Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Scrutinising the Liberal Democrats

As the Liberal Democrat poll surge continues, panicked spin doctors from Labour and Tory have been heard muttering darkly about the need for more scrutiny of the Liberal Democrats. In reality, that's actually pretty easy.If ever a party wore its heart on its sleeve, it's us. We are by a million miles much more open and transparent in our policy making process than either of them so any questions you have are easily answered from our online resources. Our manifesto is available here in full so you can see exactly what we stand for. It tells you also how much it will cost, too.

The labservatives make it sound like they've never wasted any time reading a Liberal Democrat manifesto in their lives, which is complete and utter nonsense. In previous elections in our target seats we know all too well what "scrutiny" from the labservatives means - mainly telling all sorts of lies and half truths both about policy and electoral chances.

In 2005, Labour rather limply decided to attack us on local income tax in the face of our opposition to their illegal invasion of Iraq. The model they presented, of a nurse and a firefighter living in a band A or B property was just not realistic and failed to take account of the fact that the majority of people would be better off under our proposals, including the nurse and firefighter. Also on the ground, it seemed like the labservatives were colluding between themselves to try and make it look like we were out of the race.

Take Edinburgh South the seat I was working in in 2005 and 2001. I can't remember which way round this happened but maybe someone else who was there at the time can fill me in, but one of them, I think the red lot, put out a leaflet with a bar chart on it highlighting a "poll" that they had carried out putting Labour in first and the Tories in second. The message, they said, was that Edinburgh South was a 2 horse race between Labour and the Tories. This was complete and utter nonsense as the Liberal Democrats were only a couple of thousand behind Labour in 2001 with the Tories in a distant third.

Anyway, the other labservative then cheekily reproduced the same bar chart on their leaflet to boost their campaign.

And what happened on polling day? Labour won, by the skin of its teeth, with the Liberal Demorats just 405 votes behind and the Tories way back in 3rd, as we always knew they would be.

I am sure that the voters of Edinburgh South will be wiser this time and turn to Fred Mackintosh to get Labour out.

I went canvassing in Newington, Fred's former council ward, on many occasions, and I was always quite touched by the genuine affection people had for him and the respect they felt towards him for the way he'd fought for the area. Well, for the past 3 years, he's been putting in that sort of effort across the entire constituency.

What's happening now is that the labservatives are using the same sorts of tactics on a national level. Tactically we have Vote Clegg get Brown from Cameron and Vote Clegg get Cameron get Brown. They can't both be right. Actually they know fine that it's Clegg who's posing a severe threat to their decades long stranglehold on politics and that people are starting to see that things really could be different. And isn't it just typical that they can't offer the voter anything other than fear of their opponents?

In Scotland, the vote Clegg get Cameron line Labour is using is just bonkers. They are clearly taking the electorate for fools. Where are these places where Labour MPs are at threat from the Tories? Certainly not Dunfermline and West Fife, where the Tories got 8% last time. Labour's domination of that seat was broken - by Willie Rennie for the Liberal Democrats in the 2006 by-election. Since then, he's proved himself to be a popular, hard working and likeable MP who is cammpaigning to stop Labour turning Rosyth into a dumping ground for nuclear submarines, while Labour field a candidate who used to be paid by the nuclear industry to speak on its behalf.

Even before the Tories starting shooting themselves in the foot with dodgy letters to the papers and failing to vote for measures to support businesses with huge rate increases, there was no prospect of any sort of Tory surge up here.

The Labour attack lines which have annoyed me the most over the last 24 hours has been their blatant lies about our plans for tax credits and Winter Fuel Allowance. Let's get it absolutely clear - the people who are most in need will continue to get tax credits. We will reform them so that they are better targetted at the poorest but higher earning families who currently get around £545 in tax credits will get £700 for every taxpayer in the household - that's still a net gain. I'm staggered by Labour's bare faced cheek at attacking us on tax credits when it's them who are taking 50,000 poor families to court because of tax credit overpayments and who have set up a system that's so complex that it doesn't pay out the right amount in a good third of cases.

As for Winter Fuel Payment - if you hear that we're going to scrap it, that too is rubbish. In fact, Labour have presided over a system which pays this out to a couple of still working professional 60 year olds while parents struggling to give a severely disabled child 24 hour care don't get it. We'll sort out that and although we're not going to pay it out automatically until 65, anyone from 60-65 who qualifies for Pension Credit will continue to get it. Another practical example of ensuring that those in most need get most benefit.

So there you have it - the tactics the others will use in the name of scrutiny - cynical misinformation both about electoral chances and policy. Don't let them away with it.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails