VAT is a mildly progressive form of taxation claims Vince Cable as supporters abandon the Lib Dems in droves

According to a poll published today, 48% of Lib Dem voters are now less inclined to back that party, and they  say that their change is as a direct result of the VAT increase.  How has Principled Vince responded.  He writes “No decision to raise tax is taken lightly, but VAT is more contentious than most. One reason is that VAT is often denounced as if it were the most regressive tax of all. However, the truth is more nuanced. As a proportion of expenditure, it is in fact mildly progressive”.

Yesterday I wrote of Cable: “The sight of Vince Cable bumbling and stuttering through feeble and half-hearted defences of his party’s total sell-out of his policies, his sound economic analysis and his principled stand on the banks, is pitiful.  Actually it is beneath contempt”.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr programme, as I write this, Cable dismissed the VAT Bombsell allegation made by the Lib Dems against the Tories “That was during the election campaign” and that the Lib Dems are now in coalition.

I wonder how Cable will justify the latest analysis of the ConDemNation budget.  It shows that the measures will hit the poorest six times harder than the rich.  The poorest 10%, those with an annual income of less than £14,200 will experience a 21.7% cut.  The richest, those with an annual income of over £49,700, with experience just a 3.6% cut.

How could someone who was so right about the banking crisis become so wrong about the impact of cuts on ordinary people?

St Peter’s and North Laine: Why the Lib Dems deserve to be humiliated

The Libe Dems are standing Trefor Hunter as its candidate in the St Peter’s and North Laine by-election on July 8th. In the latest Lib Dem ‘Focus’ newsletter that I understand is being distributed around the ward this weekend, Hunter attacks the Greens for failing to deal with congestion and pollution.

As someone who has fought and lost more elections than just about anyone else in Brighton over the last 30 years, Mr Hunter must surely be aware that the Greens have never formed the administration in Brighton and Hove.  In fact, his party’s coalition partner, the Conservative Party, are the administration locally and nationally.  He writes “Decades ago residents elected their first Green Councillor, but what difference has it really made?”.  Actually, quite a lot, and if we achieve a 20mph speed limit in Brighton I for one will be delighted.

The more relevant question is what difference does voting Lib Dem make?  In Brighton and Hove they are an absolute irrelevance.  In Brighton Kemptown and in Hove, they split the anti-Tory vote that saw two Labour candidates defeated and the election of two Conservatives.  Nationally, millions voted tactically or positively for the Lib Dems as a way of voting against the Conservatives.  What happened?  The Lib Dems jumped into bed with the Tories.  The sight of Vince Cable bumbling and stuttering through feeble and half-hearted defences of his party’s total sell-out of his policies, his sound economic analysis and his principled stand on the banks, is pitiful.  Actually it is beneath contempt.

If I had a vote in the St Peter’s and North Laine by-election, would I vote Lib Dem?  Give me an honest Tory any day. At least you know what you can expect from them.  The Lib Dems deserve to be truly humiliated in the by-election and in each test of voter opinion up to and beyond the next general election.

Why the Lib Dems are the most unethical political party in the UK

Tory VAT Rise

 ‘Nuf said?

Labour and the Greens must call a truce in Brighton and Hove

I know it is difficult, I know that in the heat of a keenly contested by-election it is natural to attack ones opponents, but Labour and the Greens must call a truce in Brighton and Hove.

Tomorrow we are likely to see unprecedented attacks on benefits, local government, essential services.  But in the St Peter’s and North Laine by-election the candidates are making claim and counter claim that is so very off-putting for those of us who might be sympathetic to both parties. 

Take the Greens.  Lizzie Deane in one of her leaflets says “Only a Green vote will stop the Tories from re-gaining a City Council majority”.  Nonsense.  In St Peter’s and North Laine a vote for either the Greens or Labour will prevent a Tory gain.  It was this kind of nonsense that I criticised after the general election, except on that occasion it was Labour making false claims.  Lizzie Deane should clarify this point if she is to be taken seriously as an ethical politician.

Tom French, who I must say is growing on me every time I have contact with him, is in danger of getting above and beyond himself with some of his statements. Today he dismisses the role of the Greens in the Lewes Road Community Garden.  Again, this is nonsense.  The Greens have been involved in this project from the outset.

Those of us not engaged in sectarian politics would want to wish both Labour and the Greens well.  Attacking each other – as if there ConDemNation coaltion was a mere sideshow – is a complete turnoff at this time.  To both Tom and Lizzie, please tell us about your plans and policies, and please refrain from commenting about each other, or their prospects in this by-election.  Do so, and I will wish you both well.

Are the Greens losing it in St Peter’s and North Laine?

The old St Peter’s Ward was the area where the Green Party made its first breakthrough in the City with the election of Pete West.  The party has dominated the seat ever since while the Greens have spread their influence into traditional Labour areas, ousting Labour’s leaders in Queens Park last time out.  The challenge for the Greens is to make in-roads into traditional Tory areas if it wishes to be the largest party after next year’s local elections.

Other than the election of Caroline Lucas to Westminster, the greatest achievement of the Greens since the last locals was Alex Phillips’s stunning win in the Goldsmid by-election.  She is an impressive young woman, hard-working and very likeable.  Her campaign in that by-election had all the ingredients for a successful bye-election, and that is the approach that the Greens need next May.

So why on earth are the Greens running such a lacklustre, uninspiring campaign in the St Peter’s and North Laine by-election.  The qualities shown by Alex Phillips’s campaign are being replicated by Labour.  In Tom French they have an impressive young man, hard working and very likeable.  He seems to be everywhere and he is winning support from those who vote Green in local elections and who voted for Caroline Lucas.

In a recent exchange with the Green candidate, Lizzie Deane, I described myself as a critical friend of the Green Party.  I am not a Green, more tribal Labour.  In the general election I called for tactical voting throughout Sussex.  In only contest did I advocate a Green vote, and that is because I thought the Greens had a better chance of beating the Tories.  I will be taking the same approach next May, although I anticipate calling more seats for the Greens than for Labour.

The risk for the Greens is that the wholly inadequate campaign in St Peter’s and North Laine will give a huge boost for Labour, even if Tom French comes a close second.  This will give Labour the ‘Big Mo’ – momentum.  I hear that the Labour Party in St Peter’s and North Laine has a lively bunch of young activists who believe that they can win the seat, if not on July 8th but certainly next May.

Caroline Lucas – Observer Ethical Politician of the Year

Congratulations once again to Caroline Lucas who has been named, for the third time, as the Observer’s Ethical Politician of the Year.

In the  article in today’s Observer, she says on media coverage: “We’re normally chasing journalists so to suddenly have them chasing us was a very satisfying reversal”.

This reversal of fortune is refreshing given the media’s obsession with the personality politics of the Westminster village. Even if  she is reluctantly co-opted into the media obsession, she will no doubt make good use of this exposure to promote ethical issues and promote the Green Party.

But with her elevation, there is a danger, and this was one of the main accusations thrown at her by Labour in the general election: that as Leader of the Greens and its sole MP, her time and attention will be split between national and local priorities.  I have every sympathy with her given she will be faced with demands that will be almost impossible to meet.

She can minimise this by surrounding herself by highly efficient staff and supporters.  It is important that she (probably through her assistants) ensure that her constituents get a human (not automated) response to enquiries.

Locally, the new MP who has ben most impressive has been Mike Weatherley who has a team of young, enthusiastic and personable staff.  The biggest danger for Caroline Lucs and the Greens would be arrogance.  They are the biggest show in town at the moment.  Their job is to make sure that their constituents, individually, feel that they are.

Labour in Brighton has become the Nasty Party and is betraying its core support

Since Labour lost Brighton Pavilion to the Greens in Brighton Pavilion, there seems to have been a concerted attempt to rubbish Caroline Lucas.  Blogs and Tweets by Labour supporters have made rather cheap attacks on Ms Lucas.  Far from having any impact on her reputation, it has shown Labour supporters as poor losers and, frankly, very petty.

Labour was beaten, fair and square.  Rather than attack the successful candidate who has impressed and is admired, Labour should take a long hard look at itself and look at why life-long Labour supporters like me voted Green.  In response to these cheap attacks, I am more likely to vote Green next time than return to Labour. Labour in Brighton, by the reaction of its supporters and the ungracious comments of the former MP, has become the nasty party.  It bodes well for the Greens for the 2011 council election.

Labour in Brighton has lost its compass.  The Greens are seen as the enemy, at a time when the Conservatives are cutting, cutting, cutting.  Labour in Brighton is betraying its core support.