Sunday, 18 April 2010

A Quick Look at the Lib Dems Part One

Doing Quite well at the moment but what of his

The Lib Dems under Nick Clegg are doing quite well in the polls following Thursday night's debate. However why is this and how much focus is there on their policies? I've pasted below a quick excerpt from a recent FT article. The article critiques their economic policies and wonders what they would do in the case of a hung Parliament. Read below for the text from the FT or follow the above link. My points about the Lib Dems:

1. They should be called the Liberal Autocrats as they favour more 'integration' with the undemocratic trans-national EU.
2. Their immigration policy is a nonsense.
3. Scrapping Trident is not a bad idea, although it would cost the UK's position on the UN Security Council (that in itself is not a sensible reason for keeping Trident I know).
4. Scrap ID Cards, I'm 100% in favour of!
5. Their increase in capital gains tax will hurt business and investment.
6. Allowing people earning under 10k to avoid income tax is not a bad idea.
7. An amnesty for illegal immigrants would be fine if there was only a few thousand of them, but I fear the floodgates would open.
8. Their proposed public sector cuts do not go far enough.

I'll be back with more in a future post. The Lib Dems are a breath of fresh air for sure and the current success of Clegg could mean a change to the voting system if it translates into success at the polls. However what are they like when it comes to Foreign Policy and are they very cynical when it comes to that issue? See the next post for further details. FT below:

What have the Liberal Democrats announced? The Lib Dems would make the first £10,000 of earnings tax-free, putting £700 back into the pockets of millions of people on low and middle incomes. This rise in the tax thresholds, which would cost £17bn overall, would free 3.6m people on low incomes from having to pay any income tax at all.
The change would be paid for by cutting tax relief on pensions contributions, increasing capital gains tax, cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion, reforming aviation taxation and introducing an annual 1 per cent mansion tax on property values above £2m.
What do the critics say? Opponents say the tax-raising measures would damage enterprise and investment and, in some cases, lack credibility, particularly the bid to save £4.65bn from extra anti-avoidance measures.
Although the tax rises would hit the wealthy, the design of the tax giveaway has come under fire from the left as it would disproportionately benefit households in the top half of the income spectrum. Many of the poorest have incomes too low to pay income tax and so would not gain.
FT verdict The idea behind these proposals – that the poorest taxpayers currently pay a bigger chunk of their income in tax than other groups – is muddled because it neglects the fact they get nearly all their income from the state. The Lib Dem proposals on capital gains tax would damage enterprise and investment. Recycling the proceeds into big tax cuts would be a mistake given the state of public finances.

Vanessa Houlder
Hung parliament
What have the Liberal Democrats announced? Nick Clegg says whichever party has the biggest mandate after the election in a hung parliament would have “the moral right” to try to form a government. His formula implies the Lib Dems would discuss a possible deal with the leader of the party with the biggest mandate in a hung parliament. But what does he mean when he talks about “the biggest mandate”? The Lib Dem leader was vague yesterday about whether he is talking about the party with the most seats or the most votes. If recent opinion polls were translated into a national swing on May 6, Labour could win the most seats while the Tories could win the most votes. Mr Clegg is giving himself room for manoeuvre.
What do the critics say? Mr Clegg should come clean on what he would do in a hung parliament. If he is privately willing to keep Mr Brown in power even if he lost his Commons majority, the voters have a right to know. On the other hand, many Lib Dem supporters would be horrified to think their votes would help to sustain a minority Tory administration: such a move could cause serious tensions.

FT verdict Mr Clegg would be willing to work with Labour or the Tories in exchange for delivery of key Lib Dem policies. But he would be more likely to sit on the opposition benches.

George Parker
Reforming the City
What have the Liberal Democrats announced? The Lib Dems want to rebalance the “unsustainable economy” by shrinking the size of the City and fostering a more diverse low-carbon economy. The big banks would be broken up so that there was a clear separation between retail banking and “high-risk investment banking”. A 10 per cent levy would be introduced on bank profits, which could not be offset against losses, raising about £2.2bn a year.
The party has pledged to crack down on “obscene greed”. This includes a ban on any board directors taking a bonus; a £2,500 cap on cash bonuses; tougher disclosure rules to name any banker earning more than the prime minister; and powers to levy a fine on any bank director over his company breaching pay rules.
What do the critics say? The measures are designed to pander to public anger rather than increase financial stability. A bank levy is backed by the Tories. But enforcing the measure without international agreement will penalise the City. The plan to split investment banks addresses the wrong problem, because most of the banks that failed were not hybrid super-banks. Finally, the crackdown on City pay will drive bankers out of London.
FT verdict An unsavoury mix of populism and seemingly easy fixes. The more serious proposals for splitting up big banks and imposing a levy on profits are flawed but deserve consideration, if done on a global basis. There is nothing liberal or sensible about a draconian clampdown on bonuses.

Alex Barker
The deficit
What have the Liberal Democrats announced? A series of “savings” to “start to reduce the deficit” from 2011 onwards. The Lib Dems claim their plans will cut government spending by about £15bn. A third of this will go towards new spending pledges, while £10bn will help to pay down the deficit.
Restrictions on benefits including ending Child Trust Funds, restricting tax credits, scaling back Regional Development Agency funding by £600m. Instead of a public sector pay freeze, the Lib Dems will place a £400 cap on pay rises. The third tranche of the Eurofighter will be scrapped along with ID cards.
What do the critics say? The plans to curb spending are over-optimistic, giving the impression of restraint without being honest about the pain. They also do not go far enough.
FT verdict Mr Clegg deserves credit for attempting to spell out cuts in detail. But they fail the test of being “honest” about the deficit and do not reflect the tough decisions facing the next government. Alex Barker

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