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Live webchat with Nick Clegg, Wed 6 Jan, 1.30-2.30pm(257 Posts)
Nick Clegg has come back with some extra answers to questions he didn't get round to during the chat, so we're posting on his behalf.
Grandmabet: If you do find you hold the balance of power after the election, will you use it this time to instigate changes such as PR - it is the only way it will ever be introduced but you would have to be firm - are you?
SleeperServce: Would the lack of electoral reform be a 'deal breaker' for the Lib Dems in any potential coalition?
Swedington: Isn't it high time the libdems acknowledged their prospect of power lies in holding the balance of power. I think it's terribly cynical to take the electorate for mugs. Who are you arranging to jump into bed with should the situation arise? True blue Dave or red Gordon?
NickClegg: Dear Swedington and others. The simple answer is this: I don't get to decide who forms the next government. The voters do. Whatever the outcome of the election, and there's no way to predict it, my party will focus on getting our policies delivered, in whatever way we can. A fairer voting system is one of the key changes I want to see, but it's not enough in and of itself to build the fair society I want. There are four big changes that are my top priorities: fair taxes (I talked a lot about this one in the web chat), a fair start for all children (investing an extra £2.5bn in our schools to cut class sizes and ensure children get the individual attention they need), a fair, balanced economy (breaking up the banks and investing in green infrastructure) and a new kind of political system (PR's one of the changes, but I also think people should have the right to sack corrupt MPs, and that we need to clean up party funding too). The more people who vote for us, the more power we'll have to make those policies happen.
Lisadoolittle: I am a part-time student, but I go home to vote, in Chris Huhne's constituency. He owns seven houses, none of which is individually worth more than £2m but the total of which is greater than £2m. Why won't he be paying mansion tax? Why have you structured the mansion tax this way? If you want to tax assets, why not tax the total assets instead of individual ones? And what was wrong with a local income tax? Taxing assets instead of income is fundamentally unfair and encourages consumption instead of saving.
BrahmsThirdRacket: Dear Nick, do you really think that introducing mansion tax will make up for the shortfall from reducing/eliminating tax for the poorest. Also, don't you worry that if you tax the rich too much they will simply move elsewhere, removing their money from our economy? I like what you say in principle, but my main problem with the LibDems is that most of your policies seem to fall into the 'that's a nice idea' camp, but seem fairly naive.
Bramshott: This Mansion Tax is very headline grabbing, but how can any tax which doesn't tax income be fair? What about a pensioner living out her days in a large house, okay she might not need it, but it's her home. Surely the tax should only be on houses when they're sold?
Lisadoolittle: Any chance of an answer on why tax assets instead of income? And if you tax assets, why tax single assets instead of total assets? It really hasn't been thought through, has it? Nice soundbite, no substance. Typical politician. The Lib Dems were meant to be different. Guess I will have to vote Green.
NickClegg: Dear Lisadoolittle, Bramshott and others. I know there's been a lot of argument about the 'mansion tax' and we've planned for some of the concerns people have over-65s could roll over their tax bill each year, for instance, and have the bill paid out of their estate.
The reason it's worth doing, I think, is that property is an important form of wealth in Britain and it's also very concentrated, especially when it comes to properties of this value. The money we'd make from the mansion tax would go towards giving money back to people on low and middle incomes one of several changes we'd make so that we can do this, but still an important one.
Lisadoolittle makes a very good point I hope I can alleviate your concerns. The reason is that there are two anomalies in the system that mean single mansions are taxed far less than the equivalent value held in several properties.
First: everyone pays Council Tax on houses, but the rates are the same for a £750,000 house as they are for a £20m mansion. Someone who owns lots of houses has a big liability for Council Tax (or if the tenant pays, that's reflected in lower rent), while someone who only owns one big house doesn't. Second: your first home is exempt from Capital Gains Tax. So if you have a single mansion and you sell it, you don't have to pay a penny of tax on the profits. On the other hand, if you have several buy-to-let homes, you have to pay a big chunk of any profit to the tax man.
Our mansion tax doesn't directly correct these anomalies, of course, but it does go some way to correcting, on balance, where the burden of tax falls without the huge complexity of a wealth tax.
TAXES/CUTTING PUBLIC SERVICES
Cleanandclothed: Dear Nick, I think everyone is agreed that no matter what additional taxes are raised, spending has to be cut as well to reduce the deficit. In what area will you cut spending the most?
NickClegg: Dear Cleanandclothed, you're completely right - significant cuts are necessary, and simply talking about 'waste and efficiency' savings isn't enough. That is why we have said we will scrap the like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system (which will cost £100bn or so) and the Child Trust Fund (why borrow money and lock it up for 18 years when the children who get it will have to pay all the money, plus interest, in higher taxes?)
We've also said we will impose a £400 limit on all public sector pay rises, reform public sector pensions and stop paying means-tested tax credits to above average earners. We will remove great swathes of public administration, such as the central bureaucracy that monitors local government.
We must be willing to look at all areas of public spending and not ring-fence any departments from potential savings. Only by making substantial cuts will it be possible to reduce the deficit, let alone reallocate some of the money to funding our few, limited, proposals for additional spending (like investment in schools and creating new green jobs).
TORIES/FAR-RIGHT GROUPS IN EUROPE
Champagnesupernova: What do you think of the Tories' alliances with some fairly dodgy right-wing types in Europe? And doesn't it put you off sharing power with them?
NickClegg: Dear Champagnesupernova. I think the Tories have made a really serious mistake, and it's not just because their new 'group' has rather a lot of unsavoury people in it. In Europe, you get things done and deliver for people back home in Britain by negotiating and keeping a seat at the top table. Their new group in the European Parliament won't carry anything like as much weight as the main groups and that's bad for British influence. In a global age, we can only keep Britain safe from international crime, work to tackle climate change, and build a strong economy if we work with our allies, especially in Europe. Turning our backs on the EU would, to put it simply, make us less safe, and less prosperous.
Wow. He actually answered questions with facts and policies! Much better than some of the evasions we had from DM, for example.
Unfortunately, I already vote Lib Dem, so I can't switch my vote... but I really, really hope Nick Clegg manages to get across how much more humane the LDs are than the two big parties.
Thanks abdn, I didn't know that. It's a tough one because with your DH on that tax credit threshold you are supposedly well off, when as you know with a family to support it doesn't make you well off at all. So will the £10k tax threshold make everyone £700 better off, or just those on lower incomes?
If they are going to provide 20hrs free nursery then why not also offer a benefit to SAHMs which would equal the Tory plans to switch your tax allowance to your husband. That way you don't have to be married to receive it - you would receive it on the basis of looking after children.
neenz the staying home until 18 months is on the party website. If only they would show some support, even if not financial, for SAHMs. But I get the feeling the fact that we are the only people who wont benefit from the LibDem policy is being ignored in the hopes that we don't realize it. I think I'll email my MP (LibDem) and ask what would happen to my family - would my DH end up £700 better off or would we end up worse off because of progressive taxation changes? And I'm in a swing LibDem/Cons riding...
i was intending to vote lib dem (sometimes dabble with the greens though) and have not been disappointed.
Will do so although it's a straight blue/ red fight where i live
Vince Cable is the man though, a politician with brains?? whatever next.
Great webchat, although everything he said I have heard before in radio/TV interviews (stuff which already convinced me to vote Lib Dem).
Not sure he was really saying they would support mums to stay at home for 18 mths though, was he? Just saying that they want 20hrs free nursery provision for children over 18mths.
I'd rather they did more to make it viable for women to stay at home and look after their own children.
But other than that, what's not to like?
£10,000 tax threshold
Closing tax loopholes for the very rich
No tuition fees
Interchangable mat/pat leave
Making polluters pay
Just read the thread too it was very good and shows how it can be done. Love the orange backgrounf highlighting Nicks answers too. very clear. good job all round everyone
Just read this thread as i missed the live chat. Totally agree with LadyBlaBlah's assessment of how each of them did. Nick was impressive, and so glad to see someone bothered to prepare in advance. Looking forward to seeing the 3-way TV discussions now. Nick should put on a good show if this is any indicator....
Well done Nick, Martin Horwood (lib Dem) is our local MP and a very good one so I would be voting for him anyway (I am living overseas but get an overseas postal vote - if the papers arrive in time!). But based on your answers I would definitely be swayed towards Lib Dem if I wasn't already.
I do think some of your answers were pre-prepared so well done to your press officer too, who had the nous to look through previous web chats and see what questions were likely to come up.
Oh and you did answer my question, thanks, even if you didn't direct it to me
I get my mords wuddled and thought you were he...
Going to the Lib Dems site - looks like with their policies I'd get enough help that I could afford to stay at work with a nanny and we'd be okay (love the idea of 19 months parental leave - that would help mothers and children) www.libdems.org.uk/families.aspx. But I do get the feeling that SAHM is not a choice that the Lib Dems are supporting.
nickelbaby were you talking to me? I'm not getting that money now but the conservatives might let me transfer a part of my tax allowance to my DH so that we pay a bit less tax in recognition that he supports me. It would help a ton - we're struggling a bit with me being a SAHM and my DS1 was being bullied at nursery so this was less of a choice than the only option for us. (Couldn't afford a nanny, no childminders in our rural area). Also if the tax goes up as you make more (which I support) then I worry that we might not end up being better off as my DH makes over £50K. And I know we're lucky to have this much, but the cost of living is not cheap where we are.
he does want to get nurseries for everyone though.
but if you're not working, then you don't get that money anyway, tax or not, so surely it wouldn't make a difference?
the deal made sense to me.
(i'm assuming that after the £10,000 the tax would be higher anyway, so it puts it back into the economy)
anyway, i've always been a LibDem voter and that webchat has confirmed to me that i'm right.
it's the only way to go.
I'm glad Nick Clegg answered my question and an extra £700 would be a big help but it really is slanted towards working mums - my family would only get one chunk not two and we already pay more tax than two earners on half as much (who don't have childcare costs). Sigh... Why am I pushed financially into voting conservative?
Pants I missed it. Damn snow and the school closing its doors.
I would love to vote Lib Dem but unfortunately in my area the Libs are a vicious bunch of incompetant fools. The only policy statements they make are nasty ones about the conservatives. (No such thing as a Labour politian round here)
So as much as I may agree with some of the central tennents of the party I wouldnt grace the locals with my hard won vote.
Well done though Mr Clegg.
answers look like they have been pre-written and are recalled each time they are half-way appropriate. However having the foresight to do that so you can appear to answer lots of questions is an advance on Gordon and David, neither having made much effort. So a point for effort.
I live in a constituency where Lib Dems are the alternative to a conservative MP who is a total waste of space. Never seen the Lib Dem candidate around here though. We only see/hear from the political parties at election time!
There is no democracy in this country.
Nick, I'm disappointed though thanks for your answer.
The reason you're wrong is that you're only thinking about the bit of the child's experience that adults control - ie the curriculum. But if a child has delays with social communication, then he or she needs to be with peers at a similar social communication level. It would make no difference whether the task involves reading/writing or more play-based skills - my son couldn't have meaningfully practised these fundamental life skills with children in his "official" age group who were not his true peers - those kids are too busy chatting easily and his faltering language makes them laugh and exchange comments with each other. He would still be shying away from them.
<sighs at the sheer lack of understanding>
"Linglette: On summer born babies: We believe a better approach would be to create a more flexible curriculum which would enable teachers to adapt teaching according to the needs of an individual child. We would scrap the restrictive national curriculum and the prescriptive Early Years Foundation Stage, so that younger children could enjoy a more play-based setting, but in a structured environment. The Government needs to recognise that children develop at different paces and drop their one-size-fits-all approach to education.
When I look at how my 7 yr old and 5 yr old are thriving at our local primary school, I think it's largely because the school didn't seek to impose a straitjacket approach in Reception and Year One. The issue isn't, in my view as a father, whether your children step into a classroom at 4 yrs old, but what happens in that classroom. Creativity, individual attention, fun, flexibility is so important when children are that young."
In reverse order, I would rate the leaders:
Last place: Davey C - arrogant, vague and unprepared
Bringing up the rear: Gordy Bear - illiterate but pleasant enough
Roaring ahead - Nick the Clegg - he was prepared and gave enough meat in his answers
Grendelsmum - he would be welcome to spend a day with us . Though it would be better with a child with special needs who attends a mainstream school. His answers don't strike me as having a real understanding of what it is like on the ground in terms of SEN and "improve teacher training" is sufficiently vague not to mean anything. However I like the bit about not phasing out special schools.
However in general his answers were quite good I thought. I have always voted LibDem anyway, partly because of living in a highly Conservative constituency where Labour wouldn't have a hope of getting in but also because they seem the most reasonable party. I fear that may be simply because they haven't yet got in though!
Coldtits seems to be the emerging story of this webchat, at least according to Twitter.
YouKnowNothingoftheCrunch - at last someone has come up with a solution for coldtits' dilemma! Heating = lovely warm tits!
Annie, that's definitely what appealed to me. The answer to my question was no, and I still preferred that to a, "Well, we'll see what we can do".
But most importantly he offered a solution to coldtits's problem
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