Tag Archives: message script

Tax the rich? Hardship payments for benefit claimants? Sorry Nick – we believed you once before

Nick Clegg: He must have had his forked tongue in his cheek when he wrote the Liberal Democrats' latest list of pledges.

Nick Clegg: He must have had his forked tongue in his cheek when he wrote the Liberal Democrats’ latest list of pledges.

The Liberal Democrats have launched a desperate attempt to win back voters, packing their General Election manifesto with meaningless pledges.

Why are they meaningless? Because the Liberal Democrats, under the same leader (Nick Clegg), made pledges to us before the 2010 election – having already hammered out an agreement with the Conservatives that meant they would not be able to honour those commitments.

There is evidence that teams representing the Tories and Liberal Democrats negotiated what would be in a coalition agreement on March 16, 2010 – and abolishing student tuition fees, a principle Liberal Democrat pledge, was not part of it.

In this light, how can we believe Liberal Democrat plans to push for higher capital gains tax, bringing it more closely in line with income tax? How can we believe they would change tax relief for entrepreneurs, so it does not provide a tax loophole for the super-rich – or even the modest plan to cut tax relief on pensions from £1.4 million to £1 million? And how can we believe they will restrict access to “non-dom” tax status for foreigners living in Britain who do not pay tax on their earnings abroad?

The BBC has an even more hard-to-believe report that the Liberal Democrats will cut the Winter Fuel Allowance and free TV licences for better-off pensioners, in order to pay for a 66 per cent discount on bus travel (in England only) for young people aged 16-21.

This is doubly insulting to our intelligence. Firstly, a concession on bus fares is no consolation for the tripling of student tuition fees in which the Liberal Democrats participated after promising to abolish them instead – and don’t they know that means-testing benefits to discover who deserves them is not a simple matter? It is complex and costly – as Alex Little told us only a few days ago.

This comment of his is particularly apt: “Old Tories are often popping up to say they don’t need their £250 winter fuel allowance. It may be true that they don’t need it, but their motives for mentioning it are so these things will be means tested, the budget will be slashed and then they think they can ask for lower taxes, or more ‘contributory benefits‘ (code for benefits not available to the ‘undeserving’ who’ll need to rely on charity).”

The Liberal Democrats are being more than a little disingenuous with that promise, then.

And does anybody really think the plan to decriminalise possession of restricted drugs for personal use will ever happen? The Liberal Democrats know their performance in the Coalition means they won’t win any elections soon and are hoping to be part of another hung-Parliament alliance. This means they would be sharing public office with one of the other parties who, they state, have “blighted” UK drugs policy with “kneejerk prejudice and the wish to appear tough”. This is another pledge they can make safely, knowing it is never likely to happen.

You’ll notice, also, that the Liberal Democrats say next to nothing about the National Health Service – that foundation stone of British fair play and decency that they allowed the Conservatives to sell off to private companies (in which many of them are shareholders) in order to make a profit from the suffering of the sick.

They will increase its budget in line with inflation so the private companies leeching off of it won’t lose profit. How caring of them.

To cap it all off, Clegg repeated what has become the Liberal Democrat mantra ever since he first used it in December 2012: “Liberal Democrats are committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling people to get on in life.”

It’s the ‘party message script’, you see. Back in 2012, he added: “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.”

Considering his party’s record on those matters, there is certainly no reason to buy any of what he’s peddling today.

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Tories compile a list of their achievements. Ha ha ha.

We never knew: Perhaps Michael Gove is more familiar with the reading matter behind him, but it seems he may even be acquainted with this blog!

We never knew: Perhaps Michael Gove is more familiar with the reading matter behind him, but it seems he may even be acquainted with this blog!

Whoever would have suspected that Michael Gove reads Vox Political?

We come to this conclusion from the reaction of the Education Secretary and Gollum impressionist to Theresa May’s ConservativeHome speech, in which she outlined her belief that the plebs’ human rights should be for the chop, as outlined in our article on Sunday. We may deduce he gets help with some of the longer words.

It seems that, in a meeting of Conservative cabinet members, Gove made it clear that prominent Tories’ efforts to promote themselves as possible leaders (precious) were playing into the hands of the party’s opponents (gollum, gollum).

The article itself has been read by fewer than 10,000 people at the time of writing, but Gove may have enjoyed a rare moment of intelligence and realised that the viral reach has been something in the order of two or three million (and it does this columnist a world of good just to type that).

Of course, other blogs exist as well, and it’s possible that even the mainstream press may have enjoyed some frivolity with the Home Secretary’s attempt to be a social climber (in the face of her own government’s elimination of social mobility of any kind).

The cumulative effect on the public consciousness has been huge.

Gollum’s – sorry, Gove’s – warning presaged a sterner telling-off by the Tory Party’s new general election guru, Lynton Crosby, who warned them all to decide whether they want to be “commentators” or “participants” in the 2015 election.

This gentleman then stuffed his own foot very firmly into his mouth and shot himself in it, such was the enormity of the gaffe that followed.

At his urging, comedy Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled what we are being asked to believe will be the bedrock of the party’s campaigning over the next two years.

Try not to laugh.

It’s worse even than the Liberal Democrats’ silly ‘message script’ that they brought out last December.

It is:

A 10-point checklist of Tory achievements since they came into office in 2010!

Already, I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, “How in Heaven’s name have they managed to come up with as many as 10 achievements?”

Don’t get your hopes up!

It really provides a strong insight into the Tory mind, that they consider some of these disasters to be achievements.

But don’t take our word for it. We’ll take them one at a time so you can have a look for yourself:

1. They have cut the fiscal deficit by a quarter. Nobody actually believes this, though. Any “achievement” on the deficit that is reached via one-off events like the Royal Mail pensions raid is unsustainable. It makes for good PR in the right-wing press but anybody with an ounce of sense will see right through it. Also, most of the savings have been carried out by cutting support for the poorest people in the country while the richest are getting – as the Labour Party has hammered into us with such tedious regularity since last year’s budget statement – a tax cut. And in the background, the national debt continues to rise, as Tory policy dictates it must if they are to justify their continued attack on State structures.

2. They have reduced immigration by a third. That’s right; talented people from foreign countries no longer wish to live and work in the UK because the Conservatives and their policies have made it such an unattractive place.

3. There are one million new private sector jobs. There is also so much wrong with this that it is hard to know where to start. Firstly, 200,000 of those jobs were formerly in the public sector but were re-defined by the Conservatives in order to make up the numbers. Secondly, anyone on Workfare, Mandatory Work Activity or whatever they’re calling it today is automatically defined as being in work, despite the fact that the only pay they receive is their state benefit. Thirdly, the government is, by definition, a public sector organisation and should not, therefore, be trying to claim the credit for the creation of private sector employment; only private sector employers can legitimately do that.

4. They vetoed an EU treaty for the first time. Clearly the Conservatives are hoping enough time has passed for us to forget that David Cameron made the UK and everyone in it look like a bunch of fools in front of the other 26 EU states when he did this, because their reaction was simply to bump us off the negotiating table and sign an accord between themselves. All he did was sideline the UK and harm British interests in Europe.

5. They have cut the EU budget for the first time. Not strictly true as it was Angela Merkel’s influence that led to the budget cut. We may also reasonably ask why this is being hailed as an achievement when the British contribution to that budget is still on the rise and has not been cut.

6. They have promised an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU (if they win the next general election). That’s right – rather than achieve anything useful, like negotiating a new structure for the European Union that benefits all of us, the Conservatives intend to stand at the sidelines, make unreasonable demands, and then pander to their own Euro-sceptics by offering the people only one choice – stay or go. The simple fact is that the UK needs to be a part of the European trading community to survive; the run-up to the referendum means the press will be able to feed a mountain of claptrap to the people in order to influence them into a ‘go’ vote, even though it will put us at a huge disadvantage. But the Tories will have seen off UKIP, which is something they are desperate to do after the Eastleigh by-election. Oh yes, and the referendum is conditional on the Conservatives winning the 2015 election outright. It’s electoral blackmail.

7. They are enacting new laws to place householders on the lowest energy tariff. The problem with this is that energy companies can only provide the low tariffs that are currently available because more people pay the higher, average prices. If they are required by law to put everyone on the lowest possible payment scheme, the price of that scheme will rise. It is economically-illiterate nonsense but it looks good to the uninformed.

8. They have created a single-tier pension scheme. This is the Tory compulsion to make things simpler at work again – because simplifying money matters means the poor will be worse-off. In simple language, then, the vast majority of people who become eligible for their pensions after 2060 will lose out. This is an attack on the young.

9. They are introducing a £75,000 cap on the costs of long-term care. On the face of it, this is good, because 16 per cent of over-65s will benefit. However, the recommendation was for a cap of between £25-50,000 – which would have benefited 37 per cent of over-65s, more than double the number the Tories are actually going to help. Around 120,000 pensioners will lose out every year.

10. They are taking two million people out of tax, with an average £600 cut in bills for 24 million people. This is, of course, before the impact of the Tories’ benefit cuts is factored in. For example, look at Iain Duncan Smith’s decision to freeze benefit increases at one per cent for the next three years, no matter how high inflation rises. This will plunge 200,000 children into poverty. The Children’s Society calculates that a single parent with two children, working on an average wage as a nurse would lose £424 a year by 2015. A couple with three children and one earner, on an average wage as a corporal in the British Army, would lose £552 a year by 2015. Now add in the effect of the benefit cap that will be introduced next month, the bedroom tax, the council tax reduction scheme in England; many people will be refused the Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit under their new rules, just as many are being refused Employment and Support Allowance now (wrongly). If a cumulative impact assessment was carried out, the effect on those two million people who no longer have to pay Income Tax – not indirect taxes like VAT, road tax, and so on – will be unequivocally negative.

This is not a list of achievements.

It is a list of staggering failures.

Ed Miliband was right to ask, in today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, whether they could organise anything in a brewery.

Instead of a show of pride, the Conservatives should be ashamed.