Thursday, 24 June 2010

Westcountry Lib Dems are revolting

Simon Hughes has put the cat amongst the coalition pigeons today by promising to table amendments to the Budget, as pressure from Lib Dem MPs, activists and supporters grow.

Westcountry Lib Dems are particualrly unhappy about the Budget hike in VAT to 20 per cent which they campaigned so angrily against just weeks ago.

MPs in the region admit they are considering abstaining or voting against the rise to 20 per cent which they warn will “clobber” the poorest, as I reported in the WMN today.

St Ives Lib Dem MP Andrew George said he was “disappointed” with the VAT rise, due to come into effect in January.

“I can see how seductive it is because it does make a lot of money for the Treasury but I do think it is a regressive tax. It does, without question, hit the poorest more than it hits the wealthiest.

“On that basis it didn’t chime with the stated purpose that those who got us into the doo-doos should pay the cost of getting us out.

“Anything that is going to clobber those that didn’t put us into this mess is the wrong way to go about it.”
Alex Folkes, a Lib Dem on Cornwall Council, said the spectacle of the Lib Dems “going back on their word” on VAT was a “crying shame”

“Having taken a bit of time to digest the budget I can't get past the VAT hike and the message it sends out,” he wrote on his blog.

“Not only is VAT a hugely regressive form of taxation which is likely to hit the poorest hardest, but there is also the message it sends about our Government - both halves of it - that what they said before the election and what they are doing now don't match up.

“The Lib Dems campaigned on the basis of the Conservatives' 'VAT Bombshell' and I can't help thinking that today's decision is hugely regrettable.”
Karen Gillard, the defeated Lib Dem candidate in South East Cornwall, said:
“I understand why we had to get rid of Gordon Brown, but that does not mean we have to let the Conservative mantra and ideology get its way. I am very sad to see senior Lib Dems trying to justify penalising the poorest in society.”
Lib Dem Voice, a leading grassroots website, has been inundated with party members and supporters angered by the Budget, branding the VAT rise “a disgusting betrayal of values”.

One web user, toryboysnevergrowup, said:
“How different do you think the Budget would really have been if the Lib Dems had sold their souls?”
Another, Ian Ridley, said the “whacking great” VAT rise meant he was now “seriously considering” quitting the party. Terry Gilbert added that the move was “both inflationary and ethically disgraceful”.

Jonathan Underwood, who stood unsuccessfully for the Lib Dems in the Tiverton and Honiton seat, said it was clear before the election that VAT needed to rise.

“I wish all parties had been a bit more straightforward about the scale of the financial challenge facing the country.

“It is not exactly the Budget I would have wanted, but the Conservatives have got five times the number of seats.”

He added, though, that without the Lib Dems in government, a Tory Budget “would have been a lot worse”.

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