by Stephen Tall on September 28, 2009
A week ago, Lib Dem Voice asked our readers the question on everyone’s lips at conference: Do you think Nick Clegg was right to say that the Lib Dems need to be “quite bold, or even savage, on current spending”?
I was clear on my view:
I cannot see how the talk of “savage” cuts is helpful – quite simply, it’s not the language of Lib Dems. Just as importantly, it’s not backed up by policy proposals. Even Vince Cable has so far come up with some £14 billion of potential savings, while estimating that a total of £112 billion will be needed over the course of the next Parliament.
In reality, it will almost certainly require a combination of spending cuts and tax rises even to prevent the UK’s ballooning deficit from getting more gargantuan still. We don’t need “savage” spending cuts any more than we need ‘steep’ tax rises (except perhaps on the very wealthiest who currently evade many of the taxes which hit the poorest hardest).
LDV’s readers were split, the majority (53%) marginally agreeing with my verdict that Nick’s remarks were unhelpful – but a very sizeable minority (47%) differed, arguing that Nick was exactly right to be delivering this wake-up call. In answer to LDV’s poll question, you said:
47% (143 votes) – Yes, Nick was delivering a much-needed wake-up call given the state of the national finances
53% (162) – No, this kind of language is unhelpful, and doesn’t reflect the Lib Dems’ fiscal policies
Total Votes: 305; Poll ran 21-26 Sept 2009.