Over on his blog, North West Lib Dem MEP, Chris Davies, expresses his astonishment at the reluctance of some Liberal Democrats to shout our government successes from the rooftops (or, alternatively, on a FOCUS leaflet). His blog is particularly timely given the frankly extraordinary email sent to Liberal Democrat MPs by the former Leader of Liverpool City Council, Warren Bradley, calling on the Liberal Democrats to pull out of the coalition.
It’s an excellent piece, and the whole thing’s worth a read, but here’s an extract:
“We should never have gone into a Coalition with the Tories,” say some, but do they suggest that there was an alternative? No party won last year’s general election and the result gave the Liberal Democrats their first opportunity in nearly a century to help shape the policies of government. Presumably these critics would have liked Nick Clegg to have stood back – and allow the party to be portrayed for generations to come as one that didn’t have the guts to accept political responsibility of power and that ran away at a time of great financial crisis?
Times are tough, everyone knows that. They’re not tough because the Liberal Democrats or even the Conservatives made them so, they’re tough because of the mess that Labour created. Back in 2002 Labour started to put more money into public services but instead of getting it from taxes they borrowed it. And then they carried on borrowing more and more, year after year. When the banking crisis hit us (after years of Labour refusing to regulate the banks) the mess became rancid. But make no mistake, it’s Labour’s fault, and Liberal Democrats shouldn’t be defensive about the role we are playing in trying to clean it up. A good portion of the cuts we are having to make stem simply from the need to pay extra interest on Labour’s huge debt mountain. We should be angry about that. Bloody angry. And that anger should come across in our election leaflets.
I mean how hard is it to be able to boast in our election leaflets that:
- while Labour put up the taxes on the poor, Lib Dems have reduced them, taking nearly 1 million out of paying tax at all;
- while Labour let pensions gradually decay Lib Dems have linked them to annual earnings so they’ll increase in value;
- while Labour curbed fundamental freedom Lib Dems are promoting civil liberties and extending human rights?
Maybe I am missing something but I think Liberal Democrats should be proud that we are setting up a Green Investment Bank, supporting offshore windfarms on a huge scale, and launching the Green Deal to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and insulate millions of homes and offices.
- I’m pleased that we have prevented the Tories from cutting inheritance tax, increased capital gains tax on higher rate taxpayers, are getting £2.5 billion from the banks through the new levy, and are cracking down on tax avoidance. These measures help stop the rich getter richer.
- I’m pleased too that we’ve launched the pupils’ premium to help the disadvantaged, are providing compensation for hundreds of thousands who lost money through the Equitable Life scandal, and are giving some respite to a million carers.
- I’m pleased that greater powers are being restored to local government and that it is being given the right of general competence – something I called for when I was in the House of Commons 15 years ago.
Of course Liberal Democrats would like to do more, and of course there are some Coalition compromises being made that we don’t like, and of course we have made some outright mistakes, but if there are not things here about which we can be proud and can proclaim then there is no pleasing some people.
And there’s more! But you’ll have to head over to Chris’s blog to see it.