Thursday, 15 July 2010

Letter to Morecambe's local newspaper

I don't normally write to the local paper about national matters but I was prompted to do so by a former Labour councillor. I hope that it will be published next week, expecially as it is a reply to a national comment...

A strong opposition is a good thing, so I welcome David Whittaker’s letter to The Visitor (July 14th) in which he criticises the Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition’s budget. In particular he dislikes the rate at which the Government wishes to cut the deficit and the impact on the poor.

The fact is that the national debt has turned out to be vastly larger than even the greatest pessimists feared. Four trillion pounds! That’s around £65,000 for each of the 62 million people in the country. With figures like that the interest on the debt could easily grow to be more than our GDP. It’s hard to overstate the urgency of cuts needed to bring about deficit reduction. Unfortunately things have gone far beyond the point where we could place the burden just on the very richest.

It’s important that we target cuts so the worst-off don’t become the hardest-hit, and that is what the Liberal Democrat influence has largely achieved. It is unfortunate to see a cut to the Sure Start Maternity Grant, but the cut is to restrict it to the first child only, and the first child is the costliest. The health in Pregnancy grant is given regardless of income. Can we afford to give this grant even to the wealthiest? The figures say otherwise. There has to be targeting.

The Liberal Democrats’ influence is there for all to see. There has been a raise in capital gains tax and in personal tax allowances, and a restoration of the pensions to earnings link. It is useful to remind David that it was the Labour Party that got us into this mess. They created the costly surveillance state, increased the gap between rich and poor, and one of Labour’s first acts in Government was to restrict benefits for lone parents.

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