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In the event of a hung parliament would you enter a coalition? If so, who with and why?

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Comment by Doug Anderson on June 25, 2010 at 8:31
Great comments Rebekah - I am all for the coalition working if it is for the benefit of the whole country and not the minority. We, as a party, must fight for the elements that were non-negotiable and we must stop being the fall guys. In my opinion both Vince Cable and Simon Hughes, in recent interviews and television appearances, have looked increasingly uncomfortable defending policies which they are obviously not fully in agreement and we must ask again when are we going to see liberal policies being introduced as opposed to us 'moderating' tory views? And equally importantly when are we going to be told about the timescales for voting reforms which we already know the tories will fight and given the monetary advantage they hold how are we going to compete to get our positive message across?
Comment by Rebekah Gronowski on June 25, 2010 at 2:51
I have to say I am with Doug on this one! I, too, am a Radical Liberal having been a Liberal since 1964 and able to remember the values and ideals of the Liberal Party as it was under the leadership of Jo Grimond.

If you really analyse the impact of VAT as an example - the cost to consumers in real terms is this -

For higher wage/salary earners they will be paying the equivalent of £1 per £25 of their earnings.

For the lower wage/salary earners they will be paying the equivalent of £1 per every £7 of their earnings.

In other words - a higher proportion of total earnings paid in VAT will be more for low earners because they will have to buy the same basic items as those who are on higher incomes and pay more for them in proportion to their total incomes.

I wonder how many of you can even consider that this is fair? It isn't complicated to work out the maths of this!

On a general note about the coalition - yes, we would all agree that coalition politics are all about compromise but, as I see it, all the compromise so far has been on the part of the Lib Dems and not the Conservatives. We are the ones who have given way on what were 'non-negotiable' principles. Lib Dem MPs are the ones who are being put in the firing line to take the flack whilst David Cameron and his cohorts are hiding behind the Lib Dems when the going gets tough. Did none of you notice how DC hid behind George Osbourne when he delivered his Budget speech thus leaving GO to be flanked by Nick Clegg on one side and an uncomfortable-looking Danny Alexander and a scowling Vince Cable on the other. From the Scottish experience of the coalition between Lib Dems and Labour in the first term - many of our 48 point Policies over the four year term were implemented, but Labour took the credit for them and blamed the lib Dems for all the things which went wrong. 'Twas ever thus! The current coalition in Scotland is a different ball-game and I cannot comment on that.

Re. the £10k tax threshold - that has been the biggest let-down for the voters in my opinion and we have been let down on this one!

Yes - the words "non-negotiable" were used - maybe some folk have forgotten this.

OK - we now have to make the best of what we have now. We have an arrangement now which is like the proverbial "curate's egg" - good in parts but most of it bad and very smelly!

The Budget did very little to re-distribute the wealth in the UK - the rich will remain rich and the poor will become even poorer, especially if there are no jobs for them to go into when their Child Tax Credits are removed and Child Benefits are frozen for three years - the value of CB during those three years will be halved.

The rich will still get their Winter Fuel Allowances, Tax Credits, Child Benefits, free bus passes etc.

The levy on the banks will not worry them at all - after all, they have been bailed out by the Tax Payer and have not been forced into paying us back from their hidden reserves & assets which are sitting in their vaults gaining value.

Yes, we need to support the Coalition but, for goodness' sake, let's see a bit more pro-active resistance to the Cameron Clan from our own MPs - don't just sit there and be pushed into the background taking all the flack - fight for the parity to which you are entitled. Make your presence felt and make the Conservatives realise that they are NOT the bosses in this arrangement.

Equality and Fairness, as all of us understand it, still have a long way to go - starting in the Government!
Comment by Liz W on June 24, 2010 at 14:53
A lot of Scottish Lib Dems will say the SNP doesn't work very well at all, but to the extent it does work in the sense you mean, it's because they are fundamentally a centre-left party, whereas the Tories are clearly a right-wing party who would be a lot worse without Lib Dem coalition partners to moderate them. The four points certainly sit well with our principles as set out in the Preamble, but I think they themselves are really still policies rather than principles - they're quite specific to current circumstances as we see them. This kind of compromise really follows from having any kind of coalition, and in a party which has supported PR for as long as we have, I think we have to accept that coalitions and therefore compromises are going to be part of the politics of the future. I agree with you we will probably lose votes next time round, but that was going to happen whatever we did - if we went into coalition with one of the two big parties we were going to lose the voters who voted for us to keep that party out as well as the our own supporters who wanted us to be purists, and if we went into coalition with neither, we were going to lose votes from pragmatists who blamed us for losing the opportunity to get at least some of our policies in and from floating voters who wanted us to keep out whatever party ended up getting in as a minority Government. The next election was always a lose-lose proposition for us, but if we play our cards right we can improve the political system for future elections after that. Liberalism has always been a long game.
Comment by Doug Anderson on June 24, 2010 at 14:10
Those four 'policy points' were I believe more like four principles of the liberal party!

The SNP is a minority government that seems to be working?

We may or may not have 'quite a lot of concessions' however it seems to be our politicians that are presenting the bad news currently - Danny Alexander, Vince Cable, Chris Huhne - but I will bet when we come to the give away budget in four years time it will be the smiling conservatives that give the good news when they are returning the 'Structural Surplus' that will be available at that time.

This is not about 'maturity' - I agree with Anthony - those four key policies were the reason I joined and fought for the liberal party campaigning in a very tory area with a relatively weak candidate but the support pledged by first time voters was encouraging and I believe that we are letting these young voters down and will lose them permanently by effecively becoming exactly the same as the main two parties where power is everything.
Comment by Liz W on June 24, 2010 at 13:33
I remember those four policy areas well, but I don't recall hearing the word "non-negotiable" used, and I was one of the people pushing for us to do so, having seen the SNP do so to good effect in the past. With hindsight, though, I think I was wrong, because all that would have led to is a minority Government that would have been even worse. We got quite a lot of concessions in the Coalition Agreement thanks to having the triple lock and excellent negotiators; I don't think it was realistic to expect more, and I think we need to be mature now about making it work, not try to re-open old battles.
Comment by Anthony Binder on June 24, 2010 at 8:13
@Liz Unfortunately I have read the comment you refer to, but it does not cover any of the 'key policies' that were said to be non-negotiable in the Manifesto, campaign and in public during the coalition negotiations. So if my last post was to 'wordy' here´s the cut again of the key policies:

Education: Smaller classes, in the manifesto for secondary school, in the campaign stated by Nick to cover even primary schools, and abolition of tuition fees

Fairer taxes: Increase of tax treshold to £10,000. taxing offshore holding, and polluters.

Green growth by infrastructure investment (read public investment, stimulus, spending, call it what you want), breaking up banks.

Political reforms: An elected House of Lords, and of course the old main issue, PR, I think I heard several now MP´s say this is not negotiable
Comment by Doug Anderson on June 24, 2010 at 7:51
Having read the LDV article and after the Radio 4 interview where Nick Clegg effectively admitted that he is a centre right politician, we can all continue to look at the 'budget' through rose coloured glasses and spot things that we like. This budget will result in huge job losses (and this would have been equally true under a labour majority) and will result in an increase in child poverty. The poorest section of the community will be paying disproportionately more tax than the rich.

Education is important but it does not put meals on the table! What has happened to our commitment to abolish Student loans? What do we say to those who voted for us when 'market foces' are allowed to act in higher education allowing the Russell Group of universities to charge more for their courses potentially preventing talented low earning families a life opportunity?

How does the reduction in welfare work if the private sector cannot create the jobs because no one is buying the products or services?

The 'firestorm' in Europe that is being blamed for the draconian measures - Greece we all knew about before the election and we have a markedly different economy and likewise with Spain. For 'our' leader to state that the coalition has looked at policies enforced by Bill Clinton in the USA, 1990's Canada, 1990's Sweden and 1980's Britain worries me. As I remember 1980's Britain was thatcher and I don't remember that period with any fondness nor can I remember anyone apart from the rich benefiting. It is the reason why I was politicised and so adamant that it should never be allowed to recur.
Comment by Liz W on June 24, 2010 at 7:32
I think Elaine Bagshaw's article on LDV does quite a good job of summing up what we did get from the Budget, as well as some of the problems with it.
Comment by Anthony Binder on June 23, 2010 at 10:25
Doug, a really good comment, higher on top of a really high inflation menas also that all the assumptions in the budget is completely out of touch with reality. The inflation that the budget is based on is 2% while the inflation more likely will be 2 or 3 times that figure. Of course the raise in unemployment can slow the inflation, but that also means a decrease in demands which halts any growth in the private sector since this is completely driven by demand.

It´s also quite surprising to see Lib Dem Mp´s that actually has a degree in economics defend a budget that does not follow accepted economic laws, and support statements that the UK debts and deficit is higher than the EU regulation permits. EU deficit rules on 3% deficit does NOT include public assets (read all those bank shares owned, bought to a fraction of their worth today)

The stimulus packages has been aimed on saving one of the largest sectors in the UK, and the public still owns all the shares bought to support the banks.

I am not going to enter a discusiion if that was a right decision or not, just that this is an overlooked fact. The government knows that the shares exists, but as long as the market is this volatile there is no way they can offer the shares on to the market, since there is only one sector that could have an interest in purchasing those shares and that is the banks themselfes, but now 'we' want to cut the bank in size instead of making them larger.

Also, the decrease of the taxc rate for small businesses to 20% is in reality for a huge number of small businesses of 1% since there was a tax credit landing small companies on 19% tax until now.

So much for the response to Dougs post, and I am very sorry for all the hardship you will have to go through if you are still contemplating starting a business. I have however a thread I want to open discussing the four key policies on which there was no compromise in the manifesto

Education: Smaller classes, in the manifesto for secondary school, in the campaign stated by Nick to cover even primary schools, and abolition of tuition fees

Fairer taxes: Increase of tax treshold to £10,000. taxing offshore holding, and polluters.

Green growth by infrastructure investment (read public investment, stimulus, spending, call it what you want), breaking up banks.

And of course the old main issue, PR, I think I heard several now MP´s say this is not negotiable.

I even remebered the day when David Cameron and George Osbourne back in late March started their campaign of rebranding NIC to 'jobs tax' is there really noone that remember this? which in two weeks time had resultet in ' Labour job tax' and then the coming two weeks did a semantic twist again and becam ' Labours proposed jobs tax' which is the phrase included in the coalition agreement that Nick Clegg signed.

But really, it is the key policies I want to open a discussion on.

In view of the statements that a coalition is a compromise, what have we got?

Comment by Doug Anderson on June 23, 2010 at 9:14
It would appear that we are all now 'at ease' with the coalition and enjoying our 15 minutes of fame. I remain a 'radical-liberal' and still believe in the original ethos and ethics of the party however I remain convinced that come the next election we will be the fall guys however as someone else commented on a previous post - I am a cynic.

How are these cuts and tax rises to be considered fair? We campaigned against a VAT tax rise yet we have a significant VAT tax rise!!! We campaigned for a higher tax exempt threshold and we did get a small movement towards our goal but does anyone still believe that we will get what we campaigned for? Do we really need to increase cuts by a further 50% to get the economy in balance? Do we really need to curb public spending by 25% which will result in a loss of anything up to 100000 jobs? Do we really need to then cut benefits to encourage people back to work? And where are these jobs that these people are being encouraged back in to? And with the additional potential job losses won't there be a tad more competition for each and every job? Did we really need to stop the investment that helped create jobs and support people returning to work - sorry Nick can you really state that you are supporting Sheffield? I have been trying to set up a manufacturing business in Sheffield for the past 10 months and yes there was token help given however that 2.5% increase results in an additional £150K of cash being required to buy the equipment potentially negating the work of the past year, stopping us creating the manufacturing unit and preventing the creation of 31 jobs in the Sheffield area.

But we have got 'power' which is what it seems to be all about. 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. However we have got back Thatcherism politics and we have to be held responsible.

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