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Lib Dem conference: Clegg will accept further welfare cuts but wants to squeeze rich more

23 September 2012

The opening act of any party conference is the interview for Sunday morning TV and Nick Clegg made clear to Andrew Marr that the welfare budget is ‘not immune from further savings.’ He also said that he was confident that he could persuade the Tories to agree to further ways to make the ‘rich’ pay more. But under pressure from Marr, he couldn’t provide any details on what form this new tax might take.

In an attempt to damp down the continuing chatter about Vince Cable’s conversations with Ed Miliband, Clegg said that he was in regular touch with both Milibands, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson. But as long as the Lib Dems remain as low as they are in the polls and Clegg appears to be a drag on the ticket, this leadership speculation will continue to bubble away.

Clegg’s performance was, at times, awkward. It was a reminder that his apology on tuition fees—which is for making the pledge in the first place rather than for the fees increase—is hard to explain.

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  • Jules

    Dead man walking!

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Message for Clegg and Co – you have no right to help yourself to other people’s money just because politicians have cocked up the economy…so bugger off!

  • David Hill

    For once I agree with Nick Clegg’s. In this respect it was interesting to read in Forbes last week that Bill Gates increased his wealth by $7 billion and that the 400 richest Americans increased their wealth by $1.7 trillion or 13% over the last 12-months, but where contrary to this 97% of the world’s population got poorer. The same is the case in the UK. Therefore it has to be asked if these Foundations that these people operate out of are really philanthropic at all and where all this giving is not really giving in the true sense of giving, but a way to increase their personal wealth without incurring any tax. It is debateable as the people behind these vast Foundations get richer every year. Indeed it could be construed that the formula is to create a Foundation so that the taxman cannot get his hands on any part of your wealth, then you reinvest these vast financial resources around the world through employing an array of investors to make as much additional wealth as possible. Nothing wrong in this but it could be seen as a very clever corporate tax dodge where the ultimate owners keep hold of their wealth and pay no tax on the earnings to government, and therefore there is no redistribute of wealth to the less fortunate in society – the vast majority of us. What appears to happen is that Gates and others give around 3% of their wealth (and no more) every year but where the 97%+ that they are left with makes far more billions for them, easily outstripping by far the mere 3% given. Therefore the wealthiest people are far better off financially and their families after them by creating these huge Foundations – little or no tax to pay and most is kept to reinvest to make these people even more richer than before. There is therefore an irony about this giving and philanthropy that is not as straight forward as it seems. In this respect there is more to it than meets the eye and where corporate minds are not programmed to be benevolent in the true sense of the meaning that normal people can understand – the 97% of the world’s populous that now control less than 30% of the world’s wealth. Indeed a mere 2,000 companies last year according to Forbes again, the ‘Global 2000’, controlled 51% of the world’s total economic turnover or $36 trillion in nominal terms. Therefore it appears also that those who run big business never let it go and that can be seen when they form these so-called vast philanthropic Foundations. But also it appears and where I have observed this over the years that these philanthropic multi-billionaires and their Foundations do not give to things that affect their ‘bottom-line’. In this respect I am aware of several examples that can rid the world of major global scourges, such as a cure for Class ‘A’ drugs, the stoppage of future killer pandemics such as avian flu and the vast reduction in HIV/AIDS cases through early testing of new infants. Why don’t they do this? You tell me, but where I believe it is down to financial investment considerations and where highly needed solutions for humanity are not entertained because the present products that try to treat these great diseases and human threats (which have little success) are required to be continually used and thereby continually reap the very high returns for the billionaires like Gates et al personally (through their Foundations of course). It is time in Britain and the West in both to help their nations who have given them this vast wealth, that the rich paid their due share to society. Will it happen, probably not as it is as though they can take it with them when they die. Dr David Hill Chief Executive World Innovation Foundation Huddersfield, United Kingdom/Bern, Switzerland

  • Bob

    Don’t worry, Clegg can never keep his promises!

  • 2trueblue

    The man has not got an original idea in his head. The LibDums are becoming the part of envy politics. Where is all this going? D Alexander rambled on and the figure of £1m is now to include everything? So not a mansion tax after all. Frankly HMRS is not managing to collect tax that people should be paying so promises from the LibDums are not impressive. So far they have not been very impressive. The Tories now need to let us know what their policies are.

  • james102

    Fraud prevention and detection is an easy way to cut back on the welfare budget.
    Every day last week there were reports of cases in the courts of tens of thousands of pounds being fraudulently claimed and paid. If the claimants had broken into the welfare offices and stolen £78k or £100k they would have been unlikely to have got away with the soft sentences (at least one suspended) that were reported.
    Contracts should be put in place for the private sector to randomly audit claims and be paid on a percentage of savings .Special courts and prisons ,if necessary, should be set up to deal with the cases.
    This is such an enormous budget that even a relatively small reduction would make a difference.

    • trevor21

      In view of the fact that the richest Oligarches in Britain avoid tax to the sum of 122 billion a year,do you think similarly strenuous efforts should be made to clamp down on the richest in society? Special prisons perhaps?

      • james102

        This is really about pragmatism rather than envy.
        We can’t afford the welfare state we have so need to reduce its costs. Discouraging the rich from living in Britain would just make the situation worse.
        The choice comes down to all being more equal in a very much poorer society and inequality in a rich society. Relative poverty verses actual poverty.
        Government expenditure is being paid for by borrowing, the bill being passed down the generations.
        Time to accept the reality of the situation and make the hard choices.

        • treborc1

          So remind me of the cases we had last week on welfare theft, I’m interested.

  • pauldanon

    Shome mishtake?

  • Noa

    “In an attempt to damp down the continuing chatter…etc”.

    No need to repeat it James.

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