John Clark writes…
First published: July 2010
Before the election Ryedale Liberal Democrats were concerned. They thought there was confusion between the Liberal Democrats and the Liberals. Fortunately this problem has evaporated. It has been replaced by two much bigger problems for the Liberal Democrats:
- How do they justify the massive gap between their election campaign promises and their budget of 22nd June?
- How do the public sort out the confusion between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories?
A central plank of the Liberal Democrat campaign was Britain needed a fairer tax system. Their genuine claim was that the poorest paid too much tax. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies the ConDem budget hit the poorest tenth of the population four times harder as a percentage of income than the tenth with the highest incomes. This makes the situation worse, not better.
In the election campaign the Liberal Democrats exposed a potential ‘Tory bombshell’ of increased VAT. This tax is regressive and grossly unfair. It taxes the poor as a percentage of income far more than the rich. What we have got is a Tory bombshell with the fuse lit by the Liberal Democrats.
Another area that the Liberal Democrats highlighted was the abuse of the British taxpayers by the Bankers. Bankers got us into this financial mess. The Budget contained a £2.7 billion bank levy. In other words the banks would take their share of the the pain. Why were their no screams of anguish? Analysts at HSBC gave us the explanation. “Most domestic banks will be better off within four years than they are now.” What had not been shouted out in the Budget was that the Chancellor, supported by the Liberal Democrat poodles, had helped his Tory business mates, including the bankers. They have reduced Corporation Tax from 28% to 24% over the next 4 years. This means that the banks will pay less tax over the next 4 years, not more.
There are a whole string of policies where they are now supporting the Tories without a whimper. Child Benefit has been ‘cut’. Freezing it reduces its buying power. Before the election the Liberal Democrats supported the ‘Future Jobs Fund’. Now they have axed it. They supported the Health in Pregnancy Grant. Also axed. In opposition they supported halving the deficit in 4 years. Now in power they are supporting the Tories to remove the deficit in 5 years.
A large number of people voted Liberal Democrat in the General Election hoping for progressive policies. These haven’t happened. Maybe not as many, but a substantial number of people voted Liberal Democrat to ‘Stop the Tories’. Not only have these voters failed to stop the Tories they have cemented the Tories in place for as long as the ConDem coalition lasts. Those who voted for the progressive policies of the Liberal Democrats have been let down. Those who voted Liberal Democrat to stop the Tories have also been let down. This is why the Liberal/Liberal Democrat confusion has disappeared. Unlike the Liberal Democrats the Liberals are progressive, radical and Liberal.