20th OCTOBER 2010
Responding to today’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the editor of The Liberal magazine criticised the coalition on three key elements of deficit reduction: the pace and depth of cuts; the proportion of cuts to tax rises; and the inequality of sacrifice. Benjamin Ramm argued that the coalition’s proposals lacked a liberal approach in policy and principle, and that such short-sighted measures – combined with wildly optimistic projections for growth – would generate illiberal outcomes. Challenging the assertion that the CSR has “LibDem footprints all over it” (Hughes), and that it reflected the party’s “values and priorities” (Clegg), Ramm argued that the leadership had forgotten its role in coalition: to temper – not bolster – the project to shrink the state; to protect the weak and vulnerable, not create the conditions for their further impoverishment.
In relation to the LibDem grassroots, Ramm commented: “Many party members are bewildered: they are wondering whether the leadership has a bottom line. How many ‘sacrosanct’ promises can the LibDems violate – policies that identified the party as distinct, and that the party identified as crucial: tuition fees, VAT, universality of benefits, PR – how many times will the leadership betray its own supporters? These cuts are as swift and savage as many LibDems feared, and I know of no party member who will campaign to defend them”.
In conclusion, Ramm remarked: “This Review marks the culmination of the Conservative project to dismantle the liberal infrastructure of the welfare state – and it signals the beginning of the end for the Liberal Democrats”.
For further comment, or to speak with the editor, call (020) 8444 1944 or 07812 650 399.
The Liberal is an independent publication dedicated to the revival of liberalism. It has no affiliation with the Liberal Democrats, although previous contributors include Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Chris Huhne, Simon Hughes, Menzies Campbell, Shirley Williams and Paddy Ashdown.