So now we embark on a new politics. The generation I belong to, steeped in ideology and partisan commitment, is passing away. My own vision was one of equality and social justice advanced by state action. The new politics is pragmatic, innovative, suspicious of state power, and holds to values rather than dogmas.
We have a new politics everyone! Pragmatic (good), innovative (good), suspicious of state power (good), holds to values rather than dogmas (good). This is brilliant. Let's look at the first fruits of this new politics shall we?
The Liberal Democrats have been heavily pushing the rise of the income tax threshold to £10,000 as an example of their progressive credentials. It sounds good doesn't it? "Let's take the poor out of tax." It's a good progressive line, but that's all it is.
The fantastic Left Foot Forward has demolished it here.
There are going to have to be cuts in public services. This measure will cost £17billion- we don't know what the cuts in public services are going to be yet, but the most crucial £17billion could theoretically be saved without this measure.
The poorest benefit disproportionately from the extra public services that would have to be cut to fund this. The ones who benefit the most from this ConDem measure are the richest.
It is a middle class tax cut dressed up as philanthropy. It is the same as halting the building of a new council house and giving a tiny proportion of the money saved to the poor for the greater benefit of the middle and rich- the poorest might get the scraps from the table, but they will lose far more than they gain.
The Liberal Democrats have sold out their self-awarded "fairness" credentials by supporting a measure that, even taken in isolation without reference to the cuts that would have to come to fund it, increases inequality. The Conservatives have sold out their self-awarded "financial responsibility" credentials by supporting a measure in which only a small proportion of its cost goes to its stated goal.
It is not a measure aimed at helping the poorest. It is a hugely expensive measure aimed at allowing coalition politicians to go on the TV and say "we have taken the poorest out of tax." That is one expensive piece of spin, especially for times like these. The new politics is looking distinctly self-serving and grubby.