Where do the Liberal Democrats go from here? — May 9, 2012

Where do the Liberal Democrats go from here?

It’s hard to avoid the kicking the Liberal Democrats once again received in the Local Elections last week. Lots of hard working Liberal Democrat councillors sadly lost their jobs. Many in Labour and UKIP are rejoicing and predicting (hoping) that the Liberal Democrats will be all but wiped out in the 2015 General Election.

Since switching from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats last week I have been asked to explain why I feel jumping to a sinking ship is a good idea. So here we go…

Firstly, it is silly to assume that the Liberal Democrats are a sinking ship. Anti-Government sentiment is a regular occurrence, this types of voting patterns are nothing new, nor were they exclusive to the Liberal Democrats. I firmly believe that in 2015 the Liberal Democrats will increase the number of seats they have in the House of Commons. David Laws succinctly summarises why in the Financial Times.

“The coalition still has the potential to be one of the great reforming governments of the postwar era. The changes we are making in education, welfare and pensions are radical and right. The country will judge us over our full term and not on the basis of a turbulent few weeks of “here today, gone tomorrow” headlines. But after five years, we must show we have made the right decisions on the economy and got Britain back on track. That must be the coalition’s overriding obsession in the year ahead.” ~ David Laws

As I mentioned in my last post the Liberal Democrats have a LOT to shout about come 2015. Policies such as reducing the tax burden for the poorest in society. Increasing pensions by inflation, earnings or 2.5% (dependent on which is the highest). The £2.5bn Pupil Premium. Ensured that costly and illiberal ID cards were scrapped. Today in the Queen’s Speech their policy to break up the retail and investment arms of banks was announced. If you want more then head to: http://www.whatthehellhavethelibdemsdone.com/ which shows the huge number of pre-election promises the Liberal Democrats have ALREADY met.

These policies are Liberal Democrat policies, inevitably the Conservatives will attempt to hijack them and call them “Coalition policies” but Liberal Democrat politicians and door-steppers must stress that these were Liberal Democrat policies.

The Liberal Democrats haven’t had the same type of ministerial experience that Labour and the Conservatives have had and we must seek to build on that. We have some fantastic politicians waiting in the wings for some real big positions. Obviously I’m a huge fan of David Laws, but there is also Jeremy Browne who is a similar, classic liberal who is one to watch. I am of course new to the Party and not as well educated about the beliefs of each MP – but this I look forward to finding out more about my new Party.

Come 2015 I hotly anticipate another round of Clegg-mania when he finally gets a chance to really stand up for the Liberal Democrats successes in this Government. When the electorate are given a chance to distinguish between Liberal Democrat and Coalition policy, I fully expect the Liberal Democrats to come out on top.

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Is is time for me to leave the Conservatives? — April 25, 2012

Is is time for me to leave the Conservatives?

Well, well, well. Omnishambles indeed. Where to start? The Conservatives have had an absolute disastrous month or so. I might as well start with the biggest of all screw ups. The UK is back in recession. There’s no spinning the fact, back to back quarters of negative growth is a disaster, it puts the UK in real danger, the Eurozone is a mess and the UK could lose its credit rating and the markets confidence, which was crucial to George Osborne’s Plan A.

Recent news this past week offered the UK some “good news” the Government was borrowing less than before, a fall in real terms of approximately 10% to (wait for it)… £126bn. It’s not a fall in borrowing at all, its a fall in the rate. Conservatives and Cameron especially are quick to remind Labour that you don’t get out of a debt crises by piling on more debt. But that is EXACTLY what the Coalition is doing. Austerity hasn’t even kicked in yet, with estimates that 15% of the spending cuts have actually occurred as of this month. There is a lot more to come, and sadly Plan A isn’t working right now.

Worryingly for the people of Britain, the alternative to Plan A offered up by Labour seems to be a mix between taxing bankers and spending the same money, a number of times over and a Keynesian borrowing scheme. In reality they have no costed, credible alternative, and as Ed Miliband and his followers will tell you, its all part of the electoral game. The Coalition’s plan clearly isn’t working, but, and we can only play counterfactuals here, the Labour borrowing plan would be far worse.

Moving on to Yesterday’s fiasco. Jeremy Hunt is being hounded to resign (at the time of writing his Special Advisor has just resigned) because of his role in News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB. Hunt is accused of essentially pushing the deal through for News Corp. and not remaining impartial in his role. Another blow for the Conservatives. But guess what, once again Labour are guilty of hypocrisy. Ed Miliband called on Vince Cable to be sacked for standing up to the Murdochs, now wants Hunt sacked for rolling over for them? Its hardly like the Labour Party were never close to the Murdoch’s, or gave them access to their highest ministers. I’m sure Tony Blair never spoke to Rupert Murdoch – despite being a Godfather to one of his children.

So where does a disgruntled Conservative turn? Certainly not to Labour. They lack credibility on the economy, they are an opportunistic Party, too concerned with playing the electoral game and are stuck with a weak leader propped up by the Unions. If you think I’m wrong to say that – check out Ed Miliband last night. When pushed on what cuts he’d reverse he merely replied that he would “tell you at the next election.” It is utterly deplorable that in such tough times Labour politicians and supporters are more concerned about seeing a Labour majority in 2015 than working constructively with the Coalition.

What about to the Liberal Democrats? Well its certainly not a huge leap across the political spectrum to join the junior party of the Coalition. But it would be political suicide. The Liberal Democrats have been used as cannon fodder. Come 2015 (if the Coalition lasts that long) the British public will be reminded of the Tuition Fee betrayal, a failed attempt at political reform with AV and most likely the House of Lords and frequently backing reform they originally opposed. Worse yet for the Liberal Democrats, their successes will be stolen. It will be COALITION policy that took millions out of income tax all together, COALITION policy that re-introduced the triple lock for pensioners and COALITION policy that tackled tax avoidance. With all the apathy aimed at the Liberal Democrats, I fully expect them (wrongly) to struggle in the Local Elections and subsequently the General Election in 2015.

What about UKIP? Farage Fever took over last week when UKIP polled above the Liberal Democrats. This surge lasted all of a week and ICM/Guardian had them back at 3% shortly after. UKIP have a lot of good policies, there is no mistaking that, but how many of them are feasible? It is easy to promise the World when you have no chance of being asked to deliver. We aren’t going to leave the EU any time soon, we can see that by Osborne sending the IMF another £10bn (a policy Labour aren’t sure if they support or not!) Whilst this is unlikely UKIP will forever remain a one issue Party in the eyes of the electorate. Their welcoming of Roger Helmer, whose views on rape and homosexuality are abhorrent has really put me of UKIP lately. There are a large number of their members who are xenophobic, you only have to ask them about immigration and their desire for a cap. It is not a libertarian party, far from it, it simply has a handful of libertarian members. Crushingly for UKIP, the big two, Labour and the Conservatives destroyed the Yes2AV campaign enshrining a two-party system in the UK for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t even back UKIP to pick up a single seat in 2015.

The UK political scene is in a dire mess, we have no credible alternatives. Is it time for me, and the country to ditch the Conservative Party just yet? Maybe not, but we’re very close.

Dismantling UKIP Policies — March 7, 2012

Dismantling UKIP Policies

UKIP are often seen by many in Britain as “BNP-Lite” or “Racists in suits”. This is both a gross misrepresentation and in reality a bit of a slur. Yes, there are xenophobes in UKIP, not helped by the perception that they are a one issue party – namely the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. But, there are bad eggs in every group.

But this post isn’t a defence of UKIP. I want to expose some of the problems with their other official policies. In fact, I won’t even talk about Europe.

UKIP on Same-Sex Marriage

UKIP members on Twitter at least are proud to claim that UKIP is the home of the “natural conservative” – well today they’ve proved that. If you are in fact socially conservative and you are against same-sex marriage, then yes, UKIP is for you.  And yet, UKIP claims to be a libertarian party. Libertarians’ response to same-sex marriage would be that it is no business of the state, and people can do as they please. UKIP’s stance is totally illiberal and socially conservative. Sadly for UKIP this is an outdated, archaic argument only really being proposed by people who miss the bigoted days of the 1970s. Read a great piece on why they are wrong to do so here.

UKIP on Taxation

UKIP want to merge Income Tax and National Insurance. This is actually a great idea. Its an idea supported by the Tax Payers Association.

The next bit though, not so much. They want a flat tax of 31% on any income over £11,500. Whilst taking people out of tax all together is admirable, it is already being done by the Coalition to £10,000. The problem is that a flat tax is disproportionally harsh on lower income earners. It doesn’t take a lot to tweak this policy. Raise the threshold even further and implement a smaller progressive tax breaks.

UKIP on Immigration

They want to “end mass, uncontrolled unemployment”. Well sadly for them, they can’t. EU law allows freedom of movement, that wouldn’t be a problem for when they leave the EU. (Okay one mention of the EU) Immigration is good for the UK economy. Don’t believe all the bile that people come out with that claims otherwise. It’s false. One UKIPer comments underneath their policy that “Brits are losing they’re ‘Britishness” – Face and palm! Jesus Christ. There’s a brief critique of UKIP’s Conference’s talks on immigration here.

UKIP on Health

Definitely one of UKIPs strong points. They want to reduce bureaucracy and make no front line cuts to the NHS. This SHOULD be the Coalition’s policy. I don’t understand why it is isn’t. They want to “improve patient choice by introducing ‘Health Credit Vouchers’, which will enable people to opt out of the NHS public healthcare system entirely if they so wish. UK citizens will apply to their GP for vouchers that can be paid to the private health insurer of their choice.” Another good policy, its almost a piece-meal move to David Laws’ National Health Insurance Scheme. 

Of course this is just a few points on UKIP policies, sadly I don’t have time to continue. Maybe soon I’ll edit and repost this!