Getting Labour back for another 5 years would be disastrous for this country, however, having Nick Clegg as kingmaker, or God-forbid as PM, would be simply frightening. So here's 10 reasons why they think they should hold power - and why they absolutely shouldn't:
- The LibDems think that they're a credible opposition party
LibDem 2010 Budget Response: "The increase in National Insurance Contributions is a damaging tax on jobs and unfair to employees; however with a structural deficit of almost £70bn no party can credibly say they are going to reverse it."
LibDem 2010 manifesto (p97): "We would seek to reverse it."
- Nick Clegg believes in British jobs for foreign workers
Nick Clegg's interview with Jeremy Paxman (25m40s):
Paxman: Anywhere in England need more immigrants?Things that Nick Clegg apparently doesn't know #1: There is 20% youth unemployment in the UK. Might Nick not want to encourage people already in the UK to do these jobs?
Clegg: Well, I think if you speak to some farmers, for instance, in parts of Lincolnshire - we know there's already a shortage of immigrant labour in fruit-picking and vegetable-picking.
- The LibDems think that the UK is just like Australia
It's not just immigrants that Nick Clegg wants to corral into regions of the UK "like Australia", it's a "rural fuel discount scheme" (Manifesto p80). In rural areas they want to keep fuel duty lower than in urban areas, er... a bit like Australia.
Things that Nick Clegg doesn't know #2: Australia is a tad bigger than the UK. You could fit Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland into Australia 31 times and still have a bit left over. It takes 2 hours alone to drive from the Western Sydney city limits to the Harbour Bridge. In the UK, is there any city that you can't reach in under 2 hours (Highlands, islands & traffic jams excepting)?
To give certain places in the UK a fuel discount scheme would mean limiting the programme to petrol stations in extreme rural areas, and there aren't that many. Wouldn't it be better to plan for something like, I don't know, how about a Fair Fuel Stabiliser? (Conservative manifesto p24)
- Nick Clegg has a secret database (allegedly)
Nick Clegg apparently has a secret database of illegal immigrants as he wants to give an amnesty to all those who have been here for over 10 years (keep watching Paxman interview above).
Things that Nick Clegg doesn't know #3: Because they're illegal immigrants, we actually don't have a record of when they entered the country. So what's to stop people who have been here 6 months saying they've lived here for 10 years?
- LibDems are cancelling Eurofighter - they're just not sure which bit
LibDem Manifesto (p16) cost savings - "Cancelling Eurofighter Tranche 3b".
In the Ask the Chancellors debate (9m10s), Vince Cable said that he wanted to scrap "Eurofighters in the short run". I didn't know what he meant by this but apparently he meant tranche 2. This was picked up by the Shadow Treasury Minister, Philip Hammond the next day in the budget debate - and Vince Cable didn't disagree (Hansard 30 Mar 2010: Column 682):
Mr. Philip Hammond (Conservative): The hon. Gentleman talks about the credibility of plans to cut spending and he has announced his £15 billion plan. Will he confirm something that he said last night during the television debate-that the £15 billion includes scrapping tranche 2 of the Eurofighter project? Perhaps he has seen a different contract from the one I have seen, but my understanding is that the cancellation charge for tranche 2 exceeds the cost of taking delivery of tranche 2. Can he explain to the House how he would make a saving there?("Some savings" is apparently £1.5bn - manifesto p103.) Actually, the rest of the Hansard page is well worth a read as Vince Cable was clearing up a whole load that evening. But then Vince Cable seems to "mispronounce" and give the "wrong impression" quite a lot for someone who is supposed to be an economic guru.
Dr. Cable: That is not the information that we have received. We have repeatedly checked our understanding of the charges involved in such a decision. There are two different components to the end of the Eurofighter contract, as the hon. Gentleman knows. We believe on the basis of what we have been told - of course, we are not told everything, because some of this is supposedly commercially confidential - and on the basis of our information that some savings could be made.
So 2 weeks before the LibDem manifesto is launched, the LibDems were still planning on cancelling tranche 2. After this was shown to be economic drivel, they suddenly swap over to tranche 3b in their manifesto.
What they haven't mentioned is how many thousands of jobs in the UK will be lost because of cancellation; whether cancelling 3b has any associated compensation fees; and how many 3b Eurofighters might be sold to the Middle East, just like Oman is buying up a load of our tranche 3a fighters.
- They're also cancelling Trident to make their sums look better
On page 17 of the LibDem manifesto, it states that Trident "could" cost £100 billion, however, on p65 it suddenly changes to a definitive "at a cost of £100 billion". Assumption to fact in 48 pages. Worrying.
The LibDems want to cancel Trident then have a "full defence review". What happens if the review concludes that our best defence is to have Trident - and we've cancelled it and spent the money? Frightening.
No-one knows what the state of the world will be in a year, 10 years or 30 years from now. There are LibDems that argue that having nuclear weapons didn't stop the Falklands War or 7/7, which is possibly the most ridiculous argument ever.
I'd prefer to have nuclear weapon free world but I'm also a realist. I do think the amount of warheads we have is ridiculous though (how many times can you blow up the world?) but dismissing Trident out of hand is even more dangerous.
- Vince Cable believes that crossing your fingers is a good way to raise money
When the manifesto talks about job creation, he says that the UK Infrastructure Bank seed funding "could" be raised from the sell-off of the student loan book or the Tote (p25), and that further seed funding "could" be secured against or raised from government-owned assets such as the Dartford Crossing (p25).
Vince Cable might also see whether the sale of the Post Office "could" raise even more money - assuming of course someone actually wants to buy all of this right now. Yes, they all "could" get sold - but be realistic.
I'll keep my fingers crossed for you though.
- Vice Cable knows more than HMRC
Revenue from "Anti-avoidance measures" in the manifesto (p101) include £2.4bn saved from Income Tax and NIC contributions, £1.46bn from Corporation Tax and £750m from Stamp Duty, totalling £4.63bn.
This is a major part of the LibDems cost savings.
Small problem is that those lovely people at Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs estimate that NI, income tax and capital gains tax avoidance is only between £0.8n and £1.6bn.
- Vince Cable thinks his budget is costed
Without the delayed spending review, it's impossible for any "credible" party to specifically say where cuts will be made or exactly where money will be saved.
Credible means getting the real data first - not pulling figures out of thin air and passing it off as costed.
- The LibDems love Europe.. (well some of them do)
Both this year and in 2008, there has been revolt on the LibDem benches over European referendums. In 2008, Nick Clegg was humiliated when 13 LidDem MPs voted with the Conservatives for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, when Nick had ordered them to
sit on the fenceabstain.
In January of this year, they were split again with LibDems going against Nick Clegg to vote with the Conservatives on an amendment to block any further powers going to Europe without a referendum.
Only problem is that Nick Clegg proposed a motion at their 2005 conference to block any further powers going to Europe without a referendum.
(h/t Jon Craig)
And the Euro? "We believe that it is in Britain's long-term interest to be part of the Euro" (LibDem Manifesto p67). 'Nuff said.
"Their oft-repeated mantra on the poorest fifth paying proportionally more tax fails to offset it against benefits; and their statistics on a reoffending pilot scheme are very impressive until you realise that these “petty criminals” are not worthy of a police caution."