A LibDem Perspective – ‘Respect’, not a quality of this Conservative Party or its benefactors.

13 Mar 2024

A LibDem Perspective – ‘Respect’, not a quality of the Conservative Party or its benefactors.

“You are the company you keep” states the old adage. Having refused to reject the £10m donations made by their biggest donor, the Conservative Party must take ownership of the outrageous comments he is alleged to have made about Diane Abbott. I agree with very little of her Corbynite politics, but I have immense respect for her resilience and the role model she represents for thousands of young women of colour. As the recipient of more online vitriol and threats than any other MP, it is completely unacceptable if a high profile decorated businessman actually did say that she ‘should be shot’. The pretence that saying Abbott made him ‘want to hate all black women’ was not racist or misogynist defies belief. The Conservative Party surely has enough big donors to enable it to do the right thing, but I won’t hold my breath. Coming after inflammatory racist remarks made by their ex-Deputy Chairman and ex-Home Secretary it is unacceptable that the party of government should be fomenting civil unrest in this manner.

My main subject this month though is the Chancellor’s ‘smoke and mirrors’ budget.  Touted as a tax cutting budget, the continued failure to increase personal allowances means that much of the benefit from cutting National Insurance Contributions will be lost and more low income households will be paying tax. Worse still, the eight million pensioners who don’t pay NIC, will see their tax burden increase by an estimated £3,134 over the next five years due to the decision to freeze allowances until at least 2028-29. Allowances have increased by just £70 since 2019/20 and are already nearly £3,000 below where inflation adjustments would have taken them. It is an odd case of ‘biting the hand that feeds them’.  Over 90 of the 100 constituencies with the most pensioners are Conservative-held, and pensioners have been the most likely age group to vote Conservative. So, is the pensioner vote being taken for granted? Liberal Democrats have been the first of the larger parties to pledge to retain the ‘triple lock’ on pension increases, first introduced by LibDem Pensions Minister Steve Webb.

In other budget news, the Chancellor claimed overall spending on public services would increase by 1% ‘in real terms’, which means that outside the big ‘protected’ areas of NHS, defence and education, spending on areas like local council services, prisons and courts is bound to reduce. Real disposable household income is set to fall by 0.9%, making this the first parliament in modern history to preside over a drop in living standards, and there will be an estimated £19 billion ‘black hole’ in public finances. And then there’s the nonsensical suggestion that National Insurance could be dispensed with altogether, with no attempt to explain how the £40bn cost would be covered. It appears that ‘Trussonomics’ has not in the immortal words of John Cleese ‘joined the choir invisible’ but is ‘just resting’.


Cllr Kathryn Field

Aladdins Lamp

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