Wednesday, August 25, 2010

IFS Report: Must Do Better

Just before the election debate with my fellow candidates in April, the Institute for Fiscal Studies released a report in which, although criticising all three parties, praised the Liberal Democrats for being clearer than the other parties about where cuts could come and plans for government. Naturally I gave this report a mention during one of my replies.

Hence we can’t really now criticise the latest report which says the budget will hit the poorest hardest. Instead we should welcome this word of warning and see what we can do about it.

Of course as the junior partner there is only so much influence we can have – but we must not be afraid to speak out. We should greet this report with alarm bells, and ask ourselves what can we do about it? We have made some small steps but can we do more? Can we move quicker towards that £10,000 threshold (which was popular on the doorsteps)? Can we clamp down further on tax avoidance by increasing capital gains tax on higher incomes? Can we increase the tax rates at the top end and use the money to invest and create jobs?

The Conservative party aren’t bothered about the report. Looking after the status quo, keeping everyone in their place and protecting privilege is what they are there for, after all. And, over the last 30 years, this has essentially been a conservative country. Labour could only get in by ditching socialism and becoming more ‘Tory’ – as soon as they tried to be Labour again, the sky fell in.

The Liberal Democrats are the only hope for those on lower incomes and those who may be suffering hardship. We must use what influence we have and get more progress made because, at the moment, we are letting them down.

FUNNY BIT AT THE END: It has been suggested to me that, to work towards my political ambitions, it might be a better idea to defect to Labour. I only mention it to show we have not lost our sense of humour. Like Mr Kennedy, I will have my Lib Dem membership card buried with me. And, despite what Ed Miliband may say, somehow I don’t think I will be welcome at the next Sittingbourne and Sheppey Labour get-together.

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