If there was a tax on red lines, the budget deficit would quickly disappear going by the frequency with which Liberal Democrats have been talking about manifesto red lines in the last few days.
The red lines the Liberal Democrats have been unveiling this week are all from the front page of the manifesto. It’s a cunning way of rebadging and splitting up into several stories the front page to get another several rounds of media coverage – and fully consistent with what was agreed for the front page.
Sounds obvious, and yet if you read the many pieces in the media about how the party has done in implementing its 2010 manifesto you find something curious. They don’t start with the front page priorities from 2010. Nor do they end with or pass through them.
In fact, the existence of 2010 front page priorities frequently doesn’t even get a mention, and I’ve not found during this campaign any media evaluation of the party’s record in government that actually goes through them all.
Rather you get a semi-random selection of different policies examined, always leaving out from consideration some of the front page (which is not without consequences for the political verdict given how good the record on the front page is).
There has, however, been an added twist with the Sunday morning red lines, both of which (on the environment and on public sector pay) depart from the exact wording on the manifesto front page.
On the environment it is simple enough, taking the wording about green laws and protecting nature and giving it a slightly more specific slant, which is what a red line needs.
On public sector pay, however, it is territory not mentioned specifically on the front page. However, it is a move to flesh out in more eye-catching ways what balancing the budget fairly means – in this case, ending the public sector pay squeeze when the deficit is clear and raising pay subsequently in line with growth in the economy.
It’s in line with the text in the manifesto (and in line with the more detailed discussion the Federal Policy Committee had ahead of agreeing the manifesto) and was first aired last month. Making it a red line now is both an attempt to attract a second round of media attention for the policy and also an attempt to appeal to a key group of public sector workers.
Following the success of the Liberal Democrat fundraising drive where donors were entered in a prize draw to win dinner with John Cleese, now Hugh Grant has offered himself up too. It’s all part of an online Liberal Democrat fundraising machine which has raised treble what it raised in 2010, even without Cleggmania.
Hugh Grant says:
I am not a Lib Dem, a Tory a Labourite or anything in particular but I recognise political guts when I see it. And I know Nick Clegg was prepared to stand up to the Tories when they wanted to ignore or water down the Leveson Report. For that he gets a lot of abuse in the Tory press. But he was right to do it. And the manifesto is very clear, not only that Leveson should be delivered, but that it should be done while boosting investigative journalism with more protections.
So I am happy to help make this election a fairer fight.
I can bore to death any lucky winner of this draw on the detail of the Leveson Report and effect of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Or we can just talk about me and all my problems.
You can donate and enter the prize draw here [now closed].
Final TV ‘debate’ gives Lib Dems another boost
It’s not exactly a case of momentum being with the Liberal Democrats. More a case of a series of twitches upwards in the polls combined, more importantly, with a significant improvement in the party’s overall image and reputation – as I’ve covered in previous Liberal Democrat Newswires. The latter on its own isn’t enough to win over many extra votes in most seats, but it does make the party’s aims much easier in the target Parliamentary seats.
The back-to-back Question Time appearances gave that process another boost with a larger improvement in sentiment about the Liberal Democrats than for the other parties:
The big question in seat numbers is whether the Ashcroft constituency polling – especially with his insistence on not naming the candidates in the polling question (although Ashcroft does do this in Parliamentary by-election polling) – is accurate. The gap between Ashcroft polls and Lib Dem constituency polls which name candidates is consistently so large that if the latter are right, there is still a clear path to the Liberal Democrats winning as many as 40+ seats. If, on the other hand, Ashcroft’s emphasis on asking people to think about how they’re going to vote in their seat (but without names) is too generous to the Lib Dems, then there’s also a route to less than 20 seats.
Some of Britain’s biggest political donors, including a dozen senior lawmakers, have benefited from a little-noticed loophole that lets them avoid tax on millions of pounds in donations to political parties, a Reuters analysis has found.
Reuters is the first to measure the loophole, which offers political parties – and in some cases, individual politicians or their families – an unintended gift from the taxpayer.
Political donations made by individuals are not tax-deductible in Britain. If a donor makes money as salary or dividend and then donates it, they have to pay income tax. But giving from a company that they control lets the donor avoid paying income tax, accountants say. The mechanism enables donors to give more than they otherwise might…
Donations made through companies are perfectly legal, and some of those contacted said they were not aware of the savings they had made. The British tax authority simply does not tax donations made in this way, six tax accountants said. The tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said it had the legal right to tax such gifts but would not say why it did not use this right.
Christopher Grove, partner with law firm Withers LLP, said the benefit was the result of a “grey area” in tax law. “It’s a quirk of the way the system works at the edges, rather than something more deliberate,” he said…
The Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties said they did not encourage donors to give in tax-efficient ways, and the donations complied with electoral laws. A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said its policy of capping donations at 10,000 pounds would minimise the gain to business owners.
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Thanks to Nick Barlow for spotting this on ElectionLeaflets.org:
What would be the most embarrassing election result?
Saving a sudden invasion of elastic eating alien microbes which cause an outbreak of wardrobe malfunctions during Returning Officer results announcements, the most embarrassing result – for the media and most political pundits – will be if the pollster who is usually right at election time is right again.
That’s very different from the media’s narrative of the campaign. Yet if ICM and the supporting trio turn out to be right, why would it be a surprise that the pollster with form was right again? With hindsight everyone will say it was obvious and wonder why they didn’t think it before.
A constituent pays tribute to Lib Dem campaigning in an unusual way
One constituent of Stephen Lloyd MP in Eastbourne has paid tribute to the extremely effective Liberal Democrat poster display in the constituency by creating the Lloyd Alert! computer game. How many points can you score? [Game, alas, since removed.]
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