Mail spots Lib Dems about to "soak the rich"!

14 Sep 2010

The Mail's online version featured a piece on Saturday 11th September about the debate at Party Conference next Tuesday on "Fairness in a Time of Austerity", which mentions "taxation" and "land values" in the same sentence! As one would expect, they don't approve.

It was pleasing to see two Lib Dem MPs, neither known for their special interest in LVT, leaping to the defence of the policy. Neither pleasing nor surprising was the reaction of an unnamed Tory Minister: "Lib Dems are in a Coalition Government now. They've got to show some discipline."

Increasingly, some of us are worried that our "Friends in Government" (a phrase used by the editor of Land & Liberty when headlining the centre-page spread in the current issue of that journal) are being a tad too disciplined - at the expense of Party morale. ALTER Chair Tony Vickers challenged Nick Clegg, when he spoke at RICS on the Coalition's 100th day, why Lib Dems are accepting policies that are not in the Coalition Agreement - specifically Free Schools and GP-run Health Trusts.

Tony has tabled a Question to the Party's ruling Executive Committee, at Conference next week, which seeks to secure a 'level playing field' between the two Coalition Parties:

"What process, if any, has the Executive put in place whereby the Coalition Agreement is kept under review and (a) concerns about departures from the Agreement are raised in Cabinet by this Party and (b) proposals are formulated to be presented by our Ministers in Government to update it, in the light of experience and of Party opinion?"

In a grown-up Coalition, Ministers should surely be allowed to commission research which is in accord with the Government's agreed aims and which is within the remit of their own Ministerial responsibilities. For example, a Minister in Communities & Local Government ought to have access to data that underpins local finance - like land valuations - and commission research into ways of using it to incentivise regeneration and new housing.

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