Wednesday, 9 January 2013

How the Lib Dems have failed us.

Yesterday's vote on the benefit cap was, for me, the last straw. I've been more than supportive of various interactions that they have had in government, given their ideology and membership base. I still don't see the NHS changes as anything other than a win for the Lib Dems with the resulting compromise.

However the fact that the Lib Dems have consistently, at commons level, failed to protect the poor shows that they are simply not liberal enough for me. Waving through the scrapping of legal aid so that only the rich can afford to defend themselves was strike one. Strike two came with the "social cleansing" style rule to cap housing benefits and thus price poor families out of certain areas of the country regardless of their circumstance.

So yesterday, the active worsening of living conditions for all of the poorest people in society, standing shoulder to shoulder with the utter bullshit mantra that somehow the poorest don't deserve to get percentage terms higher rises in income than someone who doesn't receive benefits and probably, actually, is getting along just fine in the pay progression stakes, is my strike three.

Lib Dems will, and are, crowing about two things that further show how far they have fallen from what those like me hoped was a more pragmatic and principled party. The first is that Labour have some nerve, hypocrites that they are, in standing against this policy.

Yes. Labour are hypocrites. We know this. They are opportunistic, the sun also rises every day. This doesn't even remotely give you the right to play apologist for the worsening of living conditions of the poorest in our society, furthering inequality in this country rather than reducing it.

Second, the "fairer taxes" stuff. The only way that you bringing "million of people out of tax" all together is if you create an environment that allows their pay to rise, and that doesn't reduce their other income so that such a tax cut is irrelevant.

Since 2009 the tax allowance has risen by some £3k, and will save those on a full time minimum wage job £681 compared to that year. What does that matter when your changes to benefits mean that your income is rising below the cost of living? All that the tax changes have succeeded in doing now, thanks to the draconian standards of support that Lib Dems have been vital in supporting, is that middle income individuals are taking almost £700 extra into their pockets while the poor do not.

It's a shambles that the Lib Dems have turned what could have been a very progressive policy in to an utterly regressive system...rewarding those that happen to be in work on a comfortable wage while merely maintaining (at best) the situation for the poor.

The legacy of the Lib Dems in 2015 should have been that they stopped illiberal policy, rolled back the surveillance state, and protected the poor from even suffering equal (in percentage terms) losses in income compared to those much more well off. As time goes on it looks more and more like they're failing in all three, but it is the last one that is going to make it for me to support them at the ballot box.

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