Sunday, September 30, 2012

Liberal Democrats deserve obliteration at next general election

I have a naive fondness for a few elements of the Liberal Democrats in the UK.  It solely comes from the era during which it actually did advocate for less government, less intrusion of the state in both economic and personal lives and it was - at the time the Liberal Party - a real choice compared to the comatose Stalinist-lite economics of Labour and the "slowing down the inevitable trip to socialism" of pre-Thatcher Conservatives.

However, those days are long gone.  The Liberal Party made a convenient alliance with the breakaway Social Democratic Party, which left Labour at a time when its policies included neutrality in the Cold War and economic planning that was, seriously, barely one step removed from that of the like of East Germany.  However, Labour abandoned that under Blair and the Liberal Democrats stayed still becoming a party to the left of Labour, opposing military action against Iraq and calling for higher taxes and at one point for Britain to join the Euro.

Few would doubt today that the party was wrong about that, and although Nick Clegg, to his credit, decided that a coalition with the Conservatives was a better move than trying to prop up the spendthrift remains of Gordon Brown, the party has continued to show itself to be little more than the electable version of the Green Party.  The one area where it could add real value, which is to reduce the surveillance state, the party has proven to be impotent and incompetent.  It has defended the extension of surveillance powers to now require all telcos and ISPs to keep records of every website everyone in the UK visits, every email address they send emails to, on the basis that they already are forced to keep records of every phone call and it is just about keeping up with technology.   So the British state now gets to require records kept of what you're reading, what you're looking at, what you're searching for, but don't worry - if you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to fear right?

That alone should disqualify this lot from being a party with any liberal credentials at all.

Its passionate love of the European Union, obsession over climate change and the "need" for unilateral British action regardless of cost and who pays that cost, and wet attitude to foreign policy and defence are little compared to the latest ramblings - which is that everyone earning over £50,000 should pay more tax because it is "fair".

The Liberal Democrat's main contribution to discussion over reducing the budget deficit is not liberal in that there is no interest at all in shrinking the state.  This party believes that the current 45% of GDP dedicated to state spending is about right, and the way to reduce the deficit is to increase taxes (whilst reducing taxes on the very poorest).  It is pure redistributionist socialism, and it is envy mongering.

Whilst early talk was of a "mansion tax" which would simply be an annual tax on the value of homes over a certain value, this has now become a tax on homes worth over £1 million.  In London there are tens of thousands of such properties, more than a few owned by families or retired people who wouldn't consider themselves wealthy per se.  

The latest talk of those earning over £50,000 paying more should be electoral suicide.  This comprises the top 10% of income earners in the UK, but notably in London it is worth saying that this is far from being wealthy.  A decent two bedroom flat in middle class parts of London can cost £1500 a month in rent.  Try feeling rich with £60,000 a year, after tax (which takes away 31% of that with a marginal rate of 42% on each additional pound).

The Liberal Democrats constantly tout the cliche "fairness", yet that 10% earns 30% of income and already pays 50% of income tax.  How fair is that?

The Liberal Democrats are social democrats, and are, as advocates of the status quo and more tax, simply socialists.  They are where Labour now is, under "red" Ed Miliband, the unions' choice, and given the party is keeping the Conservatives in power, deserves to be obliterated at the next general election.

The big debate in 21st century politics is, once again, the role of the state.  On economic policy, there is nothing liberal about the Liberal Democrats, with no interest in abolishing the absurd shop trading laws that keep London's Oxford Street closed before 11am and after 5pm on a Sunday, no interest in liberalising planning laws that mean planning permission is needed in most boroughs for the smallest of works on your own land, and a religious opposition to more airport capacity.  On social policy the Liberal Democrats are uninterested in talking about laws on drugs, laws on censorship and as we have seen, are incapable of understanding state surveillance.  Finally, their attempts at reform of the "constitution" consisted of trying to adopt a version of the Australian voting system and making most of the House of Lords elected with 15 year terms.

Pointless and counter-productive.

The socialists of the Liberal Democrats should go to the Labour Party where they will find the usual interfering busybodies keen to create new laws, spend more money, invent new taxes and be forever committed to thinking that they are uniquely placed to know better how to spend other people's money.   The liberals, wherever they may be, should go to the Conservative Party, and help it dry up and become, once again, the party of less government and more individual responsibility.   For the SDP part of the Liberal Democrats have no raison d'être given Labour is no longer the home of Erich Honecker like economics, and the Liberal part has largely evaporated, in part because the Conservatives are no longer out to bully homosexuals, scaremonger about dark skinned people and fear ambitious women.

Not that I have time for either of them, Labour set the scene for the current recession and for years kept a delusional paranoid megalomaniac in charge of the public finances (so deluded he boasted that he had abolished boom and bust), the Conservatives are now in the thrall of Whitehall and are led by an indecisive whim and poll worshipping pragmatist.  

However, the Liberal Democrats have no purpose anymore.  Voters, who once saw them as a protest vote whenever Labour disappointed them, know this.  In 2015 opponents of the government will mostly vote Labour, supporters will vote Conservative, there is no point in voting for a version of Labour that keeps the Conservatives in power.

It's just a matter of time.

1 comment:

Craig Young said...

I'd agree with that, except the alternative option is much, much worse- the United Kingdom Independence Party, whom I understand are British counterparts of the Execrable Winston of NZF.

Craig Y