The Lib Dems are being attacked from left and right for having sold out - but if we weren't having big influence on the Government, why would the Torygraph go to all this bother?
Here is their highly edited audio and transcript of what he said. It's not a full transcript, because, like with Vince yesterday, they haven't published the lies the journalists must have told.
Nothing that Michael Moore said in that conversation was in any way surprising to me as someone who has known him for 10 years and there is very little that I can disagree with.
- On Child Benefit, he agreed the inherent unfairness - something I was quick to point out at the time. The price we had to pay, maybe, for ensuring that there was no cut off at 13 or 16.
- On Tuition Fees - of course it was a mess
- On the fact that Liberal Democrats come from Venus and Tories come from Mars - or words to that effect. A statement of the bleedin' obvious if ever there was one.
- On the good things that the Coalition is doing
You get a sense of how hard it's been for our ministers over the past few months, especially on tuition fees. That's part of the reason I find it really difficult to be hugely angry with our MPs who voted for the Government's proposals even though I'd have taken a different decision, because they've clearly been through hell and they've reached the conclusions they have for the most honourable of reasons. Look at what Mike said here:
It's not a decision taken likely by any of us and beyond the specifics of the issue, what we've all had to weigh up is the greater sense of what the coalition is about. If I felt that the coalition was about was clinging on for the sake of saying I was in Government, that's not worth it because......any of us ministers could be out on our ears at the whim of the party leaders......that's not a particularly sensible basis on which to go through a lobby.
in terms of the other issues which I've outlined to you whether it's on fairness issues that we've put into the spending review, welfare reform, the spending review, in terms of Scottish constitutional reform, the freedom agenda, environmental issues, all that for me stacks up. But I accept I have, along with my colleagues, a huge challenge to get that understood and accepted.
I assure you that our party and me individually are passionately liberal Democrat. I came into politics, frankly as a kid as much because I hated what the Tories did to Scotland and the UK as I was motivated by constitutional reform and freedom and that sort of stuff that made me want to be a Liberal.On tuition fees, he mentions that he said exactly the same thing as on the tape in public at a high school earlier in the day. That doesn't surprise me, because I know him to be completely straightforward and genuine.
All of these so-called revelations just prove the point that the Liberal Democrats are having a big impact on this Government and they are staying true to themselves and their principles.
One thing that made me howl with laughter from the Torygraph's main report on this, when they summarised their conversations with Mike along with Steve Webb and Ed Davey, was this wee gem:
It emerged that senior Liberal Democrats are boasting privately that they were responsible for delaying government plans to replace the Trident nuclear deterrent, which means nothing will happen on the project during the current Parliament.Boasting privately? I rather thought we'd been shouting it from the rooftops that this was a major Liberal Democrat win. Who on earth else would have made that happen? Honestly! I mean, whose policy was it not to have like for like replacement of Trident at the General Election? Not the Tories, (or Labour, for that matter), that's for sure.
The thing that I take from this is that these recordings were clearly done in the last fortnight so we know that even months after announcements have been made, our ministers are continuing to work within the Government to try and get some of the things that are difficult to live with changed. And a note to George Osborne, what Steve Webb doesn't know about the benefits system simply is not worth knowing. You would have to be very stupid indeed not to listen to him. So if I were you, I'd dig out the letter he wrote to you on the Child Benefit changes and read again what he's telling you about the details not being right. He will not be wrong.
Our ministers are taking a lot of flack at the moment, but I'm sure about one thing - things would be a lot worse without them.
And just to illustrate that point, have a wee look at this, proof that ID cards are now a thing of the past. The Identity Documents Act getting rid of them received its Royal Assent yesterday. It's just a pity that so much money was needlessly wasted by Labour on something that was always going to be very expensive and ineffective, the worst of all worlds.
To come in the New Year, the finalisation of the Bill bringing in the Fairer Votes referendum, the Scotland Bill, giving more powers to the Scottish Parliament, which the Tories were trying to wriggle away from.
Already delivered, 900,000 low earners will be taken out of tax completely next year, an extra £2 billion for Child Tax Credits for the poorest, the minimum wage up by 13p an hour, the full rate going to young people and for the first time to apprentices, the pensions-earnings link restored, an end to child detention for immigration purposes and justice for Equitable Life holders.
And that's just the start.