More welfare cuts could create trouble for Clegg
Nick Clegg could be facing a disturbance from within his own party following the coalition’s current plans. It would appear the majority of Liberal Democrat ministers are against signing up to a new detailed assortment of public spending cuts during the two years after the next general election in 2015. Protesting Lib-Dems are threatening to put forward an emergency motion at the party’s conference in the autumn, in a bid to stop Clegg and the rest of the Liberal Democrat leadership, if they decide to go along with supporting more cuts; which the majority of the Lib-Dem MPs consider to be a profoundly unpopular choice.
However, Clegg, along with other ministers from his party, have already voiced concerns about plans put forward by David Cameron and George Osborne involving a further £10bn of cuts to the welfare system. It is looking more likely that the Liberal Democrats next election fight will consist of clearing the budget deficit using tax increases (on wealthier people, bringing in levies on people who own mansions, for example) as opposed to cutting more public spending. Obviously this is a bid to win over many of their lost supporters, but will people really trust the party after the last election? On the other hand it would appear the Tories are using these cuts to show how they’re ‘cleaning up Labour’s mess’ and would, of course, outline these cuts in their 2015 election campaign. It would also show that they are not afraid to make the hard decisions, when it comes to clearing the deficit, which is something not every party could say.
As of yet, no decision has been made as to whether or not the party with put forward an emergency motion, but it is looking quite possible. The vice-chairman of the Liberal Democrats’ federal policy committee stated “Many of us would argue that we ought to decide in our own manifesto what the split should be between tax rises and spending cuts.” It is obvious to see that the rest of the party would not be impressed, should Clegg idly follow the Prime Minister once again, with them wanting to decide themselves how their party would deal with the budget deficit. However, for the time being it appears that the deputy PM is siding with his party, rather than his usual agreement of any plan that Cameron comes up with. Could this be a turning point for Clegg as the Liberal Democrat leader, or will he end up run back to Cameron, with no regard for his Lib-Dem values? It looks as though we will have to wait and see.
- Josh @joshknapman