Sunday, September 07, 2008

To quote Nick Clegg - Hold your Horses!

There has been a rather tetchy debate going on over at LDV, so I thought I would put me 10penneth in. In The Sunday Telegraph today they tell us that Mr Clegg has announced that he will cut £20 billion from public spending, which will be ploughed into tax cuts for middle earners. "We are now in a process of identifying what I believe will be the most radical package of tax- cutting measures for people on middle incomes," Now, as others have pointed out, I don't remember Nick having this as one of his objectives in the leadership campaign. Also he is going a lot further than what is promised in Make it Happen. I have no problem with Nick showing his leadership, but I do believe if he is going to pick a fight with a large cohort of the party now is not the time to do it.

As I have said before, I backed Nick because in terms of nearly all his objectives I am totally on the same page. But that doesn't mean I think his methodology is right. Of course no one can be against tax cuts in principle, but please please let's not make the means to an end an end in itself. What is it we want to achieve, what is our number one objective? If it is just "cutting taxes" then why bother with any public services at all? If it is about redistributing the tax burden in order to address the inequity that sees the poorest paying the highest proportion of tax, that is a noble aim. But that isn't what he is saying.

I would argue that if we did a proper cost benefit analysis of all public expenditure we could make long term gains that could be ploughed back into reducing inequality. Of course there are savings to be made, the vast sums spent on consultants, PFI, privatising public services, Trident. But I don't see these highlighted in Nick's proposals. Are we seriously suggesting that there is not a need for greater investment in neglected services? That we honestly think all our public services are adequately funded?

So, to quote Nick back to himself, my plea to him is "hold your horses!"

3 comments:

Paul Griffiths said...

"The absolute core of Liberal Democrat belief is that government is too intrusive. There is this arrogant assumption it can simply Hoover up more money and spend it on our behalf." Nick Clegg MP

Cutting out irrelevant government expediture is not an end in itself. It's a means of giving more people more control over their own lives.

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