Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nick Clegg's members' e-mail about the Spending Review

I've just had this from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg entitled Spending Review with Liberal Democrat values:

Dear Caron,

The spending review has inevitably been a tough process. We have made the decision to take the hard road - but it is the right road to a more prosperous, fairer Britain. The unavoidable moment of truth came just as we entered government: Labour's deficit had to be tackled. I did not go into government to make cuts. But nor can I be in government and allow us to keep spending more than £100 million a day on servicing our debt - enough to build a primary school every single hour, or triple the number of doctors working in our hospitals.

The spending review is a thoroughly Coalition product. Liberal Democrat ministers have been involved every step of the way. Our values and priorities are written through the review, like the message in a stick of rock. We have had to make some very difficult choices. But the review is one that promotes fairness, underpins growth, reduces carbon emissions and localises power.

The Coalition Government is investing £7 bn in a ‘fairness premium’ to help disadvantaged children; putting more than £1 billion into a regional growth fund; launching a Green Investment Bank with at least £2 billion for low-carbon technology and new jobs; and giving local government real financial freedoms. This Government will be spending more than £700bn on public services - the same as in 2006.

For too long Labour enjoyed the years of plenty and whether they are part of the new generation or old, they put their head in the sand when it came to acknowledging the deficit. They spent beyond our country’s means and squandered the public purse. They quite simply endangered the prosperity of our country and it is now taking two political parties to put Britain on the road to recovery.

Along with Danny Alexander, Vince Cable and the rest of the Liberal Democrat ministerial team I have been working day in day out over recent months to ensure that the Comprehensive Spending Review meets key Liberal Democrat tests.

Liberal Democrat ministers have fought to ensure that the burden of the challenge ahead is shared fairly. On child benefit, capital gains and tax evasion and avoidance - this government is making the well off pay their share. And for those services that matter most to the vulnerable in our society, such as health and social care and early years education, spending is being protected.

We are not taking the decisions today because they are easy or because we want to see a smaller state, we are taking them because they are right. We have a hard road to recovery ahead, but we are determined to ensure it is a road that leads to fairness too.

I wonder if there will be another later as this one is light on detail, but covers the principles which have been guiding our ministers of fairness and protecting the most vulnerable.

I don't expect today to be pretty or comfortable in any way, but I can be confident that we will have taken the sting out of the Tories in a sigificant way.


KelvinKid said...

Clegg's emails are always light on detail. It's not his strong point.

I cannot tell to what extent Liberal Democrat ministers have softened the blow. I suspect not by much because I think it's becoming clear we are not on the bridge of the coalition, rather we are being held captive in the hold.

However, where I really take issue with our great leader is when he says "Our values and priorities are written through the review, like the message in a stick of rock."

To take one example, the cuts in the welfare budget and the withdrawal of support from social housing amount to a hypocritical and unprincipled assault on the poor. The withdrawal of Employment Support Allowance after one year is an entirely arbitrary cut designed purely to save money. The higher rates of benefit awarded under Incapacity Benefit, previously under Invalidity Benefit and now under ESA were a recognition that long-term illness generally carries higher costs. Now instead the sick are to be forced onto the employment market by poverty.

There are currently 2.5 million unemployed and the CSR will create another million. What employer will choose an applicant with a poor sick record and ongoing health problems over any one of the crowd of young healthy alternatives? Sheer nonsense.

These are not Liberal Democrat values but they are Economic Liberal values. Values better off in the Tory party where they belong.

Unknown said...

Can I suggest you read the blog post I've written this morning. You might find that we're not a million miles apart on this one.


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