Last night on Question Time, Vince Cable looked like a true Tory. As one audience member said, I never thought I’d see the day where Cable is more right-wing than the Mail columnist. And that he was, as he provided full support for the ‘free schools’ policy, something the LibDems used to criticise – but it is hardly suprising Cable has ‘changed’ his mind, once considering the hug ‘u-turn’ he did in regards to cutting. Vince Cable is even now joining in the defense of the VAT increase, saying it isn’t that regressive after all, and even purporting, as Osborne did, the increased cutting of welfare benefits. Many believed that Cable was once a social democrat on the left of the LibDems, I am as amazed as them to see how right-wing Cable is becoming. Once a very respected man, is turning into the Tories’ regressive shield – as shown by the fact that he was the one to go on QT in budget week.
I have been amazed by some of the LibDem criticisms to the oppositional parties, not just Labour – who have rightful worries about the budget. Yes, Labour did contribute to the situation we are in. But with the need for investment after the Tory crusade on jobs and the public sector from the 80s-90s, and then the economic crisis needing the government to provide insulation for failing banks etc to protect the economy, there are some good reasons why they did so – something, I remember the LibDems once supported (this is not to deny that Labour did make some stupid decisions and have spent and introduced measures that have made things a lot worse than it could have been).
Mark Thompson argued for example, that Labour (and other oppositional parties such as The Greens) are not reflecting public opinion citing one poll that showed only a fraction more of the public approving the budget than those who disapprove. This discounts the fact that the LibDems have gone down the polls drastically, a clear reflection that their own supporters don’t like the measures so keenly as many LibDems like Clegg are making out. Furthermore, it doesn’t take into account the sound intellectual analyses by researching bodies, charities and so forth – who one by one are illustrating in various ways the damage that this budget will do. The most clearest example of this is the Institute of Fiscal Studies. But then Clegg tried to get around it by arguing that it doesn’t take into account the ‘progressive’ policies the government is going to implement in the future. For one, this then undermines their own attempts to provide such an analysis now, but two – ‘progressive’? Do you mean those future cuts, such as to the welfare budget, by any chance?
The potential amendment rebellion has been squashed, after Hughes has been forced to deny that he actually meant he would challenge the budget to make it more fair – when that was exactly what he was saying. However, have LibDems such as Hughes really got a leg to stand on? After all – they did vote for the deal. Are you seriously telling me that they thought the deal would amount to the progressive policies that they wanted? At least LibDems such as Mark Thompson are accepting the budget, as after all a deal with the Tories they knew would result in the type of polices we have seen. As I have said before, only Kennedy as a LibDem MP commands any respect as a rebel, as he was the only one who stuck his hand up and voted against the coalition as he knew exactly the type of policies and budget that would result from a Tory led coalition.