Nick Clegg is an honest man. We can accept that he believes what he says. But that does not mean he knows what he’s talking about. His strictures on the British economy are pure gobbledy-gook. But he might as well be lying, because the outcome is the same: people are deceived and the nation suffers.
The UK is being tortured with austerity measures imposed by the Tory-Liberal Coalition. Clegg’s rationalisation is that we need a severe dose of budget slashing to save the economy. “That means no blinking on deficit reduction,” he told a business audience on May 18. “The government has a plan to restore stability and we will stick to it.”
The Lib Dems do not like cutting welfare spending or forcing students to pay for university education. But they have gone along with the Tory policies. His criteria for the cost-cutting which will cause unemployment and much personal suffering exposes the vacuous logic that underpins the economic strategy.
Clegg claims: “What is important is not whether the state is big or small, but what it delivers. Does it promote fairness and enterprise and does it disperse opportunity? Fiscal policy must be based on facts, not dogma; on economic realities, not political religion. I would never tolerate an assault on public services driven by ideological zeal”.
Reverse of the Truth
The reality is the reverse of all the statements uttered by Clegg. Government policy does not promote fairness with its fiscal policies. The preferred tax tools undermine enterprise and destroy jobs. Far from dispersing opportunity, his government – following those of the past century – have narrowed prospects.
For a while, after World War II, the Welfare State covered up that long-run tendency by taxing and borrowing. Now the chickens have come home to roost. Far from laying the foundations for stability – sustainable growth – the Coalition is consolidating the policies that will trigger the next property boom/bust.
The Liberals, better than the other political parties in Britain, ought to understand the irrational nature of taxes. The feudal barons shifted the tax burden off themselves – as holders of the land – and imposed penal taxes on working people. A century ago the Liberals sought to reverse this legacy. That they failed was not their fault. The Conservatives, representing the landed interest, put self-interest before the rule of law and the principles of democracy.
Today, debt-laden nations ought to be re-visiting the Liberal policy of 1909. This was eloquently championed by Winston S. Churchill. For today, the transitional arrangements are described in the plan by Ron Banks of the Land Research Trust – http://www.landresearchtrust.org/
Under Clegg’s leadership, the Lib Dems are barking up the wrong ideological tree. If he’s not lying, how do we account for this curious state of affairs?