Jonathan Calder wasn’t very impressed, and neither was I (no surprise there then). Why have all those people milling about in the background? Yes Mark Pursey, your mum can see you. If you’re going to do a Tory style launch, at least get them to flank you.
Oaten’s campaign manager Lembit Opik needs to pull his thumb out of… er… well, anyway. What I’m trying to say is, these two are playing on their PR credentials, and on that basis neither of the other candidates have much to fear.
Also, though I’m hardly a Leah Darbyshire myself, and it may seem a little harsh to say, but if you’re going to put so much stock in your candidate having youthful vigour, you need to do something about his head which, to be frank, resembles a recently unearthed root vegetable. Botox the mofo if you have to. That may be impolite to point out, but then so was the constant innuendo about Campbell’s age that peppered his speech. You reap what you sow.
In the papers on Tuesday, there was also some kite-flying about Oaten proposing to change the Lib Dem policy of raising income tax to 50% on incomes over Â£100,000 by raising the threshold to Â£150,000. I’m afraid this sums up, for me, the whole problem with Oaten. There is not a single principled position and its diametric opposite that he has not placed himself between. He has triangulation in his blood; it’s what he does. That’s how a Social Democrat can simultaneously claim to be a One Nation Conservative (he founded the Peel Group on the grounds that the Lib Dems were the natural party for wet Tories) and a Liberal To Rule Them All.
Personally, my support of the supertax policy is fairly weak. I agree with the argument that we can’t depend on it raising quite as much as we predict, and that the truly rich will simply avoid paying it. Indeed, I have to admit that some of the better arguments made in the comments of this blog have given me real pause for thought. I support it mainly on the basis that I don’t believe that the more apocalyptic predictions made about it are true, and on the basis that I can’t see the party adopting something that I would consider to be genuinely progressive, i.e. a proper LVT policy.
I would have some sympathy therefore if he had come out and simply called for it to be abolished. But this wishy-washy fudge is simple nonsense. What is he saying? That people who earn Â£120,000 a year deserve a break, but people on Â£155,000 can screw themselves? It neither satisfies the people who see it as sending the wrong signal, nor the people who believe it is the right policy. It is empty-headed, rush-to-the-centre-of-any-argument nonsense. And it is exactly where the party should not be going.