are also mad swivel-eyed loons.

  16. Iain Gill
    September 15, 2013

    And according to hints from Conservative ministers a large part of the reason immigration has not been tackled more believably is pressure from Vince (etc ed). If this is true it would probably help the Conservative cause if people just came out and said this openly.

  17. Leslie Singleton
    September 15, 2013

    The Liberals are far away-with-the-fairies and should be cold shouldered right and left. Was there any explanation (at all) for their changing their mind on a referendum? If so it went by me, big time. Why bother giving them the slightest attention when it is so blindingly obvious (confirmed by Ashcroft’s reliable-looking findings on Tory marginals) that what Conservatives (I nearly said “we”) need is a coalition with UKIP? It will be too late to start doing this (as you will surely have to whether you like it or not) once UKIP does exceedingly well next year, which it will certainly do if only because everybody knows it will when unconstrained by First Past The Post. Try and anticipate the obvious. I have just read that the invasive weed that is the EU now wants to meddle with plant names. Why don’t they just shut the expletive deleted up?

    1. Leslie Singleton
      September 15, 2013

      Post Script–On the plants what is wrong with the Taxonomy and Binomial system put in place yonks ago and so I thought used all over the World? I confess I haven’t read (and do not care) what the EU has to say on the subject. Very clear that these Jobs (not) worths in Brussels do not have enough to do and of course they do not come cheap. Unbelievable to me that the EUphile High Command haven’t the nous to suppress such baloney especially right now.

  18. behindthefrogs
    September 15, 2013

    Writing a blog that is so biased against the Libdems is so unworthy of your usual fair minded skills.

  19. Neil Craig
    September 15, 2013

    The main LD contribution has been, as you say, to keep energy scarce and expensive & thereby to keep us in recession and killing 25,000 pensioners a year, quite deliberately, through fuel poverty (though they have only been able to do this because the Tories supported them, in Cameron’s case enthusiastically).

    But how much space will there really be between LDs & Tories on energy, the EU, the constitution and any attempt to end recession?

    To be fair the LDs at least their conferences do, sometimes, allow real debate on some issues (even if it is bicycling rather than the economy). This was why I stayed longer than I should have in that party and have never wished to be simply cheering from the audience, which is all the Tories allow.

  20. margaret brandreth-j
    September 15, 2013

    They both have a job John, enough said. Nick Clegg isn’t that bad despite his EU fervour and Vince Cable is sensible. Many supermarkets do not supply plastic bags now , which means people have to take shopping bags. Do you know that reminds me of my childhood where we used to walk to the shops with bags and get hot hovis wrapped in flimsy tissue paper which was always slightly greasy when we got home and then mum made current squares in the solid fuel run Aga. Only the very studious few went through to University , all the rest of us had a good time. What a weight of competition this Country has taken on. We used to compete in badminton , swimming , athletics , but now it infiltrates everything.

    1. Monty
      September 15, 2013

      And we used to buy fish and chips wrapped in newspaper. We would use that newspaper to light the coal fire the next morning, it was ideal. And the coal fire was excellent for disposing of all sorts of rubbish., cellophane, paper, cardboard, egg boxes, Christmas wrapping paper. All manner of things can be disposed of by burning them in a grate, and when the electricity goes off, lots of people will go back to doing precisely that.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        September 15, 2013

        Monty–Bang on the nail, but you do not mention the use of damp potato peelings, carrot tops and left overs and the like that my mother used to roll up in newspaper and turn in to ‘logs’ which were slow burning placed at the back of the grate and solved a lot of the modern problem of recycling not to mention costing nothing. Youngsters might not know that the “dust” in a dustbin meant the ash from fires–nice and compact–not stuff from a Hoover.

  21. Ralph Musgrave
    September 15, 2013

    Cutting the deficit is a ridiculous objective. The deficit (or surplus) should be whatever is needed to bring full employment, as Keyes pointed out. If the private sector is in boyant mood, a surplus may be needed to calm it down. If the private sector is in cautious and savings mode, a deficit is in order.

    And contrary to popular belief, the deficit needn’t result in more debt: a deficit can accumulate as extra money (monetary base to be exact).

    And as for the idea that increasing the monetary base results in in inflation, we’ve had an unprecedented increase in the base since the crises with no obvious effect on inflation.

    1. M.A.N.
      September 15, 2013

      I don’t even know where to start comrade. I think you mean Keynes by the way.

      1. Mike Stallard
        September 15, 2013

        “And contrary to popular belief, the deficit needn’t result in more debt: a deficit can accumulate as extra money (monetary base to be exact).”

        Why not call a debt “Dorothy” or “the Lisbon Treaty”? Then it will just evaporate.

        1. Ralph Musgrave
          September 16, 2013


          You are absolutely spot on. As many others have pointed out, the only reason 99% of the population worry about the “national debt” is the the phrase includes the word “debt”. And debt is bad, bad, bad.

          I.e. if the “national debt” was called the national giraffe, then everyone, including 99% of Westminster politicians would start worrying about the length of the giraffe’s neck. Of course I’m exaggerating to make a point, but exaggeration is wildly unrealistic.

          Put another way, what 99% of the population cannot grasp is that a national debt is completely different in nature to the debt of a household or firm.

          Reply A national debt is not completely different from an individual or company debt. As we have seen in cases like Greece and Argentina, a country can become financially very distressed and end up reneging on its debts. Mismanaging debt and building up excess debt is very bad for the taxpayers and employees working in the country concerned.

          1. Ralph Musgrave
            September 16, 2013

            Oops.. that should have been “NOT wildly unrealistic”.

          2. Ralph Musgrave
            September 16, 2013

            Comparing Greece, a country which does not issue its own currency, to a country which DOES (a “monetarily sovereign” country) is a very popular but nonsensical comparison. It’s a chalk to cheese comparison.

            But in a sense you’re right: a monetarily NON-SOVEREIGN country is very much like an individual or firm (neither of which issue their own currencies). However, my above remarks were made in reference to the UK, a country is monetarily sovereign.

            Re your point that “mismanaging debt” leading to problems, that’s a generalisation that no one can possibly quarrel with. It doesn’t invalidate my above point that aiming to cut the deficit willy nilly is an objective that makes no sense. To repeat, the point made by Keynes, the debt and deficit should be whatever is needed to bring full employment. That could mean a large surplus in two years time, or it could mean continuing with the deficit, as I suggested above.

            My above points are incidentally standard Modern Monetary Theory thinking (which in turn is not much different to Keynes).

            Reply I also mentioned Argentina which is a sovereign country in your terms.

    2. Denis Cooper
      September 15, 2013

      What is ridiculous, and totally irresponsible, is the idea now being touted that we can just carry on printing as much new money as the government thinks it needs ad infinitum without any deleterious effects.

      Fortunately we have a Chancellor who knows better than to be seduced into that, having once very wisely said:

      “printing money is the last resort of desperate governments”.

      Even though he has had £175 billion printed himself.

      1. Ralph Musgrave
        September 16, 2013

        Where are these people who think “we can just carry on printing as much new money as the government thinks it needs ad infinitum without any deleterious effects.”? The truth is that they don’t exist. The average mentally retarded ten year old knows that excessive money printing leads to excess inflation.

        1. Denis Cooper
          September 16, 2013

          Who are these people?

          Anyone who says:

          “Cutting the deficit is a ridiculous objective.”

          and later says:

          “… a national debt is completely different in nature to the debt of a household or firm.”

          Our government has developed the bad habit of more or less always running budget deficits, during good times as well as bad, with its debts mounting year after year; now it has started on the even worse habit of getting the Bank of England to create new money to fund its budget deficits, and you think that this is OK and it is “ridiculous” to try to break either habit.

          Heaven forfend that you and those who think like you should ever have control of our nation’s finances.

        2. Leslie Singleton
          September 16, 2013

          Ralph–Well according to you (don’t know or care much whether it is standard Modern or not) Full Employment overrides everything, but to me, Keynes or no Keynes (and again I don’t know whether Keynes did indeed say what you are saying but I suspect not) there simply cannot be a principle along the lines you say because the reductio (without seeking to disparage anybody) is that you are paying no attention to the intelligence and diligence and effectiveness and leadership and a few other things of the population concerned. Solely to make the point, if they are a bunch of no-hopers then obviously borrowing ad lib to suit ain’t gonna work for them, so as I say there can be no simple principle along lines stated by you.

    3. zorro
      September 15, 2013

      Para 1 – I can see why you put surplus in brackets! Chance would be a fine thing…. The trouble with ‘Keynesians’ that I see/hear from is that they are one-legged.They seem very reticent to talk about surpluses in economic good times…….

      Para 2 – Basically we are talking here about eternal QE….

      Para 3 – We don’t have inflation yet….because QE is being deployed to assist the government to cover its extra spending. The banks are being restrained. If/when that extra money hits the economy, you will see inflation…..


    4. lifelogic
      September 15, 2013

      Yes sure, and there is of course a magic money tree and we should pay people to dig holes and fill them in again or similar mad absurd things like HS2, PV and wind farms!

  22. uanime5
    September 15, 2013

    In the 2010 election Conservatives said they would keep Labour’s student loan scheme, and would consider higher charges. Lib Dems campaigned stridently in favour of abolishing student loans, and condemned any suggestion of increases. Dr Cable’s scheme and the Lib Dem 3 line whip to support it came as a surprise.

    I wonder which party encouraged the Lib Dems to change their pre-election promises and supported their call for higher tuition fees in Parliament.

    The Lib Dems main claim for themselves is that they have pushed through the big increase in Income Tax thresholds, taking more lower paid people out of Income Tax altogether. It is true they backed this scheme at the election and in government, but also true that Conservatives have been equally enthusiastic about this policy, pushed through by a Conservative Chancellor with the keen support of both parties. Had there been a majority Conservative government there would also have been Income Tax cuts for the lower paid.

    So when a Lib Dem policy is positively received it’s also a Conservative policy because the Conservatives voted for it, even though the Conservatives weren’t promising this during their election campaign. However when it’s an unpopular policy, such as trebling tuition fees, all the blame goes to the Lib Dems even though the Conservatives voted for it.

    Lib Dems do not want to help cut the costs of politics by reducing the number of MPs

    And Conservatives don’t want to reduce the number of Lords or make them elected.

    Conservative MPs have blocked the Lib Dem’s scheme for Lords reform, which did not establish sufficient support in the Lords either.

    The Parliament Act allows the Commons to force bill through the Lords, so a lack of support in the Lords is irrelevant.

    Reply Try reading what I write and thinking a little more about it. Conservatives campaigned for tax cuts in 2010, and a Conservative Chancellor introduced the tax cuts willingly with the support of the rest of us. Dr Cable and his party campaigned against tuition fees, the Coalition Agreement allowed them to stay out of it, but he studied it and decided on the scheme put to Parliament as the lead Minister.

    1. uanime5
      September 16, 2013

      I though the tax cuts the Conservatives were calling for involved removing the 50% tax rate, rather than increasing the personal allowance. Were the Conservatives calling for both?

      Reply: Yes, we were calling for Income Tax cuts for all levels of income.

  23. Terry
    September 15, 2013

    Since the LibDems entered Government one thing has become abundantly clear. They are reliable in their unreliability. They deliberately withdrew their support for boundary changes because like the spoilt schoolboys they appear to be, they did not get their way with the Lords reform. And for reneging on a deal promise, they should never ever be trusted in Government again. They should stick to what they know best, organising local bin collections and with a little luck, that is where they will end up, in 2015.

  24. Duyfken
    September 15, 2013

    Rather than staying tied to the Lib Dems, should not the Tories find Labour to be better partners in a coalition? Fanciful of course, but at least Labour are a mite less away with the fairies than Clegg & co, and these days the Tories now try so much to emulate the Labour style.

  25. forthurst
    September 15, 2013

    According to the New Statement, Jeremy Browne MP is a member of that “unfashionable minority” that celebrates diversity. “I don’t think there was a mistake. It was transformational in terms of Britain’s relationship with countries like Poland . . . It was in our foreign policy interest but, at a much more direct, micro level, there are lots of employers in my constituency and around the country who are full of praise for the contribution that Poles have made to their businesses and the economy more generally.”

    To paraphrase: the needs of politicians for the approbation of their international ‘partners’ and of business owners overrides the interests of their constituents.

    Browne believes “the global race” to be “the big issue of our time”, and “being a welcoming, liberal, outward-looking, internationalist country that embraces the opportunities of globalisation”.

    For simple souls whose career has been to communicate unambiguously with man and machine, that latter statement defies textual analysis. What is the ‘global race’? Is it a race to the top economically by educating and training your own workforce properly and adopting cheaper energy policies to achieve the most advantage, or a race to the bottom by adopting expensive energy policies, failing to educate or train your own workforce properly but rather importing from abroad those that have been and accepting the economic and social cost of putting your own people on the scrapheap whilst importing disproportionally more of those that their own countries are glad to see the back of?

    “But I think if you look at the overall ledger . . . the positives outweigh the negatives.” If your constituency is in Taunton, it may be easier to contemplate with equinimity the January arrivals from SE Europe than if you happen to represent part of a major conurbation.

  26. zorro
    September 15, 2013

    Off topic, but I couldn’t resist mentioning the EU’s latest attempt to improve its image through transparent and honest reporting…..



    1. forthurst
      September 15, 2013

      …they could cause the gravy train to be derailed; so irresponsible of the MSM to report this.

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