Attacking the Poor and the Vulnerable Part Two, it’s why I’m Backing Tim Farron for the Leadership of the Liberal Democrats

One of the things that I think many of us with both a heart and a decency disposition would agree on is that many of the policies by the previous coalition government of both Conservative and Liberal Democrats were by far some of the worse things we have seen a government do in recent times.

The previous Government told us at the time that they had two main aims. These were to tackle the country’s debts (not caused by poor people) and to reform welfare (mainly used by poor people). The coalition in their first budget raised VAT to 20% (which hits the poorest hardest), they increased Capital Gains Tax, increased the Personal Allowance and cut Corporation Tax and reduced the 50p rate for those earning £150.000. While the raising of the Personal Allowance was welcome and lauded by the Liberal Democrats it was more than written off by the changes to Tax Credits which saw millions of families lose their Tax Credits all together. Taking into account the VAT Hike and change in personal allowance, on average families were still worse off by around £1,335 a year. Now for me, this means that the poorest were paying for what was basically criminal activity by the bankers and a disgusting agenda of social reform by the Government.

When you add in the billions of cuts in government spending on non protected services such as social care, housing etc it would be fair to claim that the economic recovery (if there actually is one outside London) has come about not as a result of the genius of George Osborne but on the backs on those with the very least and those with no way of defending themselves. Now I don’t take as much pleasure as some members of the Liberal Democrats regarding how much they tamed the Tories, but I do accept that they slowed them down a little in what can only be described as an agenda of attacking both the state and the poor and vulnerable, and at a very heavy cost to the Liberal Democratic Party.

However, now that the new loving, caring, working man Conservative Party have a majority we are about to see the sequel ‘Attacking the Poor and the Vulnerable Part Two ‘. Today it has been reported that George Osborne is considering a further £5 Billion in cuts to Tax Credits, this will see around 3 million families lose a further £1,400 pounds a year. The Scottish Government block grant is to be cut by a further £100 million, freezing of child benefit, on top of the 12 Billion Cut to Welfare already announced will result in more unemployment, more poverty, more foodbanks, poor outcomes and the list goes on.

Tim Farron, one of the leadership contenders for the Liberal Democrats, noted that Liberal Democrats “did not have the faintest clue” what the Liberal Democrats stood for during the election campaign and I totally agree with him. Tim Farron also noted that “We have to convince people to vote for us because of what we stand for, not just because they don’t like the incumbent.” Again something that we have got to take on board if we are to survive as a party in the UK and in Scotland in particular.

In his Beveridge Lecture ( in July 2014 Tim put forward, in my opinion, a Social Liberal vision that we have to aspire to if we are to ensure that the Liberal voice is both relevant and vital in this new Conservative nightmare. Now I suspect that not even Tim will agree with everything I have blogged here but I do feel that his way is the way forward for the Liberal Democrats.

Lets make no mistake, we are about to face the largest attack on our well being and social fabric that we have ever seen. I thought Thatcher was bad but this current bunch of Conservatives would not look out of place joining with UKip in my opinion. So what I am saying is the Liberal message is worth listening to, Tim Farron is worth listening to, without this alternative message we are doomed I say doomed. Lets work hard in Scotland and across the UK when and where appropriate to put forward our vision that values everyone in society and stands up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.



  1. Sue Varley

    Hi Bruce, just commented on your previous post, then noticed this new one. At the moment I am not much impressed with Tim Farron, but then I’ve only seen him in the context of constitutional affairs. Thanks for the links, I will follow them up, and try to keep an open mind 🙂

    Did Farron have any role in government during the coalition, do you know if he ever voted against the gov? This was one of my gripes against Kennedy, he did not agree with forming the coalition, he was a decent man so I am sure he was apalled by some of the policies, but he never voted against bills, he just abstained or didn’t turn up.

    • grumpyscottishman


      He didn’t take part in the coalition government and against all of the attacks on the poor etc as far as I know. He is a social liberal and while I would disagree with Tim on Scotland constitutional affairs I agree with a great deal of what he has to say. My fear is the Liberals try and shift to the right to try and get the south of England vote which will be the death of them in Scotland.

      If the party go for Norman Lamb then the Scottish Party will need to seriously think about a break away and I read this week that Charles Kennedy was looking into the idea of forming a Scottish Democratic Party and that is something I would support if the Liberal Democrats don’t learn.

      I hope the party go for Tims social liberalism as it is the only hope in my opinion for the future and one that I will certainly argue for.

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. Sue Varley

    Hi Bruce, failed to post a longer comment, but my test got through – I will try again.

    Just finished reading the links you supplied. I had to do a bit of background reading, since I’m not versed in liberal history or economic theory.

    Put in a nutshell, it seems to me Farron is saying that Lib party should espouse traditional liberal ideals, which come across to me as equal access to health, housing, employment, education, and government should do what ia necessary to promote/achieve these ideals, and no more (ie. Not to pursue ideaologoes for their own sake.) Please correct me if I have misunderstood here.

    This contrasts with current party ideas of trying to mitigate the evils brought about by unfettered free market, which has resulted in a polarised society where acess to health, housing etc is becoming more and more the perogative of the upper strata of society.

    So in theory, his ideals are fine. But the practical policies he is talking about, less so. Five new cities designed by visionaries: he doesn’t say where they are to be built! Instant vote loser in the areas he intends to site them. I worked in Bracknell new town for many years, designed by visionaries and a dreadful place to live. I moved as soon as I could afford to.

    His high speed train links to include connecting all regions and cities, he even manages to acknowledge Wales, completely ignores Scotland. Talks about the north of the country and northern regions of England as being synonymous.

    No mention of that other long-held liberal ideal of Federalism, and this was only three months before the referendum. No party can afford to ignore the constitutional question, it is not going away in Scotland and the increasing hysteria of the Mail et al are making it more and more of an issue in England.

    I believe he is right about climate change, but terrorising people with what is likely to happen is not a good way to do anything about it – that will just switch people off.

    He also has said nothing about how he intends to pay for his infrastructure spending. At least Nicola had a coherent plan to fund the construction she wants to see, and it was acknowledged by many economists as sensible.

    He may well be better than any alternatives – if you have links to what Lamb is advocating, please post – I would be happy to read. If the Libs do move further right, they will have totally misread the situation – England desperately needs a credible left, liberal alternative which I do not see the Greens as providing.

    But for me in Scotland, it comes down to a question of why go with a discredited party that MAY be prepared to change in ways that should deliver better social justice, but simply ignores my main political ambition of independence or at least federal FFA? I can choose SNP who are a tried and largely trusted, competent administration, trying to deliver independence, and in the meantime doing at least as well on the social justice (if not the Liberal) side as Farron’s plans. I agree the SNP are not perfect, but I can live with their imperfections for a while longer.

    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss.

    • grumpyscottishman


      Brilliant reply as always. Tim Farron is far from perfect and the lecture was last year when I suspect the Liberal Party had more optimism then but I’d don’t disagree with your points really but the lecture was mainly discussing England as the Liberals are a federal party.

      Tim if he wins will have to listen to what comes out of the Scottish Conference in October which will be interesting. I am not detecting that Willie Rennie has learned all that much from the election defeat and will probably stumble through the Holyrood Election next year.

      I really don’t want to see the Liberals wiped out in Scotland and it probably won’t happen because of the list but I suspect they will do badly and that will see the end of the current leadership in Scotland and then the re building starts.

      I attend my first meeting soon and ill certainly be arguing for Federalism at the very least. The end of the politics of hate and SNP bad and more about what Liberals can do to make things better for people and that starts with respecting the voters and their choices.

      Thanks for commenting.



    Ah Grumpy.

    You know what the Libs need to do to make themselves electable again, sadly it won’t happen. Along with LIEbour , the Libs are aiming at the English vote. very little of note mentioned of Scotland . Liars(Carbunkle) and out of depth voice boxes like Willie Rennie have made the Libs a joke.

    They might sneak a few list seats in the S.E but in truth i believe they are well done as a power in Scotland. Nothing to offer us but more SNP bad and like their mates in the BT tag team they have lost Scotland for good.

    Maybe after independence they can re name themselves and start from fresh. But for now they are the last folk i would vote for.

    It surprises me how anyone can trust them. The have failed more than LIEbour and your asking for miracles when in reality they won’t deliver.

    They spent a term as coalition partners to the Tories and are responsible for the rise in poverty and destruction of the social security won by our grand parents just as much. You are far to quick to forgive. Many of us won’t ever forget.

    Things have changed too much Grumpy. I feel a little let down at your attempt to justify that we need them. No we don’t. They are the whore party who can only get in power by sleeping with whoever. This is clear to all now.

    Scotland has moved on. SNP will slaughter the rest at next years elections and maybe then you might give up the ghost.

    We need independnece not another unionist whore.

    Sorry buddy. But you are sounding just like the rest of the union parties. Waiting for a miracle or will it be another piece of sleaz dreamed up by the MSM and the like ??

    TRUST !!!!

    FIB DEMS are PROVEN liars. Fact.

    (Shakes head) Some folk are gluttons for punishment.

    Wise up my friend because your vote is wasted on these cretins.

    • Anonymous


      I agree with you that the Libdems have a long road back to being electable and may well face near wipe out next year at Holyrood, but then they just have to rebuild. I would also agree that the Carmichael issue is going to hurt the party, especially given the weak response to what he did, but then he has to look his constituents in the face everyday knowing that he will almost certainly lose his seat at the next election if he lasts that long. I also agree that Willie Rennie is weak, but there is not a lot of choice to be honest for the party right now.

      I wouldn’t say I have forgiven those responsible for the decisions they made in the coalition Government, I do think they kept the rough edges off the Tories, but too many Liberals like Alexander, Swinson etc. were too quick and too happy to deliver the bad news like it made them statesmen and women, the party will continue to pay for that mistake for a long time to come as they did at the last election. They were also used and played by the Tories to a huge extent and I hope they have learned their lesson but that doesn’t stop me feeling that a Liberal voice is not a good thing.

      I wouldn’t agree that I am personally waiting on a miracle, I stuck my flag to the mast and that is that. I don’t make any apologies for the mistakes that the Liberal Democrats have made and I won’t defend them either. But I do believe in federalism and voting reform, I do believe in human rights and devolving as much power as possible to the lowest point, I do believe that a political party should have to listen to it’s members, I do believe that the role of government is to protect the most vulnerable while protecting the wealthy from themselves and ensuring that everyone has an equal chance. I don’t believe in nuclear weapons or the unelected House of Lords or unelected Head of State, none of that has or will change whether I am a Liberal or not.

      Thanks for commenting.


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