John Walker's Electronic House


by on Jun.22, 2010, under The Rest


It’s hard to find words to express the horrific duplicity of Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrat party. So to comment on today’s budget, and the announcement from the Coalition Government that VAT would be raised to 20%, I’m instead going to use some words Nick Clegg said on the 8th April:

Nick Clegg reveals Tories’ £13bn VAT bombshell

“Liberal Democrats have costed, in full, our proposals for tax cuts. We can tell you, penny for penny, pound for pound, who pays for them.

We will not have to raise VAT to deliver our promises. The Conservatives will. Let me repeat that: Our plans do not require a rise in VAT. The Tory plans do.

Their tax promises on marriage and jobs may sound appealing. But they come with a secret VAT bombshell close behind.

So if you’re on an ordinary income, you have a choice. If you want your taxes to rise: vote Labour or Conservative. If you want your taxes to fall: choose the Liberal Democrats.”

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13 Comments for this entry

  • Andreas

    So they changed their minds when they actually go to see the figures. Hardly shocking.

    I can promise everybody free pudding if I cook dinner, if I get to the kitchen and realise we don’t have the ingredients, nobody is getting any pudding.

  • mrstrellis

    Lib Dem MP Bob Russell said: “Less than 50 days ago I was seeking re-election in Colchester opposed to an increase in VAT. So I am not happy at all. I need to discuss with colleagues how it is we have got into this situation.”

    Ooh, Bob, I wonder how it is that you have “got into” this situation. Oh yeah, I remember: you went into coalition with the party with whom you swore you’d never enter into a coalition. Remember? The one your colleagues then unanimously voted to join?

  • SAeN

    Morals or power, morals or power…

    They are politicians, lies are in the job description.

  • Patrick

    In the context of “there’s been a massive recession, the country is in all this debt, people died in riots in greece”, then calling £400/year a horrific duplicitous bombshell seems kind of excessive. Yes, “tax is bad”, and to our puny, taxable minds perhaps the deficit could better be met by taxing things that my demographic doesn’t have or use, like a million pounds. All I’m saying is let’s not call for beheadings unless we’re as fiscally educated as Vince Cable.

  • John Walker

    So instead of taxing the very rich, raise VAT, and cut welfare and housing benefits, so the very poorest have to pay more for the very basics they need to stay alive? That’s the best plan!

    Tax isn’t bad. Tax is good. Heavily taxing those who have stunning amounts of money is very good, because they can afford it. Moderately taxing those with a moderate amount of money makes sense too. Focusing your savings on the very poorest, and creating higher taxes where they will most hurt the very poorest – no, I’m not as educated as Vince Cable, but that doesn’t seem like the number one goal of a Liberal Democrat.

    Oh, and cut 25% from education too. Because hell, why not?

    The issue is not that taxes are being raised. The issue is that a Lib Dem leader who made explicit statements about how grotesque he believed these plans to be, is now silently supporting them as the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK. THAT is the issue, and it’s a pretty enormous one.

  • dirk

    Even Cameron himself argued that VAT hits the poorest hardest in 2009, when he was scraping for GE votes.

    He can’t believe his luck in being able to ram a VAT increase through, freeze child benefit and still say he’s progressive. Those #nickcleggsfault japes are pretty hollow now.

  • Dr. Derek Doctors, DFA

    I can’t say I follow the government’s reasoning in this: evidently, they plan to reduce unemployment by slashing public-sector jobs and cutting public spending while increasing taxes. It’s like they exhumed Thatcherism and hooked it up to a car battery to make it dance.

    But, hey, one nice thing about hairshirt economics is that they keep interest rates low. Stimulated recessions have a way of doing that.

  • Mike McQuaid

    It’s almost like the Lib Dems are acting like the minority party in a coalition so all their electoral promises aren’t getting met!

    I know this stuff is grating as a Lib Dem voter but I don’t think it’s terribly surprising or that the Lib Dems could have done drastic amounts to stop it.

  • Rev. S. Campbell

    The Lib Dems are, of course, in something of a fix. When Labour chose to run away from the responsibility of government for a cushy life in opposition, the Lib Dems were left with two choices: let the Tories ravage the country at will, unable to meaningfully oppose anything because it would lead to a new election at which the Lib Dems would be slaughtered; or enter a coalition that would moderate Tory rule, in the knowledge that to do so would inevitably involve compromise, for which they would be pilloried by both their own supporters and the cowardly hypocrites now sitting on the Opposition benches.

    They took the braver of those two choices. The reasons they did so might have been good ones or might have just been aimed at tasting some power for themselves, we don’t know. And certainly they’ve let their voters down even within these parameters, by voting for Trident rather than abstaining as the coalition agreement allowed them to do, though of course in practical terms it made no difference at all either way.

    But to all the people attacking the Lib Dems since the election, I have the same question – what would you have had them do? Take the coward’s option of Labour and sit back feeling smug and pious while the vulnerable suffered? Commit pointless electoral suicide? Or do what they’ve done, and at least hold the Tories back a bit? Speaking as a poor person, I have not the slightest doubt that had the Tories been in government alone, this budget would have been far, far worse than it is now. And risking your own popularity to avoid that prospect is an honourable thing.

  • Blackberries

    To those trying to defend the budget by invoking the ‘debt crisis’, I’m going to have to disagree. These cuts & regressive taxes were neither necessary or unavoidable, and certainly didn’t need to be put in place right now. It’s as much an ideologically motivated assault on the state and welfare as anything.

    There are some prominent economists from a variety of backgrounds who’re pointing out how utterly unnecessary all this is. Not only that, but it’s potentially very damaging given the possible consequences for the economy:

    Paul Krugman:

    Samuel Brittan(!):

    Martin Wolf:

    I’m still reeling a little from everything which was announced yesterday. I find it weird that there isn’t as much comment being made in the media about the cutting of govt. spending by 25% across departments (except Health). Perhaps it’s because we won’t know the details til October, but.. I mean.. my god. These are cuts on an imaginable scale, on top of the VAT rise, benefit reductions* and public sector pay free (pay cut in real terms). It’s staggering.

    I do not really know what to make of the Lib-Dems in all this. Stu is correct to point out how tough a position they were in given the election results, and that there was a possibility that by refusing to engage with the Tories, a second general election later this year would have given the Conservatives a larger majority. But that doesn’t really change the fact that they’ve enabled this horror of a budget, and started backtracking on their earlier claims about the economy and what was needed and when. I’m struggling to see really how much the Lib-Dems managed to get into this budget. Taking low-but-not-lowest earners out of income tax is nice, so is increasing Capital Gains Tax (though it should really have gone up more), but they are making things very difficult for themselves by supporting this.

    Harman’s attack on them yesterday was very pointed, and while I’m not so cynical as to say they sold-out only for a little taste of power, they don’t really have much of a defence against what she was saying.

  • Blackberries

    Oops, forgot the footnote that asterisk was supposed to indicate:

    *Not only are they putting a vicious cap on housing benefit, but they’re also reducing the Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile of local rents, instead of the average. So housing benefit is going to further drop.

    Also, I should point out that while the Lib-Dems definitely have some tough questions to answer, my full vitriol is still very much reserved for the Tories. This was their budget, their attack. I don’t doubt that Clegg & Co. were trying very hard to soften the blow as much as they could, even if it does grate to see them suddenly talking about how serious this deficit thing all is and how, no, really, we do need to cut now.

  • NM

    Stu, do you think the LibDems *haven’t* committed electoral suicide? The situation here is a simple one. Clegg told two big lies – one when he became leader, and one less than two months ago. There is no order of magintude difference between what he knew about the economy then and what he knows now, but he took a gamble that his big posterful of rhetoric wouldn’t be brought into realpolitik play. But it was, and he’s shown up as the mendacious huckster. As for his alliance with the Tories: no surprise. He was a Tory at university soc, and became a Lib when it suited him opportunistically. Now he’s come home. That this Tory parasite has gutted his host on the way to this home is par for the course.

  • Rev. S. Campbell

    I don’t disagree with any of those comments about Clegg, but no, I don’t think the LDs have committed electoral suicide. I think a lot of people can see that they had little choice, and plenty more people will be doing just fine for themselves and not really care. People expect manifesto promises to be broken, and people really, REALLY don’t want their taxes raised, because there is no sense of collective social responsibility any more. I suspect the vast majority of LD voters are middle class, and will bitch and moan a bit but ultimately not really mind. Who else are they going to vote for, after all?