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24 September 2008

LibDems aping the Tories

IN HIS leader's speech to the Lib Dems' party conference, Nick Clegg denied that they were becoming too similar to David Cameron's Conservatives. This was shortly before confirming their pledge to finance a 6p cut from the basic rate of tax by cutting public spending. 20 billion of cuts would be achieved by scrapping "a department or two" in Whitehall.

Ken Douglas

Senior figures in his own party warned that the policy would enable Labour to "attack us as Tory twins" whereas Vince Cable argued that the party would benefit from the Labour government's infighting and their tax policies would enable them to hit Labour in its heartlands in the North.

However, it is clear that the Lib Dems are more worried about the Tory revival - 70% of their MPs have Tory challengers in second place. What's more, the Lib Dems are five points lower in the polls than they were in 2005 while the Tories are now riding high. The party risks losing over half of its MPs if its current level of support is repeated at a general election.

Clegg threw out a few scraps to the remaining class warriors in the party such as making public-sector workers who earn more than 100,000 reapply for their jobs. Elsewhere he offered incentives and tax breaks for being thin and healthy and 16 billion on policies for the less well-off. However, he can't be too sure exactly who they are - when asked on a radio phone-in what the current level of state pension is, he said about 30!

That shows how remote leading politicians are from ordinary people's lives. Like New Labour and the Tories, the Lib Dems have no answer to the developing economic and financial crisis. And despite touting themselves as an alternative to the two main parties, they're serving up much the same policies.

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