Nick Clegg offered the most implausible of explanations as to why the Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis of the budget which they have categorically branded as regressive was wrong. He sai the measures were progressive if the ConDems plans to get people off benefits were taken into account.
The reality is the ConDems plan is to create 4 million unemployed.
Faisal Islam tore the claim by Clegg apart at Channel 4.
And as my Green New Deal colleague Larry Elliott says this morning at the Guardian:
For years, Lib Dems have banged on about how the two architects of postwar Labour Britain – Keynes and Beveridge – were both Liberals. One can only imagine what those 20th-century giants would say about policies that increase unemployment, unravel the welfare state, hit the poor harder than the rich, and provide political cover for a rightwing government intent on turning the clock back to the early 80s.
So, if those Lib Dems who take pride in being on the progressive wing of politics find the IFS assessment uncomfortable reading, then tough; they need to feel bad about the policies they are backing. And they had better prepare for a lot more ordure when the austerity policies really bite next year. They should also be worried about the US economy, which – unencumbered by budget cuts – is on the brink of a double-dip recession.
That said, Larry’s right too that Labour really does need a narrative now.
A narrative that says just why it believes in the state and market working together to delver in combination the goods and services the people of this country need and want.
Clegg is not in that space. And he never will be again.