Aside from the usual outright bashing of the Conservative party, the Liberal Democrats do want to put some clear yellow water between their party and their coalition partners on subtler issues. They don’t just want to talk about the ‘Tea Party Tories’, as Vince Cable did yesterday, but also about some of the different decisions they would like to take after the 2015 election, if they have their way. To that end, when Danny Alexander appeared on the Today programme, as well as slapping down Vince Cable’s talk of an early coalition break-up, he repeated Nick Clegg’s hint that the Lib Dems could ringfence NHS and education spending into the next Parliament, saying:
‘We’ve said that we want to, as a party, maintain the commitments to the NHS in terms of keeping its budget protected in real terms, and also to the schools system, so those are important things that we’d have to fund as well.’
Tags: Danny Alexander, Lib Dem conference 2013, Liberal Democrats, UK politics
He told the programme that while it was ‘possible’ to balance the books purely with spending cuts, that was something the Lib Dems were not interested in doing. The Tories have already said they want to focus on spending cuts, not tax rises. Alexander reminded the interviewer of his party’s commitment to wealth taxes as an example of how it could do the latter. But what will be interesting is whether a red line appears around certain spending commitments, including welfare, where the party claims the cuts have gone too far.