Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Liberal Democrat responsibility

When I read Andrew Grice's snide comment, which could have come straight from Labour's media department, that "We might have expected the Lib Dems, who know a thing or two about making rash, uncosted promises in opposition, to play Labour at its own game" followed by "Yet Nick Clegg has adopted a more grown-up approach than his senior coalition partners", I thought that he had it arse-about-face. Just because we expected the criticism that a third party could make unrealistic promises, from early on Liberal Democrat election manifestos were costed, and vetted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

To take an example of the party's scrupulousness, the contentious tuition fees policy was rigorously costed for the 2010 election manifesto, even though the party hierarchy had been outvoted by conference over its inclusion. It did not fail to be put into operation because it was financially unviable, but because the party was outvoted on the issue, both Conservatives and Labour standing on a policy of continuing with the student loans system and increasing fees. It was the leader's election machine which advised candidates to sign up to the NUS pledge. It was Nick who stood in front of the "Tory bombshell" VAT rise poster while Vince Cable was elsewhere advising that the economic situation was so bad that a VAT rise could not definitely be ruled out.

Now it is Nick who is pushing for the coalition to cut taxes without saying how to pay for it. I trust that our next manifesto will be more honest.

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