Lib Dems’ half-term report: gold stars from Simon Hughes – and Paul Waugh

Over at PoliticsHome, Paul Waugh has a very positive piece, highlighting the recent series of announcements which bear a distinctive Liberal Democrat stamp:

Today, Nick Clegg can bask in last night’s AV Bill victory, delivering an historic referendum that could possibly see his party in power for a long time.
But the DPM can also celebrate having played a key role in a string of other areas being discussed today. On each issue, you can judge his success by the irritated reaction of the average Tory backbencher.

Paul helpfully lists welfare reform, gay marriage, green policy, growth, the AV referendum and more.

Go ahead and read He Who Libs, Wins.

The Voice also has a copy of Lib Dem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes’ letter to party members in his constituency:

The end of this half term has been an excellent time for Liberal Democrats in Westminster and in government.

Just before midnight last night the Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Act became law, and the referendum date of the 5th May was given the green light. For the first time ever the British people will have the chance to vote for a fairer voting system for the UK Parliament. I hope progressives everywhere will now start campaigning to make sure there is a resounding success for the ‘yes’ campaign.

This morning the government made clear that the Welfare Bill which was published today will change some of the plans announced last summer and much for the better. In particular, and thanks to the firm view of Liberal Democrats and the determined advocacy of Nick Clegg and Steve Webb, the plans to deduct housing benefit for people who have been out of work for a year have been dropped. I have made it clear for months that this was a necessary change if this legislation was to have Liberal Democrat support.

Earlier this afternoon the Environment Secretary made a gracious and complete admission that the government should start again in thinking through our policy for forestry and woodlands in England. If this government is to gain the reputation we all wish as the greenest government in British history, than a different strategy for ensuring access and biodiversity was clearly needed. The government has listened to the voices of the public and has shown that it is willing to change its mind.

Also this afternoon the Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister has announced that civil partnership registrations will be able to take place in religious buildings with the agreement of the faith group in question. This is clearly the right thing to do.

We all know that these are still difficult times for the British economy and difficult times for the British people. As a party our priorities remain to rebuild a healthy and sustainable economy and create a fairer and more liberal Britain.

We will apply all our efforts to achieve these objectives over the five years for which we have been given the responsibility and the privilege of being part of the government of Britain.

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  • As great as all this is, that link does kind of show up the problem here.

    ‘Some Libs quietly point out that almost all of the U-turns are on rushed-out policies that they privately warned needed more work.’

    Put another way, the ‘victories’ have had as much to do with the tories getting themselves in a tangle as anything else. The real question, at the risk of stating the obvious, is how far would these things have happened if the Lib Dems had been in opposition rather than in Coalition. Best guess is that the forest sell-off would have floundered, the housing benefits would have proved unworkable and the green stuff would have looked much the same. On the rest, it does indeed look like some sort of ‘influence.

    I would guess that Cameron has no problem annoying the Tory right on LGBT, they are barking at the moon on that one, but Lib Dems to their credit are forcing the issue. The Social Mobility stuff is just fluff that any government would pay lip-service to.

    The more difficult dynamic is how far the Tory right are prepared to hold their noses. An AV referendum was only palatable because they can campaign for (and are confident of winning on) a no ticket. Almost certainly they will want more cuts in the next budget. And, of course, there is the small matter of the HE white paper.

    I think that there are two views. The optimist thinks that the worst is over, the Lib Dems will get a kicking in the local elections, but other than that the time to 2015 is a formality because there is general agreement on the issues to come. The pessimist would say that this is the calm before the storm. I’d like to think I’m more the optimist. But I really would be rather more comfortable if the private sector would get on with creating those jobs Gideon was banking on……….

  • Duncan, I think just take a look at the “substitute” jobs already beeing created over the past year, in the detail of the Employment Stats from yesterday. More part time jobs, less full time. We are destroying good (in the main) public sector jobs to be replaced by part time, often temporary, and often lower paid jobs all in pursuit of the tendentious “reducing the deficit” agenda.

  • “all in pursuit of the tendentious “reducing the deficit” agenda.”

    Here’s the thing. It IS both mathematically impossible and fiscally irresponsible in the extreme to believe that you can borrow your way to an enhanced lifestyle –FOREVER. The borrowed money is not going to create engines of future wealth, it is going to sustain a lifestyle we (EVERYONE in the West) cannot afford. We are foolish spendthrift deadbeats and we are going to get what deadbeats always end up getting.
    It’s not ‘fair’ you say and to that I quote one William Muny who summed up that line of argument — ‘Fair ain’t got nothing to do with it’.

    If not now then when are we going to start living within our means because we are not going to grow our way out of this cul-de-sac.

  • @Dougf. You may well be correct. BUT your views were, pre-election, the Tory position, NOT the view of the LibDems. The LIbDems totally changed their position on the economy to suit the Tory party. As they did on virtually every other policy.

  • It seems that people are at last recognizing the Lds have had an impact on the coalition, perhaps even more than their numbers might have suggested; I always felt, nasty climbdowns on high profile issues or not, some were a little unfair in claiming the LDs were getting nothing out of the coalition (whether they’ve done/achieved enough to outweigh the negatives of coalition compromise will vary person to person no doubt).

    Still, it is amusing how people can swing so hard the other way too – reading a comment on the mail this morning (DC and NC articles on AV) – “It’s obvious that Clegg is running the show & Cameron is just doing what he’s told”. Honestly.
    The optimist thinks that the worst is over, the Lib Dems will get a kicking in the local elections, but other than that the time to 2015 is a formality because there is general agreement on the issues to come. The pessimist would say that this is the calm before the storm.
    If there is a “Yes” vote on AV, then the storm will erupt I would imagine.

  • I see no Iceberg 18th Feb '11 - 10:19am

    I say run that in the May election campaign and see what the public thinks of it.

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