Daily Archives: 11 September 2008

Links of the Day

You’ve probably already read Danny Alexander’s attempt to clarify Nick Clegg’s position on tax cuts and Paul Holmes’ riposte to it. For the record I’m nothing like as sceptical as Paul Holmes is about tax cuts. I only ask for two things – that we are prudent and that we are clear about what we’re doing. For possibly the first time in my life that puts me on the left of a debate, which is at least novel.

Joshua Vincent has written a factinating comment on yesterday’s links post about Land Value Taxation in Namibia.

Alexandra Runswick reports from yet another seminar about the Government’s Statement of Values initiative.

Matt Damon asks some pertinent questions about Sarah Pailin (hat tip: James Schneider).

Finally, and also on YouTube, this video made me laugh out loud. I have to admit I’ve been following sxephil for a couple of weeks and he is starting to grow on me.

Avast! How Clegg and Alexander are doing it wrong.

(Cross-posted from here)

This article pretty much sums up what is wrong with the party’s communication strategy at the moment. Apart from the fact that it has been published roughly four days too late, it repeats many of the mistakes we witnessed last weekend.

Reading it carefully, it is clear what Danny is getting at. But journalists don’t – and often can’t – spend time reading the subtle nuances of every press release and statement. I’m not sure if the talk about ‘the vast majority of the “spare” money’ going on tax cuts is part of a thought out strategy, or a retrofit designed to spare Nick Clegg’s blushes following the Telegraph interview, but its potential to mislead is, well, vast.

Let’s be clear: if the £20bn of savings is to be earmarked for existing spending commitments, then that means that only £2-4bn will be left for tax cuts. Whichever way you spin it, that is not a “vast” amount of money – perhaps a penny in the pound on the basic rate of income tax (which will benefit low income earners not one jot). So why all this talk of “vastness”?

There’s nothing wrong with admitting that any tax cuts we come up with are likely to be modest – given the current economic climate it is prudent to be prudent. All this talk of “vastness” is an open invitation to misinterpretation.

Several people walked away from the “Make it Happen” launch in July under the genuine impression that Clegg had promised £20bn in tax cuts (Iain Dale even described that sum in his Telegraph column as a small amount). We can’t keep leaving so much room for confusion and doubt. And that means choosing words much more carefully.

NB My Parliamentary Monitor article, which is related to this subject, is now readable online to all and sundry.