Nick Clegg, that standard-bearer for sticking to your principles and refusing to let short-term expediency change your mind, has released his Liberal Democrat New Year message. It would be hilarious if the implications weren’t so serious.
You’ll remember Clegg dropped a flagship policy not to raise student tuition fees, just as soon as he could after going into coalition with the Conservative Party, and recently apologised for it as though he thought that would make everything better.
His party has been propping up some of the most poisonous policies the UK has ever seen, including the dismantling of the English NHS, starvation of the education system to prop up ‘free schools’, and the hate campaign and genetic cleansing programme against the sick and disabled that masquerades under the heading ‘welfare reform’ as run by the odious Iain Duncan Smith.
Still, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he had to say.
“We will hold firm to our key purpose in this Government – the Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy, in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.” I told you it was funny. Just try not to laugh; there is a serious point to all this.
“We will stay the course on the deficit. We will cut income tax bills and help with childcare bills.
“We will invest in boosting jobs and we’ll reform welfare to get people into work.
“A stronger economy. A fairer society. Where everyone can get on.” He mentioned this twice because it’s their keystone.
It’s also utter, utter nonsense.
All of the above is taken direct from the Lib Dems’ new ‘party message script’, which I intend to elaborate in full below. I am grateful to Liberator’s blog for making the information publicly available.
Lib Dems are advised to “make it the basis for every communication we make” and “communicate from this script at every opportunity” so you’re going to hear this stuff a lot from now on. In fact, you’re going to get bored stiff with it. And remember: It’s nonsense.
So here we go. The message script runs as follows:
“Building a Stronger Economy in a Fairer Society
The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.” The same words used by Mr Clegg. But of course we know they’re not true. The economy is NOT strong; society is becoming more UNfair. FEWER people are now able to get on in life. It’s complete doublespeak and they need to be challenged on it at every turn.
“That’s why we have:
“1. Fixed the mess left by Labour. We have reduced the deficit by a quarter, kept interest rates down and created over a million private sector jobs.” What mess left by Labour? The one that would have been created if the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats had been in power? The one caused by the bankers lending irresponsibly until they tipped the economy of the western world right over the edge? HOW have they reduced the deficit? By investing in industry and employment that will increase the nation’s tax take? Or by hacking away at public services and ensuring that the infrastructure is no longer available to make such investments, thereby ensuring the economy’s pain will continue for many years to come? (I’ll give you a clue – it’s the latter). Have they really KEPT interest rates down? Or is it in fact nothing at all to do with this government and its crazy schemes? (I’ll give you a clue – it’s the latter). Did they REALLY create more than a million private sector jobs? (I’ll give you a clue – no, they didn’t. Many of those jobs are public sector jobs that they sneakily reclassified in the hope that nobody would notice. Too bad. We did).
“2. Ensured that 24 million people will not pay any income tax on the first £9,440 of earnings, putting £600 back into their pockets from April 2013.” That’s fine by the Conservatives. You know why? It means less tax money coming in to the Treasury, ensuring that the deficit and the debt continue, meaning that they can carry on saying that they need to cut services in order to make ends meet – and blaming the previous Labour government in the process. Not Labour’s fault, then; clearly the Liberal Democrats wish to take responsibility. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all in favour of giving the lowest-paid in society a chance to keep the money they earn, but there are better ways of doing it.
“3. Put an extra £2.5 billion into schools targeted at the least well-off pupils, raising standards for everyone.” I have no idea what they’re on about here. If anyone can enlighten me about this – clearly vitally important – Liberal Democrat policy that has slipped under my news radar, I would be very grateful. In the meantime all I can say is that £2.5 billion, in terms of the education budget, isn’t very much. Isn’t it about £1 billion less than Lansley spent, ruining the English NHS?
“4. Created a Green Investment Bank that will unlock billions of pounds of private investment in renewable energy and create thousands more jobs in the green economy.” Would this be the “Non-bank needing to prove itself” that Damian Carrington has discussed in his Guardian blog? If it hasn’t done anything yet, it’s pointless to trumpet it as an achievement.
“5. Got young people off the dole and into work through apprenticeships, work placement or training with our £1 billion Youth Contract.” Ah yes, the Youth Contract. From memory – Average length of time a person stays in a job last year: four months. Effectiveness of work placements at getting people into jobs: less than if they had simply gone looking themselves. How many young people are on the dole? Is it around one million? The figures speak for themselves.
“6. Delivered the biggest ever cash rise in the state pension.” Because you can always rely on a pensioner to vote. Therefore you try to keep ’em sweet so they’ll vote for you.
“The Labour Party can’t be trusted to manage the economy. Labour borrowed and borrowed and nearly bankrupted Britain. In power they cared more about bankers, media bosses and union barons than they did about ordinary, working people.” Labour borrowing during the vast majority of its 13 years in power was LOWER – let me say that again, LOWER – than any Conservative government during the previous 40 years or so (Labour average: 39 per cent; Tory average: 41 per cent – you see, keeping lots of people unemployed in order to artificially depress wages is a poor arrangement). Overborrowing was NOT habitual for the Labour Party and so that part of the Liberal Democrat message is a LIE. Labour did borrow a huge amount of money to deal with a single issue – the banking crisis – and was supported in this by the other main political parties of the time, including the Liberal Democrats. So, a lie followed by hypocrisy. As for bankers and media bosses – I notice the Coalition has been chumming up to these since May 2010, so that’s also a matter of hypocrisy. Labour tried hard for ordinary working people with tax credits and social reforms but I don’t agree with much of what the party did. Better by far to ensure they get paid enough not to need benefits at all. I notice that is not part of any Liberal Democrat policy.
“The Conservatives can’t be trusted to build a fair society. Until the Lib Dems got into government, no one could stop the Tories from looking after the super rich who fund their party, while ignoring the needs of normal people who struggle to make ends meet.” Until the Lib Dems got into government, the Tories were LOSING super-rich funders because they weren’t in power. The Lib Dems have shored up Tory funding by going into coalition with them. It’s true that they can’t be trusted to build a fair society, though. Since the Lib Dems accept that, why continue with the Coalition at all?
“That’s why we have blocked Tory plans to:
1. Allow bosses to fire staff at will.” But the notice period for mass redundancies is being cut from 90 days to 45, with help from the Liberal Democrats.
“2. Let local schools be run for profit.” But it’s all right to allow the creation of so-called ‘free schools’ at huge cost, run by amateurs and sucking funding away from the established education system?
“3. Cut inheritance tax for millionaires.” But allowed the forthcoming Income Tax cut that will put £107,000 per year back into the pockets of those who are paid more than £1 million per year.
“4. Introduce lower rates of pay for public sector workers outside of the South East.” But allowed the abolition of Council Tax Benefit, meaning those who are worst off will have to pay more, just to keep their homes.
“Now, with your support, we want to keep building a stronger economy in a fairer society.” Keep building? KEEP BUILDING? When will they START?
“Over the next two years we will:
“1. Increase our tax cut for low and middle earners to £700 for 24 million people.” Thereby forwarding the Tory ‘Starve the Beast’ policy of cutting the flow of tax money into public services. As I said before – pay people enough money in the first place and they won’t need this help.
“2. Dramatically increase parents’ access to child care so that it’s easier for parents to get back into jobs.” What jobs?
“3. Reform the welfare system to get people off benefits and into work.” What work? There are previous few jobs out here, a fact of which both Coalition parties continue appearing to be oblivious. Meanwhile, welfare cuts (I refuse to call them reforms) are driving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people to despair, destitution, and in many cases death. Remember: the Liberal Democrats are swimming in blood, just like the Tories.
“4. Create tens of thousands of jobs across Britain in the new, green economy.” This is meaningless – a promise that cannot be supported at this time.
“Let’s never go back to the way things were, because Labour can’t be trusted with your money, and the Tories can’t be trusted to build a fair society.” I think I’ve already explained the reasons this is a stupid thing for Liberal Democrats to be saying.
“Only the Lib Dems can be trusted to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.” See my response to the paragraph immediately above.
“STRONGER ECONOMY. FAIRER SOCIETY.” Vote ALL Liberal Democrats out of Parliament at the next election, then.