Lib-Dems: Populist, damaging, deceitful

Making common cause with Labour: Vince Cable & Ed Balls (Telegraph photo)

So Vince Cable says he could work with Labour to raise taxes on the rich.  Perhaps, like Denis Healey before him, he will squeeze them till the pips squeak.  Or perhaps he’ll work out a new sound-bite of his own.

Margaret Thatcher once remarked, with her usual perceptiveness, that “the facts of life are conservative” (note the small “c”).  She might have added that the facts of life are also counter-intuitive, which perhaps explains the modicum of electoral (though not economic) success achieved by socialist parties over the last hundred years.

It’s obvious that you can relieve poverty by giving money to the poor (but in fact, you merely entrench dependency and welfare).  It’s obvious that you can reduce inequality in our society by massive redistribution (but in fact you stunt economic growth and make the poor poorer).  It’s obvious that you can increase employment by sharing work, and having everyone work a shorter week (but the French tried it, and it failed utterly).  It’s obvious that you can reduce emissions by building wind farms (but in fact when you allow for the emissions from the necessary conventional back-up, the emissions savings are derisory).

And Vince pretends to believe that you can increase government revenues, and promote recovery, by taxing the rich (despite the fact that the rich already pay a vastly disproportionate amount of tax).  But Vince is — or was — an economist.  He knows about the Laffer Curve.  He knows that after a certain point, higher tax rates mean lower revenues.  He knows, or ought to know, that in dozens of countries over decades, it’s been demonstrated that lower tax rates, counter-intuitively, increase revenues.

So (unless Vince is more ignorant than I take him to be), then he’s being (A) populist; (B) damaging and counter-productive; (C) deliberately deceitful.  A typical Lib-Dem, then.

A parting thought on populism, which (like federalism) means different things in different places.  When José Manuel Barroso accuses eurosceptic MEPs of being populist, he simply means that they have the temerity to voice the opinions of the people who elected them.  I don’t call that populism.  I call that democracy (which is out-of-fashion in the European institutions).

No.  Populism, in my book, is when Vince Cable tells the people what they want to hear, and what he thinks they might believe, although he knows it’s not true.  It’s feeding the public plausible lies in order to curry favour.  That’s what Vince is doing, and he should be ashamed of himself.

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8 Responses to Lib-Dems: Populist, damaging, deceitful

  1. mikestallard says:

    Silly me! In the 1990s I joined the LibDems because I thought they were Liberals who believed in freedom and laissez faire economics, and Democratic in that they really listened and wanted to do what the people really wanted.
    My naivety lasted all of one month.
    Never again!

  2. Linda Hudson says:

    they should all come with a health and insanity warning!

  3. Phil Richmond says:

    I have warned my brother that if my two young nephews grow up to be Marxist, Maoist, Castro loving revolutionaries then thats fine, as long as they are not Liberal Democrats!

  4. Heather Alibakir says:

    The enemy within

  5. Pingback: Lib-Dems: Populist, damaging, deceitful | A riverside view Blog

  6. George Morley says:

    I love your comments Roger. True and to the point. Like Nigel Farage who also puts it where it’s at.
    It’s a pity that the Pensions Minister , a LibDem does not have the same morality and commonsense now in parliament as he seemed to have before the election when he deplored the freezing of pensions to many who had emigrated to mostly Commonwealth countries and even raised an EDM to stop it but now even defends the robbing of those pensioners who have emigrated tothe ‘wrong ‘ country. Paying the uprated pension to those in the USA and the Philippines but not those in CANADA and the Falkland Islands is not just immoral but surely against the code of conduct that all MP’s should be upholding. Even the Prime Minister said he wanted fairness for all pensioners and has done nothing about it and not even answering any letters.
    Do you have any suggestions ?
    I would love to see a report on a discussion with Steve Webb by you or Nigel over this issue which has been perpetrated for over 60 years now and should be put right once and for all. Commonwealth Family of Nations ? Some family when the grandparents are consistently robbed.

  7. Malcolm Edward says:

    Exactly as you say. I find Cable to be most inconsistent in his portrayal of economics, to me he never displays a true understanding and hence rarely perchance is he right. How he got promoted in the real world is a mystery to me.

  8. RB says:

    This “tax the rich” issue is never really properly defined as far as I can see. It is a fact that the top 0.5% have taken eye watering sums in the hundreds of billions since the 70s, own and continue to take a huge swathe of the world’s wealth to themselves.

    Tax the rich should not mean anyone earning even as much as millions a year and we should take out of that equation most business owners, entrepreneurs, wealth creators and employers. These are the people we are often told will leave if we tax them “til the pips squeak”, as a defence against taxing the rich. These people are not rich in today’s world when compared to those who really have the wealth..

    The top 0.5% have and continue to take a massively disproportionate chunk of the wealth in the world.

    We should take it back.

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