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Lib Dems Can win once more

From David Telford

Monday, 17 October 2011

As a new arrival to the area I was pointed in the direction of this site to find things that are going on.

As someone who'd interested but certainly not tribal it's strange that this subject attracted me.

I've voted Lib Dem in the last election but in the past have put my little cross next to Labour & Conservative candidates.

I think the assumption that all Lib Dem voters will desert them is wishful thinking by Labour activists. When you break it down, the coalition has been pretty good so far in resolving the economy, changing the tax system and addressing the priorities of government.

When I voted Lib Dem, the most I could expect of them is to go into a coalition. Frankly, I hoped it would be the Conservatives as the previous government had made huge mistakes and clearly had run out of ideas / not prepared to address the issues.

On the basis that a vote for any party other than the big two was unlikely to deliver a stand alone govt, what is there for a Lib Dem voter? It's a coalition and it's really only democratic for that coalition to be with the party with the most seats.

As a newbie here, I'm also impressed how the local council appears to have it's priorities right in terms of where to spend it's money. Having come from Manchester, we had in Manchester the rather ugly scenario of the local council playing politics with the national government and IMHO clearly prioritising it's cuts in areas that hurt it's taxpayers whilst maintaining services / roles within it's council that really should not be a priority.

In summary, careful what you wish for in a local council and the Lib Dems here are doing OK

From Paul Clarke

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

I'd like to welcome David Telford to the valley from whatever political planet he has beamed in from as he clearly hasn't been on this one since the last General Election.

He seems to think that the Lib Dems losing millions of votes is not in any way connected to them being revealed as liars and craven.

It is not just Labour activists who think the Lib Dems have been terminally wounded..it is also the voters.

Let's yet again look at some numbers:

8 - percentage of people who will vote Lib Dem according to a Populus poll this week.

0 - number of seats the Lib Dems won in Manchester in 2011, including their long serving leader getting the axe.

33 - number of seats Labour won in the same election (ie an unheard of clean sweep) for playing 'politics' with this disgusting government. I prefer to think of it as carrying out their mandate.

1237 - Lib Dem majority in Calder in the 2010 election.

618 - Labour majority in Calder in 2011.

1 - broken promise on student loans

So Dave, you can see a voting pattern emerging here and I haven't even got into the Tod result. The voters have really rumbled your party and your USP of not being like the others has gone forever.

Of course, it may just be hundreds of Labour activists swamping the ballot box but unlikely.

As you get used to being back on earth in our lovely town I'll leave you with one last number:

53 - the majority of council leader Janet Battye when she last stood in Calder in 2008 at the height of an unpopular Labour Govt. Given the trend that looks more than a tad vulnerable wouldn't you say?

From David Telford

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Hi Paul Clarke

Thank you for the warm welcome ;-)

I repeat, it's not "my" party, it's just teh party that got my vote last time and likely to get my vote next time.

Lib Dems have had a bad time of it, in part becasue of Labour's rather sucessful propaganda machine and let's be truthful, fibs from Labour.

It's interesting you raise the issue of Manchester's local ecections. Already people are regreeting their vote. The way Richard Lease and his cronies operate is more about one big ego trip rather than serving teh council tax payer.

You pick on broken promises of student loans, but there were a lot of policy ideas LIb Dems had that could not be included in the coalition agreement. The funding of university education could not be afforded in any other way. Labour know this, Labour's solutions was so vague, the loan system was really the only credible way forward given the state of the economy.

I read your figures in the previous post that. I'll ask for one more figure to be explained, how do you say that the VAT rise costs a family £500 p.a. Which family did you have in mind and just how much do they spend a year?*

*I know the answer, just checking if you have it.

From Andy M

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

I rather think the Lib Dems are having a hard time of it because they are enabling, what is in effect, a Tory Government and for Labour and Lib Dem voters alike that is unforgivable.

From David Telford

Thursday, 20 October 2011

It's assumed by Labour activists that Lib Dem voters don't want a Lib Dem / Tory coalition. Of course, that is not what they vote for but at the same time, they are certainly not voting for a Lib Dem / Lab coalition either.

Fact is, any voter of a minority party can ONLY hope to get a coalition.

Personally, I'd have been upset if they went in with Labour and see they've done pretty well in governing with the Tories.


From Jonathan Timbers

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The trouble with politics is that most activists talk in such over simplified terms, which I think is a big turn off.

However, saying 'the coalition has been pretty good so far in resolving the economy, changing the tax system and addressing the priorities of government' seems to me to be wrong on all three points.

The economy is collapsing, though not entirely because of the coalition; it's capitalism, stupid! Supply side economics is what's wrong, party politics is a side show to that discussion.

The tax system is broke because there are huge levels of avoidance which is difficult to quantify, but essentially the poorer you are, the more tax you pay as a percentage of your total income. Small business, so revered on this website, is as guilty as big corporations!

The priorities of government? So is cutting access to work funding and making employing disabled people more difficult for employers whilst slashing disability benefits an example of that? Or simply a mean abdication of responsibility?

Of course, Labour wasn't hugely different, but it was different enough to get my vote and its policies made a material difference to my family. The trouble with Labour was that it was too like the Tories and, like the Lib dems, accepted the whole nonsense of modern capitalism. The one thing it retained was the notion of 'the activist state', which made a huge difference to many, particularly those at the bottom of the income scale. Sure, it got loads wrong, but mainly through trusting finance capital, and there's been no change there!

Remember, our current crisis is a crisis of finance capital, not of public debt, which is a secondary phenomena caused by loss of tax revenues and nationalisation/financial support for the banks.

From James Baker

Thursday, 20 October 2011

I'm proud to be part of the Lib Dems here in the upper valley. Despite the cynicism towards politics most of us who do join a party do so because we care. I'm sure that is just as true with Labour or Conservative supporters.

The Lib Dems are not solely responsible for the economy. This is a global problem, just look at Ireland, Portugal, Greece and what difficulties everyone is in at the moment. The previous Labour government shares some responsibility, as do the Conservative party, the Bank of England, the IMF, the Banks, and ultimately ourselves. Pointing the finger isn't going to sort out this mess. We need serious debate and a joint effort to get our economy working again.

You could blame Laissez-faire capitalism but remember it is governments that control the supply of money, interest rates and write the rules. Banks were protected from risk by mass bailouts. Risk is a market force, if you remove that force by insuring against it you haven't got free market capitalism, you have crony corporatism.

Government needs to stimulate the economy, I hope the Green Bank will help with that, but every penny has to come from somewhere. You can print more with QE but that leads to increase inflation and rising bills, you can borrow more but we have a massive deficit, or you can take it out in taxation. Taxation takes money out of the private economy on the promise is redistribution but most of it goes into the hands of government bureaucracy and a few big businesses that are good at lobbying for contracts (Capita, IBM, ATOS, SITA etc.).

Lib Dems are trying to help people who need it the most at the moment. Polices such as raising the taxation threshold are taking those on low income out of taxation. The pupil premium is ensuring the education of the socially deprived does not suffer, and the restoration of the pensions earning link helps protect and strengthen the pensions of the elderly

The party is sensitive to the anger felt at the cuts, which is why Janet has been working her socks of as leader of the council to ensure reductions in budgets are made without a big impact on front-line services. That is being achieved in a local coalition with the Labour party. Which kind of demonstrates that we are not Tories, but simply prepared to work in coalition with others when necessity calls.


From David Telford

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Hi Jonathan Timbers
You are right, I assume you meant that activists talk simplified terms in that everything the other side do is wrong and everything we do is right.
There is a wonderful approach from Labour at the moment in that they have been able to wipe their memories clean of the 13 years in power and significantly the regime of the Scottish Prime Minister. They have managed to give the message that they wouldn't make deep cuts and they will not be done quickly, they would not have bought in fees for students, not put up VAT, wouldn't have had unemployment etc etc etc. The truth is, they would have, the Browne report was theirs, the cuts are needed and if they are not done quickly it costs more money, Darling admitted Vat would have gone up, Unemployment soared in the last 2 years of their time etc etc etc.

I say the coalition has been pretty good so far in resolving the economy, changing the tax system and addressing the priorities of government on the basis that all that has been done is very sensible. The opposition to these policies has been tribal and ideological rather than having any economic substance. Supply side economics is not wrong it just takes time to have an effect. The way to do things is to aim at getting the conditions right for growth and put in some Keynesian stimulus. Given that resources are scarce, we do need to put those resources in the right place and that means taking resources away from areas of the economy that do not provide a stimulus. That means that most of those 'nice to have' (as opposed to essential) public services need paring back. The economy isn't collapsing yet but there are factors beyond these shores that the UK cannot do much about. Replace the Euro with a new Drachma, Pesetas, Escudo & Punts.

The tax system isn't broke, yes there is avoidance but who put those avoidance holes in the system, it wasn't the coalition. The reason the VAT increase is effective is that it's simple to collect, collected every second of the day and hard to avoid without abstinence. Small businesses try to avoid tax in the same way individuals do small businesses would also like to be big but that is not a reason not to revere them. Small businesses were raped by the old government especially high street b&m businesses.

Personally, I think employing anyone with or without disabilities should be made as easy as possible. If someone can do the job & add value, employers will employ

Our current crisis is a crisis of finance capital but our ability to respond to the crisis was hamstrung by over-spending and public debt. The over-spending was only possible because of the financial sector in the first place.


From Stephen Curry

Thursday, 20 October 2011

I sort of struggled to see where this thread was heading except towards the usual "my party is better than yours and they were responsible for this and that and you didn't do that, not our fault it' a global situation", same old, same old.... So went back to the beginning. Welcome David T. - First question David, is the person who pointed you in the direction of this forum still a friend? You spotted the tribal element and still made the bold statement that the "Lib Dems can win once more". Umm? Win what? They didn't win the general election so you can't be talking about that. They have not won an overall majority on Calderdale so it can't be that. They didn't get a majority on the Town Council either. So what did they win that they can win again?

If you are talking about the Calder Ward seat in next May's district elections, I think that however one regards the Lib Dem Cllr. Janet Battye (personally I respect her energy and dedication more than most other Calderdale councillors) the 53 majority as Paul Clark continues to point out might be hard to hold onto.

As the Independent (non tribal) candidate in the last Calder Ward election it was clear to me that Labour put more effort into this ward that most had seen for many a year and they polled over 500 more votes than their average for a decade. The Lib Dems, with a relativity unknown candidate, were still only down about 250 on the same period average for this seat, which considering the negativity towards them at National level was not bad. The turnout was higher than normal for a local election because of the referendum so that does skews the figures somewhat.

Negativity towards the Lib Dems nationally, more effort from labour party workers and a higher turnout gave labour a surge that they are unlikely to repeat. David, a week is a long time in politics as we know, and you might be right come May, (in the Calder Ward) that "the Lib Dems can win once more" but so can Labour. And perhaps if people like you, of non-tribal tendencies, support Independent candidates, local government can get back to being about local people, local issues and councillors can be elected without regard to the political classes of Westminster. The sooner a rash of honesty breaks out and some local party politicians admit to themselves, and to us that they only belong to a party to get elected the sooner tribalism will be defeated and community decisions can be made without reference to party dogma.

From David Telford

Friday, 21 October 2011

Hi Stephen,

I've not been scared off, I visited the site to see what's on but the discussion forum intregued me.

My original post was supposed to be a response to the "Lib Dems losing here" thread but my lack of posting etiquette meant I'd accidently started a new thread.

Locally of course you are right, tribal party politics should not come into it and I'd as likely vote an indy with ideas I agree with rather than someone attached to a party.

My reason for posting was as retaliation to the rather narrow minded anti Lib Dem rhetoric that seemed to be the accepted norm amongst the posters. Whilst not tribal in supporting a specific party, I am certainly turned off the Labour party, not only for their failings on office but with their lack of good grace and I suspect I can include it's supporter Paul Clarke in this to say their party is repeatedly lying to the electorate on policy.

From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 21 October 2011

David, whether the government's economic policy is right, partly right or wrong, it is ridiculous to claim that 'the opposition to these policies has been tribal and ideological rather than having any economic substance'.

I suggest you go to this non party political website for a more thoughtful view.

I think it will help you to ungarble your Keynesiasm from your neoliberalism.

You may also like to read this booklet by Tony Dolphin, who writes for IPPR, a think tank which has had considerable influence over many leading Liberal Democrats in the past. I have still to read it closely but it strikes me that it is less than sanguine as to the prospects for recovery or the usefulness of current economic paradigms being used in Whitehall and Westminster.

Your view of the Uk economy is also at odds with that tribal and ideological organisation the IMF, which points to the US and the UK as having unusually high unemployment, output loss and levels of personal private debt in comparison to other developed economies.

James, there is no such thing as laissez faire capitaism, it's a myth. The market is a social construct run by unaccountable powers which government serves (providing the regulatory framework, but never challenging the ethics or the logic, which is why the regulation will never be right). Most politicians are simply puppets who concern themselves with ameliorating (or otherwise) the social impacts of decisions they did not have much part in.

That's not to say that I cheer every time someone from the Far left express a view. I don't think they understand the depth of the crisis either and are often caught in a timewarp. As Venezuala shows, the Far Left - good at improving literacy rates and healthcare and redistributing money from the oil industry - don't have much of an idea how to develop an economy. And before anyone else mentions it, I acknowledge they're not exactly inspiring either when it comes to democracy and human rights

Which leavers us all very much in the s***

BTW, on the subject of local elections, I think Labour won in Calder Valley last year by claiming there was 150 billion of tax avoidance, which sounded like a confused reading of what the Tax Justice network were claiming as a total of avoidance, non payment and evasion (hotly disputed btw by HMIC), which just goes to show it doesn't matter what you say if the voters are in the right frame of mind.

From James Baker

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Jonathan I agree pure laissez fare capitalism is myth, conversely the true is same of socialism. In practice socialism is prone to corrupt officials, and black markets. I guess they are both powerful ideals/narratives that drive and motivate people.

Stephen the problem is that it is very hard to get elected as an independent candidate. Belonging to a party gives you the benefit of team work. I'm not rabid fan of the party political structure, and I think it has lots of problems, but it does at least give you some chance of having a bit more influence by working together.

I'll be working my socks off to try and get Janet re-elected in Calder because I know how hard she works. She's pretty much the only other person I know still emailing away at 11pm in the evening.

From Stephen Curry

Saturday, 22 October 2011

James of course it is difficult to get elected as an independent these days. That is a direct consequence of the deliberate party politicisation of even the lowest form of local government. The Liberal Democrats played a major part in that process in the Calder Valley. It is not that long ago in modern history that the Town Councils, at least were, made up of Independent local representatives of business and community groups. They worked equally well as a team when the community needs required.

The electorate have been slowly brainwashed by the parties into the belief that their preference for a political party which represents their best interests at National level has the same relevance at local level. Sadly the political dogma at local level lets down the community's needs. The team-work and desire for political influence you speak of only clashes with the team-work and political influence of other political parties. For example, as you know, instead of our local council working as a team to support a Diamond Jubilee celebration the council divided into its political factions and the "Socialist Republic of Hebden Bridge" won out and in my opinion the community lost. Where there are cases of co-operation, or even team-work, between the political opposites, I would suggest that that could and would be achieved anyway by Independents.

What never fails to amaze me is that when it suits the parties they plead with the electorate (as the LibDems did this year) not to vote against local candidates on the basis of National party unpopularity, but they are all happy to claim victory due to personal popularity when it is clear that a national trend swept them into office. The local party political councillors rise and fall by a cyclical system that their own 'political class' built.

I can't wait to see the minutes of the council meeting that denied minimal funding to a tourism working group. I wonder if tribal politics played a role in rejecting it as much as the vague "not meeting criteria" reasons given. Had the council been made up of more people with commercial experience and vision with an eye for how to support the local economy and its businesses, the result would likely have been more positive.

I for one will not sell my soul to a party again. I'd rather not be elected than pretend to be something I'm not. Local Independents can work together as a team too we just respect each others right to represent without looking over our shoulders for irrelevant party dogma first.

From Jonathan Timbers

Sunday, 23 October 2011

I love the way, James, that you avoid taking moral responsibility on behalf of the Lib dems by blaming all parties.

The trouble is that people are paying with their jobs and pensions for the financial crisis whilst Lib dems like yourself avoid taking responsibility even when you are in power, denying the obvious truth that there is a financial oligarchy which is doing very nicely thank you whilst the majority pay for their errors. It is this lack of responsibility allied to a political 'ideology' which easily shifts from centre left to centre right depending on the polls and political opportunity which puts a lot of people, like myself, off the Liberal Democrats.

The only reality you lot seem to care about is whether you get elected. Meanwhile, I hear in London, house prices are booming as the City recovers and rich Greek investors take their money out of Greece and invest it in London property. Some people are doing really well whilst the rest of us pay. Do you realise what redundancy and unemployment does to familes, James? Do you care?

What chance is there of getting on our bike and looking for work down there then with property prices booming?

It would be good to have a democratic choice in this country, rather than a choice between parties that represent money and power.

From James Baker

Monday, 24 October 2011

Jonathan I suffer the financial consequences of the global financial crisis just like anyone else. My girlfriend was made redundant so we are now struggling on my relatively meagre income, as I try to start my new business. I have my first kid on the way, and I still have student debt to pay off from my Labour introduced tuition fees. Like many people in their 20s I don't stand a chance of ever getting the chance to own my own property. So yes I do know what it is like as a family to experience redundancy and unemployment.

The majority are paying for the financial mistakes because the bank were bailed out at the tax payers expense. That transferred a private debt crisis of the bank into a sovereign debt crisis for nation. I agree there is a financial oligarchy between government and big business. It's not something I agree with or want. It seems odd to accept responsibility for something I cam trying to change as an individual, but I suppose as a member of a party you take on some collective responsibly. Belonging to a party inevitable involves frustrating times where your party does something you personally disagree with.

Stephen if there were more business people on the council your proposal for a group probably would have got funding. I think I was one of the only councillors who voted to give the tourism group funding. One problem was I believe that the group doesn't yet have a constitution, bank account or membership. I'm still keen to support tourism, and help out getting the group going if you want to mail me sometime about it.

From David Telford

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Thanks Jonathan for the links, blogs are fun but of course just an opinion. I'm amused at how the Labour side have decided to seize on neo-liberalism as if its a bad thing, the idea that more centralised state control is the answer is laughable.

I'm interested that you are blaming the Lib dems for the loss of jobs and pensions. These are areas that Labour brushed under the carpet for years, they knew the problem was there when Frank Fields was to think the unthinkable, he did just that and Tony B lost his nerve. Pensions should have been de-politicised years ago, we know everyone is living longer and the Scottish pm's solution of employing more & more people was never sustainable and simply put off the inevitable.

You can go on forever that it was the banks fault, identifying a problem does not actually offer a solution. The bankers who caused the problem have already lost their jobs, there is little sense in destroying the remainder of the industry just because of misplaced ideology.

You talk of unemployment being something invented by this government, your party inherited 1.6m unemployed, you left the incumbents with 2.5m - no Labour govt has ever left office with less unemployment than it inherited, for a party that is committed to full-employment, I have to say that is a huge failure & frankly what is the point of the party existing? What's interesting is how the unions & labour march against public sector jobs going but offered little help for the private sector when it was in trouble and now wants the private sector to pay even more to keep the gravy train rolling.

From Linda S

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Oh, for f**** bl**** sake,

To anyone here with a vested interest, instead of pontificating about which Fabian pamphlet or Sunday newspaper report you've read and regurgiating it to prove you're that little bit cleverer: why don't you get that the (silent) majority of ordinary people are mightily fed up with cheating, lying politicians, whether they be left, right or centre?

Why is this thread so much longer and so much more current than any other? Why aren't you bothered about the issues that concern us, plebs that we are, such as dog dirt on our pavements and in our children's playgrounds? To name just one.

Note to all local politicians: a bit less intellectual posing and a bit more rolling up your sleeves and tackling the grassroots concerns that will, ultimately, get you elected or not. But then, the proof of the pudding is in the eating...

From James Baker

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Linda I hope you can be forgiving and on occasion allow us a little self-indulgent time spent pontificating & posing on HebWeb. Getting into pointless on-line debates is one of those guilty pleasures, and it need not detract too much from more practical concerns.

From Stephen Curry

Friday, 28 October 2011

Hi Linda, a timely interjection! And dare I say?.... I think in a more 'direct' way you are making the same points as me. I was one of the "silent majority" until May this year when I decided to stand for election as an Independent, for the reason I've already outlined. I suspect though that your knowledge of the Fabians means you are not completely without political insights yourself and far from being "pleb"like.

I think there are a few local Cllrs and wouldbe Cllrs who probably are interested in local issues, but because they belong to political parties they feel that they have to couch those interests in national party philosophies. If you read the biogs of the candidates at the last election you will see several who claim that they are not really that party political, but they suggest that they went with a party they felt most at home with. The problem is, they then have to defend that party come what may.

You are right to point out the irrelevance of regurgitation of the party bias, policies & philosophies from whatever source they come from. Arguing about the bankers and the economic failings of past national governments won't help the local community to resolve its immediate issues. I think I can safely say (in those immortal words seen at the top of Twitter accounts) "My views are my own!"

Oh actually I do have just one bit of regurgitation I'm afraid. 98.5% of the population do not belong to a political party. So why do we let them run our town then?

From Paul D

Saturday, 29 October 2011

I share Linda's concern with local issues, but these are in turn shaped by the national political context, so I'm sort of glad we have representatives who are (a) intelligent and (b) committed to their respective causes.

I also agree that all three main parties have failed the people and are seen by many (not all) as irrelevant, but again I don't see it as an us (plebs?) and them (our rulers?) issue. Most local politicians use our schools, our park, public transport, local shops, etc. So they're very grounded in the area and well aware of local issues.

Finally, I also agree that politicians need to articulate their views in a language the majority will understand, but think by and large they do. The issue for me is how they will cope with their collective irrelevance as new forms of governance are sought? It's clear that resting your power on a majority of the minority that can be bothered to vote only works when things are going reasonably well. As the right (in power as a minority) rolls back the post war settlement and the centre left rush to the centre right, with the libs to be honest finished nationally, who will articulate the views of those left outside this cosy, neo-liberal, market worshiping consensus? It only matters because outside the consensus new forces are at work and I'm not sure these will be progressive, but it is an interesting time, locally and nationally.

But no mainstream party has yet addressed consumption, our obsession with it and the damage it is causing, locally, nationally and globally. The charade all three main parties are playing is that resources are infinite, demand is finite and we can just somehow manage the two. Resources are finite, human greed is infinite and we're literally consuming our way into oblivion. You can't grow cotton, pick it, process it, weave it, dye it, cut it, stich it, package it and sell it as a pair of five quid jeans without something being incredibly and potentially disasterously wrong. This is the 'market' all parties seek to protect, one based on insanity. Will the Liob Dems win once more? Who cares. They're all about century off the pace and seem to exist simply to conceal the obvious - we've been eating our seed corn for about 120 years. Displacing the effects by exploiting others and sooner or later will be all looking at an empty larder.

From Jonathan Timbers

Sunday, 30 October 2011

I'd like to thank James for trying to answer the questions I posed honestly and personally. I believe that is to his credit and it is a pity more politicians do not try to do the same, but instead hide behind a form of corporate speak.

However, I disagree with his analysis of the crisis, which as Paul D says is much more deep seated, though it's not only about over consumption imho, but rather the power of 'the market', which boils down to the will of a financial oligarchy. This was the same lot who decided - with the support of the Chicago school of economics - that our economy could thrive around business and financial services. We didn't need a manufacturing base but could make it as a service based economy.

And governments - of all parties - just toe the line - some are more inclined to try redistributing money than others, some believe more in the value of public services than others - but none of them question the underlying logic of a crazy economic system.

There are a variety of imperfect alternatives to this. I don't think I ever suggested a centralised state control (though many democratic countries seem better at integrating state and industry to the benefit of society as a whole). It's easy to blow down straw men, David, more difficult to engage with serious issues that threaten some families even more than dog poo, aggravating as that undoubtedly is!

From David Telford

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Jonathan Timbers, I think your conclusions are quite wrong.

You seem to blame the power of the market. Well the market is a coming together of willing participants so giving power to the market it giving the power to people, us, the participants in life, that's a very good thing. It's not the power of a financial oligarchy at all. Few markets are perfect and for that reason there needs a degree of state policing but few argue otherwise.

There is no doubt the economy can thrive around business, be that financial services, legal services, IT services, manufacturing, textiles whatever. I don't know how else an economy can thrive? I welcome suggestions. It's a very strange conclusion to think the Chicago school were dismissive of manufacturing. It's not exclusive to the Chcago school to suggest that a maturing economy will become more knowledge based and that the manufacture to be moved to an area local to the cheapest inputs are, be that Labour, Raw materials or machinery.

There is nothing wrong with questioning the economic system, there doesn't seem to be any reasonable alternative. Communism has failed because essentially people have ambition to better themselves or greed. The liberal economic model works because of that ambition and the invisible hand works accordingly.

For our economy, the problems seem pretty clear. The state gets involved in too many areas of an individual's life, individuals are able or moreover, feel directed to pass over their individual responsibility to the state. To put things right, public spending needs only to be targeted in effective areas, let's privatise the things the state owns for no valid reason ASAP. Get the banks back in private hands, make clear that there will be no artificial safety net. Let's get state TV companies sold off, public-sector pensions need to be de-politicized and given independence from govt financially. The marketplace needs to be set where business can thrive and everything will look after itself.

I'm not so sure where dog poo comes into it.

From Stephen Curry

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

I thought we'd established the fact that this thread was ultimately about whether the Lib Dems can win the Calder ward again or not? It's not unusual for such threads to be diverted off course by those with a national party agendas but for the instigator to take the bait and jointly take us into the realms of modern macro economic history instead of explaining why he thinks the Lib Dems can win Calder ward is a bit bemusing. Unless of course he is affirming that the Lib Dem national party standing next May will ensure a Lib Dem local councillor? I'd love to see that crystal ball!

I'm afraid I cringed when I read the last sentence because it sadly indicated that Linda S's comments had fallen on deaf ears. Which rather proved her point. (Credit to Cllr. Baker for acknowledging her comments though!)

Just a reminder, for what it's worth, Linda S said:

Why is this thread so much longer and so much more current than any other? Why aren't you bothered about the issues that concern us, plebs that we are, such as dog dirt on our pavements and in our children's playgrounds? To name just one.

That's where the dog poo comes in!

It might just be a local election winner over the Chicago school's or the liberal economic model etc! But no doubt the average elector who religiously votes for a national political party at local elections will disagree, claiming "dog poo? No! It's the economy stupid".

From David Telford

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

You make a fair point Stephen although my OP was not aimed at the local scene, it was very much a continuation of Paul Clarke dig at Lib Dems and their voters in his thread "Lib Dems losing here" and I had thought I was actually posting on that thread in hte first place.

For local ssues, I'm in agreement with you, the national government should not come into it but, sadly, the electorate are not bright enough to differentiate between the issues and as ever tribal voting tends to win out.

From Jonathan Timbers

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

If you don't think that the state of the economy and jobs isn't a more important issue locally than dog poo, you need your heads checking. At least, half (probably more) of the familes with school age children on my road (and innumerable friends who live locally, so they're local and count too) are either dealing with or contemplating redundancy/ signficantly reduced business demand (if they're self employed, resulting in the need to search for work further afield... South Africa and Bangalore in two cases because there's nothing happening in the UK).

If you really mean what you say, I envy you your protected lives. I may have joined in this debate discussing national issues with links to this that and the other so we can have a civilised debate but for me and my family it is personal and in the here and now as well, so if my approach ain't good enough for you and you want me to get direct and personal about it, I'm happy to oblige.

And the reason the Lib Dems are going to lose votes here is because they spoke a lot of sense about the economy before the election, and then went back on it when they were offered cabinet positions, and that affects people locally too. Doh!

From Linda S

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Sorry, but, yes, speaking as an extremely low income lone parent, I do personally think that my toddler daughter's eyesight and the health of her preschooler friends (have you read just how toxic dog poo in the eye is to a two-year-old?) is a bigger consideration than which party runs the town hall.

You are preaching to the converted when it comes to the threat of redundancy. Been there, done that, now wearing the very holey t-shirt. As I can't afford to buy a replacement.

If you don't think that issues like dog poo all over our streets are an important issue to the ordinary people living here, then you are welcome to spend a day with me and my obviously not-very-important friends dodging the doggy-doo all along our pavements and in our children's park. Perhaps if we were not too busy trying to avoid the excrement everywhere with our hawk-eyes, we would have more time to read intellectually-challenging and morally-improving political pamphlets.

Until then, I will continue to believe that anyone posting here with a political agenda speaks total b*******.

From David Telford

Thursday, 3 November 2011

As Jonathan Timbers pointed out, the national economy does have a significant impact locally but the debate is a national one and cannot be influenced by local councillors.

Jonathan Timbers, you are right, businesses are having to work harder than ever and look further afield to find markets. We always have had to adapt to survive.

With uncertainty comes fear and the economy is a long way from a boom. The obvious thing to do from a government point of view is to get the economic conditions right for success. Low tax, a stable tax system, access to capital, willing and plentiful workforce, cheap input costs.

Like you say, some sectors have been sheltered from the economic turmoil but that can't go on forever and the government are right to address this as it's just not affordable.

The Lib Dems spoke a lot of sense about the economy before the election and they have affected people locally, especially the low incomes with the tax allowance changes that were excellent. The banking reform is easier said than done and only possible if there is global agreement. The other excellent point they raised was local taxation which they put forward a local income tax to replace business rates and council tax. Sadly that also didn't get into the coalition agreement which I hope is due to priorities because I find fixed taxes such as council tax, rates, TV licnce as very unfair.

From James Baker

Friday, 4 November 2011

Linda local issues like dog fouling, potholes and litter are important. A friend of mine thought up the 'spot the pot hole' campaign with a text helpline for people to report local pot holes. It was on a couple of the Focus leaflets last year it resulted in a number of pot holes being fixed. Thing is us Lib Dems often get mocked for having too much of this kind of stuff in our newsletter focus leaflets!

Whatever you think about the dog control orders, I think some of the motivation behind them is a desire to try and solve the problem. If you have any ideas about how to tackle dog fouling then I am happy to meet up for a cup of tea to discuss ideas. Incidentally what park was it where there are particular problems?

Jonathan is also right to have concerns about the economy and jobs. It is worth remembering that here in Calderdale the Lib Dem led council has had no compulsory redundancies. The last budget was an example of how genuine consultation and listening to people can ensure savings can be made without reductions in services.

I meet with Janet regularly and she is absolutely passionate about ensuring the success of Calderdale's jobs prospects and economy. As leader of the council she has ensured there was £180,000 package created from the economic fighting fund.

Calderdale also has an increasing the number of apprenticeships. Across Yorkshire there were 40,000 more people starting them this year than last. Janet is also engaged in trying to bring money from the regional growth funds to the area.

Nationally we have avoided our debt rating being downgraded, we still have a triple A rating whilst Greece, Ireland and Portugal or suffer from the sovereign debt crisis. We have introduced a new levy on the banks, put more money into tackling tax evasion, and given a tax cut to millions of low paid workers by increasing the tax threshold. haven't been able to do everything we liked because we only have 57 MPs in Parliament.

Yes we do need to tackle the wrong type of unsustainable consumptions, which is why the Lib Dem policy of a green bank is being enacted that will pump billions of pounds into new investment and jobs.

We need more sustainable jobs, and there are countless examples of how Calderdale could lead the way in new sustainable manufacturing, agriculture and energy production.

The answer as to whether the Lib Dems can win in Calder next year lies in residents' hands. I personally believe Janet can win as a local politician she has done a fantastic amount for our area.


From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 4 November 2011

Linda, I have a toddler too and I never said that dog poo wasn't an issue. I might also add that if you care about that, what are you doing about it and why isn't your voice being heard on the parallel blog to this one about dog control orders? It's always helpful to find other people who share your views because that adds weight to your arguments.

However, notwithstanding what you say and my own similar experience, I still think the economy is a bigger issue because of its impact on everything, including essential basic services. And I disagree profoundly with David when he says that local councillors can't do anything about the economy. . . based on local (ish) experience. In 2009, Kirklees implemented a Green New Deal project, providing free energy efficiency housing modifications to peoples' houses if they were on low incomes. This provided work for builders, plumbers etc in both Kirklees and locally just at the time when their businesses were trying to cope with a disastrous slump in demand. I saw at first hand the positive effect this had on a relative's small business. Stephen has also made positive proposals for more co-ordination around developing tourism in Calderdale which deserve further thought. And James, in another thread, suggested that Calderdale/ the Town Council should explore the possibility of local publically owned micro generation projects, the profits from which could be shared equitably. Personally, I strongly support this because I think it's in the long term interest of the whole community, particularly those on low incomes, and I hope he follows up this suggestion (unfortunately, it'll take years to get it off the ground because that's the way of things). So there's lots that could be done by the local state to ameliorate the global capitalist economic crisis provided we have representatives with the vision and the grit to pursue ambitious practical ends.

But I suppose that's a different issue than the results of the next Calder Ward elections (though perhaps it's a pity this sort of discussion is not central to it). My experience is that people here are strongly influenced by national politics when they vote locally, not because they are, as someone suggested, 'stupid', but because those who bother to vote often do so because they think that voting should change the system; in other words, it's idealism/ hope that drives interest in democracy, not dog poo or parking or road traffic management or bikes on pavements (however passionately we may feel about these issues). If local government is just about administrative matters, then people lose interest in it and focus on national politics (or start single issue pressure groups). So Janet (who is an excellent person by the way and great to work with) will struggle. That's because her party is associated with a government that is using the public sector deficit as a cover for making political decisions about the size and role of the state to the detriment both of the economy and of British familes, including many familes in HB, currently struggling to survive and contemplating or enduring huge upheavals.

One more point, sorry: given the impact of the economic downturn on local people, the withdrawal by Calderdale of support for the Ground Floor Centre so it cannot distribute toys at Christmas to low income familes suggests to me lack of thought/ clear priorities/ understanding of what's happening because of the crisis. And that's before we get onto the problems I hear GAYLIC are facing. Janet is leader of the council and she bears resonsibility for these matters. Much as I like and respect her, I think she may have to pay the electoral price for them and other poor decisions.

From David Telford

Saturday, 5 November 2011

I Can't agree with you Jonathan, it can't be left to the local authority to improve the economy. They simply need to be business friendly. Low business rates (I know, slightly out of their control), liberal approach to interference etc is needed.

The solar power project is now a national one. The coalition have set up a classic way for private investment to create a green solution adn by invisible hand, helps the local economy too.

Pay £13k for the install, and over the next 25 years you get £35k from the feed-in-tariff (guaranteed, inflation linked) and then about £13k in reduced bills, this reduced bills bit is assuming 6% leccy increases each year

I wonder why your micro generation projects should be publically funded, surely that crowds out private investment and means public money is tied up in something ratehr than paying for dog - poo removal or other council things?

From Paul Clarke

Saturday, 5 November 2011

I always think with James Baker that he is trying to convince himself - not us - that his party is not in terminal electoral freefall after they sold their souls for a (brief) taste of power.

He seems convinced that Cllr Janet Battye (Calder, 53 majority) is still in the running to retain her seat in May citing a Dickensian image of this tireless public servant tapping away at her keyboard at 11pm.

I was shedding a tear at this image until I remembered Cllr Battye (Calder, 53 majority) is paid over 30 grand ? way more than average working wage ? to be leader of the council. Amongst other concerns about her leadership I would seriously question her time management skills if she is still having to work through emails at that time.

It is also interesting that none of the 'consultation' meetings around the library cuts were in Hebden. I'm sure our glorious leader wasn't worried that people in this town might actually turn up and tell her exactly what she didn't want to hear, ie no cuts in services or opening hours.

I was also interested that James didn't mention the fact that the Xmas Toy Appeal has been effectively scrapped on Cllr Battye's watch. I realise that Cllr Mayor Fekri JP thinks it is 'understandable' but for people with any common decency it is beyond belief that Xmas for hard pressed families is about to get much worse. Nothing on the Hocus Focus leaflets either and that is a quintessentially local issue.

I also note no mention from James of the £2.5 million overspend on children's services which is once again happening on Cllr Battye's watch and damning criticisms of that important service.

He also mentions the Regional Growth Fund which is both underfunded and bureaucratic. In fact in a recent Westminster Hall debate the not very lefty Institute of Chartered Accountants were quoted as saying it wasn't working. So it's be interesting what scraps - if any - Cllr Battye can secure from this badly thought out fund, .

I also get very tired of Lib Dems picking and choosing when they deploy national/local issues. They used to go on and on and on and on and on and on and on about Iraq locally and no Hocus Focus leaflet was complete without a picture of Blair/Bush. You can't have it both ways using national issues like that and whining when people lash out at draconian national cuts that directly impact of local services by voting them off Calderdale council.

I shouldn't need to remind James that in recent months the Lib Dems have lost control of the Town Council, been thrashed in the local elections and their national poll rating is down to 8%. That's laughable enough but that is only 1% better than Euro loons UKIP . . . that is a catastrophic collapse in support.

So even if we take local issues as our benchmark then it is clear Cllr Battye is in real trouble but my final thought on her future is this. Down the road in Manchester the high profile and - it has to be said ? very effective Lib Dem leader was dumped off the council in May. He was a much more impressive leader and was sitting on a much bigger majority in what was a very safe Lib Dem seat but still lost.

It's something for Cllr Baker to think about as he works his socks off swimming against the electoral tidal wave of genuine anger about the cuts and lies about student loans that are sinking his party.

From James Baker

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Paul I'll work my socks off for the community whether or not the Lib Dems achieve electoral success. Holding positions of office is only one way in which you can make a difference to the place you live. You are deeply mistaken if you think all we care about is power. If that were the case then we would have joined Labour or Conservatives who are the larger parties.

The local liberal democrat party has some wonderful caring people in it who care passionately about the area and I'm proud to count myself amongst their number.

The point of the Library consultation is to give people the chance to comment. People in Hebden Bridge can do this on-line. You don't need to do it in person. No decisions have been made yet about what will happen, that is why there is a consultation so people like yourself can have a say.

It's worth noting that new Libraries have opened during Janet's time as leader, including the excellent new facilities at Kings Cross. I think you should also remember that Labour are in Coalition with the Lib Dems here in Calderdale, so Labour Councillors have some responsibility for the consultation and funding of local community groups too.

I believe that the latest ONS figures show the average median gross annual salary for public sector employees to £28,808. So considering Janet is leading the council I wouldn't say something in the region of £30,000s (£36,000 I think) is extravagant. She also took a £3,000 pay cut this year in addition to the 5% cut in allowances all Calderdale councillors took.

Just on cuts the coalition's spending review is making £81Bn. The IFS calculated Labour would make £82bn. Here in Calderdale there have been no compulsory job loses. That is quite an achievement, and its no wonder Janet works her socks off into the evening!

From David Telford

Sunday, 6 November 2011

@Paul Clarke I wonder if you have an agenda here?

You take various swipes at the Lib Dems and imply Labour somehow do better.
Cllr Janet Battye who you keep reminding us continually gets higher votes than the Labour candidates is clearly very focussed in her role. If she is working at 11pm, good for her. It's hardly questionable time-management, I'm not aware of anyone who is ambitious of committed to their job to simply stick to a 9-5 regime, everyone with responsibility goes the extra mile.

It is also interesting that you raise the subject of library cuts. The role of the library has changed significantly and the role of the 'book' as paper based media is disappearing. You just have to look over at Manchester to see how the Labour council there rates a library in their priorities ? they are closing more libraries than any other council yet still funds a nuclear-free secretariat!!!

I was also interested that you mention the fact that the Christmas Toy Appeal. This is very much where a 'big society' works over 'big government'. It's something that society and volunteers can easily arrange, it's not a council role at all. You've already explained that you are a chap of considerable means, I think you boasted that a 2.12% rise in the (VAT) cost of your luxury purchases is going to cost you personally in excess of £20,000. I'll not criticise you for it, as long as you are earning the money to afford such a lifestyle, I say well done for working so hard. Given that fact, surely you have loads of expensive old toys that could be donated to a Christmas Toy Appeal. Why don't you do a bit for society and set it up? It will be far cheaper and effective for you or anyone else who cares enough to do your bit for hard pressed families rather than politicise such an appeal.

I do agree with you that budgets must be kept to and streamlining is required in children's services and all council departments, we need to get that council tax lower.

As an accountant by trade, I can assure you that the institute has not criticised the Regional Growth Fund per-se but that it is not UK wide and that the Scots, Welsh & Ulster can do their own thing. Yes accountants are upset about the scrapping of RDA's but that is more down to the break up of easy consultant work the RDA quangos pushed our way, it certainly wasn't an effective use of money but we weren't going to de-rail the gravey train whilst it was running.

You may get very tired of Lib Dems going "on and on and on and on and on and on and on about Iraq" guess what, now they have a say on things, there is a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's a pity that the Lib Dems have lost control of the Town Council, I've always seen the Lib Dems as being a far safer hand on the tiller in local government that Labour. There is no history of Liberal councils getting their sums so disastrously wrong but Labour are littered with catastrophic incompetence (i.e. Sheffield and Liverpool) where they proved they could not be trusted with the public's money. So if we take local issues as our benchmark then it is clear that a Labour council would be catastrophic for the area.

Down the road in Manchester the high profile Labour leader and Chief Executive take over £400,000 (2008 figures) of the Manchester public's money for themselves and look at what they spent. They spent £3m on advertising a flawed transport initiative and all the council taxpayer got in return was a brochure! Be warned, Labour can do a lot of harm to your wallet's with very little in return.

From Coun Susan Press

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

News travels fast in Hebden so just to thank all the Labour Party members who selected me last night and I promise to do my best to win Calder in May.

Locally, the Lib Dems are in Coalition with Labour and I applaud the efforts of all councillors doing their best to protect jobs and services but let's not pretend that people are likely to forget the reason for those £ 67 M in cuts across Calderdale in the next three years.

Which is a Tory-led Government intent on dismantling the welfare state and privatising everything from the NHS to our schools and universities.
A Government which won't invest in jobs and the future - a Cabinet of millionaires lecturing the sick and the growing army of unemployed on everything from welfare benefits to housing.

A Government of the same old Tories we have always had - but one now backed by the craven Liberal Democrats.

Today, students are marching again in protest at the disgraceful imposition of £9000 a year tuition fees on our children. They are unlikely to forget the treachery of Clegg and Cable. And frankly neither is the electorate of the Upper Calder Valley. In 2008, Labour only lost Calder by a tiny margin of 56 votes.

Last year, we had a 600-plus majority. This time, I hope we are again on course to win.

In the months ahead, I will certainly be working flat-out to do so. Thanks again to all who have sent messages of support. Much appreciated

From David Telford

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hi Susan,
I doubt anyone has forgotten why we need £67m cuts, We remember The Scottish Prime Minister and his incompetence.

Having got the debate back onto a local level re. the Lib Dems, you bang out the old ill thought out clich?s about the Conservatives!

I really don't want someone in charge of my tax contributions who is going to hide behind the same anti-tory drivel. The Tories are not privatising the NHS, the coalition are moving power to the individual 'customer' rather than the supplier. I recall a government who said they'd not being in fees in their manifesto and went ahead and did it, clue: it was Labour. Not that I disagree with fees, the alternative is fewer students or a graduate tax. The former would lead to more unemployment the latter is simply not workable.

Why you feel it relevant to mention "a Cabinet of millionaires"? I believe the last cabinet was full of millionaires too except they were somehow millionaires having only earned ?60k p.a. How did that happen? What is wrong with addressing the problems of welfare benefits to housing? Even Tony Blair had Frank Fields to address the issue until he lost his nerve.

Students are marching again in protest at tuition fees of up to £9000 a year and that is their right (although if they worked harder they'd not have time to march) but they are misinformed or simply don't understand the issue. Should students not pay back the benefit they get in education? Which party asked Browne to put together the report suggesting increased fees? Would that same party not have done the same? Too right they would and will that party going to change the fees if they get in? No they will not. Labour are lying through their back teeth on this issue and it's shoddy that you try to score points on the back of it.

No offence but I hope you lose.


From Ian M

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Oh come on councillor! Lets not forget the real reason for the cuts. The reckless spending by the previous labour government that managed to destroy a booming economy it inherited whilst spending every penny this country had before continuing to spend money we didn't have leaving the nation near bankrupt! That's the real reason for the cuts and well you know it.

From James Baker

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

'Craven Lib Dems' glad to see you are in good form Susan! Seriously though I will offer you congratulations on your selection.

On the point of fees, I do find it a bit frustrating as someone with student debts myself to hear you on your high horse. My own student debts were introduced by the Labour party. Ed Miliband also said that Labour would have doubled tuition fees to £6,000.

Under the new system I wouldn't be paying back a penny at the moment because I earn under the £21,000 threshold. It means any young person can attend University free in the knowledge that unless they earn what is a reasonable living wage they will not have to pay a penny. Under the Labour system workers on a low income were forced to make repayments on earnings above £15,000.

Regarding cuts, do you think any are necessary? I don't think the Labour party currently has any economic credibility, when it talks about borrowing more in the middle of a debt crisis.


From David Telford

Friday, 11 November 2011

Exactly James, the new system means graduates will pay more back when they earn more than the average salary i.e. when the benefit of their higher education translates into ££££'s. I don't think many people would have a problem with this if they understood the facts and it people who should know better didn't scare monger the facts, we'd have a lot less argument along with huge costs associated with it.

From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 11 November 2011

James, you can read more about the alternative to the cuts on the PCS union website.

I think this is the economic policy that Sue supports, but if I'm wrong, please correct me someone.

David, you can't crowd out private economic development if it's not likely to happen. Also, the feeding tariff is a right old mess at the moment with businesses in crisis because of uncertainty over its long term future (I won't go into technical details, but believe me small businesses are less than impressed) - another policy coalition cock up.

You also need to read Les Siddall's comments in the Hebden Bridge Times when he announced withdrawal of Calderdale support for Christmas toy distribution. Its timing is really what's wrong, something Janet, as leader of Calderdale and a local councillor, could have sorted out by delaying the cut and then allowing the Ground Floor centre time to develop the resources necessary for the operation of the scheme in 2012.

Your reference to 'the Big Society' shows a lack of understanding of the difficulties and demands of voluntary work, which is one of the concept's major weaknesses, and the necessary inter-relationship between local government and the voluntary sector. Don't worry, if you read the edition of the HB Times announcing the cuts, Les will fill you in with the rhyme and reason behind this.

BTW, I would welcome your views on the figures that the Tax Justice network produce - they underpin the economic policies Sue supports.

Welcome to HB as well. Your contributions to this website are very enjoyable.

From James Baker

Saturday, 12 November 2011

I hope HebWeb can forgive me for what is going to be a post about macro-economics but I can't resist just one more. I did spend some time today chasing up the erection of signs to stop people riding motorbikes on footpaths so I have kind of earned my reward of a post where we get to discuss macro-economic.

Jonathan I have read that PCS article, just to pick up on a few points.

It suggests the deficit is down to the recession but we were running a budget deficit since 2002. The deficit got massively worse when Brown encouraged world leaders to bail-out the banks which transferred a private debt to a public debt. It is clear now that bailout didn't solve the crisis. Instead of banks going under we now have countries going under. Government's essentially insured the large banks against risk by nationalising their debt - This makes us the people responsible for the debt, whilst allowing the large private banks to continue their reckless behaviour and profit making.

The article also makes the mistake of taking a historic look of debt as a percentage of GDP to argue the current levels of debt are not a problem. Sadly debt as a percentage of GDP is only one indicator of a nation's debt. Using it in isolation sounds compelling but it completely ignores the type of debt, and the market conditions during which debt is being borrowed.

For instance after WWII this country was in a huge amount of debt as a percentage of GDP but the debt was in the form of US war bonds that came at a favourable interest rate that was often below inflation. This is massively different from most of our current debt arises from the sale of bonds on the international markets. This market is reeling form a sovereign debt crisis. Across Europe the continuing functioning of government is reliant on keeping your bond rate down low.

You can see this week what happens if public spending gets out of control. Italy's bonds broke through a 7% interest rate, at that rate they would need £60Bn extra a year just to pay for the interest. The entire coalition's cuts are actually only £81bn (incidentally Labour's proposed cuts were higher at £82Bn). If we didn't make some cuts now then interest rates on our debt would soar and we would be forced to make even more cuts or head towards national bankruptcy. In taking strong action to tackle the deficit the coalition is ensuring we maintain a low rate of borrowing.

The article also argues you can just claim £120Bn by getting rid of tax evasion. Tax evasion needs to be tackled, and the coalition has pledged extra money for Inland Revenue to tackle this. It isn't a magic pot of gold just waiting to be tapped though. If you take £120Bn capital out of the private sector it will have a massive impact the businesses that raise taxation revenue. Even if you ignore the impact removing £120Bn out of the private sector, it would do at best it covers about 3 years of deficit, and what do you do then?

From David Telford

Sunday, 13 November 2011

James makes the main points very well, in 1945 we had a rich & willing lender inthe USA to pay for the reparations of war. This employed millions of people helping to get factories back to work, industry rolling, infrastructure in place & homes built.

Without addressing the deficit lenders are unwilling to lend and we see the problem that causes in southern Europe.

The article says the cuts aren't necessary but they clearly are. The cuts are in 'nice to have' public services that are by mo means necessary. The article quotes the input of Richard Murphy who is frankly just a blogger with a very loose understanding of economics. He claims his solution is Keynesian but let's be clear at no point in the general theory does Keynes suggest we spend money on uneccesary public services just to keep people in pseudo-jobs. Even his famous extreme exple of storing money down mines and selling the rights to mine that money had an upside to it.

The Robin hood tax is a non-starter and will simply drive the financial sector Away from the UK and when that happens the treasury will miss out on all tax revenues & however many punishment taxes are dreamt up by the left will be irrelevant.

The idea that the government can invent a green industry that will miraculously employ 1m people is pie in the sky and again will crowd out private investment.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cllr Baker . . . God Bless him. The only Lib Dem politician in the country daft enough to use tuition fees to justify their craven behaviour.

Can I remind him what their election manifesto said and I quote:

'Scrap unfair university tuition fees for all students taking their first degree . . . the change is affordable even in these difficult times.'

Instead your party caved into Call Me Dave and tripled fees . . . and all that after Calamity signed a pledge to scrap fees. You will also note that it was a Fib point of principle to implement the cut in fees no matter what the economic circumstances. No wonder only 4% of young people would vote for your party now . . . wonder why??? Students today may have a higher trigger point but they will also have much higher debts thanks to the Condem alliance.

I loved his touching tribute to what lovely people the local Libs are. There was tears pouring down my face until I remembered they were the people who scrapped the Xmas Toy Appeal and my sobbing soon stopped.

Despite her selfless pay cuts - and Cllrs should share the pain - Cllr Battye (Calder, majority 53) is still being paid a decent wedge even with a potential £2.5 million overspend on children's services, which is also a service that has been slammed by Ofsted as being poor. We have also had the farce of them appointing an acting director who lasted exactly 36 hours. This disgraceful mess is happening on Cllr Battye 's watch and is totally unacceptable. Anywhere else the leader would have had the decency to resign by now whereas we have to wait until May to vote her out.

Like Jonathan, I love David Telford. He is that rare thing round here, an honest Liberal. His pure Liberal beliefs are classic Orange Book which is the faction dominating the Lib Dem leadership. Unlike the local Fibs who pretend to be lefties his honest economic right of centre liberalism is actually quite refreshing - really in tune with St Vince's thinking- despite me disagreeing with everything he says.

BTW David, I came from a family where no-one had ever been to university but thanks to a free education I was able to change my life and become a tax payer contributing directly to the cost of my education.

I also don't know where he gets off on assessing my income and for an accountant he is way off the mark. He suggests that I play my part in the Big Society by taking over the Xmas Toy Appeal. This is really lazy thinking as why would I as a council tax payer want to take over a scheme that was working perfectly well until the council scrapped it? Plus it is hardly cost effective to scrap something that works and spend more money on new start up costs so it can run by well meaning amateurs like me.

I do unpaid volunteering for things but don't need the ego boost of swanning round with a gold chain round my neck.

No offence David, I think your ideas are right wing nonsense but at least you are honest.

From Jonathan Timbers

Sunday, 13 November 2011

James, personally I'm glad we have aspiring local politicians who try to understand the bigger picture and who care about local issues as well. I believe both are important, not least because people define themselves less and less by occupation these days, but by local affiliation, which has become a proxy for class. Those who ignore the small but vital issues risk being seen as middle class w***** as Linda's posts demonstrate (take note, candidates for next May's elections!).

However, I don't think we have to forgive politicians like you for thinking either. You see for me, and for many others, macro economics, political theory, policy or whatever you want to call it, is not an academic indulgence. It is about basic issues which affect our the stability of our families and the quality of care we can give to our children. That's why it's important to be informed, and to be honest. I can't feed or clothe my family with rhetoric. They can't shelter or be warm in somone's good intentions. (So I'm grateful to you for caring enough to post so thoughtfully).

This is why I question the PCS union's 'alternative' too (even though it is my union and it's in my interest to believe in it), but not from the same perspective as you. There seems to be two simple questions about the tax gap figures it uses:

  • Are the figures accurate? (It must be challenging to assess what has not been paid)
  • If they are, how do you actually collect the money?

The answer to the first question is that they may be, but there has to be some level of doubt. The Tax Justice network, which also advises reputable charities like Actionaid, has produced some startling figures. No other authority, as far as I am aware, including the Revenue, has come up with anything remotely like them. So, the figures may be correct, but we can't be certain.

And no one seems to suggest how the missing billions are to be collected, especially when there are so many clever anti-tax accountants around looking to find loopholes in the system. So there seem to be no convincing answers to the second question.

One thing the Tax Justice network does say however ought to be more widely supported: a nation ought to be able to set its own tax rates and expect to collect those taxes. That is a fundamental of democratic government and fiscal transparency. It is precisely that lack of transparency which lies at the root of our present crisis. If it isn't tackled it also threatens the cohesion of developed nations, as some of the world's billionaires, like Warren Buffet, have pointed out, arguing for more taxes on the rich.

James, I'm disappointed that you should be putting forward arguments which suit the greedy rich rather than ordinary people and responsbile billionaires (!!!!). I'm also disappointed that you aren't following in the footsteps of one of the two great liberals of the middle of the twentieth century: J M Keynes. Money taken in tax is not lost to the economy. Quite the opposite, it may be used to stimulate it when the private sector is unable to. Also, in my view, money spent on public goods is well spent. Do we want libraries or luxury cars? I know what I value most.

From Jenny B

Monday, 14 November 2011

Whilst one appreciates that this forum is to allow everyone a voice. Does anyone else see that this forum topic is A) boring or B) in danger of appearing biased in allowing such a lengthy debate on this subject by only 3 major contributors? Local elections are next May aren't they?

Jenny, the Editor welcomes this deeper discussion of crucial issues of our time and is very pleased to host it on the HebWeb. We expect our correspondents to have biases, and hope that they can justify their ideas when challenged. Please feel free to start a thread on a topic you'd find more interesting or important - Ed

From David Telford

Monday, 14 November 2011

Paul Clarke, I'm not a lib dem as such, I like to think I'm my own man but the lib dems were the closest to my way of thinking last time around.

I can only assess your income from the points you mentioned on here. You said you personally were £500 a year worse off due to the VAT rise. That's an annual spend on luxuries of over £20,000 which is by my reckoning pretty high. The fact you consider it modest suggests you are not a chap who has had to forgoe much in life.

The children's toy thing is not a role for a local council. If you care about it, set a scheme up yourself. That's the problem with the left they think the state should provide everything and they are too lazy to do anything for themselves of for others.


From James Baker

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Jonathan thanks for your honest comments. I have always been interested in looking at the big picture. That doesn't mean you can't also do things like run the 'spot the pothole' txt campaign and try and sort out those day to day problems!

I don't think my economic views are on the side of the greedy rich. I think that the tax burden should be reduced on the poor as a matter of priority. I think that deregulation and lower taxation rates benefit the poor. It is worth remembering that lower taxation rates often bring in more taxation revenue. More capital left in the private sector to invest in business means more growth, this growth in turn leads to more revenue for HM Treasury.

Money taken through taxation and directed by the state is of course not lost, but it is a less efficient form of economic organisation. Some of the money is directed usefully but directing the resources requires a large administration and bureaucracy. Take tax credits, people pay tax but then some of that tax goes on administering a complex benefit system that gives some of it back to them. This is a favourite trick of government to tax people and then appear the great benefactor by giving some of it back in benefits.

I don't mind government spending money to stimulate growth as Keynes argued, but as David points out that doesn't equate to spending large amounts on public sector services. Public services are great but you can't get out of a debt crisis by borrowing more to spend it on them.

Paul - By your own logic it is the smaller party in coalitions that apparently bear responsibility for things the coalition does. Seeing as Labour are in coalition with the Lib Dems locally they must surely then be responsible for scrapping the Christmas Toy appeal? After all it is only with Labour's support that Janet is in power.