Baroness Scott has a tough job

CONGRATULATIONS to Baroness Ros Scott who has just been elected national president of the Liberal Democrats.

CONGRATULATIONS to Baroness Ros Scott who has just been elected national president of the Liberal Democrats.

She has quite a task on her hands now to inspire party members across the country to go out and slog hard to get the party's message across on the doorsteps during the next election campaigns.

And that is going to be a tough task - if the attitudes I have encountered in her backyard of Suffolk are repeated across the country.

A couple of months ago I wrote a piece saying it was difficult to know what the LibDems stood for now - it seems as if with the election of Nick Clegg as leader they have moved from the left of Labour to the right of the Tories.

The day I wrote that, I bumped into a leading LibDem in the street and I was expecting him to have a real go at me for criticising his party.

I was surprised. He said: “You hit the nail on the head. I don't know what we're supposed to be telling people on the doorsteps any more. All the party leadership seem to be interested in are tax cuts.”

Most Read

If that is the verdict of someone who has been a party activist for years, then how are the LibDems going to get their message across to those voters who are not committed to them?

What Baroness Scott has to start doing from day one of her term of office is to tell her own troops what they are fighting for and then to try to persuade them to get the message out there.

If anyone can do that, then it is her. When I first got to know her she had rapidly become leader of the LibDems on Suffolk County Council and was clearly a politician with a future ahead of her.

She managed to combine the easy style of a Needham Market housewife with the steely determination of a political leader - it came as no surprise to me when she was nominated to become a working peer a couple of years later.

However, I can't help wondering if she has now reached the top echelons of a party which is in a period of decline. The decline might not be terminal, but it is a party that is bound to see maintaining its current number of MPs at the next general election as a triumph.

I STUDIED economics at university many years ago - and remember being told one of the key issues that governments needed to wrestle with was maintaining a solid money supply.

So I am now slightly puzzled by the unseemly desperation being expressed by all parties to come up with tax cuts at the moment.

The Labour government has already said it proposes to increase government spending on major infrastructure projects such as new schools, hospitals, and other public works as a way of kick-starting the economy.

That is the kind of idea that helped bring America out of the depression of the 1930s and one which has a great deal of merit. At the end of the recession the country would be left with welcome investment, and hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of jobs would have been secured by the investment programme.

So I have no problem with the government spending its way out of recession - but I can't really understand the logic of building up the National Debt any more by giving us all tax cuts as well.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to turn down a tax cut. I'm certainly not going to send back money to Alastair Darling telling him I don't really want it.

But I just don't see what difference a small tax cut will make to everyone's pay packet - especially if it means the government's debt will increase and put more pressure on the economy in years to come.

It seems to me that Britain, along with the rest of the world, got into its current state because people across the capitalist world ended up borrowing too much and now the government is seeking to get in on the act.

A government tax give-away in America hasn't done much for that country's economy - certainly it didn't help the Republicans in the presidential election last week!

So while we are all thanking Gordon and Alastair for the little boost to our pay packet in the early new year, it might be worthwhile reflecting that we could all be paying for it in the future.

NO more from me on the American elections, I promise, but I loved the new song from Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys (sic) celebrating the fact that Barack Obama has Irish ancestry.

I know the Irish always manage to find their homeland's blood in the veins of anyone elected to the White House, but “There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama” is a real treat.

What are the odds on this being a surprise number one by the end of the month?

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter