September 18th, 2013

Wonks Take Axe to Clegg’s Magic Money Tree

Nick Clegg’s big conference giveaway managed to last a few hours before it was comprehensively taken apart by policy wonks.

  • Centre for Policy Studies – free school meals for under 8s is yet another “universal benefit… a middle-class welfare gimmick”. Costing £600 million it is “not free at all. The money comes from somewhere. It comes from us.”
  • Taxpayers Alliance“This is a conference gimmick that is a misleading, but all too typical, attempt from politicians to wade in and pretend they are doing something about the pressure on the finances of struggling families by promising subsidies paid for with other people’s money.”
  • Institute of Economic Affairs - “This is an enormously bad use of public money. Not unreasonably, the government already ensures that those in need have access to free school meals, so it beggars belief that we are now going to see a policy instated which will subsidise the children of affluent families.
  • Adam Smith Institute - “Like so many of the Lib Dems’ policies (for instance, their supposed commitment to free university tuition) this is middle class welfare dressed up as help for the poor. It stinks about as much as the school dinners we’re all about to start paying for.”

Labour of course love it, despite even Ed Balls ditching their commitment to universal benefits. No prizes for guessing how the LibDems are framing this:

Conveniently forgetting that Maggie successfully fought the Treasury to keep free milk for under 7s and that the LibDems have now ensured minimum wage shelf stackers are paying for the lunches of millionaires’ kids. The deal is the Tories can now offer a £500 million tax break for married couples. That is over a billion a year of extra spending. The deficit is targeted at £120 billion this year. What austerity?


  1. 1
    Calamity Clegg, Chief Cockroach says:

    This ‘give-away’ of public money has been brought to you by David Laws. ‘Nuff said.

  2. 2
    Lord Bumwatch says:

    Let them eat cake!

  3. 3
    MB. says:

    I notice that Clegg is saying that the worst election result would be a majority Conservative or Labour government. It is not going to happen but surely the worst result would be a majority Liberal government – if that happened then would Clegg call on Conservatives or Labour to go into coalition because he claims that coalitions are better than majority goverments?

    He also is leaving his options open for coalitions partners by not saying whether Cameron or Milliband would be the better Prime Minister. I suspect that Clegg would go into coalition with UKIP or the BNP if it got him some power.

  4. 4
    Trinny says:

    What right has the state got to feed my kids? No doubt some do-gooders will ensure it is some inclusive healthy menu of organic fair trade lentils.

  5. 5
    Sungei Patani says:

    Whilst free school meals is extra spending tax breaks for marriage is a reduction in tax not extra spending. The people who think a tax reduction is extra spending are the same people who think a reduction in a subsidy is in fact a tax. e.g. Bedroom Tax.

  6. 6
    UKIP or bust says:

    So how come the lib dems are getting away with this looney policy?

    Are they the government?

    Is there not supposed to be a conservative majority?

    Why is this now being called a lib dem policy and not a ‘Conservative led’ coalition policy, like it is when it’s something the bbc doesn’t like?

    Why have we got a spineless PM?

  7. 7
    BarryW says:

    Will Christian kids be bale to be fed Christian meat?

  8. 8
    BarryW says:

    ‘able’, sorry

  9. 9
    Joe Normal says:

    So they’ve let the fraudster/thief out of prison already? That was quick.

    I think Guido’s being kind to say the policy lasted a few hours – I’d say ‘seconds’. The moment a politician says they’re going to give you something that’s ‘free’ (schools, healthcare, childcare) you know instantly that they’re lying. They have to be lying.

  10. 10
    Handycock (Teen Fondler) says:

    A great policy to get votes. Taking a leaf out of my book using taxpayer’s money to get votes. Boaz.

  11. 11
    Mehdi Hasan says:

    Can a LibDem please answer me this. Why should a minimum wage shelf stacker pay for lunch for the children of a millionaire?

  12. 12
    Joe Normal says:

    Interesting point. These ‘free’ meals are going to work out even more expensive than feared when the LibDems start insisting that every sort of food-fad (veggie/vegan/hallal etc.) must be catered for, for the purposes of inclusively and multiculturalism.

  13. 13
    Joe Normal says:

    Inclusivity. Now you’ve got me at it. ;-)

  14. 14
    C.O.Jones says:

    Because its the right thing to do for hard working millionaires who are too tight to send their kids to independent schools.

  15. 15
    Casual Observer says:

    Get the fucking LibLabConners out. Let’s have either proper Labour or UKIP.

  16. 16
    Joe Normal says:

    Cue the personal tax allowance rising to £15k, paid for by a mansion tax on all homes worth more than £2 million £1 million.

  17. 17
    Steve Miliband says:

    In other news, the Lib Dems will offer free University courses paid for by the phasing out of free school lunches.

  18. 18
    ding dong, MPs calling earth says:

    Our taxes feed the fkin world , now they want our taxes to feed our kids, I thought we had a mainly Conservative government, I was under the impression when you had kids you went out to work to feed them, is this a new tax break?, what next central feeding stations for kids, with kids outside in a queue with their own soup bowl waiting for the bowl to be filled with nutritious government soup, jeezz h, what a laughing stock this country is.

  19. 19
    C.O.Jones says:

    Thought they had that covered by the Mansion Tax?

  20. 20
    John Tandy says:

    Every time he opens his mouth he hamers another nail in the Limp Dems coffin ready for electorial burial in 2015…

  21. 21
    A nice cup of tea says:

    Great. Instead of weaning people off the benefit state, we are literally teaching kids that the state will feed them for free.

  22. 22
    C.O.Jones says:

    Wait till they start clothing our kids.

  23. 23

    So not the Opposition front bench then.

  24. 24
    Migration Watch says:

    Given that 3 out of 4of every child born is born to an immigrant not from this country, this is just yet another enticement to promote mass immigration to the UK.

  25. 25
    Steve Miliband says:

    Ed Balls’ s one off annual Bankers Bonus Tax covers most things

  26. 26
    Andy Burnham says:

    I’m the Conrad Murray of politics.

  27. 27
    Django says:

    Now that would be Hoson’s choice writ large!

  28. 28
    Django says:

    Oooops -Hobson’s

  29. 29
    A nice cup of tea says:

    Yeah. Come to Britain and have kids – we will feed them for free (on top of everything else)

  30. 30
    Talwin says:

    Does Cameron have a view on this? Seriously.

  31. 31
    edmartin says:

    sounds very much like Gordon Brown’s ‘rabbits out of the bag’ technique

  32. 32
    Mike Hunt says:

    Or Halal

  33. 33
    C.O.Jones says:

    They would go to the wall for their kids.

  34. 34
    Nickelarse Cleggover says:

    Hello! I’m Nick and I believe in universal benefits and maintaining the Deficit.

    I AM A CNUT.

  35. 35
    Thug says:

    Anyone fancy flash mobbing Selfridges mens department?

  36. 36
    Displaced Brummie says:

    the LibDems have now ensured minimum wage shelf stackers are paying for the lunches of millionaires’ kids

    This says all we need to know about the Lib Dems.

    The Lib Dems are Reverse Robin Hoods. They steal from the poor to give to the rich.

  37. 37
    VINCE (can anybody else smell shit ?) CABLE says:

    And with MP’s expense claims up by a massive 7% since the expense scandal
    There must be loads of money in the pot ?

    prepare for tax rises just after the election

  38. 38
    Andrew Efiong says:

    Worse, thanks to public sector incompetence and shirking staff it’ll cost a fortune to run.

  39. 39
    bag of flour anyone? says:

    Am a great believer in the benefit of cuts to reduce this meal subsidy, though not the kind of economic cuts being suggested by Osborne.
    Female or male sterilisation would remove a lot of the political PC tendency to suggest free meals, the need for extra bedrooms, encouraging an over-subscribed NHS care etc etc etcetera. ;)

  40. 40
    Sensible says:

    I’d rather skin my own testicles than vote anything Labour. They have completely fucked up this country.

  41. 41
    the Bubonic Plague says:

    was this in response to the starving kid who was killed ?

  42. 42
    Kris Hoon says:

    A lot of smelling mistakes on this post today.

  43. 43
    C.O.Jones says:

    How about child benefit for the first two kids only. That would ruin the scroungers business plan.

  44. 44
    the Bubonic Plague says:


  45. 45
    W S Churchill says:

    Leaving a Lib Dem with democracy is a bit like leaving a monkey with a screwdiver.

  46. 46
    Tailor Maid says:

    New (Mao-type) school uniforms will become compulsory wef 1.1.14.

  47. 47
    the Bubonic Plague says:


  48. 48
    Just Asking The Question says:

    Although Guido has a valid point regarding the spending of public money, I find it a bit rich coming from the man who only a couple of weeks ago was foaming at the mouth and encouraging the government to go and bomb Syria. How much public money would that have wasted, Guido? Austerity? What austerity?

  49. 49
    A nice cup of tea says:

    and housing them….oh, wait, we already do that

  50. 50
    Tailor Maid says:

    … and a lot of spelling pistakes too.

  51. 51
    Ma­qb­oul says:

    Children of a millionaire will not be going to a state school.

  52. 52
    Ma­qb­oul says:


    Unless of course they are Paul McCartney’s sproggs.

  53. 53
    Tell me why says:

  54. 54
    C.O.Jones says:

    Well Cameron did try to bring the UK govt on board with the French and American socialists but the er UK socialists would have nothing of it.

  55. 55
    A nice cup of tea says:

    Cost of food per meal: 26p.

    Cost of army of state nutritionists, healthy menu procurement specialists, kitchen inspectors, cutlery health and safety monitors: £2.43 per meal

    Benefit to Nick Clegg: priceless

  56. 56
    Tell me why says:

    One Law for the rich and one Law for the poor.
    Do those who commit housing benefit fraud get a second chance?

  57. 57
    Ma­qb­oul says:

    It’s not wasted – it would have created more jobs in the defence and armaments industry.

    Feeding kids for ‘free’ is merely an inefficient way of financing the kids food requirements. Bring back the free milk for infant schoolkids that Labour abolished if they want to do something worthwhile.

  58. 58
    Anonymous says:

    I agree with your point, but seriously, citing the CPA, TA, IEA and ASI? Are you going to tell us that the Confederation of Bears has published a report in favour of shitting in the woods, or that the Turkey Representative Group has passed a resolution condemning Christmas celebrations. If you had some quote from the Fabians, now that would be interesting!

  59. 59
    Anonymous says:


  60. 60
    C.O.Jones says:

    Children of those who are already on benefits get free school meals anyway. Surely they should be compensated for not getting any benefit from this benefit!

  61. 61
    PR the lies the lies and the lies says:

    Wrong!, the people of this country told Cameron to go and get fked, we are not going to war, Liebours red Ed waited until the polls came out in the afternoon to decide what to do.

  62. 62
    Clown (Ex Swivel-Eyed Loon) says:

    Paul Burstow MP, another pathetic lying wanker.

    Someone remind him which Government first cancelled school milk for secondary school children.

  63. 63
    Anonymous says:

    Why should they ? its fraud FFS.

  64. 64
    Just thinkin says:

    What happens if you wish your child to eat the food you want it to eat at school?
    Will there be a raft of laws brought in to ensure the school meal is forced upon them instead, and social services will be at your door for daring to bring it up your own way?

  65. 65
    Benny Fitz-Clements says:

    Quite right !

  66. 66
    Anonymous says:

    UOB, i thought everybody knew that we have a co alition Government.Which means 2 parties working together.You only have to hear the nasty old duffer Vince Cable to see what a nightmare they must be to work with, as your part has NO MP`s its probably best if you keep quiet on the subject.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Displaced Brummie says:

    What is your point? A pressure group to ensure that tax payer’s money is not wasted points out that a universal benefit is untenable.

    Hello? What would you expect them to do? Ignore this egregious waste of money?

  69. 69
    Anonymous says:

    Dont be daft, they bus them across London to the best state schools a la Tony, to keep up the pretence of state education.

  70. 70
    Tell me why says:

    And presumably you think that also applies to a millionaire MP fiddling his expenses and the taxpayer. Or is a couple of days suspension, and then getting promotion enough?

  71. 71
    Anonymous says:

    Ha Ha HA HA, good one !

  72. 72
    Viv says:

    Ordure-ordure, surely?

  73. 73
    V1le disgusting toxic Labour trashed my Country says:

    Limp-Dumbs wasting taxpayers money again. This load of sexual deviants should be rounded up and shot.

  74. 74
    Andbollocks says:

    Clegg is a middle class tosser

    I work hard enough without paying for posh kids dinner

  75. 75
    A Person says:

    ASI should take note that the LDs have dropped the free tuition fees policy.

  76. 76
    Anonymous says:

    I dont think it will do him any good actually, its a bonkers idea.Even the whingers on Mumsnet are against it !

  77. 77
    Political correctness is social Marxism, so is the 'fairness' agenda says:

    At least 400 of the looters should have served time over the expenses thievery.

    That only a token handful of expendables actually did any time inside, shows everyone that the political class and the law, are all in it together and stealing from us, is the only thing they are interested in.

  78. 78
    Ackneed says:

    The kids do benefit, they have their school friends eating the same free garbage as they have to eat, surly we should get the social service onto the school dinners, oh sorry, social services is just a little job to keep ex uni students off the employment register, well with the way that little one was “helped”.

  79. 79
    himindoors says:

    I think the politicians are onto a great thing here – a giant enforced salary sacrifice scheme.

    So, you earn money do you? well, let’s take away some of that, but you can have childcare vouchers instead! Still got some left? Let’s have some more of that, and we’ll give your kids free dinners.

    What’s next? Extra “contribution” for covering the amount of tax administration that all your nasty “earning” activities create?

  80. 80
    The EU is croques (de merde) monsieur says:

    The public are fed crap by state politicians. Now our children are going to be made to eat it.

  81. 81
    Handycock whipping it out says:

    Who are you calling a sexual deviant? Watch it or my boys will be paying you a visit. Boaz.

  82. 82
    C.O.Jones says:


    Feed the wo-orld

    Then go in to spa-a-ace


  83. 83
    Handycock Immigrant Trafficker says:

    Send them all to Portsmouth. My boys will build the blocks of flats for them, I will fix up the planning permissions and we will all get richer. Jahbulon.

  84. 84
    Anonymous says:

    That tweet from Paul Burstow has to be one of the most contrived and stupid ever !

  85. 85
    Gideon says:

    Don’t forget that the cost of that meal is worth a lot more to a higher tax payer than to someone on the standard rate, about an extra 25p (if the higher rate is 45p). As Gideo has said someone, somewhere has to pay for the governments largess, now if that money was added to their income and then taxed, in the same way they could add child allowance to that and any other allowance you could mention. As far as I know (or at least used to be) SS payments to unemployed are added up so that if and when they get work they eventually pay tax.

  86. 86
    Dave your Gay Loving P.M. says:

    Don’t forget me! I got same sex marriage legalised for all my bummer mates

  87. 87
    Anonymous says:

    I actually heard that said on R4 last night, (re starved little boy)im not sure who the commentator was .

  88. 88
    Clueless Cameron, dragging the tories to their 'progressive' grave says:

    Cameron could have had a majority, had he the intelligence to agree to a referendum, that he now pretends is vital for the country, in err, umm, 4 years time.
    As we all now know, he refused UKIP’s offer to stand down at the last GE, in return for a vote on the EU.

    The rest, as is well understood, is a shitpile of Cameron’s own making and is growing daily.

  89. 89
    Anonymous says:

    The people of this country didnt vote on it ! how do you know what we want ? and everybody knows Milliband was only scoring points, two faced littlemoron.

  90. 90
    Second Chance says:

    And do MPs learn from their mistakes? See the Guido page “List of Shame” of September 13 and then make up your mind.

  91. 91
    It's a club and you aren't in it says:

    They can afford to, the opposition front row, has as many millionaires as the governments.

  92. 92
    Gideon says:

    At tax payers expense?

  93. 93
    Brownbadger says:

    We will find out that the ‘rich’ pensioners will pay for this in the autumn statement. Wait for the pension raid!

    The Liberals rule the roost in this government.

  94. 94
    Gary Elsby from Stoke says:

    Just think of all those cruise missiles £600m could buy.

    We really do need to get our priorities right.

  95. 95
    Second Chance says:

    Since when is a millionaire a member of the middle class? Nearly everyone in the Cabinet is a millionaire including Clegg and Laws.–Lib-Dems-just-wealthy-Tories.html

  96. 96
    It's a club and you aren't in it says:

    And stop paying people who just wander into the country looking for a hand out. Have a five year contribution period before you are entitled to ANYTHING.

  97. 97
    Anonymous says:

    1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

    2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

    3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

    4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

    5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

  98. 98
    Gideon says:

    Well of course it seems to be a prerequisite for being an mp, marriages of convenience (can only get so far if you are a single bloke on his own), Remember of course Dave our beloved leader went to a public school all his life, co-ed was only just creeping into public schools when Dave went there, as did a lot of the cabinet. I cannot explain Willie he went to a co-ed comp.

  99. 99

    How those gyppos in romania must be rubbing their hands just imagine free housing,
    free hospitals free transport ,and now free food for their unwashed thieving brats.

  100. 100
    Anon says:

    If this is the best policy the Lib Dems could produce, I’d dread to think what else they have in mind…

  101. 101
    Anon says:

    Which reminds me, what happened to that Tory idea of raising the speed limit on motorways to 80mph?!? That at least was a cost-free vote winner…

  102. 102
    PR the lies the lies and the lies says:

    A little thing called email, twatter and facebook, this blog and other blogs and emailing your MP to tell him/her, the trash is watching you and 2015 the free feed will stop, as I will help to piss in your pot , I couldn’t have been the only one, because I would have had a better chance of pissing in the wind than telling Camoron by myself to stay out of the problem.

  103. 103

    And the other way round!!

  104. 104

    Maybe worse ,MUCH worse.

  105. 105
    Sungei Patani says:

    No doubt that the Mansion Tax could be used to pay for the “free” school meals of the children who live in those houses.

  106. 106
  107. 107
    Cain and Abel says:

    Not a problem.

  108. 108
    Keep Calm, Vote UKIP says:

    You must be getting nervous if trying to quash dissent in this manner. Careless words costs votes.

  109. 109
    Dave's Desert Island Discs says:

    Suggestions for my luxury and book please.

  110. 110
    Dave's Desert Island Discs says:

    Luxury: Vaseline
    Book: Les Miserables

  111. 111
    Anonymous says:

    “comprehensively taken apart by policy wonks” – unfortunately, yet another example of the drop in standards on Guido’s blog… as anyone can see, the comments quoted below are nothing about “taking apart” the policy, just about opposing the principle of it. Which is valid itself, of course, but as is often the case these days it’s a case of Guido stating something as fact and then providing “evidence” or quotes that in no way back up that fact.

  112. 112
    Anonymous says:

    Yeah, good post Guido.

  113. 113
    Commonsense says:

    Lib Dems are either bent or bonkers.

  114. 114
    You couldn't make it up says:

    + 1×10/6

  115. 115
    Obvious says:

    Not cost-free. Cars use a lot more fuel at 80 than 70. And the collisions cause more damage.

  116. 116
    The Dishonourable Vazoline says:

    I hope you’re not calling me a monkey, young man.

  117. 117
    What can we tax next? says:

    Maybe they could exclude children who live in mansions?

  118. 118
    Chris Cringle says:

    Let’s have a ‘Tax Pound Drop’ score – like a voltage drop over a long electric line. Being how many pence the gross civil service cuckoo craps out in so called free benefits for every tax pound stuffed down its gaping maw.

  119. 119
    geordieboy says:

    Reminds me of the free university fees policy why not throw in free viagra for all as well. How the lying Liberals love to waste taxpayers money. Scrap the wind farm tax that will pay for it many times over.

  120. 120
    Jimmy says:

    Aren’t all those organisations the same bloke?

  121. 121
    Anonymous says:

    “minimum wage shelf stackers are paying for the lunches of millionaires’ kids”

    What complete wank, the middle classes will end up paying for own children’s meals, without the choice of what they eat but with a hefty ‘tax premium’ over top of it.

    I can see now where my children’s allowance is going…

  122. 122
    Anonymous says:

    Maybe the State comes out with a profit, once the lifetime cost of caring for RTA survivors is taken from the increased take in petrol taxes?

  123. 123

    No self respecting person would allow their children to eat the filthy halal shit.

  124. 124

    Free, but nothing is free, it has to be paid for some where somehow by someone. That could mean that something that is now free, would no longer be free, but would have to be paid for, in order to finance the next lot of freebies. Now as we all know politicians and their compatriots all know and understand everything about FREEBIES. That is how they can be so generous with taxpayers money.

  125. 125

    Is this a FibDem attempt to buy some middle class votes in the run up to the next election? Hmm, looks like it to me. It’s amazing how much of OUR money politicians will squander in search of a winning majority. Frankly, Nick Clegg needs to pull something pretty amazing out of the FibDem hat to avoid total electoral annihilation in 2015. I think he should be considering a new career, EU bod in charge of bovine flatulence statistics?

  126. 126
    Anonymous says:

    I think you should also include the Opposition (Labour) millionaires and Nigel Farage on that list. In fact the majority of politicians of all parties are very wealthy and the ones that don’t start off wealthy milk the system to ensure they are by the time they are kicked out and go on to make millions writing books, doing speeches and becoming directors of companies whose products they promoted when in parliament. I really get sick to death of reading comments from people who believe that it is just the Tories who are rich, at least they don’t pretend to be anything else, unlike the Champagne Socialists e.g. Diane Abbott, pretending they are ‘just one of us’ whilst paying for their children to go private school because they think the education system they created is good enough for everyone else’s children but not for their own little darlings.

  127. 127
    Second Chance says:

    You’ve missed the point. Never mind, you deserve a second chance.

  128. 128
    old muckspreader says:

    On the face of , it seems like a good idea.
    Kids get a decent healthy midday meal, it has a lot to recommend it.
    Unfortunately, by the time the ministry of skool meals are finished with it, it will cost more than eating at claridges, and be so poor taste wise, the kids wont eat it.
    And that’s before you get into the different lifestyle choices that will spring up.

Seen Elsewhere

UKIP on 23% With Survation | Mirror
UKIP Could Deal With Dave | Douglas Carswell
Tories Would Lower Benefit Cap | Telegraph
Bashir Twitter Meltdown | Mirror
Bashir is a Wrong’un | Norman Tebbit
Natalie Bennett Says it Should Not be a Crime to Belong to ISIS | Indy
LibDems Fifth in London | Standard
45 Mirror Group Stories Linked to Phone-Hacking | Press Gazette
Dave’s Diet | Speccie
Pink’O’Flynn | HuffPo
Trojan Horse Destroying British Values | Nick Wood

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