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« Twenty-first century education | Main | Quote of the day »
Saturday
Feb172007

Lib Dems forget the Liberal bit

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have outlined what they will do if they win power after the May elections to the Scottish Parliament. This was a wonderful opportunity for Nicol Stephen to show us that the party could stand apart from the others as the voice of economic and social liberalism.

The BBC reports the considered thoughts of the cream of Scottish LibDemmery here. The main policy positions are:

  • Recruit 1,000 new community police officers
  • Scrap the graduate endowment
  • 100% of electricity to be generated from renewables by 2050.
  • 100 new and refurbished community health centres.
  • Smaller class sizes as well as new teachers and sports coaches.
  • An entitlement for all two-year-olds to have up to 15 hours a week in a supervised playgroup.

So to sum it all up in a sentence, the "Liberal" Democrats actually plan to make the state quite a lot bigger. Well, when you look at the renewable energy position, the "Liberal" Democrat position might be characterised more precisely as "meaning to make the state absolutely colossal". To acheive this they are going to have to raise taxes to pip-squeaking levels - this is going to need massive subsidies. I'm not sure the 3% leeway the Treasury allows the Scottish executive over tax rates will actually be sufficient to cover the funding gap. Certainly the sop that Stephen offers to business of a cut in business rates is going to be a drop in the ocean when it comes to trying to stop an exodus of talent and business south of the border.

Brian Micklethwait, in a discussion on 18 Doughty Street the other day, said that he thought the Liberal Democrats had become slightly more Liberal recently. From this sorry, sorry announcement from the Scottish party, it's very hard to see this.

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