Osborne and Balls – 2 Peas in a pod!

moneydrainIf you listen to the Labour and Conservative Parties the financial crisis is over – the books have been balanced – they can start spending money as if it is going out of fashion (except of course on the things where they want to reduce money but will not tell us how!)
Promise after promise of cash comes through with no idea of how they will be paid for and when we do know we discover that the idea is incoherent.
Let’s look at Labour’s pledges. A promise today to abolish stamp duty for first time buyers. Superficially not a bad idea and it is one that has, in part, been used to stimulate the property market in specific areas. However it just will not work across the country as a whole. All that will happen is that the amount that would have been paid in stamp duty will be added on the value of the house to leave first time buyers no better off. This is almost as bad as the plan to reduce student fees to £6,000 per year instead of £9,000. This too is incoherent. It will only financially advantage people when they begin to earn £35,000 per year at a time when the median wage is about £27,000. The people who will benefit from this are the people who become bankers and lawyers. Not people who want to become teachers or social workers.
These pale into insignificance compared to the Tory’s various incompetences. Let’s just take one – the Tories have followed the Lib Dems in saying that they will meet the £8 billion more per year that the National Health Service needs. There the similarity ends. The Liberal Democrat Plan has been fully costed and has been our policy for some time. The Tories have thrown the amount in with no ideas where it is going to come from.
What are they not going to spend money on? The Tories want to save money on benefits. What, where and how has not been made clear. Labour feel that the loathsome Eric Pickles has not gone far enough. It now wishes to reduce local government expenditure by a further £500,000,000 with no detail on where these cuts will come. What we do know is that this is such a big cut there is absolutely no chance of Liverpool getting the cash it needs from a Milliband/Balls budget.
The Green and SNP manifestoes are having a laugh. They propose huge extra borrowing that will, after a few years, reduce our public services to Stone Age levels with the next generations paying for untold extravagances for this generation. I admit I have not read the UKIP manifesto. I don’t have a strong enough stomach!
I am proud of the fact that compared to them the Lib Dems are a model of financial rectitude. In our very long manifesto there is a detailed explanation of the mix of the tax increases and cuts elsewhere that will fund the things that we wish to put money into*. That financial rectitude has been recognised for the Institute of Fiscal Studies THE independent financial analyst consultancy.
That financial honesty is vital because the world financial crisis and the adjustments which flow from it are far from over. Throughout the Western World the situation has been stabilised by quantities easing. A huge increase in liquidity created by central banks borrowing to purchase assets. What will happen when that goes into reverse? No-one knows because nothing on this scale has ever happened before. We do know that there will be shocks in the markets that will affect our position as much as anyone elses’.
Every disinterested observer is saying at the moment that the UK’s economy is doing well and is the fastest growing in Europe. We have not created all the jobs that we wanted and not all the jobs that have been created provide the secure long-term jobs that most people want. But the corner has been turned and providing we continue to increase our export markets we can pull through and ensure that the results do get through to all our citizens.
Why are political parties treating the electorate like fools? Because they always do. The continued pressure for sound bites has meant an acute lack of debate on the major issues which confront us. As our media deteriorates to such an extent that there is no real ‘journal’ of record’ in existence rational debate has been transformed into frenzied hyperbole and undeliverable promises.
No wonder so many people now do not vote. At the last General Election in Wavertree only 62% of the electorate made it to the polls. It will not be higher this time. If politicians continue to treat people like fools large parts of the electorate will continued to treat politicians with contempt. Many of this year’s voters will go to the polls with a metaphorical peg on their nose. They will be voting against someone rather than for someone.
Politics like this is not sustainable – the Big Boys and Girls in Westminster need to learn that now or democracy will continue on its current downward path to oblivion.
*The Lib Dem Manifesto has been produced in a number of formats to be suitable for people with a variety of visual and aural impediments. They can be found at http://www.libdems.org.uk.

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. UK representative on UCLG Finance Committee, Executive Bureau and World Council. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperon on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and three grandchildren.
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