The fabric of Britain as we know it is being ripped apart. So much is changing, almost behind our backs, we haven't got time to notice what is happening to us. And it is happening fast.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Cable Answers Frothy Questions on Gransnet

Liberal Democrat and Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable agreed to take part in a webchat on the Mumsnet daughter (or should that be mother) website, Gransnet.

Some questions were asked by practising Frothers, and many other questions came from regular Gransnetters, touching on topics that we have covered on this blog.

Here is a condensed version of the webchat, that you can read in full here.

On the winter fuel allowance for pensioners:

"I haven't given it back. But I do a lot for charities anyway.
People like me don't need it, but we have to be careful about rushing into more means testing. The system is already complicated enough."

On the "broken promise" of Tuition Fees

All three parties promised to oppose tuition fees in opposition but weren’t able to deliver in office. Lib Dems made a mistake, which we regret, of making a pledge in 2010 which collided with economic reality. We have instead introduced in office progressive reforms eliminating up front fees, improving access and scholarships for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and establishing a graduate payment related to ability to pay (in effect, a form of graduate tax).
... and later on the same topic
The overall level of household debt is too high in the UK mainly because of the house price boom in the last decade which took prices (and mortgage debt) to extreme and unsustainable levels. But there is nothing wrong with individuals borrowing prudently – for example for house purchase. Most of us did when we were younger and managed our debt. Student loans are subsidised and only have to be paid if the incomes of graduates rise above £21k. The Scottish anomaly is unaffordable and will come to grief.

On the EU Veto

I think, as Chou en lai once said of the French Revolution, it is too early to tell what the impact of the veto has been. I think, actually, it's a side issue. What really matters is whether the eurozone crisis is resolved in the next few months, and we are only on the sidelines. What I do believe, however, is that we should not be giving overriding priority to the interests of the City of London. We need to think of all of Britain.

On the HMRC "Sweetheart Deals"

I think the answer is yes, I am scandalised, when I discover that leading companies are dodging taxes. The government has, however, put in place tougher controls over the banks who were the worst when it came to industrial-scale tax dodging. We also need to think about very rich individuals, who don;t pay their share of tax, which is why the Liberal Democrats have been advocating better taxation of valuable property, which can't run away to Monaco.

On the National Minimum Wage / Living Wage

I support the minimum wage and recently approved an increase. I act on the advice of an independent body, the Low Pay Commission, and I think it is better to keep decisions non-political, I certainly agree with you on executive pay and I've just finished an exercise looking for ideas on how we ensure that companies keep their top pay under control.

On the Every Disabled Child Matters Campaign and the
planned 50% cuts to tax credit enhancement and Cameron
lying to the House of Commons about these changes

I don't know the answer to your question, without checking, but I am sure my colleagues wouldn't knowingly take steps which damaged disabled children. I'll raise it with colleagues.

And the question by Frothers, that he did not answer:

Over on Mumsnet, a group of frustrated women started talking about the cuts and how they were unfairly aimed at the most vulnerable in our society. The more we ranted, the more we realised that we wanted to do something to highlight these injustices. Within a couple of days, we had set up a blog and started writing about the cuts that we find most objectional.

My question is this:

Nick Clegg said yesteray:

History teaches that, at times of deep economic uncertainty, societies become more exposed to the forces of division – populism, insularity, separatism, an 'us versus them' mentality

Why then are the Lib Dems not doing more to go against the Conservative rhetoric of "benefit scroungers", which according to the LSE and the Guardian has increased in recent times. 

The DWP has stated that benefit fraud is estimated at around 0,3% but most respondents of the survey conducted by the LSE think that the rate is 50 - 70%. 

Us vs Them at present seems to be those who are not so badly off, against those who are facing benefit cuts and homelessness. 

Does Nick Clegg mean what he says, or it is populism? And what will the Lib Dems do to show that he means business, because times are too serious for empty promises.

It would have been good to have had a clear and honest answer to these and other questions. Particularly the one asked on Every Disabled Child Matters was dodged.

Read the full webchat on Gransnet 

Back to top


  1. I was really disappointed in him.

  2. Grrrrr - Scotland has no borrowing power, we don't have any choice but to come in on budget with the pocket money Westminster throws us - and we consistently come in under budget. We can't do unaffordable things, we don't have the fall-back. But education for the proles is against Tory Boy's ideology so it must be a bad thing we are doing and it must fail.....

  3. I asked the EDCM question and was pretty damn disgusted that Mr Cable appeared to not even know about the issue!


later posts

earlier posts