Tuesday, November 18, 2008

LibDems ahead of the rest on the economy

Cowley Street has just reminded us of many things we called for first, and which have now either been implemented or taken on board by at least one of the other two main parties.

Northern Rock nationalisation - it was clear to us that this was unavoidable in November last year. It took the Government until February to act.

Independence of the Bank of England - longstanding Lib Dem policy. First Labour implemented it, over Tory opposition. Now even the Tories support it.

Recapitalisation of the banks - Vince Cable was the first politician to call for this. Three days later the Chancellor announced that this would be going ahead.

Tackling the bonus culture - in May we were the first party to put forward proposals for tackling the harmful bonus culture in the financial sector. By the autumn, ministers and the Tory leadership had realised the situation was indefensible and changed their tune..

Regulation of 'sale and rent back' agreements - this was part of our '7 point plan' for dealing with personal debt, launched in September 2003. The Government announced on 22nd October this year that they were finally looking into this.

New court guidance to make repossession a 'last resort', obliging lenders to exhaust all alternatives first - another measure in the Government's 22nd October announcement that the Lib Dems had been calling for for more than six months.

Changes to capital adequacy laws to require banks to hold more capital in periods of boom and less in recession - we called for this back in January 2003. Now the Conservatives back it too.

National network of financial advice centres - since 2003 we have been calling for a network of local and generic financial advice, particularly for those on lower incomes, funded by a levy on the financial services industry. Earlier this year the Tories announced their support for this too, using almost exactly the same language.

Curbs on irresponsible lending - a commonplace sentiment now, but we called for "the publication by the Government of strict measures for responsible lending, which lenders must be required to observe" back in September 2003.

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