Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Blogging from afar

Last month James Crabtree, an old university chum, sent around an email suggesting Labour and Lib Dem conferences be blogged. It followed on from his last post on Voxpolitics.

Well I’m not at conference this year (small matter of finishing up work here in London, starting a postgraduate course and getting the electricians into my rapidly crumbling flat), but that doesn’t mean I can’t make observations from afar. In fact this is the first time in four years that I’ve not been at conference, so I’m getting a different perspective from the media. Conference is like a cocoon, a bubble where what the grassroots talk about rarely gets represented. I admit to making the same grumbles as anyone else, but it’s also easy to get led into thinking that what we’re debating is of extreme importance.

Um… well it might be – but only to us. Conference three years ago was overshadowed by events in New York and the possibility of action against Afghanistan; two years ago the talk was of the Iraq dossier.

At conference I would read the papers, but rarely got to a TV or the radio; hence why this year listening to the Today programme and watching the 6pm bulletins (the ones most likely to get seen by the voters) has been so interesting.

For example I thought Vince Cable’s comments about the party’s spending plans were measured and reasonable on Today this morning, including admitting that some would pay more under the proposed local income tax which would replace council tax. But 20 minutes later, during the 8am bulletin the radio presenter noted that the Lib Dems would be debating environmental incentives. One of these would be reductions in council tax for certain eco-friendly measures undertaken in the home.

Which got me thinking: since council tax will be scrapped by the local income tax, would the incentive still apply? And if so, would it help reduce the burden on those who would see their burden go up as a result of the tax change?

No comments: