Dr Cable effectively accused Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne of lying about future tax and spend plans. I would be interested in how you would describe this statement from the Lib Dem Manifesto of 2010:
“We will scrap unfair university tuition fees for all students taking their first degrees, including those who study part time, saving them over £10,000 each”
Dr Cable was the responsible Cabinet Minister who decided to keep Labour’s tuition fees, and put them up substantially. He then put both the Lib Dem and Conservative parties on a 3 line whip to vote for his scheme.
Under the Coalition agreement he could have asked Conservatives to draw up plans and could have refused to vote for them if he did not like them. Instead he chose to put up tuition fees.
Or how would you describe the Lib Dem promise to vote to reduce the number of MPs in the Commons as part of the spending reduction programme in return for the Conservatives voting to hold an AV referendum? You may remember Conservatives did vote for the Lib Dem referendum, but Lib Dems did not vote for the boundary review.
The main reason Lib Dems are struggling in the polls is the way they behaved over the tuition fee issue. I was summonsed like many other Conservative candidates in the 2010 election to a meeting of local sixth formers so the Lib Dems could offer them the abolition of tuition fees for university. I explained that my party did now back Labour’s tuition fees. I said we, like Labour if they were elected, would look at the forthcoming review of university funding Labour had set up and might reluctantly have to agree to increases in the fees. It was not a popular line, unlike the Lib Dems free gift promise.
The Lib Dem Manifesto for 2015 is taking shape. It is likely to send out clear messages:
Do not work hard and earn a good income – if you do we will punish you with higher income taxes
If you dare succeed and get a higher income, do not buy an expensive house – if you do we will want to punish you with higher taxes
If you earn well and dare to save for your retirement, we will take money from your pension fund with higher taxes
If you run your own business and want to sell it for a good profit, we will want to take profits with Capital Gains tax
If you save we will pursue you with higher dividend taxes
The Lib Dem advice is do not succeed and get a good income or make a business success. Or if you do, spend the money as quickly as possible. On no account save it or invest it. Saving, investing, building companies and buying dearer houses are ills that need to be punished.
What a depressing outlook.