Thursday, May 29, 2014

A few comparisons

ID cards
Published Green Paper proposing a national database of personal details.
Legislated for national database and compulsory ID cards
Repealed database and ID legislation
Public photography
Permitted arrest of anyone taking photographs near public buildings
Repealed the section in question (section 44 of Terrorism Act 2000)
State Pensions
Broke the link between state pension and the wage rate index
Did nothing, resulting in the farce one year of a 75p weekly increase
Established triple-lock: pensions tied to highest of 2.5%, the wage rate index and CPI
Top tax
Cut top rate of tax to 40%
Did nothing for twelve years, then introduced a top rate of 50% which lasted 36 days of their administration.
Set top rate at 45%.
Post Offices
Closed around 7,000  post offices
Closed a further 6,000 post offices
Ended programme of post office closures
Military invasions
Permitted US invasion of Grenada

Joined US in invasion of Iraq
Has resisted direct intervention in Libya, Syria, Iran

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We agree with Kirsty

In response to criticism from Matthew Oakeshott*, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has told BBC-Wales:

"Nick has had the courage of his convictions during this election campaign to make a positive case for what the Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Liberal Democrats believe in.

"I cannot be any clearer.

"I think Nick Clegg is the right person to lead this party into the general election and what we need to do now is re-double our efforts and explain to the people of this country why we took the decision to be in coalition government and what the Liberal Democrats are achieving as part of that government."

*Oakeshott is the former self-appointed treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords who has now left the party.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Care at home: saying one thing and doing another

There has been an increasing trend amongst local councils to require care workers to spend no more than 15 minutes with clients. Fifteen minutes is simply not long enough to respond properly to the needs of those receiving care. First and foremost people want to be treated like human beings. Fifteen minutes is hardly enough time to help get someone out of bed and dressed. Care visits lasting less than a quarter of an hour not only let down patients, but they also let down care workers who can’t offer the full support they would like to.  It is something the Welsh Liberal Democrats have campaigned against.

However, whereas the Labour party at Westminster now claim that they will end '15 minute care', here in Wales, where Labour is in Government, the party has consistently voted against our efforts to end the practice. Figures show that 83% of local authorities in Wales commission 15 minute care visits. As with zero hour contacts, we are seeing Labour say one thing in England, but doing the exact opposite in Wales where they are actually in Government.

Welsh Liberal Democrats want to end this practice, yet at every opportunity Welsh Labour has blocked our plans.

[From an article in Seaside News by Peter Black Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales West]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Reforming EU from within (2)

UKIP MEPs abstained on flood prevention measures, too.

There is more here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reform EU from within, say Welsh LibDems

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams and lead candidate Alec Dauncey launched the party's European Parliamentary election manifesto today. Kirsty said of the manifesto, labelled In Europe, In Work, that it makes clear "that being pro-European also means being pro-reform. While we are committed to remaining part of the EU, we are also committed to reforming it.”

There is more on the Freedom Central web site.

Women predominate in Liberal Democrat defences

All those Liberal Democrat constituencies where the current member of the Westminster parliament is standing down have now completed their selection of candidates for the 2015 general election. The list is as follows (name of retiring MP in brackets):

Bath (Don Foster): Steve Bradley

Berwick on Tweed (Sir Alan Beith): Julie Pörksen

Brent Central (Sarah Teather) Ibrahim Taguiri

Mid Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke): Vikki Slade

North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell): Tim Brett

Gordon (Sir Malcolm Bruce): Christine Jardine

Hazel Grove (Sir Andrew Stunell): Lisa Smart

Somerton and Frome (David Heath): Sarah Yong

Monday, May 12, 2014

Salaries of permanent workers growing at fastest rate in 7 years

Research published on Friday shows that the salaries of permanent employees are growing at the fastest rate in 7 years.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs finds that growth of permanent salaries accelerated in April, the most marked increase since July 2007.

There was also a sharp increase in temporary pay in April, compared with the previous month.

The report also shows fast growth in the number of permanent staff placements.

Commenting on the report's findings, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

"This is yet more encouraging news. It is more evidence of our economy getting stronger, with more and more people in work, getting the opportunities they need to get on in life."

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Labour understands the weekly shop as much as they understood the economy

Welsh Government letting down tenants on welfare reforms

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the Welsh Government for letting down tenants on welfare reforms, as only three of the 22 local authorities in Wales applied for extra UK government funding to help mitigate the impact of the spare room subsidy.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats Spokesperson on Social Justice, Peter Black commented:
“The Housing Benefit bill doubled from £11 billion to £22 billion under Labour’s last 10 years of government, which is unaffordable and unsustainable. There are a quarter-of-a-million households living in overcrowded social housing and we subsidise a million spare bedrooms in the social rented sector, so it is clear that the system needs reform.

“Liberal Democrats have consistently worked hard to make sure that changes are made as fairly as possible. We negotiated an extra £30 million per year for the Discretionary Housing Payment fund specifically to help with the removal of the spare room subsidy. We secured exemptions for people in the armed forces, foster carers and disabled children who need their own room. Additional funding was also provided for rural areas, which provided extra support for tenants in Powys, Gwynedd and Ceredigion.

“Sadly tenants in Wales are being let down by the Welsh Labour Government, who are failing to ensure that vulnerable tenants receive the support that has been made available to them through Discretionary Housing Payments.

“Only three of the 22 local authorities in Wales applied for extra UK government funding. Too many tenants are not aware of their right to apply for this support because it is not being properly advertised, tenants simply don’t understand the system or are being forced to jump through unnecessary hoops. Many local councils treat Disability Living Allowance and Child Benefit as a form of income which is also restricting access to this funding.

“Instead of simply bemoaning the welfare reforms, the Welsh Government needs to work with councils to overcome these barriers and help people to get the support and financial assistance they are entitled to. The last thing we want is for this money to be sent back to the Treasury because councils have not been able to spend it where it is needed.”

Saturday, May 10, 2014

It is nonsense to suggest, as the Welsh Conservatives have done, that Liberal Democrats are against reform in Europe.

Liberal Democrats are unambiguously the party of IN. But we know that the EU is perfect, which is why we are committed to remaining part of the EU and reforming it.

Our top 10 priorities for reform are:

1. Creating jobs – Britain pioneered the single market. We should now lead in opening up Europe’s online industries, energy market and services like accountancy, law and architecture where the UK has a competitive edge, creating opportunities for UK firms to expand trade and create jobs.

2. Reforming trade with the world – we will seek to accelerate trade negotiations with the USA, which could be worth up to £10 billion extra to the UK economy each year, and the EU-Japan trade agreement, which could increase UK GDP by £5 billion a year, creating thousands of jobs.

3. Reforming the EU budget – following the UK’s success in cutting £30bn from the EU budget, Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to reform the budget by reallocating wasteful spending towards job-creating policies such as cross-border energy and transport infrastructure, the digital economy, and research and development.

4. Cutting waste – Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to bring an end to the waste and travel between the European Parliament cities of Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. This will save £150m and almost 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

5. Cutting red tape – we will support the ‘Think Small First’ principle to reduce unnecessary European Union regulatory costs, which particularly hit smaller businesses. We will demand effective impact assessments before new proposals come forward and exempt smaller businesses from legislation where appropriate.

6. Devolving powers – Liberal Democrats support the principle that decision-making should be “European where necessary, national where possible”. National parliaments should play a greater role in scrutinising EU rules, and where proposals are unacceptable, parliaments should work together to send proposals back to the drawing board.

7. Defending the UK’s interests – the Eurozone countries are an increasingly powerful bloc. The next time there is Treaty Change, we will insist on new legal safeguards guaranteeing that whenever a change impacts on the Single Market, Euro-ins and Euro-outs have an equal say.

8. Fighting 21st century crime - Liberal Democrats would build up the EU’s capacity to tackle cybercrime, and do more with our neighbours to tackle cross-border crimes like VAT fraud, money laundering and the hoarding of criminal assets. And we will push for reforms to the European Arrest Warrant to ensure that civil liberties are protected.

9. Strengthening our defences – more efficient defence co-operation is vital if European powers are to retain significant military capabilities in the face of continuing austerity and uncertain regional security. The European Defence Agency, working together with NATO, should continue to help member states to pool and share military capabilities. There can be no ‘European army’, and UK Parliament must always have the final say on the use of force.

10. Tackling climate change – Liberal Democrats want to introduce ambitious reforms to combat climate change by agreeing an EU-wide 40% reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (50% if there is a global deal) and revamping the Emissions Trading Scheme to introduce a working carbon market, giving investors the certainty they need.

This approach was emphasised in a speech which Nick Clegg gave at a Reuters function yesterday.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Europe Day

Get the facts about the EU here.

There's also a reminder of some busted myths here.

LibDems in Europe help cut mobile charges

EU laws, championed by Lib Dems, have cut the price of using data while on holiday by 80%

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Icelandic bank money still blocked

A report to go before the Policy & Resources Cabinet Board today reveals that over £1m of council taxpayers' money is still tied up in Iceland.

The Icelandic Bank scandal broke in October 2008. Labour-dominated Neath Port Talbot council had put at risk £20m, the highest in Wales, and among the highest in the UK. Almost 95% of this has been recovered, thanks largely to efforts by the Local Government Association, but the amount lost in interest is incalculable, though clearly dwarfed by the fees paid to accountancy firms involved in the recovery.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Help keep Wales in the EU on 22nd May

Celebrate ten years of an enlarged Europe by helping to keep Britain in the EU.