The other day the Independent reported that our dear leader is discussing a trade-off for the next budget where unemployment benefit and income support for poor people would be frozen (a real terms cut) in exchange for slightly higher taxes on wealth. This is new flexibility from Nick Clegg which is, apparently in order to "ensure the pain of the cuts is shared fairly."
This makes my blood boil. What on Earth is fair about extra wealth taxes if the money raised does absolutely nothing to protect the poorest?
Could someone please explain the logic of this to me? The government has X amount it needs to save. The Tories, being Tories, want to save this amount by slashing benefits and support for poor people (but not for pensioners as they're the group most likely to vote Conservative). We, on the other hand, being Liberal Democrats, would much rather get X by raising taxes on unearned wealth for those with the broadest shoulders.
So how, for Pete's sake, do you get from that to deciding that a "fair" solution is to hit the poor and fail to protect them, but try and tell them not to worry about being in poverty because some rich people are going to have to pay a little more tax as well?
Time and time again Nick Clegg has reassured us by saying that we are not in government just to reduce the deficit but also to make Britain fairer in the process. That the deficit cannot be balanced on the backs of the poor
But Nick seems to be consistently failing to actually understand what this means on a pretty darn fundamental level: Fairness is about protecting the poor, it is about protecting the vulnerable. It is not hitting the poor to placate the prejudice of Tories while salving your conscience by raising stamp duty slightly.
And it most definitely is not making token objections to Tory policies for "differentiation" purposes while presiding over a Britain where poverty and inequality are rising and thousands more families are becoming dependent on food banks.
And that's not even mentioning the way in which our MPs and peers, in spite of an overwhelming defeat of the leadership at conference on this issue, are rapidly riding roughshod over the fundamental principles of members to commit themselves to supporting the authoritarian wet dream of secret courts which put the state above the law - a scheme denounced as illiberal and dangerous by organisations like Liberty and, more importantly, opposed by Liberal Democrat members themselves.
Or without mentioning, for that matter, the "shares in exchange for giving up employment rights" scheme currently being implemented by Vince Cable and opposed by 92% of Lib Dem members.
This behaviour by our leadership, and by Nick Clegg in particular, is really only deserving of one label and that is spineless.
That and complete, arrogant disregard for the will of party members who have made clear, time and time again, that, while they are mature enough to compromise, they also have red lines which must not be crossed. Not that that or internal party democracy mean a thing while Nick Clegg seems determined to cross every single red line the party membership has.
So, I have to ask, what the hell is Nick Clegg playing at?