Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Clearing the deficit is taxing

Taxes “must” be increased to cut the deficit after the next general election, Nick Clegg has said.
BBC News Website 5 October 2014 : Lib Dem conference: Clegg urges tax rise to cut deficit

Oh dear, a politician telling us a painful truth.

The Lib Dems must realise that for a political party to advocate tax rises (other than those focused on a small minority who do not vote for them) is totally unrealistic.

It is the job of the electorate to be unrealistic and we expect the deficit to be cut without the majority suffering tax increases or other forms of pain such as cuts to public services or tax reliefs.  The political parties then try to pander to this view – t’was ever thus and will ever be.

The Tories have followed this requirement with vengeful enthusiasm. No tax increases (in fact tax reductions) and welfare cuts for the poor (who tend not to vote for them anyway – wonder why?). The Tories know the score.

Labour have avoided promising any significant cuts or even minimal tax rises (which would be focused on those who tend not to vote for them). Labour know the score.

I suppose it is possible that the Lib Dems are trying to do the same – most people seem to be planning not to vote for them, so I suppose you can argue that they are, like the other parties, planning to hit people who won’t vote for them anyway.

But as Andrew Marr pointed out this morning (BBC1 9:15 5 October), the Lib Dems’ problem is that people are not listening. Nick Clegg virtually conceded the point by stressing that in areas they held they were getting the message across.

So if people are not listening perhaps you try and regain credibility amongst the politically interested. Certainly they seem to have paid an excessively high price for one “broken promise”. The back-wash of this seems to have swept away any hope they had of being able to claim that they had helped arrest the economic crisis and kept the more blue blooded Conservatives under some level of control.

I suspect that the tuition fees issue was manipulated by the Tories to trap the rather naive Lib Dems – I think they are good at cold-blooded political shafting. The Lib Dems then tied themselves up in knots as to whether to vote for the issue when a Lib Dem minister proposed it. Labour then leapt on the Tuition Fees issue and made sure everyone knew that the Lib Dems were not keeping their promises. The fact that like Labour, the Lib Dems did not “win” the General Election and therefore were not in a position to implement their manifesto is conveniently ignored – by both Labour and the electorate (who still think erroneously that we vote for governments rather than MPs).

But we the electorate are like that; politics is like a soap opera, there are goodies and baddies and the goodies are those who promise the earth and avoid talking about how it is to be paid for – we then tend to vote for them.



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