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Sunday, May 16, 2010

And so to Birmingham

A special Conference this afternoon in the huge Birmingham National Exhibition Centre will give Liberal Democrat members the opportunity to have their say on the new coalition agreement.

My understanding is that work on the detailed policy agreement is still on-going and that what has been published so far is a headline document. That is because there was insufficient time to complete the deal before Gordon Brown went to the Palace to tender his resignation.

Nevertheless, contrary to assertions by some leading opposition politicians such as Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood, the deal we have signed contains many important Liberal Democrat policies and principles. These include:

1. Raising the tax threshold to £10,000, taking hundreds of thousands of people out of tax altogether, an important contribution to the agenda of tackling poverty. Under Labour in Westminster and Labour-Plaid in Cardiff Bay we have actually gone backwards in that fight with rising unemployment figures and a widening gap between rich and poor.

2. More money for education targeted at the poorest pupils. In contrast Labour and Plaid in Cardiff Bay have let education wither on vine, cutting the money available for school buildings and underfunding local Councils.

We have also guaranteed year-on-year real term increases in NHS funding meaning that Labour and Plaid claims about the impact of cuts on this year's Welsh budget is just meaningless scaremongering. Leanne and her pals are making it up as they go along because simply put there is nothing on the table as yet.

And why do we have to make cuts or for that matter provide the stable government that the country needs? Because Labour have made such a mess of the economy and when it came to putting together a progrssive alternative they walked away.

3.A comprehensive green agenda in which we will penalise polluters and encourage and reward those who care for our environment.

4. Cleaning up politics including a fully elected House of Lords, a referendum on the voting system so as to make it fairer and the ability to sack corrupt MPs. The abolition of ID cards and the National ID database and the ending of the detention of children who are seeking asylum.

Leanne Wood may contend that we have sold out but we did exactly what her party did in 2007. We compromised with our biggest enemy so as to do the responsible thing and bring stable government to our country. How many of her party's core policies were abandoned once they were in government? Quite a few including PR for local government and tuition fees where they did not just go against their manifesto commitment but also the partnership agreement itself.

We were not squirming in the Senedd last week we were robustly defending that deal against the lies and misinformation being put about Labour and Plaid Cymru, both of whom have embraced the sort of opportunism Leanne accuses us of. They see an opportunity and they are going to try and take it.

Otherwise why would both Plaid Cymru and Labour actively encourage defections from the Liberal Democrats to their parties? They have nothing to offer us. They are both deeply illiberal and between them they have failed us in government. Their embracing of the so-called 'left wing' agenda is a sham. They like to talk the talk but when it comes to being in power they adopt the same pragmatism of every other government.

My advice to Leanne and the rest of the so-called left is to calm down. Stop making things up and judge us on our record. No doubt we will make mistakes, we will do things that I and others disagree with but we have taken on the responsibility of trying to put right the mess created by the last government and so far at least 60% of the electorate respect us for that.
The Tories were already supporters of the Pupil Premium, so taking credit for this is wrong.

Tories were already opposed to ID Cards, so taking credit for this is wrong too !
We will see, the talk is already Cable is looking at walking away if things do not work out. It that happens it depends on where he walks to.

In wales the Liberals might well be OK, since Kirtsy is keeping a distance, but i left labour after 40 odd years in the party, I did not vote Tory or labour at this election, and i did not vote to see a party run to wards the Tories either.

I think you better make this work because if it breaks down the winners could well be labour picking up the voters from the liberals.
They were key planks in Lib Dem policy and their prominence in the agreement owes much to our involvement. The pupil premium was in the Tory manifesto in a different form to its inclusion in the agreement.
Hi Peter, have you seen my post over on WalesHome re the common ground uniting progressive liberals and the new Liberal Conservative Coalition Government?

Labour and Plaid in the Assembly are looking as tired and worn out as the last Labour government did after 13 years, and how long have Plaid & Labour been at it.....

Your right about the Unemployment in Wales too, what a disaster it's been for Wales the Plaid/Labour coallition.
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