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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Liberal Democrats Conference Day One

The Liberal Democrats Conference has barely got underway and already the party has hit the headlines with the proposal to introduce a 5p carrier bag charge in England.

I have just watched the Taxpayer's Alliance moaning about the proposal on the news. They say the 5p charge is a tax. It is not. What is more it works, as is evidenced in Wales where we have cut carrier bag usage by 80%.

The Taxpayer's Alliance argue that carrier bags are a small part of the waste stream. That is correct but that is no reason not to take small but important steps forward towards reducing landfill, especially when many bags are not biodegradable.

Meanwhile the party can be forgiven for just sitting in stunned silence at the fact that something we have done has been endorsed by the Daily Mail.

In other news all the talk is about the Economy debate on Monday. For some reason the papers are reporting that Nick Clegg has made it a 'back me or sack me event', when in actual fact the parts of the motion the leadership are allegedly opposed to are pretty anodyne.

I think that the party has to be seen to be supporting our Ministers in getting the economy back on the right track, but this is about the next manifesto and as such we need to be differentiating ourselves in how we take that work forward. That is why I support the restoration of the 50p tax rate for top earners.

The key here is balance and I need to read the motion and amendments in more detail before voting so as to ensure that we are making progress in creating a fairer society whilst ensuring we remain rooted in sound economic practise.

Other talking points are around the Trident debate. Again I have come with an open mind. I don't want a British deterrent at all but I will listen to the arguments before voting.

Despite being in government the Liberal Democrats remain an open and democratic party in which policy is determined by members. That may be uncomfortable for some Ministers but they knew what they were getting into when they signed up.
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