CommentIsLinked@LDV: James Graham – Redefining liberalism

by Stephen Tall on December 19, 2008

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog yesterday, James Graham gave one cheer to Nick Clegg’s recent Why I am a Liberal speech, but urged the party to develop a much stronger response to the new recession politics. Read it in full here, but here’s the conclusion:

At a time when the Department for Work and Pensions is to be put under renewed pressure, limiting talk of social justice to tax cuts is unconvincing. What’s worse, it is clearly failing to win people over. Today’s ICM poll may show us slightly up, but over the past year the trend has been slightly down. Too much faith has been placed on Vince Cable’s punditry being capable of lifting the rest of the party up with it. Vince has bought the party enormous repositories of credibility but (whisper it) he is an economist not a campaigner. We have no story; we don’t even have any strong, positive messages.

Saying “I told you so” has reached its limits of usefulness – now we need to start explaining exactly how the party would respond to the looming recession in simple, understandable terms. At the moment, we aren’t even close.

Though as a coda to this James posted the first comment on his piece:

The problem with articles taking days to be published is that events tend to overtake. I would qualify that final sentance with: “but made a bloody good start today.”

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by David Allen on December 19, 2008 at 4:52 pm. Reply #

Thank you David!


by James Graham on December 19, 2008 at 7:17 pm. Reply #

A painful article to read but laser guided accurecy on two points. the limits of “I told you so” and the fact Income tax cuts do nothing forthose with no Income. A group that is about to expand rapidly.

by David Morton on December 19, 2008 at 8:01 pm. Reply #

Define “painful.” I’m intrigued!

by James Graham on December 19, 2008 at 9:17 pm. Reply #

I ment painful that you had to write something which i consider to be a statement of the obvious in the first place. I’m still slightly stunned by the Cumbria CC by election result yesterday. kells and sandwith. i know it very well. I was born there and went to infants school there. i go back regularly. 40% BNP vote and wisker from winning.

I think the party caught PHP (Post Henley Panic) over the summer and all sorts of populist nonsence has been spouted.

However this Green Road stuff is the fever cooling. If we don’t talk/think seriously about recession economics then there are plenty of other rescepticals for protest votes.

by David Morton on December 19, 2008 at 9:28 pm. Reply #

I am glad that I am not the only one who gets worked up by the fact that the unwaged poor are missing out on Lib Dem proposals.
It is a curious targetting strategy that the party has to mitigate poverty; tax cuts for those on low incomes will only benefit those who are in work and pay tax. If we care so passionately about ending poverty, then logically we should also increase benefit levels. It is hard to imagine the treasury team supporting that!
Obviously it would cost more money, but all the same why commit so much to tax cuts in order to mitigate poverty when the effect of the policy is so uneven? It would appear that tax-cutting is more to do with some trendy ideology.

by Geoffrey Payne on December 19, 2008 at 11:11 pm. Reply #

Geoffrey – the whole point of tax cuts is to prevent unemployment happening in the first place.

by Tabman on December 19, 2008 at 11:49 pm. Reply #

“Geoffrey – the whole point of tax cuts is to prevent unemployment happening in the first place.”

Hmmm. Keep working on that one and let us know how it pans out …

by Clegg's Candid Fan on December 20, 2008 at 12:46 am. Reply #


How will the income tax cuts prevent unemployment ? Will they “trickle down” ?

Also if Income Tax cuts are the best way of creating demand and thus employment why has the party just decided to oppose the VAT cut and hey presto transfer the £12.5bn to a public works programme?

by David Morton on December 20, 2008 at 11:37 pm. Reply #

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