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The Barnsley chop

Nick Robinson | 16:00 UK time, Friday, 4 March 2011

How much should anyone care about the Lib Dems vote-shedding, deposit-losing, morale-sapping plummet from second to sixth place in Barnsley Central?

Labour party candidate Dan Jarvis celebrates winning the Barnsley Central by-election

I'm going to leave the trading of historical by election stats to others. No amount of swapping stories about Labour's collapse in the Dullsville contest of 1989 or the turnout in Hasty and Slapdash will resolve that question.

The local elections and contests for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly will show whether the vote collapse in Barnsley reflects a nationwide phenomenon or, as leading Lib Dems hope, is limited to traditional Tory hating, working class areas of the North.

The reasons not to care that much about this result are clear - the Lib Dems had no chance here, they didn't try very hard, we are a long long way from a general election and the party leadership always knew that this year would be tough.

The reasons to care are less to do with the stats and more to do with the fact that politics - particularly third party politics - is a team sport. The Lib Dems electoral gains in recent years have relied not on cash and advertising but on activists - many of whom earn their living as councillors. If this result and those in May leaves them not merely demoralised but ready to walk away from their party or to fight their leaders then - and only then - the Lib Dems will face a real crisis.

Under the party's rules it takes just 75 local parties to trigger a leadership contest. The question they will have to ask themselves though is the one most Lib Dem MPs have already answered - wouldn't abandoning the coalition merely make their position even worse?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    An astute assessment, far more so than many of the hysterical comments pages today. This is a long game being played by the coalition. Although no doubt the Libdems have a lot to contend with over the next few months - council elections, possibly losing the AV referendum - But they are aiming for the 4 year finish line. http://bit.ly/fGHGWZ

  • Comment number 2.

    Barnsley is was and probably always will be Labour. Lots of miners and working class folk and that's what they do, without a second thought.

    Why all this fuss? Lib Dems are a peculiar lot so no surprise there then that they got shunted to the bottom of the poll.

    Seems there may be immigration issues up there though if the BNP and UKIP are gaining more popularity. I would think there's cause for concern there because Labour youth get disaffected by all this mass immigration and racial tension and will turn on a penny if needs be.

  • Comment number 3.

    This is the best headline of the day !

    "wouldn't abandoning the coalition merely make their position even worse?" - it might not - it could be a good 'zero option' tactic - salvaging some credibility, by scuppering coalition. If they don't I can't see how else it will happen - especially with Tories behind in the polls. Triggering a snap election now (which wouldn't be guaranteed to happen) would certainly set the cat among the pigeons, and might just give the Lib Dems a little kudos

  • Comment number 4.

    I think that for all Paddy Ashdown's self-aggrandising pomposity and Nick Clegg (yawn - I suspect even his wife and kids dont bother listening to him any more)the Lib Dems are possibly in denial that they are en route to electoral oblivion. Their brief glimpse of a share of power will fail because they wont be able to demonstrate that they effectively stuck to the Coalition Agreement (CGT watered down, Tuition Fees, Voting reform lost etc etc) At the next election, swing voters will vote Labour even if they dont agree with their policies just to keep both the Tories and the Lib Dems out. The Lib Dems will disintegrate. Blimey then we will be lumbered with Ed Balls - oh no. Its not looking good.

  • Comment number 5.

    #60 Fubar_Saunders (Previous Thread)

    "I'm not making a link between large majorities and stupidity. I'm making a link between being able to put even a known crook up as a candidate and him still being elected, even though he has ripped off the taxpayers in his constituency, however indirectly. I'm talking about blind loyalty through hatred of any opposing POV, which I consider to be particularly stupid. The seat in Glasgow which has been Labour for 70 odd years is still a slum. Has always BEEN a slum.

    Nice to see that after all those years, after all that representation, after all that time, that the constituency MP's have, to a man, managed to achieve something for the wider populace who slavishly voted for them.... Not."

    You are indeed quite correct; unfortunately this is a symptom of not only Glasgow but large swathes of the central belt in Scotland. I am sure the situation is similar across traditional Labour heartlands i.e. former industrial centres.

    The Labour party is not the same party that those members of the electorate used to vote for, i.e. "the working mans party". They have been transformed by Blair and co. and now seem to have no idea just what it is they stand for anymore. I may not agree with the Tories but at least they have and still do stand for a certain set of principles. Nick Clegg is in the process of doing to the Lib Dems what Blair did to Labour, just what do the Lib Dems stand for now; they have certainly given up on some important core principles.

    Tribalism within the electorate at large and in a majority of cases lack of interest in politics stagnates some areas, as a result it takes a massive event to shift the mass of the eletorate there to vote for another party.

    There are some signs that this is gradually changing for the better, where certain "Labour" areas are considering other alternatives (in Scotland usually SNP or Lib Dem); however political apathy is really something all political parties have to engage with and in the main it is difficult to see the situation in such entrenched areas changing any time soon.

    I would like to point out though that even though the seat you refer to has remained Labour for 70 years, the government at Westminster has obviously not remained so. Perhaps you would reconsider just who and what was responsible for this area, in your opinion, having always been and continuing to remain a slum, given where the vast majority of economic control has been held during that time.

  • Comment number 6.

    Bit of a kicking for the Lib Dems in Barnsley. It might and I do stress might be a wake up call for them that the British public not longer trust the party who very publicly tore up theid Election Manifesto as soon as there was a wiff of power.

    Frankly they deserve everything they get.

    The local elections are not far away in England and it will be interesting to see how many Lib Dems end up in the wilderness never to return.

    In Scotland I don't think they have a prayer as the Scots see the outcome of the last election as being sold down the river by the party who was going to save them from the Tories. My current MP is a Lib Dem and it is impossible despite my best efforts to make contact with him and this has been the case since his party did the deal with the Tories.

    Running scared comes to mind.

  • Comment number 7.

    Summarised in a nutshell. But what will losing the AV vote do the LibDems? Surely that would make the whole coalition deal pointless

  • Comment number 8.

    The LibDems stand for nothing and represent nothing.

    If they had entered coalition with a defeated Labour Government they would be equally unpopular now, or perhaps even more so. This was always going to happen. So long as they had no chance of power they could attract voters who are not very interested in politics. Once they gained some power they were always likely to lose these supporters; the question is whether or not they can gain some new ones. I suspect not.

    If they abandon the coalition and support Labour they will be accused of betrayal by even more of the electorate. I think the sensible course for them would be to keep to the decision made in May, last the five years, and argue for the benefits of coalition government (probably with Labour) at the next election.

    Are they sensible? Being LibDems one third will leave the current coalition, another third will join Labour, and the other third will abstain at every possible opportunity.

    Finally, expect UKIP and the Greens to be the beneficiaries of protest voters.

    Sixth place for the LibDems. Happy days.

  • Comment number 9.

    At 4:32pm on 04 Mar 2011, Flame wrote:
    Barnsley is was and probably always will be Labour. Lots of miners and working class folk and that's what they do, without a second thought.

    Why all this fuss? Lib Dems are a peculiar lot so no surprise there then that they got shunted to the bottom of the poll.

    Seems there may be immigration issues up there though if the BNP and UKIP are gaining more popularity. I would think there's cause for concern there because Labour youth get disaffected by all this mass immigration and racial tension and will turn on a penny if needs be.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Dunno, Flame. Why are you posting about it? Or me, if its nothing to fuss over?
    Keep up the good work alienating the Libdems from the Coalition and making sure that the good folk up north continue to prefer a sometimes dishonest 'friend' to an always disinterested 'enemy'. The Labour Party can merrily continue avoiding the issue and waving their blank piece of paper while you do the recruiting for them.

  • Comment number 10.

    The Liberal Democrats are all but finished as a Political force despite what Nick Clegg says (actually because of him). Clegg threw all his principles to the wind in the lust for personal power followed by others with an equal lust for power and a propensity to abandon their principles also, if they were perceived as getting in the way of attaining this.

  • Comment number 11.

    Coats from previous blog

    If Britain produced World class scientists and engineers, as you claim. They would not have to go into softer subjects to achieve higher grades, which is again, what you have said.

    The fact is we don't, and an average student from India or China is well in advance of anything Britain can produce. Many companies leave these jobs unfilled until a skilled worker can be found from abroad.

  • Comment number 12.

    Lib/Dem Tory stooges - what a shambles. I suppose we ought to have anticipated their treachery and incompetence.
    If I remember right their leading negotiator in the coalition talks, appointed number 2 at the Treasury, with a seat in the Cabinet, resigned within a few days.
    The reason? He got £40,000 of his money mixed up with ours.

  • Comment number 13.

    2. At 4:32pm on 04 Mar 2011, Flame wrote:

    "Lib Dems are a peculiar lot"

    Thanks Flame - We may have come 6th but we still have feelings don't you know. That is those of us who remain of course.

  • Comment number 14.

    The Lib-Dems are in power and they are finding that it is tough and some who shone brightly in opposition, such as Cable, are visibly wilting.

    Nevertheless, they would lose all political credibility if they now walked away from the Coalition, so that will not happen, at least until the GE is in sight.

    As an old Liberal once said 'Keep buggering on'.

  • Comment number 15.


    In Oldham and Saddleworth the LD vote held firm, erm ok it didn’t it collapsed and was propped up by 6,000 tactical Tory votes.
    Barnsley is a seat they LD's could never win so their vote collapsing and going from 2nd to 6th is nothing to worry about...erm its pretty appalling actually.

    So when the LD's get annihilated in the local elections and lose the AV referendum that is costing £250m that we apparently don’t have the LD's can brush it off and say "judge us in four years".

    The LieDem's are history but their MP's know they have to stay enabling the Tories for another four years as they have no option, its either get kicked out now or later.

  • Comment number 16.

    Is the labour guy Russ Abbots son?

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes. It is a safe Labour seat and yes, nobody likes the incumbent Government. And yes there was a very good candidate. And yes Barnsley is full of working class types who wear clogs and vote Labour. But it is a very heavy defeat. Four years to get to the finish line will not be enough. The Lib Dems lost seats at the last election and that trend has got faster. Soon it wil be a tail spin. Nick Clegg should do now what he will need to do in four years - turn Conservative and beg David Cameron for a safe seat.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Lots of miners and working class folk and that's what they do, without a second thought."

    Hardly. People in Barnsley vote – as does everybody – with a varying mixture of head and heart. Some favour the former, some the latter. Just as in Kensington & Chelsea. No difference. Take me, for example, I live in neither of those seats but same applies. Head. Heart. Heart. Head. Which wins out? With me it’s very much H over H ... never the other way round. Heartwise, it’s easy for me. My heart is with the Conservatives and it always has been; I like old and familiar things (Mother, for instance) and I like ‘rags to riches’. I love the notion of wealthy and eccentric family dynasties (e.g. that one in Brideshead Revisited). What don’t I like? Well quite a few things but trade unionists definitely spring to mind. People in overalls generally, in fact. No thank you. So – yes – I’m instinctively a clown. I’m a clown and a half in this sense. But when it comes to the ballot box, when it’s time for X marks the spot, I push all that to one side and I go with my bonce. I vote with my head – thus for Labour. There’ll be many in Barnsley just like me – perhaps the majority.

    (nice w/e all).

  • Comment number 19.

    There is nothing particularly surprising in the Barnsley result however what Nick seems to be alluding to is not that the LibDems would scupper the coalition but that they could concievably send Clegg to the knackers yard long before then.

    Every LibDem MP for sure knows that they are stuck in the coalition for the duration - it is a long game and they all know it, this is why even those not happy are seeking to make the best of it so that they have successes to show at the next GE.


    However that does not mean that the deputy PM and leader of the LibDem party need be Nick Clegg for the whole period nor that a challenge need break the coalition.
    If the AV referendum is lost and there is anything approaching meltdown in the council and Scottish Parliament elections this year then it could well be a no lose for the party to try to replace him. In the event of a leadership challenge I don't see it as being politically sensible for any candidates to fight it with a default nuclear option of hauling down the coalition if I win strategy. That would be pointless.

    It is an interesting idea if the most democratic mainstream political party we have chooses to remind us of its democratic basis by it's people dumping its leader.

  • Comment number 20.

    Once the AV referendum is over, especially if the result is yes, the Lib Dems will no longer have to worry so much about keeping in line with their coalition partners. They will have got what they most wanted from the coalition.

    David Cameron will not be able to threaten them with a snap election, if they misbehave, because of the new fixed term parliament rule. In any case, if the cuts turn out not to have the beneficial effect on the economy that Osbourne predicts, and unemployment increases dramatically, the Tories themselves might wish to do some back pedaling.

    No doubt the LibDem leadership is reckoning that they will still have four years in which to repair the damage that has been done to their popularity before the next general election.

  • Comment number 21.

    ScotInNotts 5

    'Perhaps you would reconsider just who and what was responsible for this area, in your opinion, having always been and continuing to remain a slum, given where the vast majority of economic control has been held during that time.'

    I can give you my opinion - the people who live there. Governments have little effect on how you get on in life (unless you live under an oppresive dictatorship). Progress in life depends primarily on your own talent and efforts.

    Certain parts of the country will always be slums no matter what governments do because the people who live there have neither the ability nor inclination to do anything about it.

    Shower money at them and any inclinition they may have to improve their lot diminishes even further, as was demonstrated by 13 years of New Labour.

  • Comment number 22.

    'How much should anyone care about the Lib Dems vote-shedding, deposit-losing, morale-sapping plummet from second to sixth place in Barnsley Central?'

    Not much from the reaction outside the bubble. Certainly doesn't seem to have excited even Barnsley much, and they were there.

    I'm going to leave the trading of historical by election stats to others.

    Crikey, that's you off Crick's Xmas card list. His whole week's output has been predicated on just that, with his 'troops' in BBC research, in hope of getting more than a half dozen folk to be impressed. Hasn't worked.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think it would be wrong to underplay what has happened. This result shows that Labour voters will no longer countenance voting Liberal Democrat. It has implications for more than the 'North'. In the South West for example, considered a Liberal stronghold, the seats have only been won from the Conservatives by the lending of 'labour votes'. This result means Liberal Democrats in such areas must also be at risk.

  • Comment number 24.

    "Seems there may be immigration issues up there though if the BNP and UKIP are gaining more popularity. I would think there's cause for concern there because Labour youth get disaffected by all this mass immigration and racial tension and will turn on a penny if needs be."

    These are single issue parties supported by angry people so supporters are more motivated to vote. They were no doubt helped by Cameron and his speeches on Europe and multiculturalism. I'm in favour off both. There's not enough political correctness in this country. More immigration will make this country a more interesting place to live. Well done Wales on the referendum.

  • Comment number 25.

    Yes, the Lib Dems have got a kicking. Whenever you take responsibility and try and sort out the mess someone else created, this will happen. being in the coalition has meant swallowing some unpleasant medicine. But even more sickening is the crowing of the labour leader who was part of the government who thought it was ok to spend a third more than we could raise in tax revenue and leave it for someone else to sort out. Mess up and abrogate your responsibility. Yes that sounds like Labour. This is the message the Lib Dems need to get across to the electorate.

  • Comment number 26.







    5. At 5:00pm on 04 Mar 2011, ScotInNotts wrote:
    #60 Fubar_Saunders (Previous Thread)


    The Labour party is not the same party that those members of the electorate used to vote for, i.e. "the working mans party". They have been transformed by Blair and co. and now seem to have no idea just what it is they stand for anymore. I may not agree with the Tories but at least they have and still do stand for a certain set of principles. Nick Clegg is in the process of doing to the Lib Dems what Blair did to Labour, just what do the Lib Dems stand for now; they have certainly given up on some important core principles.

    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Some of what you say here is true and and some is untrue.
    The bit thats true.....................
    Its true the tories stand for a certain set of principles (loyalties is a better word. Appalling unethical loyalties). 50 odd % of their funding is from the city/financiers and the majority of the party, especially their donors are wealthy (the other 50%.).
    We can clearly see the choices this tory led government have made. Its clear that they can reduce corporation tax and have done nothing to curb bankers bonuses (to people who wouldn’t have a job without being bailed out by the taxpayer) or reduce chief execs pay when at the same time they happily instigate austerity drives and cuts and increases in vat which will result in the poorest in society being disproportionately hit hardest. Not forgetting the thousands of redundancies and the crippling of essential public services. All in all their policies result in the wealthiest who they represent and are part of doing absolutely fine and raking it in as per usual. While the rest of us suffer and pay for the mistakes of greedy unethical bankers.
    The bit thats untrue.
    I am a member of the local labour party. We work on estates, poorer areas and middle income areas highlighting the appalling injustice in the way these cuts have been targeted on groups who can afford it the least. Last month I produced leaflets on the increase being planned in council rents and the cutting of various children’s services and elderly care.. These cuts of course and countless others like it in reality are paying for huge multi million pound salaries and the facilitation of multi million pound corporations and businesses receiving a tax cut. The people I am working with are mostly on low incomes although some are financially secure (but still need to work to pay bills). Most of us would call ourselves socialists. Traditional labour principles. Its true we are aghast at some of new labours mistakes and the movement by new labour to the middle ground. However we are also aware it was our best chance of getting elected nationally which primarily prevents the débâcle of tory govts (as we see now) and that is most important of all. We are also aware that as the only major left wing party as grass roots level, we represent the only real alternative and hope against conservative ideology which is like a swinging axe demoralising and crushing local communities in our area.
    As well as acknowledging many of labours mistakes we also highlight many successes. One thing is for sure, the labour parties cuts would not be so vicious and poorer communities would be far better protected.

  • Comment number 27.


    The LibDems were always in for a rout. It went without saying. You can't peddle back on a significant pledge such as that on tuition fees and expect the population that voted for you for that very reason to do so again.

    The irony is of course that the voting public got exactly what they wished for: a third party with the means of balancing power, with the obvious prospect of having to see compromises being made. You always need to be careful what you wish for in case you actually get it, and this provides a case in point.

    I really don't know what's going on at the moment with the Coalition. Without wanting to sound too disrespectful, some ideas emanating from the Government do appear, on the face of it, to be a bit thick. Whether that's politically or economically thick I really don't want to get into, but that's my perception.

    It also doesn't help - by any stretch of the imagination - that there is a core of influential media that gives no ground at all to any of the Coalition Government's propositions. Which ever way the Government goes, this media will find the opposite argument and exploit it. Hence we have currently have a situation where all of the UK's woes are being blamed on Government cuts when, in point of fact, they haven't half been implemented yet. How such a situation can persist by a Government which is meant to be made up of professionals is beyond me. In fact, it was blindingly obvious that when the message went out that the communications headcount was going to be reduced one just felt that this was a mistake. I guess that policy was a bit thick too.

    I do find it rather astonishing that the likes of the Telegraph and the Daily Mail also seem to give no quarter to a Government that is meant to comprise - at least in part - their aspirations. The irony is that they cheese off the electorate so much that Labour is the only real answer. Maybe that's the real sub-text of their criticism, maybe not. But that will be the result.

    All in all, I guess the LibDems got what they deserved. In the Coalition Government, those who activated sought it have got what they deserved too.

    Pity the rest of us.

  • Comment number 28.

    Sagamix @ 18

    "My heart is with the Conservatives and it always has been;....But when it comes to the ballot box, when it’s time for X marks the spot, I push all that to one side and I go with my bonce. I vote with my head – thus for Labour"


    This type of sentiment is usually presented in reverse!

    I often wonder saga, whether or not you're just on here to wind everyone up?

  • Comment number 29.

    sagamix 18

    "I’m instinctively a clown. I’m a clown and a half..."

    At last, you post something I can agree with wholeheartedly. You are, indeed, a complete clown.

  • Comment number 30.

    la croft@11

    My actual words were "Britain produces world class scientists and engineers but can certainly do with more of them.” Students take the softer subjects because they are often badly advised as to what higher education and employers want.

    We don't have the same aspirational culture as the Chinese and Indians so you are correct to some extent and companies do seek migrant workers to fill the shortfall.

    I have so say I am so glad you have seen the light and finally see the benefits of immigration.

  • Comment number 31.

    25. At 6:47pm on 04 Mar 2011, vincz66 wrote:
    Yes, the Lib Dems have got a kicking. Whenever you take responsibility and try and sort out the mess someone else created, this will happen. being in the coalition has meant swallowing some unpleasant medicine. But even more sickening is the crowing of the labour leader who was part of the government who thought it was ok to spend a third more than we could raise in tax revenue and leave it for someone else to sort out. Mess up and abrogate your responsibility. Yes that sounds like Labour. This is the message the Lib Dems need to get across to the electorate.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    It is a message they have repeated relentlessly and it’s a bare faced lie.

    Mervyn King said blame the bankers not Labour, the Tories and LieDem's backed and actually advocated Labour spend more and regulate less ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.

    Labour spent money rebuilding a Tory ravaged education, health and infrastructure. Up to the 2008 financial crisis Labour had less debt than the previous Tory regime.

    Health and education spending under Labour only brought the UK in line with other developed nations.

    It’s also ironic when talk of "Labour mess" is that Labour cleaned up the rivers and environment, they cleaned up hospitals after the Tory privatisation of cleaning led to super bugs, they also started to "clean up" an obesity epidemic led by the Tories privatising school meals and letting the fast food industry run amok.

    The LieDem’s are beyond contempt and will spin it out for as long as possible.

  • Comment number 32.

    #26 Well said!

  • Comment number 33.

    Lefty11

    'We can clearly see the choices this tory led government have made.'

    Indeed we can lefty. We can clearly see the effects from the graph provided in this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11603419

    It shows that the richest 10% of the population have suffered the greatest loss of income. If the coalition are trying to benefit the richest at the expense of everyone else they're making a right hash of it.

  • Comment number 34.

    jam tomorrow's comment in my submission just backs up the labour party's ineptitude towards economics and explains why insolvency in England and Wales trebled on their watch. You cannot spend a third more than you earn and balance the books. Typical Labour apparitchik - abrogating responsibility. When you can come back with a serious budget proposal that adds up, then you can be taken seriously. Until then hang your head in shame and practice mea culpa.

  • Comment number 35.

    #31 jamtommorow

    Mervyn King also said (evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, March 1st):

    "More fundamentally, the key underlying causes of the crisis – in terms of the imbalances in global demand – have still not been tackled."

    There is a serious debate as to the extent to which the financial crisis was a reflection of a crisis in the 'real' economy (a symptom rather than a cause, in other words).

  • Comment number 36.

    jam tomorrow 31

    Education standards fell under Labour, super bug infections were amongst the worst in the developed world, and obesity levels increased. And these are the best examples you can come up with of Labour 'successes' ?

    Just about sums up how hopeless they were.

  • Comment number 37.

    Two other pieces of King's evidence to the Treasury Select Committee:

    "The squeeze on living standards is inevitable in aggregate because of what happened. We have to accept to accept that squeeze and we will find a way through it."

    "To have a plan to reduce this enormous budget deficit over a period of five years is the right thing to have because otherwise we would all suffer."

    So far I can't find the entire transcript, but it would be interesting to know his views on rising world commodity prices, not just for inflation, but as a permanent threat to Western living standards. As we compete with rapidly developing countries for fuel, food, raw materials, etc. there will be a transfer of economic power to producer nations.

  • Comment number 38.

    18 sagamix wrote:

    "Head. Heart. Heart. Head. Which wins out? With me it’s very much H over H ... never the other way round."
    ============================

    And here's me thinking the only H over H you were concerned about was Harriet Harman.

    "There’ll be many in Barnsley just like me – perhaps the majority."
    ===================================================
    I suspect there are many people like you, and probably some in Barnsley. Can you please enlighten the blog with exactly what policies the people who voted Labour (or was it New labour ?) yesterday were voting for ? Ed Miliband's policies are a blank sheet of paper, and no hint of what is likeley to fill it anytime soon. Not that this is a problem. But all these people like you saga, who voted with their head yesterday, exactly what was the thought process ?

  • Comment number 39.

    john bull @ 28

    "This type of sentiment is usually presented in reverse!"

    :-)

    Exactly so, John. Fight nonsense with nonsense ... is the name of the game.

  • Comment number 40.

    33 jobsagoodin


    Yes, the rich are really suffering, We're all in this together. It's all Labour's fault. The moon is made of cheese. Cameron is a political colossus. Clegg is a man of unparallelled principle. All the cuts are the councils' fault. Black is white. Etc, etc .....

  • Comment number 41.

    26 lefty11

    This kind of rant might go down a storm at last orders in your local socialist club but it is full of holes.

    You correctly identify that around 50% of Tory funding comes from the City but neglect to mention that Labour receives around 80% of its funding from the unions. If the concern is that concentration of funds from a small pool of donors gives them undue influence over policy then I would have thought that you would be more concerned about your own party, which is propped up by a few large public sector unions.

    The cuts that are coming will only return public spending to the level of a few years ago. I don't recall the scenes of devastation that you claim will result from these levels of spending. I don't recall any lefties droning on about awful it was either.

  • Comment number 42.

    33. jobs
    was it this bit in the link you wanted me to read jobs

    "Excluding the wealthiest 2% of the population, who the IFS assesses will be the hardest hit, it says the poorest 10% of the population will, on average, lose about 5.5% of their net income compared with roughly 4.5% for the top 10%."
    Of course you have to factor in that cuts in public services will also compound the miserry for the poorest as they rely on some services much more. And incidentally, the bit about the richest 2% "suffering"
    im presuming thats a joke jobs?

  • Comment number 43.

    jh66 @ 35

    "There is a serious debate as to the extent to which the financial crisis was a reflection of a crisis in the 'real' economy (a symptom rather than a cause, in other words)."

    Yes, for sure: the global financial crisis as a consequence of an unsustainable dynamic in the 'real' global economy - in particular, the east west trade and saving vs consumption imbalance. Take that and add in a few other key ingredients, such as (but by no means limited to) noddy regulation and complacent politicians and the absurd bonus culture, and ... well now we know.

    And symptoms vs causes? Mmm, tricky. Hard to say and in any case can be both. Symptoms caused by causes can go on to cause other symptoms, which cause further symptoms etc etc. I prefer the pyre - fuel - match analysis.

  • Comment number 44.

    41. At 8:19pm on 04 Mar 2011, AS71 wrote:

    It wasn’t a rant AS71. Just the truth.
    Anyway its interesting, because your post would only make any sense if a union was one individual person or one large corporation. Of course in reality unions are made up of hundreds and sometimes thousands of individual workers making small individual donations/subscriptions. So your point in nonsensical.
    Your second point is equally strange. Perhaps you should contact your district or county council and ask them for a copy of their budget strategy year on year up to 2015. Then look at the savings they have to make. Then look at what services are being cut at who they will affect worst. Then perhaps you can show how the last labour government targeted these communities in a similar detrimental way. You cant.
    Of course as you well know, there is enough money floating around in the upper echelons of society being paid in bonuses/corporation tax cuts etc that dwarf the savings being made from these cuts. (not forgetting the cuts could be tipping us into a double dip).
    There is no excuse. Its simple unethical ideology, appalling morals and looking after the people that support and fund the conservative party over the majority of working class people in this country.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Lib-Dems are in new and uncharted territory. Hitherto the electorate have used them as a stick with which to beat the two main parties, the only ones that are considered able to govern the country,hence the many Lib-Dem Bye-Election triumphs in the past.
    But in May 2010, they committed the unforgivable sin of going to bed with the Tories, and compounded this with reneging on pre election promises.
    Yesterday was but a taste for what will befall them in May.

  • Comment number 46.

    37 jh

    So far I can't find the entire transcript, but it would be interesting to know his views on rising world commodity prices, not just for inflation, but as a permanent threat to Western living standards. As we compete with rapidly developing countries for fuel, food, raw materials, etc. there will be a transfer of economic power to producer nations.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Australia and Canada are well placed as developed countries which are also rich in natural resources. If I was a bit younger I might consider emigrating!

  • Comment number 47.

    2. At 4:32pm on 04 Mar 2011, Flame wrote:
    Barnsley is was and probably always will be Labour. Lots of miners and working class folk and that's what they do, without a second thought.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Shame. That means that unless we get a new Labour Party in the next three years we may be doomed to the return of N.Labour. Why can't the good voters of Barnsley put in a bit more research and thought to the business of voting instead of it being merely a reflex action?

  • Comment number 48.

    Don't be like that, JR (29). A poor CTP can take only so much brain-dead stereotyping of Labour voters. They're just as brightish as you.

  • Comment number 49.

    SP @ 38

    By-election, Strictly. You vote* against things in by-elections; in this case the (LibCon) government of the day.

    * with your head or your heart (or a little bit of both).

  • Comment number 50.

    47 Up2snuff

    How terribly northern of them. Why can't they reflect more on their voting choices like the fair-minded electorate of Huntingdon, Henley, etc. Then we might get some more capable, ex- Bullingdon chaps in the Commons to provide a truer representation of the country. Keep the oiks in their place I say.

  • Comment number 51.

    Coats 30

    Actually that is not what you said. This is what you said on the previous blog.

    Britain produces world class scientists and engineers but can certainly do with more of them. Young people have been diverted into softer subjects where they may achieve higher grades - it is nothing to do with their raw intelligence.

    This is what you now claim you said on this blog.

    My actual words were "Britain produces world class scientists and engineers but can certainly do with more of them.” Students take the softer subjects because they are often badly advised as to what higher education and employers want.

    There is a world of difference between the two, telling untruths is not a very becoming trait.

    Furthermore both statements are untrue. Britain does not produce World class scientists and engineers any more. It is because there is a lack of raw talent. They take softer subjects because they do not have the level of education to attain the higher ones. Other Countries produce students in these fields who far exceed Britains ability. Jobs for engineers and scientists remain unfilled in a lot of cases, until a skilled worker can come in from another Country.



  • Comment number 52.

    I think Nick Robinson under-estimates the significance of the Liberal Democrat collapse in Barnsley. True, it is a very safe seat, but to get hammered into sixth behind an 'Independent' and the foul BNP means they have problems. Neither is it accurate to suggest that Clegg always knew this would be a difficult year... they haven't been propping up the Tories for a year yet - with their persistent (if ill-founded) mantra that "it's all Labour's fault", they surely should have been sustaining a bit more of a vote at this stage. After all, the majority of cuts haven't yet kicked in?

  • Comment number 53.

    coats 30

    Further to my post at 51. I also want to inform you that I have never said any different, than that skilled workers from abroad are needed in Britain. That is another fabrication on your part. Unskilled workers are the ones that are not needed in Britain, especially from the EU. That has been my consistent view on immigration.

    Your hope that I would not get to read post 30, I am afraid, failed.

  • Comment number 54.

    It must be clear by now to anyone with a brain that Clegg is a Ramsay MacDonald figure in the LibDem history, and as an electoral force the Lib dems are defunct/ex Lib Dems for the foreseeable future. It took 4 years after the formation of the disgraceful National Government for Labour to have the opportunity to boot MacDonald out of his seat in Easington and Seaham. It took another 10years for Labour to be fully restored. However, I don't think a decade will be long enough for the Lib Dems. How many current, sane/normal, University students will want to identify with/seek to be candidates for the Lib Dem party in this climate of betrayal of promises to students? If the answer is very few where is the Party's future, they seem unlikely to garner any takers from the northern working class. Perhaps their future will be in Nick Clegg clones from southern public schools.
    Several contributors suggest people in the north vote Labour unthinkingly. On the contrary, they vote that way because they are clear that none of the other major parties give a stuff about them (same reason that Tories discern, rightly, that Labour dislikes them). Yesterday we had a snidey report decrying low level vocational qualifications not leading to jobs. The reality of the modern UK is that kids of working people in the north have to try to compete in a harsh global economy and will often come up short, and as a result are decried by the Mail et al. The Camerons/Osbornes of the world and their ilk pursue non-vocational courses that lead to sinecures, in PR, in back offices of political parties etc, isolated from competition from overseas -in that sense I think their experience is little removed from the pampered existence of the children of elites round the world. Some of those elites are rightly despised in our media, but surprisingly, rarely/never our own elite.
    Not a good time to be a Lib Dem, roll on May when we can see the back of all those annoying councillors.

  • Comment number 55.

    #51

    The former boss of the CBI Richard Lambert got this right.

    He said that one of the reasons not many youngsters aspire to be nuclear scientists is because we don't have a nuclear industry anymore.

    In other words if we don't provide the opportunities that youngsters can aspire to then they won't bother. So - no UK car industry then we won't get kids coming through wanting to design cars or engines or other car stuff.

    You get the picture I'm sure but what it means is that actually it's not really the fault of the education system but the lack of demand. That of course is entirely down to Government and our friends in the City.

  • Comment number 56.

    The previus thread was ended abrubtly by the BBC re: William Hague video etc?

    However, just in case Bradford and district is ever invaded by a foreign despot and needs a 'no fly zone':

    Something ... still not clear and would appear to be widely misunderstood about a no fly zone:

    Any kind of millitary or other intervention in e.g. Bradford or Libya (or indeed any other countries with a similar siuation) by a multi-national force will require a 'No Fly Zone' ... because of the risk of UN or other peace-keeping/ humanitarian service people being bombed/shelled by 'accident' ... in order words, either:

    1)the Bradford/ Libyan people are entirely now on their own without international (or other assistance) in terms of their security in finding their way forward

    OR

    2) There will have to be a no fly zone (unless the Bradfordonians Libyans themselves take all of the despots'/Gaddafi's air force out of commission at a very early stage and which looks very unlikely) if there is any kind of 'international intervention'

    PS
    When is the BBC going hold to account the previous Labour administration regarding its dealings with e.g. Gaddafi including issues such as how much was known about Gaddafi's program of e.g. re-arming Libya in recent years?


  • Comment number 57.

    37. At 7:58pm on 04 Mar 2011, johnharris66 wrote:
    Two other pieces of King's evidence to the Treasury Select Committee:

    "The squeeze on living standards is inevitable in aggregate because of what happened. We have to accept to accept that squeeze and we will find a way through it."

    "To have a plan to reduce this enormous budget deficit over a period of five years is the right thing to have because otherwise we would all suffer."


    His difficulty with which I sympathize is he has to come to a view on the course of inflation and its effect on the wider economy.According to the remit on independence for the BOE, they are charged with policies which keep inflation at 2% or less,subject to the above proviso.But inflation is now 4% and rising.

    He would like to raise interest rates but thinks this would be deflationary.In normal times that would be the case,but now? Interest rates have been negative since February 2009,despite QE, demand appears to be static or weakening if the last quarter GDP figures are to be believed.

    The oil spike,raw material prices,domestic inflation and exports priced in a devalued pound are sucking demand from the economy.On top of which the government is loading spending cuts and (overall) tax increases.

    The oil spike is precisely the unexpected shock Labour faced in 2008, although now our position is weaker.Will Mr.King still think a five year time frame is the right one for cuts in two or three months time if the middle eastern crisis continues?

    If we enter a double dip,debt and deficit will increase faster than the reduction achieved by cuts.This is what has happened in Greece and Ireland, and why the latter will probably default if they cannot renegotiate terms with the ECB.

  • Comment number 58.

    Susan
    A line break after the speech marks may have helped clarify the direct quotation but that aside, I stand by my assertion that the UK is a centre of excellence in science and technology.

    International tables regularly rate our universities amongst the best in the world.

    Our failing is usually in exploitation of the innovation but for goodness sake be positive about what we are good at.

    As for "There is a world of difference between the two, telling untruths is not a very becoming trait." - I'll put that down to a misunderstanding. After all what's a slur between friends?



  • Comment number 59.

    Excepting local factors, the collapse in the LibDem vote does tell us something about what happens in a first-past-the-post electoral system when two parties go into coalition.

    The reason the LibDems traditionally did well in by-elections was that they were perceived to be the centre ground of left-right politics, so they represented the shortest move away from the most unpopular of the two main Parties - i.e. their vote was the barometer for protest votes - but in coalition, voters perceive them as part of "The Government", so a vote for them is not a real protest vote anymore - that's why UKIP has shot up as well as Labour.

    There is clearly also a "Clegg Factor" - his "Honest John" approach during the General Election won him respect and trust then, but this was followed by the Orange Book Coup immediately afterwards when firm manifesto commitments were replaced by policies 180 degrees different drawn straight from the Orange Book clique's agenda that was completely rejected by the LibDem Party. Clegg will now always be an electoral liability, unless the coalition delivers an economic miracle. (There go another flight of pigs...) And having been shanghi'd into a set of policies they opposed, many LibDems' loyalty to Clegg is under serious strain.

    It's the story of disillusioned Tory voters too - defence cuts, tax increases, job loses, police numbers/pay cuts, the list goes on - voters may not have liked Gordon Brown, but they don't like the slash & burn approach to public services either...

    I'd predict absolute hammerblows for the LibDems in the May Council and Scottish Elections - and a lot of votes are going to move not only to the left to Labour, but also to the right & UKIP south of the border.

    Alex Salmond will be left well teed up to win an independence referendum and in England three party politics will resume, but with UKIP as the third party.

    A full blown oil crisis on top of the UK already teetering on the brink of recession, plus £110 Bn being taken out of the economy will mean that George Osborne's budget next month will be as close to an economic suicide note as you can get.

    The vote on electoral reform is likely to be driven by the public's growing antipathy to Clegg, who is in effect saying "make me the kingmaker for evermore" - I know what my answer to that is, even though I support the principle of full PR, I've voting no.

    The only question left is just how much grit backbench LiDem MPs have - will they pull the plug, ditch Clegg et al, cause an election and side with Labour, or will they hang on in the hope of turning the corner by the end of the parliament?

    Clegg's time in power will therefore have:

    1. Brought the serious risk of the breakup of the UK - SNP triumphant?
    2. Elevated UKIP to third place and galvanised the anti-EU movement
    3. Empowered the libertarian grouping in the Tory Party to go way beyond anything Mrs Thatcher thought to be politically possible
    4. Electoral reform will not happen and it will be a dead duck for a generation
    5. The Parliamentary LibDem Party will be able to meet in a London Taxi after the next election.

    If I were a LibDem, I'd not sit on my hands any longer. Clegg and his sidekicks are libertarian entryists to their Party, rather like the Militant Tendency was to Labour, but they've taken control and staged a coup d'etat through the mechanism of the Coalition Agreement and simply thrown the Party's manifesto in the bin.

    What will happen in the Tory heartlands in the south? UKIP will cream it where there is no Labour base - unless the Greens can raise the progressive banner and become a credible force.

    "It's three party politics Jim, but not as we know it..."

  • Comment number 60.

    lefty11

    'Of course as you well know, there is enough money floating around in the upper echelons of society being paid in bonuses/corporation tax cuts etc that dwarf the savings being made from these cuts.'

    So how come the Labour party promised they would implement greater cuts than under Thatcher ???

  • Comment number 61.

    wee-Scamp 55

    Thats untrue I am afraid, otherwise Britain would not need skilled workers from abroad. I have already said, many of these skilled jobs remain unfilled, until someone is recruited from abroad that has the qualitifications and can fill them. Furthermore older skilled workers are being persuaded to stay on, because without them, there are not the new young students with the right skills to fill them.

    Education standards have consistantly dropped, especially in the harder subjects. Britain has dropped in the World league tables in education. China and Indian students are far in advance in engineering and science, than British students and there are far more of them than in Britain. British students take the easy subjects to gain qualifications and even then their reading and writing skills are often below average.

  • Comment number 62.

    44 lefty11

    I would like to see a cap on political donations from any individual or organisation. I would regard union donations or corporate donations as a single donation from an organisation rather than payments from individual members or shareholders, because it is the organisation that has the opportunity to exercise influence.

    I wasn't suggesting that no services will have to be cut, clearly some will. I just don't see the magnitude of the cuts leading to the meltdown you suggest. My council has already cut out waste over the last few years by outourcing services to much more efficient providers, which the unions predictably campaigned against.

  • Comment number 63.

    bryhers 57

    Greece, Ireland, UK. What do they all have in common bryhers? They all had governments that racked up record deficits. That's why they're suffering more than others. It's not those trying to reduce these record deficits that are to blame, it's those that created them in the first place.

    For someone who tries to blog like a well informed political expert you have a pretty good knack of overlooking the bleeding obvious.

  • Comment number 64.

    Richard Bunning 59

    'It's the story of disillusioned Tory voters too - defence cuts, tax increases, job loses, police numbers/pay cuts,'

    All would have happended under Labour, all a direct result of Labour's incompetence, and all necessary to sort out the mess the coalition inherited. The story is one of a country on its knees after 13 years of Labour misrule. Sort this out and the coalition parties will get their support back with more besides.

  • Comment number 65.

    meninwhitecoats 58

    No misunderstanding on my part, I meant what I said, especially at post 53 which was a complete fabrication on your part.

    I am positive, positive that education needs to improve in state school. Every in-depth study says the same thing. Students take the easy subjects to gain qualification which are worthless in the work place. Standards have been lowered to accommodate the lack of bright students. This you know very well. It is nothing to do with exploitation of the innovation.

    As to science and technology, yes Britain is good at teaching it, to foreign and privately educated students.

  • Comment number 66.

    What a naive blog. The lib dems didn't just lose, they got thoroughly, well and truly smashed. If I cared at all for the future of this party, which I do, a little, I would be much more concerned and much more proactive following this result.

  • Comment number 67.

    64

    In order to understand our current predicament we need a reasoned analysis of the Brown economic legacy, then we can discuss Osborne's plans in a reasonable context.

    Basic economics:

    The role of government & BoE in the economy is to:

    1. Take the heat out of inflationary periods by taxing more, running a surplus and raising interest rates.

    2. Take the sting out of a recession by borrowing and spending more and BoE cuts interest rates.

    This combination of fiscal and monetary policies is described as COUNTER-CYCLICAL action - it irons out the effects of booms and busts, which makes UK PLC more efficient because it prevents the worst excesses at either end of the cycle - Brown's gold rule was that the surpluses and deficits should balance each other out over the cycle - "prudence" in his own words - but IMHO he didn't change this rule - the whole rulebook of the global economic game were changed overnight and he was powerless to do anything about it.

    What happened to cause this - and was Brown to blame for it?

    Firstly, the economy was going into a mild recession - then the world's banking system self-destructed overnight and there was a huge risk of the commercial banking sector disappearing. This was caused by a number of factors virtually exclusively from the USA - sub-prime mortgages and worthless paper dressed up as "special financial vehicles" - i.e. a massive con trick - suddenly Leaman Bros et al were caught out and had to realise these huge loses and went bust.

    What should the UK government do?

    Firstly UK PLC invested vast sums in buying equity in the banks to recapitalise them - the alternative? No banks, deposits disappear, unforseen collapses in companies suddenly without credit or access to their money - back to bartering until a new state bank could be established - the choice to prop the commercial ubanks p was the least worst option - and we can sell UK PLC's stockholding in the banks at a later date - currently showing a healthy profit.

    The paralysis of the banks resulted in the credit squeeze - no money to lend, so no money to borrow. The effect of the credit tap being turned off was a sharp fall in demand - and a recession heading for a global slump.

    What should government do now?

    Counter-cyclical doctrine and the experience of the Great Depression of the 1930s tells us that governments need to inject demand into the gloal and domestic economy to stop it going off a cliff - this means borrowing and spending.

    The difference in this case was the scale of the borrowing - add in the bank recapitalisation and the stimulus package and critics are right in saying it's a record.

    Where they are wrong is that you cannot view the bank recapitalisation as the same thing as running a "normal" deficit - for start there is an ASSET there which can be sold - bank shares - and unlike hiring a council worker or commissioning a new road, the bank holdings can be unravelled and the borrowing repaid without recourse to tax rises of spending cuts.

    If you blame Brown for all this you are simply shooting the messenger - he had nothing to do with the credit crisis and if he hadn't recapitalised the banks, then god help us.

    The recession in the last quarter marked the end of the benefit of the stimulus package Alistair Darling put in place - but we are about to feel thev full force of the "negative stimulus" of the spending cuts which are yet to bite - and as Stephanie Flanders points out, the rest of the world economy is squeezing us harder than George Osborne.

    What would a sensible, pragmatic economist do as Chancellor now?

    Firstly in assessing the level of UK PLC debt, he/she'd discount the value of the bank holdings from the total debt because they are a realiseable asset we will eventually cash in and use the money to replay the debt - next he/she'd accept that the credit crisis wasn't "business as usual" it was a very serious crisis unrelated to the normal economic cycle - and one that should not be balanced out over a single cycle - i.e. probably two parliaments or more.

    Should Brown have thrown on the brakes earlier, cutting spending harder, sooner, as the coalition endlessly restates?

    Clearly with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, we now know that cutting spending would have kept UK PLC in recession with lower GDP, lower incomes and higher unemployment, all of which would probably have produced the same level of deficit anyway due to higher welfare payments and lower tax take.

    The ConDems believe that they can cut the deficit over just this parliament and that there is "no alterntive". They propose to do this by £110 Bn of tax rises and spending cuts. As each £ borrowed and put into the economy circulates and changes hands several times, taking £110 Bn out is magnified - I'd say by a factor of up to ten. We call spending money in UK PLC as "aggregate demand" - and if you take my figure of 10, that equates to a fall of £1Tn.

    In an economy barely keeping its head above recession that looks today that it is in real danger of going into reverse, with our export markets in a similarly fragile state, conventional wisdom says UK PLC will be tipped into a deep recession by the negative demand effect of the cuts.

    There's also the coming oil price crisis, which will hole Osborne's plans below the waterline....

    However, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility says we're going to get loads more new private sector jobs, billions of investment and our exports will surge - yesterday the CBI called this into serious question.

    This is because of a quasi-religious belief that the public sector "crowds out" the private sector, so hack back public spending and the private sector will expand to fill the gap - the "magic of the market" will ensure that underused resources are snapped up and applied to make money.

    So who do you believe? did Brown splurge our money and leave us in so much debt that we need a stiff dose of spending cuts to pay them off?

    Or do you see the current plan as a dangerous gamble based on ideology not economics?

    Luckily we will find out who was right in the next 18 months.

    The coalition claim that the public spending cuts won't have a deflationary impact on th economy and that critics overstate its impact.

    Stephanie Flanders's piece http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/stephanieflanders/2011/01/the_world_is_squeezing_us_more.html

    is a salutory reminder that the economic backdrop is also an important factor in UK PLC's prospects for growth, jobs and paying off our public AND private debts.

    There is however a precedent for Osborne's plan - a very similar austerity plan was implemented in Eire, which he described as a "shining example" of a successful economy.

    Eire is now on its knees unable to service its debt and unable to stimulate its economy because the spending cuts have so surpressed demand that GDP shrank by 17% last year and house prices fell by 40%.

    The verdict of history will be that Brown was a boringly conventional Chancellor faced with an unprecedented crisis that left him little or no choice.

    Osborne on the other hand is likely to be seen as the man who drove UK PLC over a cliff in the winter of 2011/12. The "world squeeze" means that we pay more for less - Osborne's plan to cut aggregate demand by £1Tn as well flies in the face of both Keynesian and Monetarist economic theory - the risk of drastic deflation is simply too high and cutting public spending this rapidly will cause GDP to fall,which in turn cuts tax revenues and drives up the welfare bill - which will INCREASE public debt, not shrink it.

    Let's spin forward 18-24 months - I predict we will be reaching 5M unemployed and GDP will be shrinking fast. Public borrowing will be rising and inflation caused by the collapsing Pound will be over 10%.

    At this point we will hopefully have learnt our lesson - Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" is the ONLY theortical basis for the coalition's current economic policy - and as there will be millions of people trapped without work living on poverty benefits chasing non-existent jobs at the behest of private sector barons running "workfare" programmes, the poorest in our society will have reached Hayek's destination - they will be serfs, pure and simple.

    If you want to see where the Tories and LibDems will be at the next election, take a look at Finna Fail's election result last week - that's the reward they got for following exactly the same policy in Eire.

  • Comment number 68.

    Susan@65
    Ah well if we can't agree, I'll save the chilled white wine for another day. It was a good vintage as well...L'Humeur du Temps.

  • Comment number 69.

    #59 Richard Bunning wrote:
    "Empowered the libertarian grouping in the Tory Party to go way beyond anything Mrs Thatcher thought to be politically possible"

    There are probably no libertarians in the Parliamentary Conservative Party; or, to put it another way, there are the same number of libertarians in the Conservative Party as there are communists in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

  • Comment number 70.

    #59 Richard Bunning wrote:
    "The Parliamentary LibDem Party will be able to meet in a London Taxi after the next election."

    Yes, I suspect (and hope) this will happen whatever the LibDems do. Protest votes will go to UKIP and the Greens.

    Ironically the LibDems will gain nothing from AV. I'm not even sure they would gain from PR; the other protest parties, UKIP, BNP, Greens would take their place - 5 party politics in England, and no Lib Dems.

  • Comment number 71.

    64
    It's all Labour's fault. Why can't the cretinous voters understand this? The crisis in Greece and Ireland, the economic woes in the USA, Spain, Portugal, etc? Everything that has gone wrong economically around the entire world is without a shadow of a doubt the result of 13 years of Labour profligacy. Now that a sensible government is in place we can see unemployment and inflation falling, growth strengthening and confidence booming. If only the moronic electorate could truly comprehend how Labour ruined everything and the valiant Coalition are speedily sorting out the mess that Labour's 13 years of waste inflicted on the galaxy then everything would be fine. Why can't the lefty deficit-denying ...... etc, etc ......

  • Comment number 72.

    #67 Richard Bunning wrote:

    "The role of government & BoE in the economy is to:

    1. Take the heat out of inflationary periods by taxing more, running a surplus and raising interest rates."

    This is of course exactly what Brown did not do from 2001-2007. The UK ran a structural budget deficit during an asset boom.

    Counter-cyclical fiscal policy under Labour? You must be having a laugh!

  • Comment number 73.

    #67 Richrd Bunning wrote:
    "So who do you believe? did Brown splurge our money and leave us in so much debt that we need a stiff dose of spending cuts to pay them off?

    Or do you see the current plan as a dangerous gamble based on ideology not economics?"

    The coalition government is not proposing to pay off any of the national debt in the current Parliament. Fact.

    The ideology/economics debate is less easily refuted, but I note your post is entirely partisan. It makes no mention of the body of international economic opinion in favour of fiscal consolidation (IMF, OECD, EU, etc.) And yes, there are economists on the other side of the argument, but I'm not attempting a one-sided post.

  • Comment number 74.

    63. At 10:06pm on 04 Mar 2011, jobsagoodin wrote:
    bryhers 57

    "Greece, Ireland, UK. What do they all have in common bryhers? They all had governments that racked up record deficits. That's why they're suffering more than others. It's not those trying to reduce these record deficits that are to blame, it's those that created them in the first place.

    For someone who tries to blog like a well informed political expert you have a pretty good knack of overlooking the bleeding obvious."

    The coalition are too dependent on the deficit narrative for their policies to take an objective view.On entering the crisis, there was a deficit of 2.5% of GDP,the same as that inherited in 1997,the debt was lower.(IFS figures)

    Were these ideal circumstances to enter a crisis? no,why did the debt and deficit rise so sharply? Because of our dependence on the financial sector. Was the economy unbalanced?,Yes,and had been since the big bang which began financial deregulation in the eighties.

    Why is it important to know the reasons for problems in the British economy? Because without proper diagnosis we shall apply the wrong remedies.

    My post however is about issues facing the government now given the course of their economic policy.Do I think it will change?,yes for the reasons I gave earlier.Meanwhile damage is likely to be caused.

  • Comment number 75.

    Am I still up for it despite everything? Guess I am.

    Deficit and debt when Labour came to power ... 3% and 40% And when the Crash hit ... 3% and 40%. Give or take.

    Nothing to tell teacher. Not really.

    They ran surpluses for a few years, paid the debt down to 29%, then deficits taking debt back to 40%. Money spent in the main on upgrading our public services. VFM? Moot, but always is and always will be.

    Then comes two things: (1) global financial crisis and credit crunch and economic downturn, and (2) the very severe impact of this on the UK economy due to its reliance on financial services, property and consumer credit as drivers of activity and growth. Our high 'froth factor'.

    Both of the above being necessary but not sufficient conditions – together they bring forth ‘The Mess’. Labour’s mess when they were grappling with it, the Coalition’s mess now.

    Labour should have started the spend earlier and ramped more gradually.
    They should have taxed a bit more.
    They should have regulated the City better.
    They should have tried to reverse the Thatcherite drift to spivvery.

    These are the criticisms - albeit they can't come with any credence from the Conservative Party or supporter thereof, since they would have done none of the above.

  • Comment number 76.

    Isn't hindsight a great thing!

    It is now perfectly clear to everyone that the Lib Dems who signed the pledges on tuition fees were crass, stupid, opportunistic, and economically illiterate. Therefore on one level I've got little sympathy for them. However I do find it extremely strange what it is they are actually being criticised by a large part of the electorate for.

    After the election they ditched the rather dodgy policy which they could never have delivered in exchange for more funding for disadvantaged kids, higher tax allowances, AV and other concessions. If they had gone into coalition with Labour there would have been the same result. They are criticised for 'breaking a promise' despite the fact it was inevitable rather than being blamed for the error of adopting the policy in the first place! They were political lightweights wearing the rose tinted glasses that come of being in perpetual opposition yet they are being demonised as if they were power hungry egomaniacs who'd do anything for seat at the cabinet.

    The fact that perhaps slightly the wrong criticisms are being levelled by the electorate concerns me greatly.

    Supposedly everyone want a 'new politics', but if this proves that a single, perfectly reasonable and fairly minor compromise (compared with the funds for the much more important pupil premium) can destroy the reputation of an entire party then I truly worry about the long-term future of democracy and politics in the UK.

  • Comment number 77.

    It is a simple case of maths. If every union member could put £10,000 pounds into labours kitty there would be no contest. They cannot but banks, big business and other supporters of the tories can put much more than that into their election funding. Or would you prefer that there is no competition for your vote. How else do you feel there can be anything like a fair contest.

  • Comment number 78.

    engineer @ 76

    That is an excellent point and I rather disagree with it. The problem, I think, is that the Liberal Democrats made a massive deal of being against tuition fees. Made a 'pledge' even. It was a touchstone issue for them, a tone setter, and it brought them large numbers of votes from people to whom the prospect of a tory government was distinctly unappetising. Those votes gave them the balance of power - which they then used to put the tories in. Feelings of betrayal are thus both inevitable and justified.

  • Comment number 79.

    It's quite ironic that after all these years of fighting for PR that the Lib-Dems, by their own actions will now be very few peoples first or second choice at ballot box.

    The Lib-Dems have proved to be the most deceitful party in history, AV isn't much use if nobody trusts you.

  • Comment number 80.

    New Labour's major economic crime is not just the debts and deficts and liabilities ... it is the fact that they ALSO ... ALSO ...left the UK economy totally out of structural balance ... as over reliant on the financial and services sector ... having run down manufacturing and agriculture etc ... £38bn millitary over-spend and still not got the right kit ... 3 major wars ... etc

    The list is endless... and on top of that we have major lapses of integrity ... El Megrahi ... making false claims about Libya when in fact Gaddafi has been heavily re-arming his despot regime under the guise of being re-habilitated at the UN by the 'middle east peace envoy ... Brown, Straw, Mandelson are all personal friends of the despots. No wonder the personal relationship between the UK and the USA is under strain, or, really now non-existent.

    Shocking Awful Disgraceful ... there are not the words even in the English language to describe the effect of New Labour on the UK.

    Most of those who keep voting Labour need to watch out as at some point their children and grandchildren will end up living in the UK in 'mud huts' under Labour ... if they're lucky!

    The Coalition govt is far from perfect but is a lot, lot better than any Labour UK ruination party.

  • Comment number 81.

    As a Liberal supporter for 50 years I was worried by Clegg's shift away from social liberalism the moment he became leader and horrified that he chose to join a Tory government whose core aim is the total destruction of what's left of the public sector. Why not give a minority government conditional support from the opposition benches, retain the party's identity and scupper at least some Tory policies (e.g. the NHS shakeup) altogether? But it's too late now. I really hope we get AV, though - so I can deny the LDs any preferences at all.

  • Comment number 82.

    Please note, WaldoSpur and others, AV includes no element of PR and thus does not guarantee seats to smaller parties. If you don't get first/second preferences you don't win seats. Bye-bye LibDems.

  • Comment number 83.

    The only lesson from this election is that the result was inevitable. Dan Jarvis' predictable victory speech said it all - another MP without a clue on policy on anything. When is Labour going to enter the policy debate on a mature basis instead of this tiresome junvenile negativity?

  • Comment number 84.

    50. At 9:11pm on 04 Mar 2011, bribard wrote:
    47 Up2snuff

    How terribly northern of them. Why can't they reflect more on their voting choices like the fair-minded electorate of Huntingdon, Henley, etc. Then we might get some more capable, ex- Bullingdon chaps in the Commons to provide a truer representation of the country. Keep the oiks in their place I say.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Huntingdon and Henley and Gloucestershire are just as guilty of fixed, unchanging, unthinking positions. (And any constituency that can elect Barking Boris ... , well, words fail me!)

    Change can come ... but only if the people wnat it and will it and vote accordingly. 30% turnout in Barnsley? Not very keen on sending a message to Westminster, were they?

    Voting against normal party direction? Have been privileged to see it happen, and do my bit some years back, in one of the safest seats in the country.

  • Comment number 85.

    I voted Liberal, then Lim Dem but now never again. I am not surprised by result in Barnsley it was inevitable. My only concern is who to vote for now, maybe Green. Time for a new center left party maybe. Maybe we could go back to having a proper LIBERAL party, with Charles Kennedy as leader and if he likes a drink so what.

  • Comment number 86.

    Nautonier 80

    In a spirit of friendly criticism may I suggest you learn more by trying to think economically than engaging in interminable partisan rants.It`s the difference between marriage and rumpty tumpty.

  • Comment number 87.

    83. At 08:22am on 05 Mar 2011, ARHReading wrote:
    "The only lesson from this election is that the result was inevitable. Dan Jarvis' predictable victory speech said it all - another MP without a clue on policy on anything. When is Labour going to enter the policy debate on a mature basis instead of this tiresome junvenile negativity?"

    There is a genuine difference on economic policy bedtween left and right.There are arguments on both sides but clearly a newly elected MP will be partisan.

    How about your own position,are you certain the economy is on the right course,or would you be prepared to recommend change if is not? The oil spike if it persists is equivalent to Labour`s 2008.Unexpected and potentially cataclysmic if reports this morning of unrest in the Kingdom of the Saud`s is correct.Think on`t,be ready to abandon cherished positions and survive.

  • Comment number 88.

    @The Ex Engineer

    The pupil premium is not a LibDem policy negotiated from the Tories. The Tories were going to introduce it anyway, see page 53 of their 2010 manifesto.

    In addition, it has been admitted by Gove that it is not new money but funds merely moved from other areas of the education budget, in effect a cut in funds for some schools at the expense of those that take a high percentage of pupils from poorer backgrounds.

    Gove said on the BBC Politics Show:

    "...you can then make a calculation about which schools will find that they're actually losing funding, and which schools will find that they're gaining funding."

    Finally, the independent IFS report estimates that 60% of primary school pupils and 87% of secondary school pupils will be in schools where funding per pupil falls in real terms.

    As regards the changes in personal tax allowances, the gains are more than eaten up by other changes such as the VAT increase, and more especially the changes in working family tax credits.

    The LibDems have gained nothing...

    Expect similar results for them on 5 May...the leadership will now find it impossible to distance themselves from the Tories..but as they say, he who rides the tiger can never dismount.

  • Comment number 89.

    For those that keep voting Labour ... the country made zero progress on a UK alternative energy policy during the last 13 -14 years ... so my advice is to learn how to build a mud hut ... for your children and grandchildren ... if there is to be any food to feed them!

  • Comment number 90.

    Very difficult for the Lib Dems having put the tories in AND reneged on their big deal tuition fees pledge; they could perhaps have kept afloat (electorally) with just one of these misdemeanours on their record, but both? Toxic. They have time to bounce back, however they may well not.

  • Comment number 91.

    Engineer @76
    Saga @78

    Both are valid.

    Saga we both toyed with the idea of voting for the Lib/Dems prior to the election for different reasons. When it came to our moments privacy behind the curtain, only one of us performed the dirty deed by which I mean put our cross by the name of our Lib/Dem Candidate.

    Regrets? Well there's been a few and of course the University Fees pledge still leaves a bit of a smell. Overall I have to keep reminding myself of the alternative. In this regard the only real alternative was a total Tory majority, which we were both predicting. I still think that it's better to fight the Tories from within the coalition rather from the outside and if the Lib/Dems start to show a bit more metal then perhaps not is all lost.

    "Feelings of betrayal are thus both inevitable and justified."

    Reading the comments on this blog it would appear that the The Tories feel just, if not more, betrayed which probably means that they are not having it all there own way within the coalition and for that surely the Lib/Dems deserve at least some of the credit.








  • Comment number 92.

    Should we be thinking about making it a legal requirement for people to vote...?
    30% turnout in Barnsley, 35% in the Welsh Yes/No referendum.....

    I find these figures to be the most shamefully symptomatic failures of our Political system......

    Yes the turnout in General Elections is slightly higher but it's still short...

    People of course have their right to vote for NO-ONE at all...which is what I've done on occasions...


    Maybe we should be thinking about a system where if the Politicians running for a seat cannot collectively inspire more than say 50% of the electorate to actually bother voting then they have failed and the seat remains as it was until such time as the required number of people turnout.

    It would make them work harder, to be more positive.

    Should we be also passing a Law that states that a Party must stick to it's Election Manifesto after winning power, something along the lines of the Trades Description Act...?

    Maybe the fact that 50% or more of the electorate do not turnout is saying something much more important about the state of things in the first place.

  • Comment number 93.

    92 Endgames

    Surely that would be end of our democratic rights? Not sure I wish to go around with a number tatooed on my forehead just to prove that I have voted and burned on a stake if I refused.

  • Comment number 94.

    bryhers 74, sagamix 75

    Teamwork, eh? Though I notice you haven't yet brought yourselves to agreement on the opening salvo of statistics. Work in progress, maybe.

    Incidentally, I find your use of the %age of GDP figures a little misleading, so here's one in real money. Public sector net debt rose by £210bn from 2002 to 2008. Much more straightforward, that figure. If you want to try to make the case that debt grew only at an affordable rate because GDP was rising at the same time, then feel free to do so, but do it explicitly, not by sleight of hand, and be ready to be disagreed with.

    But that's not my main point. Here's the big problem.

    Bryhers (echoed in slightly different words by sagamix): "why did the debt and deficit rise so sharply? Because of our dependence on the financial sector."

    By contrast, your more illustrious fellow-traveller, Richard Murphy was all over the airwaves just a couple of weekends ago, telling us how dreadfully little tax the banking sector pays: just under £40bn at the instant before the crisis hit, £26bn in the middle of the crisis, £34bn forecast for this year - these are annualized figures, corporation tax plus employee income tax and NI.

    Now, if we all accept that the deficit is predominantly to do with the overall collapse in tax revenues, and if we also go with a figure around £150bn-£160bn for the peak of the deficit, then what we find is that the direct contribution of the banking sector to the deficit was, in fact, less than ten percent.

    So why do you keep telling everyone who will listen that the global crisis hit us hardest because of our dependency (or reliance) on the financial sector? Surely there is some bigger, better reason kicking around somewhere?

  • Comment number 95.

    Mr N @ 91

    Yes, if a lot of tories are frustrated - as they seem to be - at not getting the policies they want, then this counts as a Lib Dem achievement of sorts. And it was a hung one, as you say, and thus they had to do something. I defend Labour a fair bit on here (latest at 75) but principally against all the 'Labour's mess' nonsense - where people are showing a partisan disregard for the real causes of our current economic and fiscal crisis. The fact is, as you remind me, I was pretty unimpressed with the Labour government by May 2010 - 'time for a change' spoke loudly and well to me - and I flirted with a Lib Dem vote; main reason I didn't do it is I live in a razor 3 way marginal and when it came down to it, I couldn't face the idea of my vote possibly helping to unseat a (good and radical) sitting Labour MP in favour of a Conservative.

  • Comment number 96.

    85. At 08:47am on 05 Mar 2011, gazer1 wrote:
    "I voted Liberal, then Lim Dem but now never again. I am not surprised by result in Barnsley it was inevitable. My only concern is who to vote for now, maybe Green. Time for a new center left party maybe. Maybe we could go back to having a proper LIBERAL party, with Charles Kennedy as leader and if he likes a drink so what."

    It`s like the nineteen thirties,a looming crisis in foreign affairs,the economy on the rocks,a government unable to act against industrial decline and mass unemployment.Or to stand up to fascism abroad,they wrongly though communism was progressive and used Hitler as a bulwark against it.

    People of that generation had to choose .Hitler made the choice for them.In 1940 he won a European war,Arthurd Greenwood, (Labour), tabled the motion of no confidence which brought down the defeatist and decadent Chamberlain government,Churchill was drafted to lead a combined Tory and Labour cabinet.The rest is history,the choice was out of their hands.They had to choose and failed.

    We then made a stand,were ultimately rescued by the industrial might of the USA and Russian blood.

  • Comment number 97.

    I have read countless statements by disaffected Lib/Dem voters/supporters in recent months ALL saying that they will never vote for that party again and certainly NOT under Nick Clegg's leadership. Well, you can add my name to this ever growing list who simply cannot stomach what Nick Clegg has done to the party I was once proud to support.

  • Comment number 98.

    I emailed Nick Clegg a few weeks ago to say, as a lifetime Liberal supporter, that when he reneged on his promise to oppose increases in tuition fees he effectively demonstrated that the Lib Dems were a junior partner prepared to ditch principles for a taste of power and being taken for a ride by the Conservatives and all his protestations could not deny the fact. I also predicted that until, and if, the Lib Dems stand on a point of principal against the Conservatives the Lib Dems are facing the abyss of political irrelevance. He did not reply or acknowledge my email. Too busy sucking up to David Cameron? But it is worse than that.

    The result in Barnsley shows that Lib Dem supporters at large, not only me, have concluded that the Lib Dems led by Nick Clegg are an irrelevance and, probably, stayed home in droves. Poor Vince Cable fell hook, line and sinker for the scam that got him out of the way of the Rupert Murdoch deal and that has now gone through. We never hear about Vince Cable now. George Osbourne's Project Merlin agreement with the banks shows that this government of public schoolboys has no concept of how the other 99% live and does not care either. What are Vince Cable's views on Project Merlin? If he has any they have effectively buried.

    I do not agree with Nick Robinson's assessment. Until Nick Clegg and his party stand up for the other 99%, maybe even having to use the nuclear option of bring ing the government down, the Lib Dems wil remain not only an irrelevance but also an object of derision. Nick Clegg has some deep thinking to do.

  • Comment number 99.

    #90 sagamix wrote:
    "Very difficult for the Lib Dems having put the tories in AND reneged on their big deal tuition fees pledge"

    I think you are looking at this from a left-wing perspective whereas you could and should be looking at it in the round.

    Before the election Clegg said that the party with the largest votes/seats (he blurred this) should have first try at forming a Government. Since the Conservatives were eager to make concessions, and Labour did not appear to be, it would have been difficult for Clegg to join a rainbow coalition.

    Furthermore, there are far more Lib/Con marginals (in the south-west and elsewhere) than Lib/Lab marginals. Propping up an unpopular Labour Government could well have been electoral suicide as well.

    Whatever the LibDems had done would have been a disaster. Anr that is because of a structural problem. They fight different elections in different parts of the country depending on the ownership of each seat. They are a party of perpetual opposition. They stand for nothing.

    Hence the irony: what they have been fighting for all these years, a coalition government, is the source of their destruction. The rest is detail.

    A male preying mantis is eaten by the female after mating. Somehow the Lib Dems and coalition government (with either major party) has just reminded me of this.

  • Comment number 100.

    jrp @ 94

    To be fair (to me), I don't say we were hit so hard purely and simply because of reliance on the financial sector for tax revenue. That would be too narrow a view. What I say (I'll copy down from 75 instead of rephrasing) is a big part of the problem was/is ... "the very severe impact (of the bank crash and credit crunch) on the UK economy due to its reliance on financial services, property and consumer credit as drivers of activity and growth. Our high 'froth factor'."

 

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