LAST Wednesday the leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg stood in for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions. Amongst many other interesting comments were two that particularly caught my attention (The Yorkshire Post, December 11).
The first was to blatantly join the Conservatives in trying to blame the Labour Government for the global financial meltdown in 2008.
We were, according to Nick Clegg, “substantially responsible” for the collapse of the banking system, (and by inference the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States), which every reputable economist accepts was the cause of the crisis –necessitating, of course, that the government here and in every part of the developed world had to intervene to prevent the complete collapse of the banks.
That is the cost that we, as a nation, had to pay for the activities of the bankers and which counts for the structural deficit which is hitting every family in the land.
But the second was even more interesting.
Mr Clegg chose to quote me from 2010 when I pointed that if the austerity programme was pushed through in the way envisaged, there would be a situation in terms of deprivation and poverty on the streets akin to what happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, before Russia restored its economy.
What Mr Clegg conveniently forgot, is that the austerity measures imposed by the coalition Government are only two-fifths of the way through, with the major impact coming from 2015 onwards.
Labour pointed out in 2010 (when the Liberal Democrats were still in favour of our spending proposals and were not blaming the Labour Government for the world’s economic collapse) that the measures taken could not be achieved within one parliament.
We were right, the coalition Government was wrong.
However, it is the people of Sheffield and the rest of Britain who pay the price. A price which will come after the General Election when, Mr Clegg, constituencies like the one which I have been proud to represent for the last 28 years, will be hit by further public service cutbacks in a way that I believe justifies my original prediction four and a half years ago.