Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Child benefit : is Clegg the new Macavity?

Liberal Democrat blogger Caron rightly expresses her irritation that the cut in child benefit was announced at the Conservative party conference, rather than to parliament. But it begs the obvious question - what did the Tories actually have to gain from doing it this way? Surely you save your conference speech 'rabbits out of the hat' for things that are actually going to be popular with the electorate? Apart from anything else, it conveniently lets the Liberal Democrats off the hook. Since the coalition was formed, the Tories have gone out of their way to ensure that the Lib Dems were fully locked into the cuts narrative, with it being left to David Laws (remember him?) to itemise the early 'savings' with ill-disguised relish. But tonight, the only questions seemingly being asked are how this Tory cut will play with the Tory-leaning electorate, and how the Tory rank-and-file feel about it.

A cynic might almost suspect that this was a deal cooked up between Clegg and Cameron - you can have your cut, but this time you can take the (initial) heat for it yourself. If so, there are of course only so many times that trick can be pulled before Clegg starts to take on an old mantle of Gordon Brown's - as this government's "Macavity".


Iain Martin on Newsnight : "the Tories have forgotten where the middle is".

Now, there are a great many reasons why abandoning universal child benefit may be extremely unwise, but one of them is not that a £45,000+ salary for an individual somehow represents a "middle income". Memo to all politicians - please feel free to "forget" things that aren't actually true. Regardless of the best efforts of right-wing hacks to "remind" you of them later on.

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