Thursday, February 17, 2011

A trio of good news on forests, housing benefit and defeated dinosaurs

Honestly, I turn my back for five minutes, and loads of good things happen.

First of all, the ridiculous plans to sell off forests in England are being shelved, according to the BBC after attracting vocal opposition from rural campaigner and MPs like the Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron. This reminds me of how similar plans were scrapped in Scotland after opposition from Scottish Liberal Democrats including leader Tavish Scott.

Secondly, it seems that Housing Benefit will not be cut for people who have been unemployed for a year. I know that Liberal Democrat Ministers have been fighting hard within the Government to make that happen, first delaying the change and now getting rid of it completely. There is much to welcome in the Government's Welfare Reform Bill, published today. I wrote about the proposals in November, highlighting the good things, and the stings in the tail I didn't like.

Both of these show a Government that is more willing to listen than any I've known in my life. It's also the first Government to have Liberal Democrats in it in my life.This is not all about serendipity.  I think that the nature of Coalition Government has meant that the tone is softer. When was the last time that a Tory Government reconsidered a planned change to the benefits system, for example?

Finally, the Labour and Tory dinosaurs in the House of Lords who were trying to derail the AV referendum have failed. The Bill received Royal Assent at pretty much the eleventh hour last night. The referendum will now take place on 5th May as planned. I liked this recent post from Mark Pack which drew some surprising conclusions about the nature of political reform.

Anyway, I can now go back to being led astray by my little sister. Seriously, there was no wine drunk in the house last night until she came back from work at midnight. It must be her fault. See you tomorrow.

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