Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't believe everything they tell you on the doorstep

Plaid Cymru are telling you that they are the challengers in the Neath seat.

The facts are these: at the last General Election the result was:

Peter Hain, Labour: 18,835 52.6%
Geraint Owen, Plaid Cymru: 6,125 17.1%
Sheila Waye, Liberal Democrat: 5,112 14.3%
Harri Lloyd Davies, Conservative: 4,136 11.6%
Susan Jay, Green Party: 658 1.8%
Gerry Brienza, Independent: 360 1.0%
Pat Tabram, LCA: 334 0.9%
Heather Falconer, Respect: 257 0.7%

Peter Black AM comments: "As you can see there is a 12,000 vote gap between Plaid and Labour with the Lib Dems in a close third place. Given that we stand at 21% in the last Welsh poll and Plaid at 11.8% it seems that in the current circumstances it is the Liberal Democrats who have the best chance of challenging Labour in Neath. A vote for the Liberal Democrats will get you Liberal Democrat policies. A vote for Plaid is wasted in a UK election."

Frank Little, candidate for Neath, adds: "Plaid's platform at this election is based on hoping to use the balance of power which would be granted to its handful of MPs. Since 2005, we have seen how Plaid uses the balance of power - in Cardiff. It has underwritten virtually all Labour's policies, including forcing the sale of council houses. It has extracted one concession from Labour: a £1.2m annual subsidy for a North-South air link.

"Plaid used to believe in fair local taxation. Since getting into bed with Labour, it has abandoned this policy, leaving the Liberal Democrats as the only party aiming to scrap the council tax.

"People quite rightly want to see real devolution for Wales, not the expensive, time-consuming and, in practice, obstructive Legislative Competence Order system devised by Mr Hain. This is more likely to be achieved by a hundred or more (on current opinion poll projections) Liberal Democrats, rather than two or three Plaid Cymru MPs."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Conservatives attack Lib Dem commitment to electoral reform

Today Tory leader David Cameron accused the Lib Dems of wanting to "hold the whole country to ransom", saying their proposed overhaul of the voting system would result in a "permanent hung Parliament" describing it as a “great con.”

In response Chris Huhne said: “David Cameron doesn’t want change at all. He’s just another old-style politician making a grab for absolute power with just one in three of the votes.

“He’s happy for your vote not to count so that he can keep his MPs in safe seats tending to their moats and duck houses instead of the people they are supposed to represent.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

IMF report confirms the Liberal Democrat position – Cable

Commenting on the IMF’s recommendations that banks and financial institutions should pay a bank levy and a further tax on profits and pay, Vince Cable said:

“The IMF’s report confirms what the Liberal Democrats have long been arguing – that a banking levy should be introduced.”

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Top Political Stories in last 24 hours

Real danger of double dip recession - Cable

Commenting on today s GDP figures showing 0.2% growth between January and March this year, Vince Cable said:

These figures show that the promised recovery is barely visible. There is a real danger of the UK going into a double dip recession.

Liberal Democrats turn heat on George Osborne over Nick Clegg smears

Danny Alexander said: "George Osborne needs to come clean as to whether he himself was personally responsible for this negative smear campaign, which is now backfiring spectacularly with the voters.

Tory claims that hung parliament would cause meltdown are dismissed

Fears of an economic meltdown in the case of a hung parliament have been dismissed by a leading credit rating agency and senior economists.

Chris Huhne said: This research proves that David Cameron and Ken Clarke s talk about hung parliaments is just desperate scaremongering.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Second debate enthuses Welsh Liberal Democrats

Commenting on the the 2nd leaders debate broadcast from Bristol yesterday, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

“Nick Clegg was articulate and passionate in last night's debate with policies that struck a chord with many people across Wales. His performance last Thursday was strong but last night's debate proved that all is to play for in this election.

“People right across the country want a change from the old, out of touch and tired Labour and Conservative politics that has dominated this country for the last 65 years. Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are the only ones who will deliver the change that people want.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Priorities for rural Wales

Labour has neglected rural Wales and a change is needed at Westminster to ensure fairness in rural areas was the message as Welsh Liberal Democrats launched their rural manifesto in Ystrad Meurig, Ceredigion, today.

The document, called "A fair deal for rural Wales ", outlines key priorities for issues such as rural transport, conservation and housing as well as delivering change that works for farmers.

Priorities include:

  • Ending the Post Office closure programme.
  • Giving community control over bus services and second homes
  • Helping farmers by regulating supermarkets
  • Making the planning system democratic.

"Rural areas like Ceredigion and many areas across Wales have been let down by the Labour government for 13 years . Quality of life can be very high in rural Wales, but it can be very low for some people as well.

"Local services, such as shops, post offices, and hospitals are under pressure and the economic downturn is affecting small businesses across Wales. Houses can be even more expensive in rural areas and farmers are getting a raw deal.

"Welsh Liberal Democrats worked hard in the last Parliament on issues that are really important to rural areas, such as creating a supermarket ombudsman and campaigning against the post office closure programme and we will be a strong to voice for rural Wales for the next term of Parliament."

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats added:

"Even though many issues concerning rural areas are devolved, Westminster still has an important role in making sure that communities in rural Wales receive the support they need and deserve. Only the Welsh Lib Dems will provide the strong voice that is so necessary.

"65 years of the same economic and political strategies from the same red-blue blue-red Government have let rural Wales down the Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that a fair, green economy and a new approach to communities can deliver the changes that will not leave rural Wales behind."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unemployment up as Brown makes tick-box visit to Wales

Kirsty Williams, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has today
criticised the Labour Prime Minister for having the gall to come to
Wales promising 'jobs for the future' on the day when latest
unemployment figures show an increase in Wales.

The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats also criticised the Prime
Minister for taking the people of Wales for granted after having taken
two weeks to come to Wales to campaign and speak to Welsh voters.

Kirsty Williams said: "Gordon Brown has the gall to come to Cardiff today and promise jobs for
the future when people are losing their jobs today and want jobs now. Only today we see yet another increase in unemployment and we need an immediate solution. Throughout the UK, unemployment in now higher than when Labour came into office 13 years ago. Their record speaks for itself.

"Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats was in Cardiff on Monday announcing how we'd create thousands of jobs in the first year of a Liberal Democrat government by providing an immediate financial stimulus package to provide green and sustainable jobs.

"The election campaign kicked off two weeks ago and it's taken this long for Gordon Brown to come to Wales. This is typical of the Labour party taking Wales for granted, thinking that their vote is safe. There is a shift in the mood of people in this country and political parties must
earn every vote."

The Liberal Democrats offer rural communities a different, fair future

  • We'll ensure the countryside is a place of opportunity, of vibrant communities in which people can afford to live and work.
  • As we create communities that are economically and socially sustainable, we'll make sure they're environmentally sustainable too

In a key speech, Nick Clegg said:

Rural Britain is ready for a change. And the big change you need is at the heart of this manifesto: opportunity. That's fair for you, and releasing your potential - the potential within the rural economy - is good for us all. The skills, creativity and talent within that increasingly diverse economy has for too long been overlooked.

  • The first part of that involves helping farmers and other small businesses that depend on agriculture:
  • We'll regulate Supermarkets with new rules to stop them bullying farmers, and a new regulator to enforce them.
  • We'll make sure food is labelled so that customers can choose goods that have been produced locally, in the most environmentally friendly way.
  • We'll reform the Single Farm Payment so that more money goes to farmers who really need it, like hill farmers, farmers who want to go green, the next generation of farmers through a new Farming Apprenticeship scheme.

But we'll go further. While agriculture is an enormously important part of the rural economy there are a whole range of industries to be found in our countryside that need support, and that will be enourmously important in our future - tourism, the creative industries, renewable energy, green technology, running the local services, the shops, the pubs, that keep the countryside alive.

But too many of those businesses are constrained by a lack of opportunity in the countryside. And too many parts of rural Britain are becoming enclaves for the rich and retired. We'll fix that, making it a place people can live and work:

  • Through better transport - from giving councils more say over bus routes so they suit your needs and you're not stranded without a car, to introducing a rural fuel discount scheme, so we can reduce the rate of fuel duty paid in very remote areas, where you are forced to depend on your car.
  • Through affordable homes - a massive issue in so many parts of rural Britain. We'll give councils the power to get affordable homes built where you need them, helping young men and women onto the housing ladder. And where villages are being reduced to weekend getaway destinations for second home owners, we'll give councils power to act.

Finally, as we create communities that are economically and socially sustainable, we'll make sure they're environmentally sustainable too. That means giving local people control over planning, including housing targets, to better protect our beautiful countryside. It's not right to foist ill-thought out development on our rural communities and it just creates resentment.

Liberal Democrats will bring real change to banking – Clegg

Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, Nick Clegg said: “The allegations about Goldman Sachs are yet another reminder of how reckless and greedy the global banking industry had become.

“The great tragedy is that none of that recklessness or greed has yet been stamped out of the City of London, and it is costing jobs and businesses day by day.”

Vote Lib Dem, get Lib Dem: Clegg

Vote Lib Dem and that is what you will get, says Clegg: Nick Clegg has challenged claims made by the Conservative leader David Cameron that a vote for him would keep Gordon Brown in power as all three parties began to digest the constitutional implications of the surge in support for the Liberal Democrats.

Nick said: "There are lots and lots of people telling pollsters they are up for something different. Since Thursday night, this campaign has come alive. It would be both wrong in democratic principle and politically stupid for me to second guess what's going to happen during this campaign."

Earlier The Conservatives dropped a planned political broadcast attacking Labour in favour of a personal plea from Mr Cameron to voters to avoid such a scenario.

The Tory leader said on Monday that would lead to "uncertainty, fudge and division" and could mean people end up being "stuck with Gordon Brown in Downing Street".

Frank Little, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Neath, added: "In Wales, Labour is falling back on the same old ploy, telling voters that the only way to stop the Conservatives is to stick with Labour. The truth is that there are enough disappointed former Labour supporters prepared to switch their votes to sweep Liberal Democrats in in many Welsh constituencies."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Creating jobs that last by stimulating a green, sustainable economy‏

In Cardiff this morning, the Liberal Democrats launched plans to create jobs that last by stimulating a green, sustainable economy. The plans include investing in wind energy, energy efficiency in public buildings and homes, and bringing empty homes back into use through renovation.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said: “This week I will be focusing on the most important issue of all in this election: how we can build a new economy from the rubble of the old. Under Governments from the old parties, economic policy was made entirely subservient to the needs of just one square mile - the city of London.

“Our vision of a new economy aims to provide growth that lasts for all 100,000 square miles of the UK. We have detailed plans to make our economy environmentally, financially and socially sustainable. Today [Monday] I will set out further details of our costed plan for an immediate green job creation package, taking over £3bn of savings to invest in housing transport and green energy.

“This will provide an immediate jobs boost and help create the green infrastructure we need for a low carbon economy. On Tuesday and Wednesday I will unveil further proposals on restructuring our financial system and on boosting social mobility in the new economy.”

Election is wide open - Kirsty Williams

Kirsty Williams delivered 'straight' answers to difficult questions posed by members of the public in the televised Welsh Leaders' debate on Sky.

Speaking after the debate, Kirsty Williams said:

"Everyone knows that this election is wide open. As someone who lives here and works in Wales, I understand the concerns of Welsh voters. Today I asked the people to place their trust in us, the Liberal Democrats, to do the tough job of working for a fairer Wales.

"We've had 65 years of blue-red Labour Conservative politics and look where we are, a poor economy and a rotten political system. People have had enough of this old politics and are looking for something new. The Liberal Democrats are the only ones who offer real change."

Following Nick Clegg's highly regarded performance on Thursday at the first televised Leaders' debate, shown on ITV, and Vince Cable's confident performance at the Chancellors' debate on Channel Four, Kirsty Williams upheld the party's growing momentum.

The next Welsh Leaders' debate will be on Tuesday 20 April on ITV Wales.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nick Clegg appeals to youth vote as Liberal Democrats maintain poll surge

Nick Clegg has launched a major campaign to win the youth vote amid signs that young people are backing the Liberal Democrats in increasing numbers following last week's leaders' debate.

Frank Little, prospective Liberal Democrat for Neath, said: "It is not surprising that the Liberal Democrat programme is attracting younger voters. At its heart is fairness, and that must appeal to the idealism in young people."

Friday, April 16, 2010

LibDems win debate & economic argument

Nick Clegg came out top from yesterday's leaders' debate according to virtually all polling organisatons. His approval rating varied between 40% and 51%.

Earlier, the press and other institutions endorsed out national manifesto:

"The Lib Dems are well aware of the stakes. For their moment in the spotlight, they chose a focused, costed and serious political message."

The Guardian - 15th April 2010

"The Liberal Democrat manifesto contains more extensive and more detailed tax and spending proposals than those of the other main UK parties."

Institute for Fiscal Studies - 14th April 2010

"The [Liberal Democrats] deserve credit for costing its promises... unlike the Tories who hid their sums because they know the figures don't add up."

The Mirror - 15th April 2010

"They’ve got by far the most ambitious tax and spending plans"

BBC - 14th April 2010

"Their manifesto launch today was refreshingly candid in its clear focus on the deficit and the recession, subjects largely fudged by Labour and the Tories in their manifestos this week."

Evening Standard - 14th April 2010

"The Liberal Democrat manifesto is about facts and figures and pledges"

Martin Kettle; The Guardian - 14th April 2010

"It is a pitch to the electorate that includes the most generous tax giveaway and the most explicit public spending cuts offered by any of the main parties."

The Financial Times - 15th April 2010

"The most impressive part of the Liberal Democrat manifesto is its final few pages…The Lib Dems set out, in detail, how they plan to start reducing the deficit."

The Telegraph - 14th April 2010

"Its unique selling point is the tables of tax spending and saving proposals included at the back...they are the only main party to open themselves to direct scrutiny in this way."

Adam Boulton – Sky news - April 14th 2010

"They have produced what should be hailed as a credible economic programme… The Lib Dems say with some justification that they are the only party to have fully costed their plans without any reference to 'efficiency savings'. This is likely to enhance their growing popularity."

The New Statesman - 14th April 2010

"The Lib Dems’ manifesto does indeed include more detail on tax and spending policies than either Labour or the Tories."

Channel 4 Fact Check – 14th April 2010**

Thursday, April 15, 2010

LibDems would overhaul Housing Revenue Account

The national manifesto released yesterday promised:

"On council housing, we will change public sector borrowing rules so that
councils are freed to borrow against their trading income. The Chartered
Institute of Housing predicts that, with social housing grant, councils
could build 100,000 extra homes in the first five years after
self-financing, if public sector borrowing rules are changed. Even
without grant, they could build half this number. Our pledge on empty
homes will also deliver an extra 100,000 social homes."

Sarah Teather MP commented:

"Liberal Democrats have spent the last thirteen years calling for reform
of the outrageous Housing Revenue Account which effectively allows the
Treasury to tax tenants rent. Labour's death bed conversion to reform is
welcome news, but comes far too late to help the thousands of families
desperate for their council to be able to build again.

"Local councils will now want to carefully examine the detail of this
proposal to see if it will work for them. Reform must leave councils with
more money for housing."

Frank Little, prospective parliamentary candidate for Neath, added: "This policy applies specifically to England, but I would expect the Welsh Assembly Government to fall in line.".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nick Clegg and Vince Cable launch UK manifesto

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg today launched his party’s General Election manifesto, setting out four clear priorities of fair taxes, a fair chance for every child, a fair economy, and a fair deal by cleaning up politics.

In presenting the section of the manifesto dealing with the economy, Vince Cable emphasised that, in contrast to the other parties' programmes, it was fully costed. Liberal Democrats were being honest with the electorate.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tory Manifesto won’t make life better for ordinary people

The Tories won’t make life better for ordinary people. Their manifesto offers only fake change not the real change this country desperately needs," said Nick Clegg’s Chief of Staff, Danny Alexander after today's launch in a derelict London power station. He said: “The truth is that you cannot trust the Conservatives. David Cameron simply believes it is his turn to take over in the same way the two old parties have taken turns for years. Today’s manifesto offers the same old empty promises based on the lazy assumption that people will just give them another go.

“When the Tories say we’re all in this together, what they really mean is you’re on your own. Their agenda is to take away help from those who need it and offer it to those already at the top.

“The Tories won’t make life better for ordinary people. Their manifesto offers only fake change not the real change this country desperately needs.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blatant Labour-Plaid government electioneering shameful - Eleanor Burnham

Commenting on the multi-million pound investment in coastal tourism
projects by the Welsh government Heritage Minister during a General
election campaign, Eleanor Burnham, Welsh Lib Dem Shadow Heritage
Minister said:

"While this money for coastal tourism projects is welcomed, the timing
of this announcement is blatant electioneering from the Labour-Plaid

"Why have they waited until the election to announce this money? People
will see straight though this stunt and the Labour and Plaid Cymru
government should have more respect for the people of Wales. Their votes
cannot be bought by electioneering stunts like this.

"If sweetening the people of Wales with their own money is the best way
they can attract votes, this proves that Labour and Plaid have nothing
to offer".

Peter Hain and Labour's hollow promises are a con

Commenting on Labour's manifesto launch, Kirsty Williams, leader of the
Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

"Peter Hain and Labour's hollow promises are a con and the people of
Wales shouldn't be duped by them.

"They are promising to rebuild the economy yet Gordon Brown was a key
architect of one of the biggest depressions since 1930s. They promised
to halve child poverty by 2010 yet thousands of children still live in
poverty in Wales and the figures are rising. They promised to restore
our trust in politics but over the last 13 years they have presided over
expenses scandal after expenses scandal and blocked reforms to clean up
politics. Their 2005 manifesto promised full employment in every nation
and region by 2010. Today, unemployment levels in Wales are among the
highest in the UK.

"The people of Wales shouldn't hold their breath for this 'wave of
thousands and thousands of jobs' promised by Peter Hain as Labour cannot
be trusted to deliver. Over the last 13 years, they have proved that
they cannot deliver.

"Their promises are empty and they shouldn't be trusted with a 4th

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fair Taxes for all

The Tories launched their plans to give 4 million married couples and civil partners an annual tax break of £150, funded by a banking levy.

Nick Clegg attacked the plans as ‘patronising drivel’. Most married people would not benefit from this policy. Instead, it would only reward married couples where only one partner is working and they are earning under £44,000.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Clegg calls for end to unfair bank charges

Nick Clegg today launched the party’s manifesto for consumers.

The manifesto includes measures to ensure banks can’t charge customers unfairly for going over their limit or bouncing a cheque.

Other policies include a cap on interest rates charged by credit cards and store cards, and real terms cuts in rail fares.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said:

“A Liberal Democrat government will legislate to ensure that no bank can charge its customers unfairly for going over their limit or bouncing a cheque.

“Banks should, of course, be able to pass on the costs they incurn in dealing with these problems.

“But they should not be able to profiteer from customers making small mistakes. We will outlaw unfair charges from now on.

“Bank bosses should look to their consciences and give back the money they took from their customers in unfair charges."

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Parliamentary Reform

Nick Clegg delivered a speech yesterday ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions in which he said a vote for either Labour or the Conservatives would be a “vote for corrupt politics.”

He said: “They have systematically at every turn blocked every single reform: they have blocked party funding reform, they have blocked reform on lobbying.”

Later, during Prime Minister’s questions Nick Clegg accused both Labour and the Conservatives of “trying to fool people they are serious about political reform.”

"Look at them now: You failed, it's over, it's time to go," he added.

Chris Huhne meanwhile attacked Tory plans to introduce a right to recall MPs found guilty of wrongdoing.

“The Tories are being utterly dishonest. How can you trust a party that promises something during an election that it blocked when it had the chance to make it happen?

“Whether it's the right to sack crooked MPs, to take big money out of politics, or to clamp down on lobbyists, Labour and the Tories have stood in the way at every opportunity.

“A vote for the old parties is a vote for corrupt and discredited politics.”

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A third of tax credit payments are for the wrong amount

Almost a third of tax credit payments have been for the wrong amount, figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

More than 2m families have been repeatedly overpaid in the 5 years since tax credits were introduced, answers to Parliamentary Questions show.

The number of families repeatedly underpaid was up 42% to almost 1m over the same period.

A staggering 50,000 families have been taken to court in pursuit of overpayments in the last three years.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Steve Webb commented: “These figures should shame ministers into making changes to the tax credit system.

“Families are put on a financial rollercoaster when they are forced to repay tax credits after continual mistakes. This is not the kind of help they need when times are hard.

“Families need to know exactly what cash is coming in and when. They should not have to face sleepless nights wondering when the Revenue will come knocking asking for money back.

“Ministers should fix tax credits payments for six months at a time so overpayments could be avoided, but they refuse to admit the system is anything but perfect.”

Monday, April 05, 2010

Conservatives block housing powers for Wales

Peter Black's posting of last Friday has been confirmed: the Conservatives don't want to give Wales any discretion on forced housing sales, according to the BBC.

The Conservatives have shown that they are still Thatcherite and little-Englanders.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Air trips for the few cost more than the abandoned Welsh newspaper

In February 2008, it was announced that the daily Welsh-language newspaper, Y Byd, part of the all-Wales Agreement, had been abandoned.

The project’s backers, Dyddiol Cyf, blamed “insufficient” Government support (no more than £200,000). An independent review commissioned by the Welsh Language Board for the Assembly Government had concluded Y Byd would need £600,000 a year and substantial public sector advertising to remain afloat. [Wales Online, 2008-02-16]

This week, Jenny Randerson revealed that the annual cost of running "Ieuan Air" topped £1m - a £900,000 subsidy to Highland Airways (now in administration) plus a large part of the £400,000 needed to keep Anglesey airport open.

Which of the priorities for Wales would Plaid Cymru fight for if they had any power at Westminster?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Sugar appointment is a silly stunt – Cable

Commenting on the news that Lord Sugar is heading up a new task force to help small firms turned down for loans, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable said: 

“With this appointment, the Government is showing the same contempt for small business people as Lord Sugar shows them when they complain about the banks.

“Instead of this silly stunt, the Government should be making the banks lend business what they promised to last year. 

“They must take a firm hand with the banks which we own to ensure that they are lending to British businesses and supporting our economy.

“Unless businesses can get the credit they need to create jobs and growth, there will be no recovery.”