Friday, July 18, 2008

Make It Happen (whatever it is)

Its inane title - make what happen? - and the way it arrived with so little discussion within the party reinforce my feeling that politics as it is practised in Britain today is no longer an occupation for grown ups.

But let's try to be fair about Make it Happen.

I think Nick is absolutely right to move the party away from arguing that putting a little more money into the existing structure of the public services will transform society. New Labour has tested that argument to destruction over the past decade.

He is also right to argue that taxation now bears to heavily upon the poor and average earners.

My worry is that he is wrong in announcing his headline figures before he knows what spending cuts he wants to make. He has got it, as our American cousins might put it, backasswards.

What he should have done was to emphasise the Lib Dem war on surveillance, centralisation and state control - in short, large chunks of the New Labour project. Then he could have said something like: "Look if we scrap ID cards and all these quangos and databases, we will save billions of pounds and be able to cut your taxes."

That, I think, would have proved popular. By announcing the tax cuts first and then saying we shall hunt for spending cuts to fund them, he makes it easier for our Labour opponents to paint us as a hard-faced party that wants to run down public services.

And does anyone ever believe talk of "efficiency savings"?

As I have spent so long moaning about centralisation and state control that I suppose I am obliged to welcome this document or something very like it. I just hope that the Lib Dem emphasis on localism will not be lost in our anxiety to cut overall spending.

Make it Happen seems to have gone down well in the Lib Dem blogosphere, judging by the reactions collated by Orange by Name...

How far we bloggers are representative of the party as a whole is an interesting question.

1 comment:

Phil said...

"And does anyone ever believe talk of "efficiency savings"?"

According to the Daily Mail, sales run at 2.4 million copies with a readership of 6 million.