Yesterday an amazed BBC was telling us that the delegates at the Lib Dem Conference are bravely sticking to the “tough” deficit reduction programme of the Coalition, despite their dislike of it. What a lot of disinformation in the same short news piece.
What is there not to like for a Lib Dem who wants to put up tax rates on the rich, increase state spending and increase benefits for the poor? The Coalition has followed exactly that policy.
The Lib Dems have been very good at claiming credit for the higher Income tax threshold, a policy supported by both Coalition parties. It has also claimed credit for the higher pupil premium for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, again a policy backed by both Coalition parties in their manifesto promises. It has left the idea that other nastier unspecified policies were the work of the Conservatives.
So far the government has done the following:
It has increased current public spending by £57 billion a year over 2 years, or more than 9% in cash terms, ahead of inflation
It has increased benefits by more than 8.5% over two years
It has abated the cuts in capital spending inherited from Labour, and is looking at ways to expand capital spending by the state
It has endorsed or imposed higher tax rates on earning, on buying expensive homes, on rich Nom Doms, on capital gains, on non food consumption, on foreign holidays, on driving and on employing people
It has greatly increased overseas aid spending
It has pursued a policy of very dear green energy
It has transferred powers to the EU and increased our spending on the EU budget
It has agreed to borrow an extra £550 billion over the life of this Parliament, an amount higher than the total state debt in 2004.
If I were a Lib Dem I would be delighted with it all, save the leadership’s unfortunate decision on tuition fees which they did not have to make.