'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Thursday 22 March 2012

Oh. Have we crossed the rubicon?

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the excellent Mark Thomson, who asked the other day 'what is the point of a blog that just cuts and pastes official party press releases' (and he's got a point), I thought it would be worth posting Nick's note to members yesterday post budget - because I have something to say about it. 

But first - here's the note...

 Dear Richard,

We can be proud that the biggest tax cuts in today's Budget go to millions of working families.

As a result of this Budget, someone working a full week on minimum wage will see their income tax bill cut by over 50% compared to under Labour.

Increasing the personal allowance to £9,205 takes us within touching distance of our number one manifesto pledge – ensuring no one pays any tax on the first £10,000 they earn.

Thanks to our changes, a basic rate taxpayer will be paying £45 a month less in tax than they would have been under Labour.

The Tycoon Tax, an increase in stamp duty for high value properties and other new taxes on wealth will raise five times as much as the 50p tax rate. Those with annual incomes of more than £150,000 a year will be paying on average an additional £1,300 a year in tax, as a result of this Budget.

Of course, this is a Coalition Budget and we did not get our own way on everything. Conservative priorities are not ours. But as on so many other issues, we have made sure that there is a real Liberal Democrat stamp on this Budget.

Lower taxes for more than 20 million working people; effective new taxes on the rich.

This is a Budget we can be proud of - a Budget for the many, not the few.

Thanks for all the support you give to the party.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister

Now I thought there were two very important lines in there in particular. Did you spot them? Here we go...

"Of course, this is a Coalition Budget and we did not get our own way on everything. Conservative priorities are not ours."

It struck me that this was an overt signal to party members that we are not going to present a united face anymore - we'll own our policies (taking another million of the poorest paid out of tax) and make it clear which policies are Tory policies ( cutting the 50p rate). We're helping the millions, the Tories are helping the Millionnaires. 

So I checked with someone in, ahem, the heart of government - and yes: that's the message. We're no longer going to lay any claim to policy we can't abide.

To me, that means a rubicon has been crossed.

At last.

And thank goodness.


  1. The trouble is, Nick Clegg remains the other side of an ideological rubicon, where the public sector bears the brunt of past mistakes by the private sector. He should read this:
    Crouch, C. 2009, "Privatised Keynesianism: An Unacknowledged Policy Regime", The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol. 11, pp. 382-399

  2. Well I don't know about Nick, but I'll certainly read it.