...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Day 3201: No, Mr Oboe! Reading Mr Vince's Pamphlet does NOT count as having a policy!


Master Gideon has demonstrated a NEW talent: reading aloud. Who'd have thought?

A couple of weeks ago, Mr Vince "the Power" Cable put out a pamphlet spelling out some of the PAIN we will have to suffer because of Mr Frown's economic mistakes. He got NO COVERAGE.

Now, Master Oboe cherry-picks the passages that will play well to Conservatory Conference and he is treated as the New Messiah*.

In which case, I have here a novel called "Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol by Millennium Elephant" that I should like to sell you for a couple of million dollars please.

A public sector pay freeze; a cut in tax credits for people earning over fifty thousand… it all sounds EERILY FAMILIAR. Mr Dr Vince himself has already described Master Oboe's proposals as "Lib Dem Lite".

But surely the Conservatories have been announcing POLICIES GALORE all week. Just look at these examples…

Make the sick work!

Make the old work!

Make the public sector work… for LESS!

Make the bankers, er, not have to work… for MORE!

Hang on… is it just me or do the Conservatories STILL only have one policy? It's just the SAME policy over and over and over, going on and on and… oh corks!

When I see Master Gideon, I am reminded of James Bond villain Monsieur Le Chiffre. No, I realise that that is not a flattering comparison… for Monsieur Le Chiffre. But bear with me. I'm NOT saying that Master Oboe weeps BLOOD and has people TORTURED in his spare time. What I am ACTUALLY thinking of is the scene in the MOVIE of Casino Royale where Mr James discovers Le Chiffre's "tell": the baddie WINS the hand with three deuces, but – as Mr James explains – he only got the winning hand on the turn of the last card. Until that point, he had NOTHING.

Master Oboe's economic hand is JUST LIKE THAT.

Until the recession turned up, the Conservatories had NOTHING; they've been dealt a winning card by purest chance, and it tells us that their management of the government finances will be, at best, Casino Economics and at worst an arm-wrestle with a One-Armed-Bandit.

At the Liberal Democrat conference, just a fortnight ago, we were having debates and arguments and even out-and-out scraps about which of our MANY well-established, long-standing, democratically approved, POPULAR policies we could STILL AFFORD to place front and centre in a manifesto.

It was PAINFUL. It was DIFFICULT. It was what REAL "tough choices" actually looks like.

The Conservatories, by contrast, have NOTHING.

There are NO policies that they have had to say "we can't do that"; there were NO polices there in the first place.

(Well, with ONE exception and for fluffy's sake, Master Gideon is even STILL going to do THAT: giving a big tax cut to dead millionaires – something that will benefit only 3000 people, one of whom is of course the Baronet Oboe himself.

And, incidentally, if we're REALLY "all in it together", will Master Gideon be handing over his own inherited unearned windfall to pay down some of the Nation's debt? Well, let's just say I wouldn't take Monsieur Le Chiffre's bet on it!)

The STRENGTH of Liberal Democrat economics is that it is ADAPTABLE: if you want to make the tax system simpler and fairer you need to understand how it works, and that understanding means you KNOW what can and cannot be done when things get difficult.

The WEAKNESS of Master Oboe's position is that it is both REACTIVE and REACTIONARY – he responds to events rather than preparing for them; and his approach is to return to the failed dogmas of Thatcherism rather than grasping the progressive alternative.

Conservatories want to CUT investment NOW when times are bad. Cutting programmes that would help us build our way out of the recession is EXACTLY what caused the prolonged downturn of the early Eighties, turning a Winter of Discontent into a profound economic downturn that saw a million unemployed rise to THREE million unemployed and annihilated large chunks of Great Britain's industrial base leaving us dependent on the very MBaster…s of the Universe in the City who have so recently CRASHED and BURNED the economy all over again.

Liberal Democrats would invest NOW to save the economy, while controlling current account spending like payroll and pension costs. Investing in CAPITAL programmes doesn't just keep people in work (and never mind paying taxes, they will be buying goods which keeps OTHER people in work too) it is also an investment in readying the economy for more growth in the future, and it is only with GROWTH that we will be able to restore the balance between Government income and Government spending.

Conservatories insist that burden of closing the budget deficit should fall on public spending; they refuse to talk about the tax issue, apart from the big savings for those who inherit a fortune. It's a return to TRICKLE DOWN economics, where the rich get to "trickle down" all over the poor!

Only the Liberal Democrats will address the FAILINGS of the Tax System. Shifting taxation from the lowest earners to the highest isn't just FAIRER, it's GOOD economics – because you will have a larger number of people with a little more disposable income stimulating spending rather than saving, which is just what the economy needs.

What it comes down to is this: you have a CHOICE, a choice between one Party that has policies based on principles, that is willing to take decisions, even painful ones, to meet those commitments AND repair the damage Mr Frown has done to the economy and another Party that has wasted it's time coming up with bad policies for deregulation and millionaire-friendly tax perks and at the last minute written down someone else's ideas on the back of a (B.A.T) fag-packet.

You have a choice between Mr Vince, who can read the tea leaves and tell you which way the wind is blowing, and Mr Oboe who can only read Mr Vince.

*No, seriously he IS a very naughty boy!


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