Sunday, April 11, 2010

LibDem blunder on VAT

I thought that the LibDem poster, unveiled last week, which decried the Tories for a VAT rise was completely made up. Yet nobody in the media picked up on it ... until this morning when LibDem Treasury Spokesman Vince Cable got stuck on the issue on the BBC:

JON SOPEL: I mean let’s leave aside whether or whether not there is a black hole in the Tories' finances. Leave that to one side. You don’t know factually, that they are going to raise VAT. That is your conjecture.

VINCE CABLE: It is a conjecture and it’s a reasonable assumption and I wouldn’t claim anymore than that.

JON SOPEL: And that £389 is a rough figure plucked –

VINCE CABLE: It’s a ball park estimate of what it would require in order to fill that gap, and it seems a reasonable way of expressing that argument."

...JON SOPEL: Would you rule out raising VAT?

VINCE CABLE: No, I don’t. It’s something –

JON SOPEL: So therefore your position is no different to them."

So, in short, the LibDems completely make up a Tory policy, attached a fantasy figure to it and try (again) to scare people. I don't know if I find their behaviour more or less worrying than the journo's who failed to dig deeper on this earlier in the week.


Gavin Ayling said...

Surely this is infinitely less embarrassing than Theresa May on Channel 4 News talking about the three strikes policy that will save nothing...?

Anonymous said...

No Gavin - this is the Deputy Leader of the LD party admitting they made up a policy and a figure attached to it.

At least with May the point is that the 3 strikes idea is to send a message and discourage benefit fraud.

There is a major difference!

Martin S said...

But this kind of nonsense was a Liberal Party ploy of many years standing!

They would send out a Liberal Newsletter making an outrageous claim. For example: "Council to close down all libraries."

They would then launch a 'campaign' against this imagined policy. And when the council issued a statement saying: "We have no intention of closing any libraries" the Liberals would publish a special edition of Liberal News with the headline: "Victory for Liberal Party campaign! Council will not close any libraries!"

Bill Quango MP said...

Is Clegg going to do the leader's debate on his own? Or is 'uncle' Vince coming to help him.

They seem inseperable these days.

Anonymous said...

It worked very well for the Tories in 1992!!!

Red Star said...

I don't stick up for the Lib Dems that often but in this case I will.

From how I interpreted the issue it seems like Vince Cable was giving a reasonable assumption. Further strengthened by the fact that the Tories have not given us an estimate on how they will fill the gap in funding.

I think its quite right for Vince Cable to assume that they will raise VAT. I would make the same assumption. What else have the Conservatives got left to do? Ideologically they would find it difficult to raise the top rate of income tax any further, plus they need to raise the money through other means rather than indirect taxation.

I have said this before - there is a credibility gap with the Conservatives on economic policies. It is not going away any time soon unfortunately.