Saturday 15 September 2012

Honesty is the Best Policy

Tim Gordon, the CEO of the Liberal Democrats, sends out an Email each week, telling us, among other things, that one of the five points Liberal Democrats should make on the doorstop is that (we are) 
  "Clearing up Labour's economic mess."  This statement is highly misleading, if not downright mendacious.  I have written to Mr Gordon pointing this out, but received no response, and a letter on the topic to the party  newspaper has not been published, or not yet anyway.  So this appears to be a point of view the party hierarchy would rather not acknowledge.

That the "economic mess" is Labour's is only strictly true in the sense that they happened to be in charge when the financial crisis broke.  We need to make it abundantly clear that the "mess" was caused, not by Labour profligacy, but  by greed made possible by the  excessive financial deregulation introduced by the Thatcherite Conservatives..

 True, Labour did little to oppose financial deregulation, but our present partners in government were loudly calling for yet more  and, apart from a few warning shots from Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats as a whole had little to say on the topic.  In fact the publication of the "Orange Book"  marked a significant shift in the direction of the then dominant "markets rule OK" economic fashion.

Thanks to clever PR  "the financial mess that Labour left behind"  had populist support for a while,, but the fact that Gordon Brown was cheered at the Paralympics, whilst George Osborne was booed, indicates that this piece of political misrepresentation is now past its sell-by date. 

It is surely time for Liberal Democrats to be honest (after all, we did promise more honesty in politics) and recognise that the economy was growing and the deficit reducing when Labour left office,as a result of the VAT cut and public investment.  We desperately need to temper our support for Osborne's failing policies and press hard for a serious Keynesian stimulus package now.


  1. Totally agree Pierre. Osborne has no idea or ideas and the thought of him as a putative prime minister is almost as frightening as the possibility of the Wodehousian Boris. At least Boris read Classics rather than PPE.
    Pip pip The Bullingdon - I don't think Labour exploit this weakness enough. The Tories are still perpetuating this myth of the mess they inherited as an excuse for the politics of futility.

  2. CurmudgeonlyLiberal16 September 2012 at 19:20

    Excellent analysis. Agree 100% that Lib Dems are allowing the debate to be framed and led by the Conservatives. It's about time we started to break the chains of Coalition and channel the spirit of Keynes more fully.

  3. You are right that, since the over-hasty cobbling together of the coalition and that much regretted "rose garden love in" we have allowed the Conservatives to frame the debate. I can't agree that we should break the chains, but I strongly urge that we should be much clearer on what our own policies would be if we were not in a minority of 57 to 306. As John Kampfner writes in today's Guardian (17/09/12) "What has been found to work (in coalitions in continental Europe) is when, publicly but politely, one leader says 'We advocated A, they advocated B, but we agreed to settle on C.' All surveys in Europe suggest that the public respects an open airing and settling of differences."

    1. My apologies to the editor of Liberal Democrat News: my letter has been published in full in this week's issue (21st September, 2012) So the "party hierarchy" are prepared to have these views aired. Very Liberal! And a better time to have them published, as, with luck, delegates to our conference will have received their copies before setting off to Brighton. So the conference bars are probably agog with earnest discussions about the need for the prompt implementation of Keynesian Liberalism. We must hope so.