6th Most Viewed Post 2012: Still think the Lib Dems aren’t making a difference in Government?

This first appeared on June 25th, 2012.

The past few days have provided plenty of evidence that the Liberal Democrats are stopping the Government from being more right wing.

On Friday, Michael Gove talking about taking the exam system back to the 1950’s. Today, David Cameron is making a speech  about scrapping Housing Benefits for the under 25’s. Kites flown, and quick vetoes by the Lib Dems,  about Regional Pay and “No fault” sackings.

All the press reports this morning have reiterated that David Cameron is making this speech as Conservative leader, to a Conservative audience, at a time when the Conservative Party feels under pressure. Proposals that might happen, after 2015, if the Tories win the next election. Proposals that can’t happen now because the Lib Dems aren’t happy with them.

That the PM wants to make a Tory speech for the next election campaign does not bother me. Sometimes we want Nick to differentiate us from them. I recognise that over recent weeks the Conservatives have had their own difficulties and need to reconnect with their core vote and some of their MPs. If they need the space to debate what should be in their manifesto, then I am relaxed about that.

For the record, I think that David Cameron is wrong on Housing Benefit. People should always be better off getting into work but there always needs to be a safety net for those who are unemployed.

But  my priority, and the Liberal Democrats’ priority right now is to ensure that millionaires pay their fair share and stop short-changing the state whilst middle and low income tax payers pick up the bill.

12 responses to “6th Most Viewed Post 2012: Still think the Lib Dems aren’t making a difference in Government?

  1. Shooting down kites is not much of an achievement when you let the bombers through: NHS now open for privatisation, tuition fees tripled and PR off the agenda for a generation. You can’t claim credit for killing things that would never have happened, while dodging responsibility for those whuch have.

  2. Michael: On the NHS, the coalition reforms have reversed the privatisation moves of the last Labour government so it’s not fair to characterise the reforms in that way – quite the reverse has happened. On PR – that was never a possibility without us forming a majority government, and only 23% of the electorate wanted us to do so in 2010. That we managed to secure a referendum on AV with about 9% of the HoC against huge Tory resistance was an incredible achievement in itself. The electorate made the final decision in that case.

    On tuition fees – although we made the repayment scheme fairer (you pay back less and only after earning much more than before), you’re right to highlight this as a major cock-up on our part. We made a mistake here, but John has always been up front about his voting record (he kept the pledge he made and voted against the policy) but also the error we made in handling this policy in government.

    John – fab post and a clear warning to everyone who thinks the government would be better off without us in it. It’s startling how quickly Cameron has abandoned his “liberal Conservative” identity and his “compassionate Conservatism” agenda in the face of growing Tory unrest. What a contrast with Blair, who always resisted titling at his left-wing base (in public at least) and kept his ideological position firmly on the centre right. I guess coalition government changes the dynamics somewhat, but still….

  3. I think the Lib Dems aren’t making a *positive* difference in government.

    None of the things you mentioned would get passed under a “Confidence and Supply” arrangement, so I don’t think it can reasonably be argued that by being in government the Lib Dems prevented those things from happening.

    Instead, to see the impact the Lib Dems being in Government has had, we need to look at the things which the coalition has passed which would not have been passed under a confidence and supply arrangement. It’s not a good list:

    * Tuition fees
    * Privatisation of the NHS (The poster above me is perhaps unaware that the health and social care act means that the majority of work done by primary care trusts will be done by non-NHS organisations within the next four years)
    * And what should have been the bright spot of the coalition – on civil liberties, the coalition’s shaping up to be just as bad as the previous government.

    • Actually, the consensus seems to be that Gove’s changes to GCSEs would not require legislation in the Commons, and therefore under confidence and supply he would have been free to reimplement a two-tier system. The only reason the Lib Dems are able to veto it is because they are in government. Under confidence and supply, they’d have to bring down the entire government and force a general election to stop it.

  4. It is indisputable that the lib dems are making a difference in this government. Without them an unelected minority party would be unable to continue in its wholesale attack on social welfare, health, education and public services under the pretext of prudence. You — each one of you lickspittle, intellectually dishonest lib dem puppets are individually responsible for every homeless teenager, every hole in the social service network which leads to a dead child, every pensioner dying through hypothermia and benefit cuts, every 17-year old who can’t now afford to go to college, every life blighted by the coming decade of unemployment, every family going from eking out a bad living to unemployment as a result of job cuts in the public sector, every mental health patient who commits suicide because they can no longer afford to travel to their counselling appointment, and more.

    Each one of you so-called lib-dems share a collective responsibility for this.

    Each one of you.

    You sold the UK down the river, and yeah, you make a difference — without you perhaps we’d not have had to put up with tax cuts for the rich while the poor are walked off into ten years of hell.

    So don’t come to me being all proud of your achievements. I’m not looking at the pathetic little battles you win against conservative cruelty, I’m looking at the many large battles you don’t even stand up and be counted for.

    I don’t know how you live with yourselves
    Lickspittles.

  5. I agree that the Lib Dems are making a difference and think that although it’s not the difference we would like to make, it’s better than sitting on the sidelines, which was the only other alternative.
    As far as Michael Gove’s views on education are concerned, however, as Lib Dems we need to think carefully before assuming he is just living in the past. I have spent my whole life as a teacher in secondary and further education and for nearly forty years I marked, and for many of those year set, A Level papers. I now run an educational consultancy based around A Level English.
    It might pain me to say this but Gove makes some very valid points. The exam boards urgently need to be dismantled and replaced by one board which is not vying with anyone else. Standards now bear no comparison to when I started teaching in the late 60s, which in one sense is not surprising since so many young people are taking them now who are not suited to the qualification. Equally for a number of years I marked Foundation Tier GCSE Eng Lit and I can only say that it was torture for me and had quite clearly been torture for many of the students taking it, who could have been being educated in much more suitable ways that would have been much more interesting to them.
    If students get an A Level in English who are what I would call functionally illiterate, what has been gained? No wonder employers are uneasy about such qualifications. As for GCSE English, it is just a joke, where the students don’t even have to read a whole text. In colleges I visit around the country teachers say to me such things as ‘They come to us with an A or A* in English at GCSE and they can’t write’. Gove may not have worked out the best solution to this problem (how pointless to revive the term ‘O’ Levels for a start) but his diagnosis of the problem is in many ways accurate.

  6. So then Jonny by your argument we should have a one party state…Labour. Because apparently they are the only ones who should ever be elected. I have little reason to like the Tories but democracy gave them the biggest mandate out of everyone else. not enough to work by themselves so yes we decided to go into government …if you think we have no influence in stopping the worst aspects of the Tories just look at the fits the right wing are having over the tail wagging the dog. If you dislike what has been passed look think what it could have been like if they (and they would have) won a second election.

    • Oh just think what would have happened if the bogey man came. It would be so much worse than it is now under the bogey man’s brother. If “We’re all in this together” is being replaced by “It could have been worse” in Lib-Dem electioneering, then really, ask yourself, where’s the leadership and innovation in a message like that?

      You remain collectively responsible for all the suffering I discussed above.

      Your party has proved itself weak, lacking in vision, and has chosen to support a government that favours the rich at the expense of the poor. Which I don’t suppose bothers you that much, because most poor people don’t vote lib-dem anyway.

      We need leadership with the inclusive vision to get us out of the so-called invented crisis, not leadership to sell even more power to Goldman Sachs.

      I don’t see anything like such vision being espoused with a slogan of “it could have been worse”.

      I’m grateful you chose to engage, but my opinion remains the same. You’ve sold us down the river.

  7. Pingback: Neil Darby | Still think the Lib Dems aren’t making a difference in Government?·

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