BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Mind your language

Nick Robinson | 11:40 UK time, Monday, 21 September 2009

Bournemouth: Think about it for just a minute. Can you imagine a "savage" Liberal Democrat? Nice, yes. Decent, certainly. Well-meaning, some would add a tad patronisingly. But savage?!

Yet Nick Clegg did use that word to describe the cuts in public spending that he says are necessary. He did so, not by chance but with intent - to get your attention, to surprise, to challenge preconceptions.

Nick Clegg

Thus, Tony Blair added the "New" to Labour and David Cameron talks of "modern, compassionate" Conservatives. Words matter hugely in politics and these days political leaders don't use them without one eye on their focus groups.

So, why add "savage" to Lib Dem? Precisely because that's the word voters are least likely to associate with the party or its leader. Nick Clegg wants to show that he's strong, that he can "tell it like it is" as well as being nice, decent and, well, well-meaning.

The problem he faces is that, unlike Labour members who wanted to be new and modern, or Tories who have always insisted that they are compassionate, Lib Dems do not think of themselves as savage.

That's why this morning Nick Clegg backed away from his headline-grabber, telling the Today programme that "people can use softer, more emollient language if they like".

He was, I suspect, not the only Lib Dem to wince when looking at this morning's cartoon in the Times entitled Savage Cuts. Clegg is portrayed, bloodied-axe in one hand and his own severed head in the other, declaring "I told you I'd get on the news".


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    its because he wants to be seen as a strong leader , the country needs a strong leader , not the rubberless ship we have. GB was quick to come to Baroness Scotlands defence, yet on cuts he is in denial.

    Except Mr Balls say he can save £2Billion just like that, well then what have they been up to for the last 10 years , they could have made them long ago ? or is just postjering to try and imbarress others.

    his suggestion woud be to remove all head teachers from schools all making the rubberless to , he would now all about that being part of a rubberless ship himself.

    what schools like this country need is a strong leader perpared to stand up and state the facts then have an action plan to sort the mess out.

    SNAFU_labour are dead

    lets get on with the pain and rebuild this shattered country
    call an election you have Br Balls in the cabinat lets see if you have them yourself PM

  • Comment number 3.


    "Can you imagine a "savage" Liberal Democrat? Nice, yes. Decent, certainly. Well-meaning, some would add a tad patronisingly. But savage?!"

    Possibly true for most of their English membership, although many will not forget their NuLabesque reneging on their "EU constitution treaty" referendum promise.

    Much less true of their Scottish leadership, where Scott anti-democracy rantings seem to indicate sever memory loss to say the least over their constitutional and federalist policies.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 4.

    LibDems….. Who are they?

    I am waiting for next week. Nulabour at the Last Chance Saloon.

    Roll On 2010

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Pity about Nick Clegg, at one point he seemed to be quite a promising political prospect.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Vince Cable, who as a former economist, unlike his Tory counterpart, George Osborne, really is qualified to speak on the subject, savages Osborne for saying the country is bankrupt.

    Does Osborne have a clue what would happen if he was taken seriously and the countries debt rating was downgraded from the current AAA?

    It really is quite worrying that this chap Osborne, might within months be the next Chancellor, although Ken Clark is hopefully there to restain Osbornes wider excesses.

    Obviously the Chancellor should be Cable - and if the politicians REALLY believed the country was in serious difficulties, then they would form a Government of national unity to get us through it.

    But there is no chance of that happening.

  • Comment number 7.

    As I went for a run along the beachfront the other day, I passed Clegg and some of his minions playing beach cricket... If he wields his 'savage cuts' axe in the same manner that he wields a cricket bat, he'll hardly make a dent in the level of our debt.

    Of course, it's hypothetical anyway. The closest the Lib Dems are likely to get to 'savage cuts' are from the daggers they'll plunge into Clegg come their next round of change-the-leader, which surely must be due sometime around now. Certainly after the election, assuming he continues with the crackpot policies announced over the weekend, and leads them into third place behind Labour.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hmm... I dunno. I'd *like* to believe in Nick Clegg. Certainly, I can't wait to be shot of Labour, and I'm not about to place much trust in the Conservatives again after last time.

    It's just that I get the feeling that, since Clegg took over, the LibDems have somewhat given up their hopes of forming a Government, and are instead aiming at merely getting into Opposition.

    Not that I think they'd make a bad opposition - far from it. Certainly, he'd do a better job than either NuLab or the Tories. On several of the issues that I personally feel strongly about - the banking bailout and the invasion of Iraq are two which immediately spring to mind - there has been little to seperate the positions of the two main parties. (To be fair, Clegg did endorse the bank bailout too).

    It's just that I'm not sure it's appropriate to believe too much of what the LibDems say if they truly are only aiming to be No. 2 - it's all very easy to talk tough, and come up with vote-winning (but unworkable) nice-sounding ideas when you know full well you're in no danger of ever having to be in a position where you're forced to "put your money where your mouth is" and actually realise them.

    All the same, this is - to my mind - the first instance of one of the major parties actually coming up with some concrete plans (as opposed to hyperbole and ad-hominem attacks on the other side and what they might be scheming) in respect of what cuts are going to need to be made in public spending.

    For that, if nothing else, they should be congratulated. If only Labour and the Conservatives would stop insulting our collective intelligence with their political games, and follow suit, we might actually have some clear idea who to vote for in the next election.

  • Comment number 9.

    Nick, with regards the cartoon you refer to in the Times, I found a more relevant one in the same rag:
    Is your journey really necessary?

  • Comment number 10.

    The only words that apply to Mr Clegg are:

    Lightweight, makeweight, patronising, cheap and lazy policies and boring.

    He and his party can say and promise (and renege on promises) what they like - they will never get the chance to implement any policies because they will never be voted in.

    Let's not waste any more time here and get back to serious politics - Baroness Scotland, George Osbourne calling Gordy a liar....

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    So, the LibDem discussion continues.... why do they not get more press space, and more votes, when they have the most sensible policies backed-up with solid plans (some parties don't bother, they just think that a pretty-boy PR front man telling everyone he loves them is enough)?

    Who knows? I still think the name puts off the fairly right wing, reactionary British public who seem to be anything but liberal. They were much more successful as SDPs - the polls suggested they would have beaten Thatcher had it not been for the Falklands war back in the '80s.

    Of course, there's also a slight problem with our rotten voting system that doesn't attribute power according to number of votes.

    Strangely, I read not so long ago that a recent poll puts them ahead of everyone amongst floating voters - not surprising, I hate New Labour and I hate the CONservatives.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    Well good on him, people seem to forget that there are three main partys in England (I'n not sure on the specifics of Scotland and the other nations). The media are usually torn between reporting the spin of labour or the smarmy pulling apart of everything Labour does for the sake of it by the conservatives.

  • Comment number 16.

    I must say what I heard from Vince Cable was a breath of fresh air. Our country needs a reality check and Parliament needs a kick up the a***

    I have been a labour supporter, since I could vote, and the LibDems I think have just changed my thinking.

  • Comment number 17.

    At least Clegg understands and is being honest about teh level of cuts required, but I suspect it's just for show.

    There's no way I will vote Lib Dem after his U turn on the Lisbon treaty, abstaining in the commons and voting against in the Lords hardly tallies with their manifesto promise. I did e-mail him at the time voicing my displeasure and making it clar that from this one act he had lost my vote. Given the public anger abnout rampant EU I'm probably not the only one either.

  • Comment number 18.

    Of course, another way to put this might be "Gordon Brown has made such a complete mess of the economy and public finances that even the Lib-Dems are talking in terms of the need for 'savage' cuts in public spending"

    But I realise that this isn't that sort of a blog.

  • Comment number 19.

    This is all very very stupid.

    It's all fine and well to cry "tax the rich" as an election slogan to curry favour with the common man (such as myself), but actions like this will actually lead to a REDUCTION in tax revenues.

    The majority of people who own homes worth £1m or more are obviously in most cases earning a very good wage, that means they are already paying very high amounts of tax. They are also the kind of people who could afford to live abroad and would likely not have much trouble finding employment there as well.

    Our taxes have already driven many high earners out of the country and this will just continue the trend especially among those who find their properties have risen above the threshold due to inflation. We should not be hammering ur rich and successful with tax after tax until they give in and leave, that leaves us worse off. Instead we should be looking to do deals with some of the most wealthy who have already left these shores to get them to come back.

    If someone earns £5m a year then do a deal so that they pay $1.5m in taxes instead of the closer to £2.5m at present, on the basis that they must give 12 months notice if they wish to move away again (or continue to pay the tax for 12 months anyway). That is £1.5m a year more tax than we would get if they moved to (or remained in) Switzerland.

    But of course this doesn't make good press does it?

  • Comment number 20.

    There is a definite opportunity for a party that offers voters a real choice from the 'same old same old' whenever the Election Day comes. However trying out muscle opponents by use of language alone is just naive. Nick (Clegg)…drop trident, cancel ID cards, pull out of Afghanistan, abolish university fees for the English, cancel all new road building, reduce speed limits, reverse all PFIs, ban all alcohol advertising, quadruple road tax for any car over 2 litres, look after our elderly, abolish use of consultants in the public sector and get rid of one entire layer of management in the NHS and I think you could be a force to be respected. You would get my vote.

    There you are. All achieved with out any focus groups or consultants!

  • Comment number 21.

    #2 rudderless?

  • Comment number 22.


  • Comment number 23.

    Has ANYONE in the media directly asked Ed Balls why, if he can cut £2bn from the education budget without harming the quality of education, he didn't do it years ago?

    Isn't this line from him at the very heart of Labour's miss-spending of the public purse? That they throw money at things just for the sake of it, when it isn't needed and doesn't really achieve anything.

  • Comment number 24.

    With respect, Clegg is hardly PM material and watching the demolition job that Andrew Niel did on Vince Cable was hardly inspiring. This poor choice of words and the proposed taxation on homes above a million pounds in value - nothing other than a regurgitated, reconstituted Poll Tax - is going to ensure an almighty battle to see who ends up being the official opposition after the next election. Depends on how many seats the liberals lose already - cant see Cable's constituency in Twickenham taking too kindly to it - and whether they gain any seats either in the shires or in the frozen northern wastes from Labour where this sort of dogwhistling goes down well and they'd vote for a donkey if it wore the appropriate colour rosette.

    I'm not convinced that this is the way for the LibDems to be taken seriously at a point where UK politics is in need of fresh ideas and reform.

    Meanwhile Nicholas, there is so much more going on... could you possibly turn your mind away from things like Eurostar trips and how savage Clegg may turn out to be to any one of the following subjects which do have political significance and are worthy of discussion:

    1. Ed Balls piping up with 2bn's worth of savings within his department by chopping swathes of middle managers and sharing Head and Deputy Head teachers - does that mean that Education is overspent/over-resourced in the first place - or the money has been wrongly spent (considering he says that by bringing in these cuts it frees up resources for the front line - so has the front line been deliberately under-resourced so that there are more ministry/quango jobs in the first place?) Which is it Ed???

    2. Baroness Scotland - what on earth is she still doing in place as AG? How can the Borders agency dish out an on the spot fine to a farmer who is in almost an identical position regarding illegal foreign workers, yet not do anything about her flagrant violation? Let alone a reported overclaim/troughing of 170,000 of expenses for a second home meant to be outside London but in actual fact in Chiswick?

    3. Rumours going round that defence is going to be hit hard in the future round of spending cuts to the point where it is being considered that the RAF may be reduced to a level lower than the Navy, if not chopped altogether?

    and VERY interestingly:

    4. Greg Dyke's comments about the BBC being part of a conspiracy? This makes for very interesting reading and will strike a chord with a significant number of the usual suspects on here.

    Whaddya say Nick?

  • Comment number 25.


    You might want to hop over to Guido's blog and look at the video footage of Andrew Neil ripping a certain Rt Hon Member for Twickenham to shreds. It may not completely destroy his economic credibility but it ends up being severely damaged. Your view of Mr Cable may change somewhat as a result. Similar to the lamentably forgotten demolition job he did on Ed Balls two years ago.

  • Comment number 26.

    If it wasn't for their unshakeable pro-europe stance, despite the fact that over 70% of the electorate want a referendum on Europe I could have seen Lib Dems as being very serious contenders in the next election.

    But like all the others they just don't listen, prefering instead to 'do what's right' according to their own absurd idea of what they think should be the right thing to do.

    Why won't any of the parties listen to the people they are there to represent?

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    I just don't get why Vince Cable is so highly thought of - listening to him I admit he does a very good job of explaining the problem but his proposals never seen thought through and are often lacking in concrete detail. In this he is probably no worse than any other party's representative but he's certainly no better.

    The tax on £1M houses is a case in point, what valuation will be used: Council Tax, Land Registry, independent valuation - remember these are rich people who will employ accountants/lawyers/surveyors to find every loophole imaginable and make the collection of it a minefield.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just what is the point of over the top coverage of a conference by the little people party?

    Savage? Trying to make Clegg out as a tough guy - it's like being savaged by a dead sheep (copyright Dennis Healey).

    There are some big issues out there despite the conference silly season, not least the ballooning borrowing debt, the Baroness Scotland scandal and the cunning plan to try to foist Blair as the new all-singing all-dancing EU president.

    As for the LibDems - with Blair wannabe Euro-boy Clegg, the Party hasn't got a hope at the election. A radical Party with Saint Vince at the helm maybe. Instead the Cleggies are reduced to rereleasing worn-out records?

  • Comment number 30.

    Cable still seems to talk quite a lot of sense. But trying to target "homes worth more than GBP 1MIL" for special wealth-taxes on the occupants?

    How on earth would that work?

    A house is worth what somebody ealse is prepared to pay for it. Go to three estate agents and (unless you're talking about almost identical houses in high ternover areas) they'll offer different valuations depending on what they think you want to hear...

    Bricks and mortar asset-value has no relationship to liquid cash available. Plenty of people stretched to buy properties during a working life, with absolutely no expectation that the value would soar as it has. So when you're sitting on a pension, how do you find the extra tax-demanded?

    One place (3 bed semi in an ordinary surburban area)I moved into had been bought in 1968 for GBP 4,500 and resold in 2007 for just shy of GBP 300,000...

    If the LibDems want to tap into tax-potential from the "currently earning/high income" group - stick with a local income tax.

  • Comment number 31.

    The Lib-Dems under Nick Clegg seem to be a mixed up lot, they seem to be trying to be all things to all people, one moment trying to attract the tory vote (use of lower case intentional) by claiming that 'savage' cuts can and should be made whilst the next trying to appeal to the labour vote by claiming that those who live in homes worth £1m plus should have to pay a council tax surcharge (and to do so in Bournemouth must be quite gruelling to their hosts...).

    I think Matthew Parris had it about right in his contribution on the "Today" programme, the Lib-Dems are just trying to stay alive - any vote from any source as long as we obtain 'x' percent of the vote, not even MPs - but suggesting savage cuts is not going to go down well in the North East whilst suggesting a tax surcharge on the value of someone house is not going to go down well in the south west, south east or the home counties...

  • Comment number 32.

    In a strange way, Nick, this is a symptom if a more profound chnage in our politics - we are heading back to 'business as usual'. For many years (1976-1997) political discourse in the UK was primarily about who has the roughest hair shirt. The Labour 'spending splurge' of 1997-2006 was quite different in tone: it wasn't primarily about spending to achieve or support economic growth but about social 're-programming'. Today the hair shirt is out of the wardrobe for all political leaders, but they must all answer one basic question.

    Now that we have engineered the largest peacetime transfer of public money to the private sector via the financial sector bailout, isn't taxing the rest of us til the proverbial pips squeak hideously penal? I would vote for a party that had a concerted plan to (a) reduce unnecessary spending while (b) planning a timetable for the recovery of those transfers to the private sector and (c) killing off absurdities like PFI, PPP, joint ventures with incompetent companies, costly privatisations, undervalued licenses to operate utilities and so forth.

  • Comment number 33.


    That's a really good question. I find it puzzling as well.

    I don't have any stats to back this up, but my guess is that most British voters don't want either Labour or the Tories in power. So why do they keep voting for them in their millions? I suspect it's because Tory voters vote Tory just to stop Labour getting in, and Labour voters vote Labour just to stop the Tories getting in. It's a bit like a passage in one of Douglas Adams' books about a planet where people vote for lizards as their rulers, even though everyone hates the lizards, just to stop the wrong lizard getting in.

    The silly thing is that if all the people who don't want Labour or the Tories in power voted Liberal, then the Liberals would probably romp home at the next election. But it ain't going to happen. Old habits die hard.

  • Comment number 34.

    2. At 12:06pm on 21 Sep 2009, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:

    "its because he wants to be seen as a strong leader , the country needs a strong leader , not the rubberless ship we have.

    The mind boggles, libellous thoughts expunged...

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    The real question must be where the 'savage' word is to be inserted:

    Savage Liberal Democrats
    Liberal Savage Democrats
    Liberal Democrats Savage

    Three words, three meanings.

  • Comment number 37.

    I don`t know if you heard Mrs Shirley Williams this morning? She is more statesmanlike than her leader and what she said is worth repeating.
    The current crisis is one of global capitalism. Mr.Cameron is wrong to think it is a uniquely British.
    It is worth disposing of two common preconceptions.The first is we entered the crisis weaker than other economies because of high levels of state spending.This is simply wrong: In 2007,government spend was higher in Italy,France Germany and elswhere.In addition,the higher state spending across the EEC was a result of much higher unemployment than the UK and so of weakness.
    There is also a belief that if we cut spending,other country`s spending will pull us out of recession. Wrong!The policy is politically difficult everywhere and would led to demands for reciprocal action leading to a downward spiral like competitive devaluation.
    Each economy enters the crisis with features unique to itself,in Britain and the USA it is the salience of the financial sector, while the German economy is export led and has higher levels of unemployment.
    In a crisis,strength becomes a weakness like unhappy families each of whom are unhappy in their own way.

    The crisis is not the increased role of the state,it is global capitalism which is experiencing a black swan.This is not to welcome statism or any such foolishness.It is to proceed cautiously with the best knowledge available, and to use the state as an instrument of change, critically and progressively.
    While Messrs Cameron and Osborne`s social backgrounds should not disqualify them from office,Eton and the absurdities of the Bullingdon with its elitism and exclusiveness doesn`t give these gentleman significant encounters with the realities of modern history,i.e. economics and sociology.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    Whatever Nick Clegg says or does, it won't get the Lib/Dems into power. Of the many people I know who have switched away from Labour, the L/Ds would have been their next choice apart from their pro EU stance. Whatever else may be on peoples minds, within my small area of the Country, the fact that governance of the UK is being handed over to foreign control is enough to steer many towards one or other of the smaller parties.
    What is certain is that the current situation whereby the UK is run by a person (Peter Mandelson) who has twice been kicked out of Government for dodgy dealing and whose sole purpose is to manipulate the date of the General Election to try to get an equally dodgy friend (Tony Blair) shoehorned in as EU Presidenth; whose chief law maker (Baroness Scotland)is in breach of the law and all overseen by someone whose has a record of being untruthful, breaks promises and steals pensions (Gordon Brown), cannot be allowed to carry on much longer.

  • Comment number 40.

    Judging by the news footage on Bournemouth beach, Clegg never made it into any cricket side at school. At least Cameron plays passable tennis and Brown throws a good N*kia. Maybe he should have built a sandcastle, more symbolic perhaps.

  • Comment number 41.


    So we have now moved from the "C" word to an "S" word in some "Nu" sort of Political Code in Alphabet Profiling to inform the Voting Public that indeed Politicians at one time may also have taken English lessons in learning to recite from, A - Z.

    Then if so, lets all look out for a new rush of Catch-Phases, and Sound Bites from all the Party Leaders in now this the run up period until the next General Election.

    Can't wait until they over reach themselves toooo "X" and "Z".
    Capital, Oh' Boy???

  • Comment number 42.

    Can anybody seriously take anything the Lib dems say as having any substance ? It looks like Clegg and his minions are hoping they can con enough people into voting for them to stop the Tories destroying their fellow travellers in the Labour party completely so they can form , like their disgraceful forebears Steel and Owen, an unholy alliance with the Brown , Mandellson soviet. This is the only way the LIb Dems can achieve any sort of power, and alliance with anybody is more preferable to them than their present anonimity. Cable comes out with the most abyssmal rubbish, supposed to be financial policy but sadly ill thought out, unworkable and without any hope of ever being adopted by any government, certainly not by a Lib Dem administration.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Is it because they want to be seen as the Anti-Tory, non-NuLiebour party so that people in safe Labour seats have someone to vote for other than the BNP?

    Do we win prizes by answering your rhetorical questions?

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    "While Messrs Cameron and Osborne`s social backgrounds should not disqualify them from office,Eton and the absurdities of the Bullingdon with its elitism and exclusiveness doesn`t give these gentleman significant encounters with the realities of modern history,i.e. economics and sociology."

    And neither does being a history lecturer who writes books on "Courage" a quality that he knows less than nothing about.. let alone economics.

    None of the current crop of professional politicians has any significant experience that would benefit us all. Are you suggesting that running things like left wing bookshops, being trade union shop stewards, a former member of the Communist Party Of Great Britain, being a SpAd or an ennobled TV presenter gives a unique insight? How is that any different to Oxbridge?

    The rest of what you said was well argued - didnt necessarily agree with it, but it was well put - but you just couldnt help yourself could you? The class warrior Dr Jekyll got the better of the debating Mr Hyde, yet again.... good grief... like a record with a scratch in it.

  • Comment number 47.

    #24 Mr Obama wants to cut the GE/RR engine for JSF to save money. Note its the English one not the all american PW version that getting the chop.

    Nick that a very big political story just like TSR2 was just put TSR2 in google my son and see what you get , deception even today

  • Comment number 48.

    Resorting to cheap publicity stunts smacks of desperation - first the savage cuts now attacking the city slickers.

    They could have put forward a perfectly logical argument to extend the current council tax banding system but chose to go for the cheap headline instead.

    They are still playing at politics - give up some grown up policies please.

  • Comment number 49.

    Fubar_Saunders @ 25

    I decided to invest 23 minutes of my life in watching the Andrew Neill/Vince Cable Straight Talk interview because IMHO Andrew Neill is a very tough and effective interviewer, unlike say the fading Jeremy Paxman.

    On the whole, I think that Cable withstood the onslaught pretty well, i.e. conceded where he needed to, that is, where his judgement, with the benefit of hindsight, turned out to be incorrect and made effective points about the BoE independence, QE (nobody knows if it will work or not) and the BoE Inflation Committees' too narrow remit (interest rates only).

    If only Andrew Neill had had Gordon Brown in the chair - now that really would have been brutal - both ways.

  • Comment number 50.


    Now that I'd like to see as well, but... as you know, the chances of it are somewhere between "slim" and "non-existant". Brillo, when he is on form, can be a very robust interviewer and I found this particular exchange to be an interesting one. Yes, Cable conceded points as you noted, which is something compared to the others who will still try and spin to their own advantage, or simply refuse to answer the question - but nice chap that he is, I have I'm afraid, doubts that he is a financial sage, as such... maybe just one of the better ones of a bad bunch.

    But not perfect. But then again, who is?

    (Saga, if you mention THAT woman, there will be tears before bedtime!!)

  • Comment number 51.

    I think he's lost the plot.

    The smart thing for Clegg to do is to make sure that the Labour party is toast after the next election.

    But he turns on Cameron and starts personal attacks saying he is a con man, while stood on a set that is bathed in Tory blue doing bad Mike Yarwood impression of Cameron when he did his no notes speech.

    He needs to sack his advisors and see where he can really make a difference by replacing this Labour disaster.
    Not by trying to be more right wing than the Tory's

  • Comment number 52.

    What’s the point of the Libral Democrats anyway?

    With the Labour & Conservative parties coming so close to merger these days, poor old clegg is surely redundant & surplus to requirement.

  • Comment number 53.

    Savage is the wrong word to use in my opinion. Its too negative. The Lib Dems say they don't want to make slash and burn cuts but this to me is what the word savage implies. unthinking aggressive cuts. I think its an error. Which is a shame.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Good old Nick Clegg, unafraid of the petulant UK media. Why shouldn't he say savage cuts? After twelve years of showering the public sector with cash the axe has to be wielded; it wasn't just bankers who made a mess it was Gordon Brown being profligate...or did that 'start in America?'

    Come to think of it... what catch phrase of Gordon Brown's now lasts more than a few days; from no more boom and bust, to Mr ten percent; tory cuts vs labour investment; dividing lines.

    Cuts will be savage if we are to be saved and no-one but Nick Clegg was prepared to say it; well done. Cut away as far as I am concerned and hack off all the public sector employees created by Gordon Brown. Thye are all in non jobs. Then give us our referendum on the EU constitution.

    Roll on the newlabour party conference and industrial quantities of hyuperbole and rhetoric; one key note speech after another; none with either the manner or means to deliver a damned thing. Maybe we will even be treated to another dose of Mrs Brown who will introduce her husband with the rally cry of 'my husband, your prime monister, Gordon Brown... you won't understand a word he says, you'll beleive it less and you'll wonder what on earth we are all doing here...'

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 56.

    Why don't they all just admit it. Most of the spending over the last decade has been funded with the illusionary money from the banking fiasco.

    That money has disappeared into thin air so politician have to face up to reality.

    Labour have squandered billions of fantasy money and now it is payback time. That's why their time is well and truly up.

    Can anyone really imagine the cuts that need to be made when the printing presses and the borrowing have to stop.

  • Comment number 57.

    bryhers @ 37

    a Black Swan breakdown of uber capitalism? - no no no, get your head straight for goodness sake! - red herring, all that - too many quangos and state funded Busybodies is our main problem ... "have you got a licence for that bouncy castle?" ... god

    but more on topic, the LibDems, what do they want? - easy, a Labour meltdown which is SO BAD they emerge as the principal opposition to the Tory government - that way, for subsequent Elections, they're finally able to ditch the "wasted vote" tag which has held them back for so long, and if Labour don't reinvent themselves (possible), the economy keeps getting worse (probable) and the Tories prove to be both deeply divisive and totally incompetent (certain), they can make a real run for power - so how do they do it? - well, for this coming Election, they need to attract as many ex Labour leaning "floating voters" as possible ... people like me, in other words ... and the way to do that is by keeping to the Left, attacking Mortimax and his VPBs every single chance they get - like this new 1 million plus property tax of Cable's, for example, that sort of thing is exactly what I want to hear - a bit of extra tax from a few rich types (who won't even notice it) keeps a bunch of Nurses in work - really excellent idea, who but the most blinkered right wing ideologue can say otherwise? - added bonus, too, in that the need to go around valuing these people's 'owzes will create some much needed activity in the property sector

  • Comment number 58.

    Savage and Clegg do not fit.
    "Emollient" cuts??

    37. bryhers

    "While Messrs Cameron and Osborne`s social backgrounds should not disqualify them from office,Eton and the absurdities of the Bullingdon with its elitism and exclusiveness doesn`t give these gentleman significant encounters with the realities of modern history,i.e. economics and sociology."

    Speaking of history... if it wasn't for the playing-fields of Eton we would not have won at Waterloo (according to Wellington). So be grateful when tucking into your roast beef. :-)

  • Comment number 59.

    Liberals - Savage - is this 1st April?????????????? - hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    I suspect he was drawing the same conclusion as me in my blog on the financial crisis:

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    46: fubar.
    Thank you for your comments.

    Class is too crude a designation.It is your peers,your informal groupings,the tacit understandings with which you grew up and which make your education either a mind changing experience, or a reinforcement of existing views..This is the context in which institutions like the Bullingdon are `absurd` in a modern political contrext.

    Or do you want to be governed by Bertie Wooster and Gus Fink Nottle?

  • Comment number 64.

    "this new 1 million plus property tax of Cable's, for example, that sort of thing is exactly what I want to hear - a bit of extra tax from a few rich types (who won't even notice it) keeps a bunch of Nurses in work - really excellent idea, who but the most blinkered right wing ideologue can say otherwise?" Sagamix.

    That's the point. 'a bit' from 'a few' never really adds up to much. Same with those 'bash the rich' higher tax rates. Those that can will leave or find ways round it, study after study shows that increasing taxes on 'the few' rarely brings in much, if anything extra. Still, it does salve the envy, bitterness and pettiness of those whose lives haven't quite turned out as they had hoped and like to feel it must be someone else's fault.

    "let me tell you how it's going to be, 1 for you 19 for me, 'cause I'm the taxman" As the Beatles sang, just before leaving the UK for tax purposes, leaving 0 for the taxman. You'd have thought the left would have learnt but it seems their blinkers are on as tightly as ever.

  • Comment number 65.

    Two long-term strategic contradictions that the LibDems need to address:

    1) Most LibDem activists are far more inclined to favour "left-wing" solutions (I simplfy), and are thus much closer to Labour. I refer to their previous tax-raising policies, and various attempts to outflank Labour from the left. However, their electoral support tends to be in more middle-class or conservative-supporting areas (though of course again there are exceptions). It would be simpler if the LibDems gained more seats in labour-supporting areas as then the party could stand on a unashamedly left-wing manifesto (no more talk of savage cuts).

    2) the LibDems are outside Government with, at the moment, no realistic hope of winning power on their own. This should give them the benefit of being outsiders as compared to the two main parties. However, in another sense LibDem policies and values are the policies and values of the left-liberal British establishment (the BBC and Church of England to name but two). So any attempt to pose as outsiders (or insurgents in Mandeleson's words) is unconvincing.

    So what then is the historic role of the Liberal Democratic Party?

  • Comment number 66.

    Clegg has always reminded me of a swotty sixth former, no good at sport, doesn't smoke or break the rules, sucks up to the masters, tie neatly knotted and suit smartly presented. He is a dullard, and a wet prat. So he smells blood, Gordon the Iron Chancellor is finished, NULabour has run its course and been totally discredited, and change is in the air. So Cleggy realises he has to appeal to an electorate that has become hardened, who is fed up at being lied too for 13 years, feels annoyed and looking for a strong leader. So, little weedy Cleggy starts sounding tough. Does anyone buy this? Not really, they see Cleggy for what he is, a squeaky pillock.

  • Comment number 67.

    So if the Conservatives gain power at the next election and make significant (savage) cuts in expenditure the Liberal Democrats won't be able to complain. After all this is about 'tough choices.'

    Nick Clegg is not having a good Conference by all accounts and turning his line of attack to David Cameron is probably ill conceived too. I do find it hard to work out where the Lib Dems want to position themselves.

  • Comment number 68.

    37. bryhers

    "While Messrs Cameron and Osborne`s social backgrounds should not disqualify them from office,Eton and the absurdities of the Bullingdon with its elitism and exclusiveness doesn`t give these gentleman significant encounters with the realities of modern history,i.e. economics and sociology."

    What are you saying? That growing up in a flat on a sink housing estate with unemployed parents, no interest in education and a drug habit to go with a criminal record before the age of 15 fits a young person excellently to be a future state leader? Or is there some happy, perfect medium (perhaps based on your own upbringing) and only from this select cadre can politicians be drawn? Isn't it just as 'elitist' to suggest that?

    personally, I think if it's a knowledge of modern history, sociology and economics you're after, a public schoool and top univesrity education is likely to have been an advantage.

  • Comment number 69.

    #57 sagmix wrote:
    "a bit of extra tax from a few rich types (who won't even notice it) keeps a bunch of Nurses in work - really excellent idea, who but the most blinkered right wing ideologue can say otherwise"

    Leaving aside the issue of this particular tax (houses are not particularly mobile) the question is to what extent raising tax rates actually raises revenue. If tax rates were zero or 100% there would be soon be no tax income. So the technical challenge (for anyone who wants to maximise revenue) is to draw a graph of tax rates and tax revenue and find the optimum point on the curve to set the rate.

    Since this blog focuses on the LibDems today we might ask whether increasing capital gains tax from 18% to 50% (as the LibDems propose) will increase or decrease tax revenue. We also need to look at the small print (do the LibDems do small print though?) to find out what the LibDems actually class as a capital gain.

  • Comment number 70.

    Nick it appears that not all LibDems are happy with Cleggy:

    Scots Liberal Democrats warn Clegg

  • Comment number 71.

    Er... To get our attention and show that he means making a difference and is prepared to spell out some tough choices instead of patronising the electorate... and also to wrong-foot his opponents both within and outside of his party?

    I think that he has succeeded to some extent and is showing some resolve - but will it work at the ballot box?

    No mention yet of the biggest issue? - The 'I' word? How about free tuition for British students paid for by foreign students? Free British university places for British students with no British students being displaced by a foreign student!

    Let's not get 'savage' - 'fair' will do just fine!

  • Comment number 72.

    Ho dear the ink is not even dry and Nick Clegg tries to talk his way out of trouble after call for savage cuts.

    Nick Clegg has conceded that he may have gone too far in calling for “savage” public spending cuts as he used an interview with The Times to ease tensions within his party over his choice of language.

    Wonder what spin phrase will be used for this - Cleggy cock-up seems apt!

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    Lets have the land army trio thats what i say harriet hazle and baroness scotland all in for the last waltz seeing its strickly come dancing time again CHA CHA CHA. la congo.Ah saga?

  • Comment number 76.

    #66 doctordog12

    sadly I think you may be correct, Nick Clegg has a credibility gap. I think the Lib Dems chose the wrong leader, Chris Huhn would probably have been a better choice.

  • Comment number 77.

    #57 sagmix wrote:
    "a bit of extra tax from a few rich types (who won't even notice it) keeps a bunch of Nurses in work - really excellent idea, who but the most blinkered right wing ideologue can say otherwise"


    How many pensioners who worked hard all their lives are going to have to sell their homes to pay this? Just because your house is worth a million doesn't mean you have liquidity.

    The Lib Dems have shown that they are exactly the same as labour when it comes to tax - don't worry what it costs to administer, just create a new tax/new department and lets get those evil rich people. Pathetic.

    We need a simple tax system - not more and more layers. And BTW saga, that doesn't mean we tax less - a simple system needs less administration and can obviously raise more money based on the same income.

    But then perhaps the libdems were just looking for a soundbite - I wonder where they learnt that from?

  • Comment number 78.

    C555 @ 64

    well how about that? ... here we are saying only a "blinkered right wing ideologue" can disagree ... and then here comes Andy disagreeing!

  • Comment number 79.

    To all of those suggesting that we can't tax 'the rich' because they will up sticks and leave the country.

    Just do what the Americans do, if you have a UK passport you have to pay UK tax on your income no matter where you live in the world (with all the double taxation laws / reliefs that encompass it).

    If they live abroad but keep their passport so they can come back to the UK for medical / financial reasons in the future then they should have to pay for the upkeep now, if they keep their passport so they can call on the diplomatic service if they get in trouble then they should pay.

    It would generate a substantial income for the government without sacrificing any votes.

  • Comment number 80.

    57 sagamix

    "a bit of extra tax from a few rich types (who won't even notice it) keeps a bunch of Nurses in work - really excellent idea"


    Is that really how you see the current sitaution ? Have you not being following the news on the countries financial situation ?

    Any extra revenue raised would have to go to pay off money already borrowed and spent - and more likely wasted on plethora of politically correct non jobs and an out of control benefits system. It would have to raise 16 billion simply to pay off what the government borrowed last month alone. Where is all this money actually going ?

    The scale of the problem is so immense, it's difficult to see how we can ever deal with the current level of spending and deficit.

  • Comment number 81.

    Third Party, Fire or Theft? That's the choice faced by the electorate. It will either be the meaningless Lib Dems, the Tories firing anyone and everyone to slash costs, or Labour thieving every last penny from us in higher taxation!

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    Is anyone else offended by the perpetual newlabour mantras of - what's a few quid to a rich man if we can have a few more nurses?

    This is offensive (in the language of Mandy), illogical, idealistic, redistributive bullsh*t.

    How does having a few more nurses improve the overall economic outlook? The economy needs fixing, debt mneeds repaying, costs need cutting and the wealth of the nation rebuilding after twelve years of newlabour squandering.

    Only someone with the weakest understanding of history would call for more nurses and taxes on the rich as a solution to the troubles we face. Economies have to be self sustaining or they go bust and there will be no nurses and no teachers for any of us. But as we stand now; we can't afford anymore.

    Call an election; newlbour haven't even got the faintest grasp of what the problem is never mind how to sort it out.

  • Comment number 85.


    Hear Hear. I'm very disappointed that the LD's seem to have found it necessary to resort to dogwhistle politics.

    Then again, maybe they'd be prepared to sacrifice their existing voter base in the south east and south west for the post-industrial wastelands of the north and midlands. More seats, more labour marginals, more votes. To heck with their principles?

    As for redistribution... as alluded to above... its OK so long as its out of everyone elses pockets but their own. They've got more faces than the town hall clock.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.


    Might have known that you wouldn't actually have an answer to the point being made, which was that 'a bit' from 'a few' won't raise much and that it has been proved time and time again that penal tax rates result in tax avoidance and economic migration and result in no increase and often a decrease in the tax take. Standard resonse from you. You make a point, someone demolishes it, you move on to another point or just insult them.

    Still, name calling in the absence of a cogent argument has long been the refuge of the left.

  • Comment number 88.


    Spot on. It's part jealousy and part incompetence that the left make such calls. As I've said before, look at most middle class Labour supporters and you'll find someone who hasn't done quite as well as they think they 'deserve'. They see people who have got on far better and somehow think it 'unfair'. They then call for an increase in taxes, which usually kicks in just above the amount they are earning so it doesn't affect them. They justfiy it by talking about nurses and teachers.

  • Comment number 89.

    It would have been fine to use the word savage if there had been a clear list of the proposed cuts, why they had been chosen and what thus would be saved from the axe. Instead there were some rather wooley generalisations, threats to the policy on tuition fees and an obscure tax on mansions which will yield not much more than a £billion, rather less if there is a further fall next year in property values. The positive idea to take the low paid out of tax is entirly overshadowed by arguments about cash starved pensioners living in £million value houses and fright at the prospect of losing the flagship tuition fees policy.

    The Lib Dem team of Clegg and Cable have built a bit of a reputation of being politically astute over the crash period. Their problem now is that the show has moved from quick headlines, soundbites and jokes at PMQ's to real red meat stuff like what ARE you going to do in Government?

    There is no way over the last 36 hours that this party looks remotely 'prepared for government'. Midnight oil on presentation skills, defining message and everyone sticking to it are urgently needed to retrieve the position before the end of the week. All is not yet lost, but it will be if strong action is not taken. Indeed you might even need to call it savage.

  • Comment number 90.

    Will these policies work at the ballot box?

    No, neither these Lib-Dem nor the Labour or Tory policies are going to amount to any more than the proverbial hill-of-beans.

    Party conferences come and go, even the General Election will come and go.

    What will come and certainly won't go will be the Scottish independence referendum in November 2010, which may cause those tectonic plates to shift, as in a political earthquake.

    That, hopefully, really will produce a political seismic shift in the island of Britain, for the lasting benefit of the English, Scots and Welsh peoples.

    By then of course, the external political view will look rather different to that present today e.g. the EU Lisboa Treaty will have been ratified (and Dave will be strangely quiet) and Tony Blair will be perched atop the European political tree with Empress Cherie by his side.

    And the master politician, Peter Mandelson, will be quietly satisfied that he leveraged a poor political situation for maximum effect.

    Ps. Sadly, Gibert the whale has just expired on a beach at Bournemouth, could this be an omen for the Lib-Dems? As Vince Cable has pointed out, the General Election is effectively decided by a few thousand voters spread across a few marginal constituencies therefore it would seem that the Lib-Dems (and us voters) are beached again - killed by a lack of democratic oxygen.

  • Comment number 91.

    fubar @ 83

    and to think you were once a City Front Office Fat Cat

    using snippets of people's personal history against them - poor show - do I ever do that? - no I don't - anycase I might have been romancing the stone, mightn't I? ... perhaps I'm a career lollipop man

    robin @ 84

    only someone with the weakest understanding of history would call for more nurses and taxes on the rich as a solution to the troubles we face

    I do hope that's not a reference to me, Robin ... you know, that "weak understanding of history" thing ... I am, in fact, known in my neck of the woods as "The Historian" - hey, here comes the Historian! they say, as I walk around the place - anyway look, was just using nurses as an example - could equally well be outreach workers - whatever

    andy @ 87

    name calling in the absence of a cogent argument has long been the refuge of the Left

    but how can we discuss anything, Andrew, if your retort to anybody who puts forward an egalitarian idea is that they must be a sad little man trapped in a sad little life? - see the problem with your name calling point? - it's rubbish, isn't it? - or rather it is a problem but not with the Left - it's you guys, isn't it? - yep, fraid so

  • Comment number 92.

    I'm not sure why there was a disparaging comment about Bertie Wooster being "in charge". He, at least, had the good sense and benefit of a rather capable and inventive person - the extraordinary Jeeves - to give him a steer.

    The unfortunate Brown had Balls.

    (The same Balls who confessed - to make him seem "just like us" - that he sometimes shops on-line, but has the food delivered to his main home, where his family lives and from where his children got to school - and we help pay for - instead of his "other" main home in his constituency! No wonder those Ministers got so confused about where they live.
    And thank goodness he's spotted that he can save us a couple of BIL, although that sounds rather ephemeral. This is a possible future Leader of Labour?)

    I'm a little concerned that the LibDems have thrown a policy on the table that seems so poorly thought through. Especially when it "could" be temporary, seems only enforceable in England and Wales, likely to hit the Sout East specifically and - I'd suggest - a boon for tax-lawyers. If the tax is directed at personally-owned houses, I'd suggest somebody would work out a way to push it into a limited company and manage the subsequent consequences. Much cheaper than paying from current income...

    Bit of an odd one, Mr Cable.

  • Comment number 93.

    Morning nick and felow blogers Hows the baroness this morning nick.?As for that bloke clegg which cloud doses he float on Comes out with boxing gloves to smack cameron for no reason what so ever the bloke not in office yet where the fair play?

  • Comment number 94.


    "using snippets of people's personal history against them - poor show - do I ever do that?"

    Hahahaha.... where would you like me to start, mate? :-)

    Your glass house just suddenly got sooooooo much bigger and I think I've just found a fresh pile of stones!

  • Comment number 95.

    Vince Cable must be a bit frayed at the edges if he thinks that a tax on properties worth a million+ is a sensible proposition.

    Out posters on here are generally much more pragmatic in this regard, recognising that 'the rich' are fiscally mobile people and that ultimately little tax or even a net loss will ensue from policies such as this.

    One poster made the suggestion that we do as the Americans do and tax citizens on their worldwide earnings, which seems superficially very sensible.

    However, that aspect of the US tax system generally works for the Americans because they have a very strong sense of national identity and so even the rich Americans feel an obligation, wherever they happen to live in the world, to stump up some money for Uncle Sam.

    In politically fragmenting Britain, that is probably not going to hold true.

  • Comment number 96.

    Was it just me or was Vince Cable a bit.....well....weak in his speech yesterday?
    Reminded me of someone who once said something that seemed important and was then put in front of a lot of other people and suddenly seemed not that convincing in what he was telling them.
    Hope it was just me because I think we need a hero in politics at the moment and he was as close as we've got.

  • Comment number 97.

    "Words matter hugely in politics and these days political leaders don't use them without one eye on their focus groups."

    Words are cheap. I've always judged by the deed. I trust the main 3 parties not one jot so I'll wait to see what happens. Let's face it, they can hardly blight my/our lives more. We live in a surveillance society where family and quality of life no longer count; a country that has become ungovernable with anarchy on our streets, and is on the brink of eceonomic collapse; all in an environment that is increasingly hostile toward humanity.

    I ask myself "What chance do children born these days stand?"

    So roll it on. More waffle, more lies, deceit... but at least they have a job and are paying taxes.

  • Comment number 98.


    And still, no attempt to counter the point that 'a bit' from 'a few' raises little and that increases in tax rates rarely bring in extra tax. And if what I say is true, why then do the left contunue to call for higher taxes when all past history and current logic says it doesn't increase the tax take. Why?

    And my point on the left middle class. You will often hear them saying they don't mind paying 'a bit' more tax but always seem to be in favour of huge tax rises for the very wealthy. Isn't that being very generous with other people's money?

    By 'egalitarian' do you just mean 'no-one can have more than me'?

  • Comment number 99.

    AndyC555 @various

    I'm not picking on you in particular, because there are many contributions that puzzle me, but your's caught my eye. Can you explain whether you think the tax system is perfect as it is, and that is why you complain at other poster's suggestions as to how it should change. Further, do you think that the wealth created in this country, is equitably distributed? So, therefore, no taxation is necessary to redistribute that wealth? Do you think that those, such as the Beatles are right to make so much money that they then should feel agrieved at paying their fair dues, as determined by the community they belong to, and then hide it away? One last thing, do you believe that all attempts at re-adjusting the tax system is bourne from jealosy and envy?

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


Page 1 of 2

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.