Here is tonight's Party Election Broadcast from the Liberal Democrats. It has lots of very good stuff in it, asking real people what they will do with the tax cut secured by them by the party. We've seen the Tories trying desperately to take credit for it because they know it's popular, but it wasn't in their manifesto. It was on the front page of ours. Our clear top priority, delivered.
The Broadcast is a delight for anyone playing "stronger economy in a fairer society" bingo - and Nick also emphasises the third part, which is really for me what liberal democracy is all about, "enabling people to get on in life." The revolution Nick's championed in parental leave and the extension of talking therapies for people suffering from mental health problems are fantastic examples of that alongside the tax cut. Here it is for you to judge for yourselves:
So, that's the good stuff. What, then, have I found to whinge about?
Where was Lizzie Jewkes?
Today, an email came out from Lizzie Jewkes in which she highlighted her role in getting the tax cut idea into the manifesto (although, as Stephen Tall pointed out, it's an idea that's been around for a while). Lizzie said:
Just a few years ago, in 2009, I attended our conference in Bournemouth as an ordinary party member & proposed that nobody should pay tax on the first £10,000 they earn.
If you told me at the time that just a few years later the Lib Dems, in government, would have made this tax cut a reality for millions of working people, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Of course, we all know that it’s now happening - a huge £700 tax cut for millions of people - but most of the public don't.
It’s our job to tell them, and we need your help. Tonight, our latest party political broadcast is launching, and it’s all about the difference our tax cut is making to ordinary working people.
Might have been nice to have her actually in the broadcast, don't you think?
Where were the Councillors?
Now, I get that we only have two and a half minutes to get our story across, and you can't bombard the public with too much information. And we do have to get this Liberal Democrat tax cut and the stronger economy, fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life thing out there at every opportunity. Our local councillors did get a mention.
While Liberal Democrats in national government are cutting your taxes, Liberal Democrats in local councils are fighting for you in your community, working to create jobs and to protect vital services. Whether in Westminster or County Hall, Liberal Democrats are building stronger economy in a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life. On May 2nd, vote Liberal Democrat.Last year, Willie Rennie, for the Scottish local elections, did a broadcast that featured three of our fantastic councillors and the difference they made to people's lives by their work to improve housing, schools and other vital local services. It would have been nice to see some actual councillors in tonight's broadcast. I know that there are many such fabulous individuals in the country but I'm going to single one out, mainly cos I have a stack of calls to make for him tonight. He's Chris White from St Albans. Chris represents the Clarence division and has done so for 20 years. He started his blog 4 years ago and you can see it's just jam packed with good, local information about the area and about the work he's done, whether it's campaigning to protect youth clubs or making sure local residents don't end up with tar rather than paving slabs on their pavements.
There's also details of the party's top "six to fix" priorities for the County Council:
- Investing budget surpluses into improved highway maintenance and repair,
- better bus services and cross-county connections
- reducing traffic speeds in residential areas
- more crossing patrols and safety on the way to school
- cutting waste and spin at County Hall
- allowing local flexibility over street lighting, so it can be switched back on in areas that need it
“Hertfordshire County Council Liberal Democrats called for a Council Tax freeze this year, and investment of surpluses into frontline issues that affect local people such as highways services, more flexible late night street lighting, bus services and school crossing patrols. Neither the Conservatives or Labour wanted to invest in these services.
“Liberal Democrats believe in listening to Local people and shaping their policies around what real people want.
“That is why the Liberal Democrats in Government have managed to get the basic taxable allowance raised to £10,000, this is a measure that helps hardworking people in a tough economic environment, and that is also why Lib Dems in Government are delivering more apprenticeships than ever before and have delivered the ‘pupil premium’ to provide additional support to disadvantaged pupils in our schools.
”It is because we are listening to local people and believe in fairness that we are seeking to deliver pension changes with the basic state pension increased to £144 in today’s money from 2017.
“That is why the Liberal Democrat Manifesto for Hertfordshire focuses on delivering the services local residents have told us they need most, while cutting waste and spin at County Hall.”
Right across the country from Northumberland to Somerset to Cornwall, there are Liberal Democrat councillors like Chris up for election. These people make their communities a better place to live. It's good that they got a mention, but we need to see the sort of work they do, too. Ok, so maybe you can't highlight individuals in an election period, so you do stuff beforehand in broadcasts earlier in the year, or highlight some examples of really good work done by these fantastic people.