Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why it's worth being a member of the Liberal Democrats


Today, the Liberal Democrats fulfilled their key election pledge of raising the income tax threshold to £10,000.

And they've produced a nifty little picture to tell us about it. And we should rightly be proud.


This doesn't tell the whole story, though. How did this get in to our manifesto in the first place? Did it fall out of the Orange Book and hit David Laws on the head? I have to say there's no clue in either of the emails I've seen from Danny Alexander today.

Actually no. It came from an idea by Chester's Elizabeth Jewkes, way back in early 2009. The Chester Lib Dems website has the story.
If the Income Tax threshold was raised to £11,174 then every adult who works full time would be £20 a week better off. Putting £1,000 a year back into the pockets of working people and helping to improve their quality of life. The government should be supporting working people more’ claims Elizabeth. ‘And reducing the amount of tax the lowest paid have to pay is one way of doing that.’
Elizabeth discussed this with Vince Cable when he visited Manchester last October and he agreed it was excellent idea. With the support of Vince Cable M.P. and Jo Swinson M.P. Elizabeth presented her policy suggestion the Liberal Democrats policy conference at the London School of Economics on 17 January where it received an enthusiastic reception. Nick Clegg told Elizabeth that he is supporting her proposal and in his speech Vince Cable singled out Elizabeth’s proposal as one which has his support too.
The idea was adopted by the Party at its Conference in 2009 and today has been delivered in Government. I think the Party should be making quite a fuss of Lizzie Jewkes right now. Her original idea, of raising the threshold to the minimum wage, has still to be reached. Maybe we should be pushing for that ahead of the next General Election.

It just goes to show that party members can shape and influence the party's direction. If you have some good, liberal ideas, then now is the time to be putting them forward as we develop our platform for 2015. If you're not already a member, you can join us here.

1 comment:

tris said...

Laudable though it is, it doesn't compare with the £9,000 pa that students have to find to pay off their universities.

It doesn't help people who have been illegally sent to work for down market stores for free and then denied their rightful back payments as laid down by the English Courts of Appeal. Ex post facto lawmaking?

I've never denied that the Liberals have done some smoothing of the edges of the inhuman Tories. Maybe because your people weren't all born and haven't all lived their lives in some weird world of Eton, Oxford, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Boat Race, Wimbledon and debutantes' balls.

But it's no use pretending that life in this construct of countries isn't getting worse and worse for some people, while of course your government has fought any kind of constraint on the likes of an £18 million bonus for some gambler at Barclays, as announced today.

Still, in the spirit of the upper classes condescension to their lessers they have reduced the price of ale, for I suspect they think that that is what the workers' pleasure is; down by somewhere around 1/280th. I wonder they didn't reduce the price of Babycham or milk stout for the women and black pudding butties for the kids and the whippets.

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