Jo Swinson asserts that Jeremy Corbyn can’t be trusted on Brexit (Report, 24 July). Maybe it’s worth asking whether she can be trusted on many of the things that contributed to the referendum outcome she wants to overturn. She voted for scrapping the education maintenance allowance and for increasing tuition fees; for reducing housing benefits; against letting benefits rise in line with inflation; against increasing taxes for those earning over £150,000; against taxes on bankers’ bonuses; for reducing corporation tax; against restricting NHS provision to private patients.
Simply resetting the Brexit clock won’t address the disquiet that produced the leave victory. We need a government committed to, among other things, an economic model that distributes national wealth more appropriately – around the country, and across all sections of society. Corbyn has a long-standing commitment to tackling economic and social inequality and Jo Swinson condemns herself by turning her back on him.
• Let’s also not forget the Liberal Democrats’ principle role in making standing charges a statutorily required element of domestic energy tariffs. The effect of the legacy of this legal requirement, set in August 2013 by the then Lib Dem secretary of state for energy and climate change, is to make domestic energy costs proportionately more expensive for lower users, compared with those of larger users. This is because as energy consumption rises, the proportional cost of that consumption falls (the unit price effectively drops), principally as a consequence of the standing charge forming an increasingly smaller percentage of the overall bill.
Furthermore, consumer interest in improving energy efficiency is less than would be the case without standing charges, because any percentage reduction in energy use as a result of energy efficiency measures would not be fully reflected in lower energy bills – as only the consumption element of the energy bill would fall; the standing charge itself would not reduce.
Though the statutory requirement was rescinded in November 2016, many energy companies – though not all – still include standing charges as an element of their domestic energy tariffs.
• Those who cannot forgive the Lib Dems for their role in the Tory-led coalition need to take a realistic view of politics. Will they never forgive the Tories for getting us into this mess, will they never forgive Labour for failing to oppose, and will they never forgive both for Iraq? Yes, the Lib Dems made mistakes, but at least they gave stable government. The Lib Dem voting record since 2015 shows no support for Tory austerity. This failure to forgive attitude does not reflect the current dangerous situation in politics. You must judge now what to do to get out of this Brexit mess and who has been consistent in pointing a way forward.
You might not agree with the Lib Dems, so why not say so instead of delving into history to produce half a story and use it to throw mud?
• Frances Ryan (A party reborn? Many of us will never trust the Lib Dems again, 24 July) adroitly captures the corrosive expansion of public spending cuts that characterised (and could only have been achieved by) the Lib Dems’ miserable and complicit role as coalition partners in David Cameron’s government. Nick Clegg, like Cameron, has now decided to sling his hook in Britain, and foreclose on national political life, to become a highly remunerated apologist for Facebook, the corporation that now holds more political sway than elected governments.
Sure, Jo Swinson cannot bear responsibility for Clegg’s ego-driven Faustian pact that provided the political agency committing Cameron to roll out the disastrous referendum. But austerity has now become an acceptable norm for our so-called liberal party and the fact that Swinson and her fellow MPs would countenance working with non-Brexit Conservatives rather than a Corbyn-led Labour party illustrates how far the party has moved irrevocably to the right in recent years. Some rebirth.
• The Lib Dems and their new leader are busily confessing for their part in the failings of the coalition government. There is plenty of contrition due, as Frances Ryan catalogues. But let’s not forget the party’s courageous opposition to the Iraq war and the vilification directed at its then leader Charles Kennedy; doesn’t this count for something when we review the party’s record? It does for me.
• I do so hate it when a report or comment piece rubbishes some idea without any hint as to what the writer thinks is an alternative, let alone a better one. In this case, Frances Ryan’s criticisms of the Lib Dems may well be correct but for those of us remainers who seriously want to stop Brexit, I’d like to know where Frances thinks we should put our votes, completely not mentioned in the comment piece? At the moment, voters in England only have one committed remain-supporting party, which might possibly have a significant presence in the next parliament.
• Frances Ryan (and Jack Fawbert, Letters, 24 July) is absolutely right to remind us of the self-serving policies the Lib Dems supported while in coalition with the Tories. Please will someone now help Jeremy Corbyn get his act together, speak up clearly and consistently and save us from this political nightmare.
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