In advance of the Liberal Democrat’s first party conference in power YouGov surveyed 566 Lib Dem party members. On the whole members remain strongly supportive of the Government, Nick Clegg and the decision to go into coalition, but express concerns over economic policy, reject the idea of a pact with the Tories and, in an ideal world, would prefer a deal with Labour. Here’s a summary of the main findings:

58% of Lib Dem members approve of the Government’s record, with 23% disapproving. David Cameron’s approval rating is +64, Nick Clegg’s +70 and Simon Hughes’ +51.

Only 29% of party members fully agree with the Government’s policy of cutting spending to reduce Government borrowing. 28% would like to see borrowing reduced more gradually, and 35% think the Government are right to reduce borrowing quickly, but would rather there were higher taxes and fewer cuts.

78% of party members approve of the decision to enter into coalition with the Conservatives. Asked what the party should have done given the circumstances after the 2010 election 50% think a Conservative coalition was the best solution, 22% would have preferred a deal short of a coalition, 19% would have preferred a deal with Labour.

But in a hypothetical hung Parliament situation where the Liberal Democrats could form a majority government with either party, and both offered equally good deals, 46% of Lib Dem members would prefer a deal with Labour. Only 26% would go with the Conservatives.

A narrow majority of Lib Dem members (53%) expect the coalition to last the entire length of the Parliament.

Lib Dem members reject the idea of an election pact with the Conservatives at the next election by 21% to 66%.

On a left right scale 65% of Liberal Democrat members identify themselves as being left-of-centre, with an average score on a scale of -100 (very left wing) to +100 (very right wing) of -32. Nick Clegg is seen as more centrist, with a score of -7. Deputy leader Simon Hughes is closer to the average of party members, with an average score of -42.

This article is cross-posted from the Yougov website here, the full tables are up here.


146 Responses to “YouGov poll of Lib Dem members”

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  1. I honestly don’t think the Dems care about votes anymore. I think they care about donors. Seriously, they are skint & have no idea where their funding will come from.

    They honestly did not know until after the coalition deal was signed that they’d lose their taxpayer funding. They are in government – but the machinery that can help you in elections (PR staff etc.) is not within their purview.

    They’ve raised their membership fees – but that gets them about £100k per year.

    Clegg & Laws must net some big donors or their Party could be in severe financial difficulties. The only way they can do this is be all for economic liberalism i.e. privatise everything; back off on banking taxes & controls etc. 8-)

  2. I thought that was a tory speech at a liberal conference

    thats going to prove curtains at the polling booths , despite the applause from the delegates , who were doing what they were told

    labour will profit to the expense tory from the liberal floaters

  3. this one is interesting:

    ht tp://blogs.independent.co.uk/2010/09/20/nick-clegg-another-apology/

  4. I notice too the libs were also defeated in their leaderships support of free schools ?

    nick clegg is clearly a very good speaker but he wont convicne the left of his party to embrace tory led plans

  5. Eoin ? Old Nat
    I am not so sure Scottish Tories will fancy supporting Liberals. The (minimal) but interesting evidence of the stv by election in Edinburgh was that the Tory vote was firmer than the Lib Dem, that the fragment left of the Lib Dem vote split fairly equally between Labour, SNP and Tory, and the Tory vote mainly did not re-distribute but what did went fairly equally to Labour and SNP
    What is clear is that Danny Alexander has no hope of being re-elected unless Tories do vote for him.
    Old nat
    I am speaking from the heart of Pictland. My former work-mate from Sri Lanka said my round, smiley face came right off thestanding stones!

  6. @ Amber 
    I think your point re funding is unfair and a bit cynical, not sure party funding even comes into the equation. We are accustomed to standing on the mountains of left and right, and ‘sneering’ down at the “lesser” parties, but NC had a chance to prove that the coalition govts that would inevitably result from their PR voting system could work, and also the chance to make a difference in terms of shaping or softening a Tory agenda with someone like DC, when he would have had no chance with a more right wing Tory leader. I still have never heard any red explain satisfactorily yet what he should have done differently that would have improved his standing in the eyes of the country (not just the resentful reds) 
    Join in a complex rainbow coalition? Shaky in terms of the party diversity, many more ‘bribes’ and negotiations to make it succeed, and propping up a defeated govt. 
    Conf and supply? Er, what happened to working ‘together’, you support PR yet you are unable to consider coalition govt just because you don’t fully fancy your partner?
    Do nothing? What about the national interest, Tory minority govt was very risky for country. 
     
    He took the only credible option available, which might have irked some of his own party and supporters. LDs are being drowned by Blues on one side,  and shedding to reds on the other side, but he knew that would happen. And he probably knew that it would be much more difficult come GE – coalition successful, why bother with LDs, coalition unsuccessful, red majority, LD wipeout. 
    But it is still hard to suggest what he should have done, and should now do, differently, yet he gets a barrage from the jilted left. 

    I just enjoyed reading Howards view earlier – as a LD he is someone that can articulate what it feels like in the position that they put themselves far more than we can in our parties!  

  7. And I should add I’m very far from a cheerleader for NC but every now and again I try to put myself in others shoes.
    With exceptions – EB’s are too small :-)

  8. the rainbow alliance was a better option ……the libs would have pushed for a clear PR method rather than AV and if it had got through then future elections would have left them with what they always wanted

    what we have now is a fudge , which has no certainty of getting through ..and a sweep up of left wing liberals by the labour party

  9. @ Hooded Man

    LDs are being drowned by Blues on one side, and shedding to reds on the other side, but he knew that would happen.
    —————————————————————-
    I don’t think he did know it would happen. Clegg was shell-shocked that the polls had been so wrong & the Dems gained zero seats from Labour.

    I think Clegg believed 24% was his new base-line; he could at least hold that up to his Party as a ‘consolidated’ gain from being visible & in power.

    “Guess again, Mr Clegg,” replied the voters. Clegg didn’t foresee any of this. He has lost most of his left-of-center vote; left-of-center Party members are leaving too.

    The only other thing he can deliver that will impress is: Big Donors. “All this was necessary to ensure we attracted the money needed to keep the Party afloat,” he could say.

    For now, he is just desperate to stay in Coalition; the second the Dems leave, they will chose a new leader & Clegg will be nothing but a tiny foot-note in LibDem history.
    8-)

  10. @ wanderingwelshman
    but the rainbow was more of a ‘fudge’ in terrms of numbers, and the attitude of the electorate to the sops that would have been required to keep it together would not have been positive (people have their own view of the yellow blue coalition doc but the rainbow one would have been a ‘masterpiece’)
    A lot less certainty of ‘getting through’…….

  11. @ Amber
    ‘For now, he is just desperate to stay in Coalition; the second the Dems leave, they will chose a new leader & Clegg will be nothing but a tiny foot-note in LibDem history’

    Those footnotes are crowded…… ;-)
    Well, he can tell his grandkids he was the first to take Libs into govt for xty odd years…

    I agree pre-election he had been dazzled by his own reflection, but after it there still wasn’t a better option. CK is a shrewd operator but he would have gone rainbow, and been dragged down in the whole sorry mess for ever……

  12. I dont think clegg is shrewd ..he seems to rattle under the slightest critisism

    I listened to the debate on radio 5 this morning where various lib dem big wigs were wheeled in , alexander , hughes , foster

    they all got the bird from the audience , its looking poor for them

    labour need to attack both the tories and the liberals and weaken the coalition from the outside

    the peopel who attacked the idea of a rainbow alliance are the ones who defend the coalition ..its natural ..in the same way the left will attack the coalition …

    the gloves are off now with cleggs attack on left wing liberals ..I think hes toast

  13. @Hoodedman – “He took the only credible option available…………”

    I don’t agree. The most credible option, and the one that would enable the Lib Dems to retain an independence and political coherence, was to enter a supply and confidence agreement with a minority Tory administration. There was no need for a full coalition, other than Clegg’s desire to see the Lib dems become important in government.

    Instead we are being given a classic show case of all that is wrong with politics in many people’s eye’s. A year ago, Clegg feigned to despise Cameron (the ‘Andrex PR puppy of politics’ as he described him) and described his economic policies as fundamentally dangerous. Now he stands four square behind him. Lib Dems have gone strangely quiet on key environmental policies, let alone a total volte face on the deficit.

    Clegg and Cameron both appear to want to hug each other close, but quite why from Clegg’s point of view I can’t understand, unless that is really where he wants to be, in which case he lied to everyone pre election about his entire political stance.

    People like Clegg and Alexander have rapidly become strastruck with their position but they would have been better served forsaking the trappings of power and maintaining some distance between them and Cameron, not only for their own safety but also as this would give them far more influence in policy terms.

  14. Alec

    ” a total volte face on the deficit. ”

    You really need to go back & read the Manifestos Alec.

    I did it for you a while back here.

    But go check for yourself before you indulge in that sort of self serving rhetoric.

    Oh-by the way-re”economic literacy”-how economically literate do you think 3.5%pa GDP growth from 6 April next year ,right through to 2015 , is?

    And how would you quantify the risk inherant in a Budget based on such an assumption?

  15. Alec

    “There was no need for a full coalition, other than Clegg’s desire to see the Lib dems become important in government”

    ………erm…….yes……you spotted that Alec……very observant of you.

    ;-)

  16. @ alec
    I can only agree to disagree. 
    Much better to irk the reds and the left of their party than forever be branded as high-minded and uncooperative by appearing ‘anti-coalition’,  lacking seriousness of purpose by refusing an opportunity to be in govt, reckless in risking stability at time of national need,  missing the chance for AV referendum, etc. 
    And with C&S they would have still infuriated the same people they have infuriated now by ‘conditionally’ propping up blue and jilting red.      

  17. @Colin – I should have been a bit more specific, but the pre election rhetoric from the Lib Dems was very clear regarding the £6b of 2010/11 cuts, even after the Greek position was clear. They are now pretending there has been some major change in circumstance, which there hasn’t been. I feel this can reasonably be counted as a volte face.

    In terms of Labour’s 3.5% growth projection, as you know, I don’t support Labour and so don’t see why I should be called to defend their stance. Clearly that was overstating the case, but interestingly what you omit to mention was that while they also overstated growth projections last year, they compensated by taking a very pessimistic view on government income and expenditure. In both cases they were too pessimistic, with the result that while growth was poorer than forecast the deficit was £20b lower than projected (and £50b lower than Osborne and the City projected). They were taking a similar approach to this years figures and the early signs were that the deficit was again coming in less than expected despite over optimistic GDP forecasts. This has now changed largely due to the loss of confidence in mainly created by the coalition rhetoric.

    It is worth noting that the pattern of the contribution of increased spending/reducing income to the deficit is such that it is clear that collapsing tax revenues were the major contributing factor to the ballooning deficit. As the Lib Dems once also said, growth is therefore important – probably much more important – than cuts in reducing the deficit. We’ve yet to hear what will happen, but the Lib Dems £2b green investment bank idea has also gone very quiet recently, and while the message is clear that deficit reduction is the central issue there is less talk in Lib Dem circles of the ‘engines for growth’ that they talked about pre election as their strategy then for cutting the deficit.

  18. This is blog by a Tory commentator taking a swipe at Clegg is particularly revealing:

    ht tp://thinkpolitics.co.uk/tpblogs/thomashaynes/2010/09/16/when-did-nick-clegg-change-his-mind/

    explains a fair deal why people are angry, especially reds with Mr Clegg. Is Labour whiter then white? most definitely not, but the Dems always pretended they were.

  19. Xiby,

    Reds would be Naive to be angry at Clegg. In the week following 15th April his party was 34% in the polls. Nate Silver and others talked about the end of Labour. MAny reds dropped a brick and talked about allying themselves with yellow in a progressive majority just to stay afloat.

    Now in September 262 MPs take the red whip. Instead of being 8% behind yellow, reds are 27% in front of them. They are sure to make some gains in terms of MPs at the next election. Reds have survived. The talk of demise is in reference to yellows. Our party has already come up wuth 7 or 8 good policies (I count 11). The party has had a long hard look at itself. We have thought long and hard about Iraq, Immigration, Tax, Education, Care for the Elderly, Social Housing, CCTV, terror legislation and I.D. cards. Reds are fejuvenated, reformed, and in my view relectable. They have covered themselves with dignity not for 4-5 months. Brown’s stock climbs and the red brand is not damaged. Why reds should hate Clegg is beyond me.

    He is Santa Claus in yellow clothing.

  20. “Is Labour whiter then white? most definitely not, but the Dems always pretended they were.”

    I think this is what I was getting at. Clegg promised ‘a new kind of politics’ whereas he is delivering the same as everyone else – just swaying with the wind and finding excuses to shift policy committments when they become inconvenient. Welcome to the real world I guess.

  21. Just to add my penny’s worth…

    I din NC’s comments that the LDs are able through the coalition to curtail the worst of the Cons’ excessive desires etc (my paraphrasing) to be outrageous.

    Who the hell does he think he and the LDs are?

    Parliament and the Opposition exists to perform checks etc on the government.

    The correct outcome of the GE was a Con minority gov, with Parliament deciding what should or shoudl not be accepted/passed.

    IMO NC is close to delusional.

  22. Oops typo alert

    Just to add my penny’s worth…

    I think NC’s comments that the LDs are able through the coalition to curtail the worst of the Cons’ excessive desires etc (my paraphrasing) to be outrageous.

    Who the hell does he think he and the LDs are?

    Parliament and the Opposition exists to perform checks etc on the government.

    The correct outcome of the GE was a Con minority gov, with Parliament deciding what should or shoudl not be accepted/passed.

    IMO NC is close to delusional.

  23. well to confirm his delusions have a look at this graph published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and discussed by Left Foot Foward:

    ht tp://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/09/the-graph-that-shames-nick-clegg/

    If this is curbing the cons excesses then I am the Pope.

  24. Xiby
    I assume that you are not giving your blessing?

  25. @Mike N

    :P

  26. @Xiby – I think your last post somewhat misses the point of what Clegg is saying. While the IFS analysis is enlightening, it doesn’t offer any insight into what the various measures would have been if the Lib Dems weren’t exerting an influence. Therefore Clegg can still try to claim he has curbed the worst of Tory excesses even if the overal package is still regressive – it might have been much more regressive without them.

    I know a lot is made of how raising the lower income tax threshold is an inefficient way to help the poorest, but I still feel it is part of the right policy. Ideally, in my book we should raise the threshold significantly (probably beyond £10,000) but claw back some of the benefit to the better off through higher rates. Regardless of how efficient a redistributive move it is I just don’t feel it is right for those on mimimum wage to be paying income tax and NI at a 32% rate combined.

  27. Alec,

    Your economics make some sense. The four main things you propose, i agree with three and do not understand the fourth.

    1. Abolish Child Benefit altogether and use the means test system

    2. Raise PTA to an annual living wage…

    3. Your Tobin/Forex reform- did you say double the existing levy? If so I cuatiously agree.

    4. Your fourth point about pensions, I dont understand. I know nothing about them except that they are for older people.

  28. @ALEC – “The most credible option, and the one that would enable the Lib Dems to retain an independence and political coherence, was to enter a supply and confidence agreement ”
    Agree 100%.

    @MIKE N – “The correct outcome of the GE was a Con minority gov, with Parliament deciding what should or should not be accepted/passed.”
    Spot on.

    @EOIN – “Why reds should hate Clegg is beyond me.”
    I haven’t met any Reds who are unhappy with the LDs. Yellows on the other hand are probably legion. ;)

  29. Julian,

    correct.

    Two major accusations have been levided at reds. 1. They had sour grapes about the result. 2. They blame yellow for not doing a deal with them.

    As far as I can see it, yellows are annoyed that there is no hiding place. They have little wiggle room. And for the first time in a long time, they have nodoby to blame. Clegg was childlike yesterday in his attempts to attack reds. It is Sept. 2010 Nick, not June 2009. Get on with being a gov. minister and quit your greetin/whinging/moaning.

    Yellows have made their bed. I am very very happy about that. Supply and Confidence would have left them room for equivocation. Wiggle room. Someone to blame. They foreclosed on that. And on their head be it.

    i sincerely hope I have heard the last about a progressive majoity in the UK.

  30. @eoin – the Tobin tax doesn’t exist yet, but I was postulating that levying something like 0.0001% of the value of Forex trades in London would yeild something like £30 – £40b pa on current figures, although of course there would be a reduction in volume of trades (in part what the Tobin tax is designed to do) and if it wasn’t mirrored globally a significant chance that some trade would move elsewhere.

    On pensions, it’s quite simple. Every £ an individual pays into a pension attracts tax relief from the government based on their marginal tax rate, so high earners get 40% relief while low earners only get 20%. The total cost to the treasury of pension tax relief is around £35b of which something like £24b goes to top rate tax payers and £10b of that going to the richest 1%. In effect it acts as a reverse distribution of wealth.

    Both Labour and Tory have been looking at plans to restrict relief to high earners – Labour in a very complex manner, Tories apparently thinking of a simple ceiling on annual pension contributions, but until last year you could still get tax relief even with a pension pot of £15m. Quite ridiculous.

    I would start by limiting relief to 20% regardless of earnings and drastically reduce the annual and lifetime contributions limits that qualify for relief. I would also consider a temporary suspension of all relief to those above the 40% threshold as a time limited means to reduce the deficit short term without harming consumer spending. With the savings I would look to reduce the deficit up front but over time be looking to use some of the savings to increase the basic state pension and consider a higher rate of pension tax relief for the lowest earners in an effort to ensure that just because you spend a lifetime in the ‘working poor’ bracket you shouldn’t necessarily be condemned to being a ‘pension poor’ individual at the end of your working life. How the Daily mail would howl.

  31. Alec

    I fully support reducing tax relief on pension contribs to basic rate. Lab’s move on this was the first step in reducing the cost ot the Treasury. It may yet come into force.

    Just to give some background. Prior to 6 April 2006, the amount of pension that could be saved annually that enjoyed tax relief was considerably less than that which was possible before this date.

    The change was the result of several years of discussions, consultations and white papers etc which involved amongst other things the pension industry. Once the lid was removed, individuals and organisations took advantage of the increase in relief.

  32. Grrr
    second para in my post above should read

    Just to give some background. Prior to 6 April 2006, the amount of pension that could be saved annually that enjoyed tax relief was considerably less than that which was possible AFTER this date.

  33. Alec,

    Thanks for that. I understand it a bit better.

  34. @Barney Crockett

    “I am not so sure Scottish Tories will fancy supporting Liberals. The (minimal) but interesting evidence of the stv by election in Edinburgh was that the Tory vote was firmer than the Lib Dem, that the fragment left of the Lib Dem vote split fairly equally between Labour, SNP and Tory, and the Tory vote mainly did not re-distribute but what did went fairly equally to Labour and SNP”

    The Edinburgh South by-election can’t be used to argue whether or not Tories would express second or later preferences or otherwise vote for the Libs as the LD candidate was eliminated before the Tory there we just cannot know how many of the Tory votes which were then either discounted or went to SNP or Lab would otherwise have gone to Lib beforehand.

  35. @Mike N – “The change was the result of several years of discussions, consultations and white papers etc which involved amongst other things the pension industry.”

    The pensions industry has been very good at representing the interests of it’s main clients, namely (by definition) the better off. They were the people who persuaded us in the 1980s that we had a ‘pensions crisis’ and that the state pension was unaffordable, which of course benefited private pension providers no end who have consistently provided much worse value than the state scheme.

    As with most things financial, successive governments have been far too quick to listen to city lobbyists and very reluctant (or unable) to listen to other groups who have a much better handle on the best ways to provide adequate support for normal people.

  36. I think Alec and Eoin are wrong that confidence and supply would have worked. It leaves all the initiative in the hands of the governing Party, including, in the case of the UK, when to call another election. Furthermore, you need the ability to defeat the government at will; this would give the Lib Dems all the “rounding up the votes” problems of a rainbow coalition without the advantages of government to enforce it. I think they were influenced by the example of Canada where a divided opposition has been very little use in restraining the Conservatives.

    Whether you agree with everything Clegg has said or done recently (I don’t); it’s still a bit rich for people to criticise the Lib Dems for being realistic and interested in power after years of attacking them for the opposite. Equally if you wish to split up a coalition, especially if you then need to do a deal with one of the parties, heaping scorn on both is hardly the best way to achieve your ends.

    Mike N said “The correct outcome of the GE was a Con minority gov, with Parliament deciding what should or shoudl not be accepted/passed.”. Er, no. The British constitution is what happens. It’s not for you, me, the Supreme Court or even Her Maj to decide the correct outcome. In the end, government in a parliamentary system is about mathematics not morality.

    If Labour really wanted to undermine the coalition, they should devote their time to pushing the Lib Dem parts of the coalition agreement – Alec’s proposals on tax and pensions would be a good place to start; Osborne is clearly trying to defer action on both.

  37. @Roger Mexico

    Agreed, but having had the confidence and supply argument with Eoin before, I’ve largely given up on that debate on here – its been going round in circles for months.

  38. @Roger Mexico
    “In the end, government in a parliamentary system is about mathematics not morality.”

    There was nothing amiss with a conf and supply arrangement which would have enabled Parliament and the elected members to determine what is and is not passed/accepted. Now we have NC delusionally telling people that the LDs are restraining the Cons.

  39. @Roger Mexico – “I think Alec and Eoin are wrong that confidence and supply would have worked.”

    Ah but no! I never said it would have worked – only that it would have worked better for the Lib Dems, although your points are all valid and you may well be right. After, we are only discussing ‘what if’s’ and if we are honest no one can proffer any certainty in such matters.

    I think where many Lib Dems are worried is that Clegg and Alexander have very easily slipped into an old fashioned two party mindset once into coalition. They are parroting the Tory line the deficit and Labour’s inheritance which is clearly irritating those on the left.

    There is nothing in the rule book of government that prevents tham from taking a much more nuanced stance. For example, I would respect Clegg more if he publically stated that while Labour took some better decisions during the crisis (and by implication the Tories at this stage weren’t up to the job) Brown wasn’t the right man for the aftermath and they feel more common cause with Cameron at this point, or something similar.

    It is also perfectly possible to express concerns about some of your coalition partners – after all, Lib Dem backbenchers are themselves calling for Clegg to take the same approach to the Tories as many Tories are taking to them.

    Instead, all we get from the top table Lib Dems is the tired old ‘that lot were awful and we’re much better’ nonsense that Liberals down the decades have railed against. Clegg really did have a chance to blow open the stale two party approach to politics, but he has already proved himself to be the wrong man to do this in my view. Regardless of policies, I will never, ever believe a Lib Dem leader who promises a ‘new kind of politics’.

  40. Incidentally, I’m really, really disappointed with Vince Cable’s ridiculous and fundamentally wrong headed pronouncements on the value of science research in the UK. I think this will be one of the coalition’s gravest errors if they do as seems likely and cut science and research budgets.

    All other major economies are specifically targeting increased science budgets as a means for growth, but Cable fails to grasp how science works and that we have consistently shown enormous economic value for money from such investments.

    According to the Cable doctrine, if Einstein had asked for funding in 1905 he would have been turned down as there wouldn’t have been any economic point to his work – it took the science work over a decade to understand what he said so some cabbage head politician would have had no chance. But without his unlocking of the quantum world there would be no Google, internet or mobile phones. We need left field science desperately, even if it does seem a little weird at the time.

  41. Alec

    OK-I will point you to the facts.

    LibDEm Manifesto contained this policy on Deficit reduction :-

    “………throughout the summer and early autumn a CSR would be concluded with the objective of identifying the remaining cuts needed to-at a minimum, halve the deficit by 2013/14″

    Defict 2009/10 outurn -£171bn

    Therefore Lib Dem Manifesto pledge-£85 bn by 2013/14

    Coalition June Budget-Defici 2013/14 £ 60BN

    At worst Lib Dems have agreed to an additional £25 bn over 4 years. At best, they invoke ” at a minimum” -and have complied with their manifesto.

    And given the latest borrowing figures today they will be glad that GO is serious about curbing unfunded government spending.

  42. Alec

    I agree completely with you about the need for the Lib Dem leadership to push their case more. Of course they do not have the same advantage of “friends” in the media (though Alexander does seem to be cultivating the Observer) who can be relied on to give background briefings the right spin. Still, if Lib Dems haven’t learnt to cope with media distortion and lack of attention by now, they never will.

    I don’t think they should ignore the deficit though – as I’ve said before it’s a situation that’s “desperate but not critical” and so must be addressed but not panicked about. More important the public is convinced it has to be tackled too.

    With regard to Cable’s nonsense about science research; all you can say is that he’s the latest in a long line taking that position – after all what are Universities doing in the Trade Department anyway? The problems go back to at least the Eighties – there’s an interesting post on the effect of the removal of academic tenure here:

    ht tp://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/08/disincentivizing-dissent-ctd-2.html

  43. Alec, Roger, TonyO,

    If I may point out that since none of you are Labour Party members (phew say all of you), then it is understandable you will have a different take on the LDs choice between S & C or full coalition partners. Strategically S & C would have worked better for them. I am, however, very much along the lines of the Von Papen school of thought. Get them into the coalition. Although it did not work from Franz, i think it will work for DC.

  44. @colin – without wanting to get bogged down in this, what you seem to be confirming is that the manifesto seemed to agree broadly with the Labour position (no in year cuts and halve the deficit in 4 years – 12 months difference) while now he supports in year cuts and the elimination of the deficit in 5 years?

    Putting aside the debate on what was and wasn’t said (and many more things have been said than were included in the manifestos) the Lib Dems also gave me the impression that they supported industrial investment for growth before the election but now seem content to go along with a largely spending cut based approach. While I am worried about deficit reduction, my biggest fears revolove around the timing of the reduction and the reliance on cuts as opposed to growth. The assumption that the private sector will just grow magically without any government encouragement or assitance is very 1980’s and wasn’t very successful then, with the notable exception on the financial sector. Indeed, the lack of sufficient targeted industrial intervention by successive governments may be considered one of the reasons we got into the mess in the first place, and Clegg and Cameron seem happy to perpetuate the error.

    @Roger M – agree absolutely on government’s attitude to science. Shamefully the research budgets have only just got back to 1986 levels and it’s a real tribute to science departments that they have still managed to pump out plenty of massively influential research with such limited resources. I read that there is one single science PhD in the Commons – a Lib Dem backbencher.

    The swamping of the commons by lawyers, journalists, PPE graduates and politcal researchers is one of the reasons that we’ve never had governments that understand the value of research and that continually base policies on some really duff assumptions. [Did you know that the policy of showing young offenders around prisons and having talks from inmates has been shown to increase offending and imprisonment rates and that increasing provision of street lighting is linked to increased crime? All good research that has been ignored by policy makers].

  45. Alec.

    I was interested that a LibDEm minister ( not sure who) had to remind some of his delegates today to read what they put in their manifesto.

    So going back to Manifesto isn’t “getting bogged down” Alec !
    The argument about mandate must-as was argued strongly on another thread-rest on the manifesto content. What else?

    On that basis I am satisfied Lib Dems can reasonably claim they are meeting it -admittedly by invoking “at a minimum”. But the Cons had ” the bulk of the deficit…” & Labour had ” Over the next Parliament the structural deficit will be cut by more than two-thirds.”-Structural deficit not being defined.

    So they all had wriggle room.

    You quote the Labour committment as ” halve the deficit in 4 years”-which is interesting-because, as I have indicated, that isn’t what their Manifesto said.

    RE ” the elimination of the deficit in 5 years? ”

    NC doesn’t support that , because that is not what is in the June Budget.
    Cons Manifesto committment is what is in the Budget -ie “elimination of the bulk of the current deficit over a Parliament.”

    The JUne Budget deficit for the last year of this Parliament-2014/15 is £37BN-a reduction on 2009/10 outurn of 78%.

    As Budgetted in June, deficits are not eliminated until 2017/18, by which time Public Sector Net Debt peaks at over £1300BN.

  46. Alec

    “my biggest fears revolove around the timing of the reduction”

    THen I strongly suggest that you consult the June Budget Red Book.

    If you do you will see that the Tax component of Fiscal tightening over the Parliament is front loaded, and the spending cut component is back-end phased

    The figures are :-

    Cumulative fiscal tightening -£bn at each year end- Spend cuts / Tax Increases

    2010/11 5 4
    2011/12 23 18
    2012/13 42 24
    2013/14 63 27
    2014/15 83 29

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