Come on, let's face it: The first budget was a categoric, gimungous FAIL for the Liberal Democrats

The Institute of Fiscal Studies have certainly had time to do their spreadsheets. And they have said the last budget hit the poorest the most.

That’s “end of” as far as I’m concerned. Let’s stop messing around with nerdish jiggery-pokery. You can’t argue with the IFS. You might try. But you’re wasting your energy.

Nick Clegg rejected the IFS analysis and ‘complained that the IFS report didn’t take into account other changes the government plans to make which he claimed would increase fairness’.

That is Alice in Wonderland stuff. How the heck can you take into changes that haven’t been properly announced yet? It’s cloud cuckoo land.

Let’s stop messing around and just accept that the first budget was a total and utter FAIL for the Liberal Democrats. Draw a line, draw breath and quickly work to correct the blunder.

I can’t help thinking that we wouldn’t be in this mess if David Laws hadn’t fallen under a Telegraph story.

I can’t help thinking that Danny Alexander is making diddly squat difference to curtail the idiotic stupidity of George Osbourne.

We don’t need to cut spending as much as the government is intending and we don’t need to hit the poorest more than the rich and well-off. It’s profoundly unfair and illiberal. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

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12 thoughts on “Come on, let's face it: The first budget was a categoric, gimungous FAIL for the Liberal Democrats

  1. Well, in outline I agree with you, except for one small detail. The IFS report doesn’t say it hits the poorest hardest. That’s what the newspapers say it says. The report itself says the richest 10% does get hit hardest, both absolutely and as a proportion of their income. The problem lies in the fact that the impact on the poorest deciles is still, nonetheless, regressive (ie, they’re hit harder than people in the middle and upper-middle). The rich aren’t the problem here. Of course, Clegg can’t admit this as a “partial success which isn’t really good enough” (which is what it is).

  2. Surely it is a mistake to analyse a reduction in state spending in isolation from the contraction of the private sector that forced it and that hit better off people.

  3. Paul: you’re right that you can’t assess what hasn’t yet been announced, but a problem (as I understand it) is that the IFS report says what the impact will be on people at dates in the future which are after future budgets.

    If the IFS was saying “This is the budget’s impact on people in summer 2010” then fair enough to ignore future budgets. But if you are saying “this is the impact in summer [some later year]”, then the fact there’ll be future budgets seems to me very relevant to what the final outcome will be by the time we actually get to that date.

  4. @Mark Pack

    The budget looked unfair, smelt unfair, and now, thanks to IFS analysis (much used against Gordon Brown if we think back a little), it is unfair.

    They’re just stating what everyone knew already.

    I know you’re ultra pro-coalition but I think it’s time to accept it once and for all that this government has chosen the poorest in society to bear the brunt of their cuts.

    Sure, I know the LibDem leadership may change it’s spots ‘some later year’ but at the moment they’re Conservatives and you can’t change that with words as Nick Clegg & co seem to want to do.

    For example, Nick Clegg talks about Welfare to Work measures, however, there are far more people out of work than there are jobs, the UK market is cooling and the coalition is due to throw hundreds of thousands of public sector workers out of work. This was a bad budget and either the LibDems will see it for what it is or they’ll start looking pretty impotent.

    I desperately hope the LibDems start to have some influence, I really do because the alternative is just too bad.

  5. @Paul

    This is an excellent blog and, I’d say, is pretty representative of how LibDems supporters feel.

    I think you’re right, it’s time to dust ourselves off, forget about Labour attacking us as they’re irrelevant for the time being and look at how we can really make a difference in government.

  6. There was a timing issue with the posting of my original comment. I was agreeing with the sentiments in the blog, rather than the preceeding comments. That being said, @Alix is right that the IFS analysis shows that the top decile will also pay relatively more. But what’s happening in the middle is more important.

    It doesn’t seem to me to be inappropriate for the IFS to look at the impact of this budget as they will roll out over the years and conclude that it doesn’t look good.

    While it is possible that we might get more progressive budgets in future years to counteract June’s budget, as Nick Clegg suggests, it is equally possible that we won’t. The argument would tend to imply that it was its ’emergency’ nature that required the June budget to be less than demonstrably progressive, rather than, say, the fact that the Tories were reverting to type and targeting the poor. Seems implausible to me.

    Unless the LibDem component of the Coalition find a way to get a bit more leverage over what happens then more of the same in future seems the more likely outcome. In this context the expression ‘grow a pair’ seems somehow apt, although possibly not the most diplomatic/non-gender specific way of making the same point.

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