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No you have not been out of the loop, nor is your memory failing you – the 2012 Lib Dem conference has been the usual blend of forgettable people and forgettable policies, save for those ones which are so brain-numbingly stupid that they leave one incredulous.

What has emerged out of the Lib Dem conference in Brighton is the Robin Hood rhetoric of easy/lazy policy making and demagogic politics, that is ‘take from the rich and give to the poor’. Cries like these, usually the stuff of the vacuous Ed Miliband to his ignorant tribal voters, are what one expects from sixth form or student politicians, not professionals. Quad erat demonstradum.

Mr Clegg made it quite clear that under his plans the wealthy top 10% of earners would be obliged to pay more to foot the bill for the feckless and for the poor decisions made by government. Thus, anyone earning over £50,500 would have the collection plate thrust at them with even greater eager righteousness than before by the Deputy PM and his league of crackpots.

Andrew Neil, quizzing the nature of this enterprise, pressed Jeremy Browne MP (yes, this man is an MP – a bag of boiling micturate has greater substance) on the point that the top earners already foot 55% of the UK’s income tax bill, asking in what way should the top 10% pay more? Browne, naturally, did not answer the question, instead deciding to deploy a dribbling, meandering response that puts one in mind of the drunken ramblings of a village idiot [1].

Today, Mr Clegg has more sensibly suggested that those pensioners with over £1 million in assets could probably do without the universal benefits afforded to OAPs. This announcement was probably made to take the sting out of his previous proposal, but it leads to an essential point missed by Mr Clegg and the politicians of big government: the wealthy should not be penalised for what they have earned, rather the government should better apportion, spend and invest the money it has at disposal. It is not the job of high earners to take care of or bail out the state because it is incapable of balancing the books.

It is a skewed understanding of ‘fairness’ that is preached by the Lib Dems and those operating on the left. The Lib Dems cannot talk of a fair(er) society since none of their policies connect with the real world that they are meant to serve. A fair society should no more penalize the wealthy for their money than they should the poor for their lack of the same.  For the Lib Dems, a fair society is finding any way they can to fund the realisation of their mandate, one which promises the ongoing ruination of the UK.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Notes

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They may be several points ahead of the Conservatives in the polls, but when it comes to making a point, Labour are still the spin-happy party of presentation over policy.

Whilst many will be surprised to learn that there is any point to the Labour party at all, one may be yet more surprised to see that they have come up with a five points in an effort to legitimize their claim to the governmental throne.  Their ‘Five Point Plan for Jobs and Growth’ [1] is as follows. Who knew it was so easy:

  1. A £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund a real jobs guarantee for all young people out of work for a year and build 25,000 more affordable homes.
  2. Bringing forward long-term investment projects schools, roads and transport – to get people back to work and strengthen our economy for the future
  3. Reversing the Tory-led Government’s damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period – a £450 boost for a couple with children – immediate help for our high streets and for struggling families and pensioners.
  4. A one year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements, repairs and maintenance – to help homeowners and small businesses.
  5. A one year national insurance tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers – helping small businesses to grow and create jobs.

It is a typically vague and notional effort. Are Messrs Milliband and Balls seriously going to hit the part of our economy responsible for some of the UK’s biggest revenue with a tax that will see them move overseas? Let us not forget that Labour were not just in bed with but prostituted themselves to the banks and financial industry they now claim to scorn. Apart from the taxpayer, who else do you think they went to in order to ingurgitate money for their spending projects that have saddled a generation with debt? And what is a ‘real jobs guarantee’? Governments cannot legislate or create jobs unless they are authorising public spending projects, in which case they are taking money from those they claim are already squeezed. Even if they do manage to obtain £2 billion, what are the guaranteed jobs?

‘Bringing forward long-term investment projects schools, roads and transport’ – which ones? When? Next week? In a fortnight? In a few years? Now? If this party is serious then they should offer names, they should propose dates – this is not policy, it is procrastination.

‘Reverse the Tory-led Government’s damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period – a £450 boost for a couple with children – immediate help for our high streets and for struggling families and pensioners.’ This is typically disingenuous; they will reverse the VAT rise, but only temporarily, so presumably it will be reinstated.  Indeed, whilst they engage in meagre and peripheral token politics, they propose ‘cutting’ VAT for a one year cut to help with DIY. Their final proposal is also a temporary one, ‘a one year national insurance tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers – helping small businesses to grow and create jobs.’ So after a year we know that the national insurance tax break will end, it will no doubt be reinstated at an increased rate just as the VAT on DIY will be reinstated at an increased level and, after a temporary period, the damaging VAT rise will return.

Their five point plan is the sort of disingenuous rhetoric that the ineloquent Mr Miliband and the unlettered Mr Balls have mastered during their time in the doldrums of the shadow cabinet. Conspicuous by its absence is the mention of reversing any of the government cuts the feckless Mr Milliband and Mr Balls have railed against. One might recall Mr Miliband’s rather absurd promise to make no promises, that he does not wish to speculate which cuts he will keep and which cuts he will reverse should he eventually be promoted to the office of PM. Upon reflection, his promise to make no promises is sustained by his five point plan, since it promises nothing in terms of substance or longevity and it promises nothing in terms of its aims: jobs and growth.

These are not the only five points the Labour party have mustered during their time in the shadows. Here, also, are another five billed as an exciting new plan “to help the squeezed middle in these tough times”. My remarks are in italics.

  1. Stop the Government’s raid on pensioners and block its £40,000 tax cut to 14,000 millionaires – this from the party who, under Gordon Brown, effected a tax raid on pension funds and snatched £17,000 from every worker’s retirement pot [3]
  2. End rail rip-offs by capping fares increases on every route – From the party that instigated inflation-busting rail fare rises switching the burden for paying for the railways away from the taxpayer towards the passenger, who are all too often from the same demographic[4]
  3. Force the energy firms to cut gas and electricity bills for 4 million over-75s – How? If utilities are privatised then the government is unable to intervene, they can only exert pressure. Presumably this policy is aimed at off-setting the fact that their pensions raid will leave pensioners without the funds they need to pay for their heating. 
  4. Stop excessive fees charged by banks and low cost airlines – Again, how? These are private enterprises, not state owned companies. The most a government can do is wag its finger and ‘tut’
  5. Defend working families from the raid on their tax credits by reversing the Government’s pension tax break for those earning over £150,000. – Given point one, their are simply no reasons for any thinking person to believe that the Labour party are to be trusted when it comes to pensions. 

Labour does not have the requisite intellectual capacity to see the flaws in their own proposals, let alone the chasm like tears in their credibility. Their five point plans [4] are not just simple in terms of presentation, they are substantially simplistic. As one commentator put it, their strategy is ‘Interventionist, economically illiterate and steeped in the values of the class war’ adding ‘If you were in any doubt that New Labour is dead and buried, here’s the evidence.’ [5]

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

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