Coffee House

Lib Dems play whac-a-mole on welfare cuts

18 September 2012

9:27 AM

18 September 2012

9:27 AM

The Liberal Democrats are playing a game of whac-a-mole on welfare at the moment: each time they think they’ve blocked one cut they don’t like, another one pops up. Last night a mole they’d already whacked a year ago appeared again: decoupling benefits from inflation.

The Newsnight scoop is that Whitehall is considering ending inflation-linked rises for many benefit payments – although the word is that this would not include payments to those with disabilities. This would be part of efforts to cut a further £10 billion from the welfare bill, which the Lib Dems oppose overall.


Last winter the Lib Dems blocked a similar move from the Treasury, which had proposed uncoupling benefits from the inflation rate, which was 5.2 per cent for that September. Today party sources tell me that the autumn statement is ‘a long way off’, adding ‘we’ve made our position clear in the past’.

Either way, this is a key issue of differentiation for the parties as they approach their respective conferences. Next week in Brighton, Lib Dems can talk tough about the cuts they are blocking the nasty Tories from enacting. And a fortnight later, David Cameron and colleagues can point out to their party in Birmingham that they are trying to bring benefits into line with the conditions of ‘ordinary working people’.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Mike Brighton

    The LibDems getting into bed with the Tories is like sleeping with Hattie Jaques, yes a bit flabby and promiscuous but means well in an incompetent fashion.

    The LibDems getting into bed with Labour would be like sleeping with Caligula and getting acquainted with his er hobbies

  • 2trueblue

    The LibDums may not actually figure too much at the next election as they have portrayed themselves to be immature, verbally incontinent, disloyal, headline grabbing and unable to offer mature and measured answers to our terrible predicament . They do not understand democracy and why the boundary issues should have been dealt with. They have impeded the whole process or hope of our being able to make any traction in the current financial disaster left by Labour.

  • Alexsandr

    Fed up with saying this. Cameron should call Clegg in and say Tory MP’s 306. Limpdump MP’s 57. You are a junior part of the coalition.
    Then do it again tomorrow. and Thursday, and Friday……

  • Gina Dean

    If they think they would be better off in bed with labour they need to have a rethink. The tories have been lenient with them and given good postions in goverment. I thought that they teamed up to help the economic recovery not impede it at every turn the last 2.5 years have been a waste of time as all the cuts should have been implemented within 9 months of being in power not 3 years after the event. Also with a lot of delays to things happening 2015, if labour get in they will be scrapped.

    • 2trueblue

      The Lib Dums are just not up to it and totally agree with you that they are stupid to imagine that they will fare better getting into bed with Labour.

    • 2trueblue

      The Lib Dums are just not up to it and totally agree with you that they are stupid to imagine that they will fare better getting into bed with Labour.

  • dalai guevara

    I expect nothing but stagnation until the next election. It is heartbreaking to watch. Why not admit that after to HoL/ boundary debacle, there is no such thing as a coalition?

  • michael

    The Lib Dems have blown their trump card, boundary changes, on a petty, egotistical, ner ner n ner ner vendetta. I sense lots of ‘W’ turns in the offing.

  • foxoles

    Isn’t that what Peter Madelson called mushy peas?