Vince and Field join forces to urge Labour and Tories to tackle UK borrowing

by Stephen Tall on April 29, 2009

Cross-party alliances are the flavour of the day. Today, David Cameron backed Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s successful campaign to overturn Labour’s shameful treatment of the Gurkhas. Meanwhile Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable has won the support of senior Labour backbencher Frank Field by tabling an early day motion highlighting the UK’s huge borrowing requirements, and calling on the Government to set up a special committee to investigate ways of balancing the national accounts.

Frank Field explains his reasoning in a stark article on his own blog, laying into both his own Government, as well as the Tories, for signally failing to address the UK’s crippling national debt burden:

Vince Cable and I have tabled today an Early Day Motion calling for a serious debate now, and not after the next election, on how to balance the nation’s accounts.

Both major parties are stringing the voters along, teasingly suggesting that big cuts in expenditure and tax hikes will be necessary, but neither has any intention of disclosing their plans to rational debate before the election. What both major parties overlook is that the money markets may not be compliant in a game of party politicking over the country’s future.

Even on the Government’s own figures, Britain will proportionally be trying to borrow more money to balance its accounts over the medium to long term than any other G8 country. …

The size of the State or – what Governments can do – is going to change. If we don’t have an open and full debate the new politics will quickly take on a reactionary bent. The new politics offers a once in a generation opportunity for radical politics. The first concern in increasing taxation is to ensure that those on modest to low incomes do not bear once again the main brunt of tax rises. …

The stranglehold on this debate by the two main political parties must be broken. Failure to convince the money-lenders than the country is serious about balancing its books could lead to a failure to raise the shedloads of debt any government must raise in the short run, resulting in a further collapse in the currency (already down by 30%) and untold economic chaos and misery.

If the two major parties fail to act, the House of Commons must seize the initiative to begin plotting a new safe course for the country.

Here’s the full text of Vince’s motion:

EDM 1361 – TAX REVENUE AND PUBLIC EXPENDITURE
27.04.2009

Cable, Vince; Field, Frank

That this House notes the real danger the country faces in borrowing relatively more than any other G8 country to balance the national accounts; is concerned that neither the Government nor the Official Opposition has published the changes that will be required to tax revenues and public expenditure levels over the short to medium term, preferring to leave such discussions until after a general election; believes that it is increasingly likely in these circumstances that the Government will find it ever more difficult to raise the necessary amount of debt, with all the dangers such a failure entails for the value of the UK’s currency and its future prosperity; believes that should such a scenario develop the Government will be forced into a slash and burn strategy to public services in an attempt to regain the confidence of lenders; and calls on the Leader of the House to bring forward proposals to set up a special committee to begin detailing the changes necessary to balance the national accounts over the medium term, as such an approach would allow a strategy that was radical and in the interests of people on modest incomes, whilst also laying the foundations for a secure recovery for the country’s social and economic fortunes.