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.


One thought on “Vince’s speech

  1. Dear Giles,
    Read the Cable speech this morning on the party website, which may not be the text he actually gave in the hall. My synopsis is therefore slightly different from yours, but I hope it may be of interest to you to see what I posted on Lib Dem Voice:

    This was a very good and important speech.
    It set out the problems (note the order of these):

    Rising Unemployment
    Failed Banking System
    Falling Tax revenues
    Rising Public Spending
    Balancing economic recovery with environmental initiatives

    Then, in saying ‘after a heart attack life styles have to change’ he sets out where urgent action is needed (again note the order):

    Urgent action on unemployment (quoting Lloyd George)
    Making sure good private sector firms get the credit they need (from banks)
    Unemployed found work or training and required to work or train
    “Once recession recedes” managing unsustainable PSB
    Decide what in the future Government should and should not do
    Concentrate on bid projects – transport and environmental
    Change the incidence of taxation

    This is all great stuff.

    In my opinion this is the core of a campaign to “Rebuild Britain”. All it needs is a great rallying cry to all those in despair about the state of the country and the state of British politics. Through this comprehensive and radical programme it offers hope, and an easily supported way forward. We could all campaign for this in our communities and we could all find local issues that would support and compliment that national campaign. People can understand this diagnosis and support this ‘treatment’ to extend his metaphor. We could all communicate and campaign for this in our neighbourhoods.

    The huge frustration is that for some reason the leadership doesn’t see what it has in its possession and instead leads on savagery, brutality and pain. It is all stick and no carrot. That is not true leadership, it is the stupidy of attempted command without power.

    To achieve the above programme of Renewal, Rejuvenation and Renaissance one needs National Leadership co-ordinated with local action. One needs the inspiration and the conviction of a Lloyd George.


    In the end, change is about leadership, Giles.

    Best wishes


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