by Michael Dugher
Nick Clegg looked awfully pleased with himself yesterday. I think he very much enjoys being deputy prime minister. His message to the party faithful yesterday was “I’ll be in government with anyone”, which roughly translates as “I don’t believe in anything”. And though Clegg had a carefully choreographed pop at the Tories yesterday, the truth is the Lib Dems vote with the Tories day after day.
Despite the huge cost of living crisis engulfing most families, with people on average nearly £1,500 worse off a year under this Government, Clegg told the Lib Dems yesterday that they should “feel proud that country’s fortunes are turning”. He also listed 16 policies that he had apparently blocked the Tories from introducing.
Well, just for the record Nick, here’s 16 things the Lib Dems didn’t block:
1. A tax cut for millionaires – cutting the 50p top rate of tax, giving 13,000 millionaires a handout worth on average £100,000 each.
2. Trebling tuition fees. Nick Clegg promised to vote against any rise in tuition fees. He didn’t.
3. Increasing VAT to 20 per cent. The Lib Dems warned before the election of a “TORY VAT BOMBSHELL”. Then he helped them introduce it.
4. An economic policy that choked off the recovery – which is now the slowest for 100 years. Vince Cable warned before the election that “the danger of drastic cuts in public spending right now is that it would make the recession worse and it would make the deficit worse” – but he signed up to them.
5. A £3 billion top-down NHS reorganisation, while queues grow in A&E and over 5,000 nurses are cut.
6. Cutting 15,000 police officers – even though the Lib Dem manifesto promised an extra 3,000 police officers.
7. Cuts to Sure Start, with 558 fewer centres so far, even though Nick Clegg said “I want all of these centres to stay open”.
8. Scrapping the Future Jobs Fund – even though the Lib Dems promised before the election that they would keep it. Now almost one million young people are unemployed and the number of young people unemployed for more than a year is up 142 per cent.
9. Increasing rail fares by as much as 9 per cent from next January – even though the Lib Dem manifesto promised to cut them every year.
10. The hated Bedroom Tax – an unfair policy that is hitting over 400,000 disabled people.
11. The ‘granny tax’ – an unfair policy leaving pensioners paying more while the highest earners pay less.
12. Scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance. The EMA was a lifeline for young people from deprived backgrounds who wished to stay in education and training after the age of 16.
13. Big City bonuses are back – up 82 per cent in April this year alone. Yet the Government refuses to repeat the Banker’s Bonus tax, which would have raised £2 billion to help secure jobs for young people.
14. The introduction of the Strivers’ Tax – a raid on working age benefits and tax credits.
15. Halving the fuel poverty budget whilst energy bills spiral and energy companies’ profits soar.
16. The Lobbying Bill that let’s Cameron’s chief adviser and the cigarette lobbyist Lynton Crosby off the hook – but at the same time seeks to gag cancer charities.
So next time Nick Clegg or another Lib Dem tries to kid people with the ‘differentiation strategy’, let’s remind them of their real record in government. The truth is you can’t believe a single word Nick Clegg says.
Michael Dugher is MP for Barnsley East, vice-chair of the Labour party and shadow minister without portfolio