These are the jotted notes: expect few links or cleverness.
Vince started by basking in the polling news of his being more trusted than Osborne – by Tories. He then damned the party presuming to take power next year for their doing it only because of a “sense of entitlement to rule and a mission to look after their own”. He derided their innumeracy for promising fresh spending of £53bn (where is this figure from?)
He quoted Lloyd George on the long term misery of unemployment – from 1929, where his closenes to Keynes was at its greatest, the “Can Lloyd George Do it?” election. This was more coded support for the government’s fiscal activism, and condemnation of boneheaded fiscally-cutting Tories.
Then onto the raw stuff. “Good credit worthy businesses are being throttled by the banks”. Banks should be the servants not the masters of the economy.
Active labour policies – people should be paid to be useful, not to be idle.
While we should not take seriously the hysterical nonsense about national bankruptcy, there will be a need to cut the deficits. But (and here I was proud, because of “A balancing Act” influence) “You live in a low tax economy”. Taxes as a % of GDP are down at Harold McMillan levels. See his pamphlet. Brown got us into this mess by treating temporary windfalls as permanent. This needs fixing. Spending first: A freeze in the total pay bill is better than a cut in services. Cut down the “industrial welfare state”. And “no-one can seriously claim that the NHS can’t be run better”. Vince is the only Lib Dem who could get away with that. He added “there is no future if we make ourselves the Last of the Big Spenders”
I noticed that every time he mentioned Bankers, he got a big vicious cheer from the audience – he is far more nuanced behind closed doors, but knows how to play this crowd very well. He talked about his intention to drag the low paid out of tax – the threshold to £10k. “It is wrong that the people on the minimum wage are dragged into paying tax” This should be paid for by:
- closing loopholes on the privileged
- Tax relief on pensions contributions
- The sort of largescale tax avoidance that Lloyds is revealed as helping (tonight’s Panorama)
- “Half a penny in the pound on properties above £1m”. See previous post – what a mild way of selling it. This could be popular: The Tories want to let off millionaires, we want them to pay their fair share. Alas, I believe some of the launch-details have been botched. The Times calls it a “mansion tax” and mentioned arguments about how to do valuations.
- Vince mentioned Land Value Tax – as fairer and better. Fairness of the tax system a continuing running theme. ALTER cheered.
Vince mentioned Mr Abrahmovitch and Mittal as examples of what his tax would go after. Unfortunately, there will be quite a few more vulnerable people – the sales message needs to be honed. A lot.
He called for full and transparent disclosure of anyone on more than the PM’s pay. And banks to be broken up smaller so as to avoid the need for underwriting by the taxpayer. Then his long-term investment bank based on the European investment bank – I quite like it. So long as there is private money there keeping it from state direction.
It was a good, well-received speech. Am still a bit concerned that he is far out ahead of all his colleagues – we need a larger choir singing some of these tunes. Also: there is still nowhere near enough money. £1bn from the mansion tax. A £100bn deficit.
Liberal Conspiracy are still, ludicrously, acting as if Labour could have got away with not mentioning spending cuts and tax rises. The government needs to build a reputation for honesty, not go to war against Arithmetic.