20 September 2013

Having spent three and a half years colluding with the Tories, the Libdems are now running around hither and thither like headless chickens.

Is this a damascus moment when the light has shone on their deeds and they repent? Or have they realised that the general election and day of reckoning is only nineteen months away? Whichever, they are queuing up to refudiate, as Sarah Palin would put it, the policies they have voted for. They are now denouncing their own policies and supporting the very ones they have hitherto denounced.

Bedroom tax
In Parliament the Libdems supported the bedroom tax for social rented houses and justified it and disregarded the warnings of where it would lead. Now, as people fall into rent arrears and face eviction caused by the tax, the difficulties faced by disabled people because of the tax become better known, and the absence of sufficient houses to downsize to becomes obvious, many Libdems want to review it though some have always rejected it.

Free school meals
In a time of foodbanks and approaching general election the Libdems promote universal free school meals for infant schoolchildren, saying rightly it is a progressive policy with real following benefits in achievement. Hmm, they went along with the 2010 coalition axing of the planned modest extension of free school meals planned by the ousted Labour government. Left foot forward and its commenters have pointed out that some Libdems have robustly opposed programs of free school meals introduced or supported by Labour councillors.

Poor and vulnerable
They shout their pupil premium and tax threshold policies. Yes, but their policies have seen an increase in child poverty, an increase in VAT, which hits the poor most, and a large tax cut for the very rich. They have overseen the degrading of employment with short hours and the zero-hours uncertainty of pay with the certainty of bills for groceries and fuel and housing. The Libdems supported the abolition of the agricultural wages board that protected farm workers. I have recorded and discussed some of their reactionary votes in the post Libdem watch, especially the attacks on support for the vulnerable.

Their centre ground is a swamp and they have made life more difficult for very many. In a grotesquerie they have willingly imposed sacrifices on the poor and vulnerable not demanded from the well-heeled. The Libdem party is up to its elbows in the social and economic immiseration of people.

For the relation of poverty, free school meals, and school achievement see my blog post of 2009 here.

For an evaluation by the Institute for fiscal studies (IFS) of the effect of free school meals on attainment see here and here.

Labour introduced a bedroom criteria – in effect a ‘bedroom tax’ – for benefit for houses rented in the private sector but not for social rented houses. The party has now promised to abolish the bedroom tax in social rented houses introduced by the Tory Libdem government.