Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Let me repeat that... "that was in the election"

People all over the country who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the General Election in 2010 continue to reel as one broken promise piles up on top of another. Some of the most shouted about and fundamental planks of the LibDem manifesto have been discarded with barely with a murmur, since the party went into coalition with the Conservatives.

Take for example VAT

Before the election, on April 8th 2010 Nick Clegg, LibDem leader and now our Deputy Prime Minister campaigned against Tory plans to raise VAT, saying “We will not have to raise VAT to deliver our promises. The Conservatives will. Let me repeat that: Our plans do not require a rise in VAT. The Tory plans do.”

May 11th - Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition formed
June 20th  - Emergency budget – VAT raised to 20% by Tory/LibDem coalition.
June 27th - Vince Cable, one of the most senior Liberal Democrat politicians, now a Secretary of State in the coalition government, told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show that his party's 'VAT bombshell' poster, a major campaigning point of the general election, was not to be taken seriously after polling day. "We were scoring a point against the Conservatives," he said. "That was in the election, we've now moved past the election. We're working with the Conservatives. We've reconciled our differences."

He was not kidding, was he?

Let’s look next at the oft repeated 2010 pledge to put 3000 more police on the street by scrapping id cards –

I am curious what they mean by “more and better police” incidentally, what is wrong with the police we have? Which ones were they not satisfied with?
 This LibDem pledge to increase the number of police on the street, has been repeated before of course. In 2005 – The Real Alternative LibDem Manifesto said “More police out on the beat - cutting crime and the fear of crime. 10,000 extra police backed up by 20,000 community support officers. Part of a strong package on law and order which is tough, focused and smart.”

So imagine how shocked voters were to learn on June 29th from Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers that Tory/Lib Dem proposed potential of 25% as signalled in the emergency budget would mean significantly fewer police on the streets despite the popularity of bobbies on the beat among the public. Quotes from the Police Federation suggest cuts even as high as 40,000 officers within the next two, three or four years. Here on Merseyside police are poised to lose 800 officers and 1000 civilians alone.

So much for the promise of 3000 more bobbies on the beat.

Still what was it that Vince Cable said earlier? "That was in the election, we've now moved past the election.”

Now the policy of abolishing student fees was the sacred cow of Liberal Democrat policy. Totally non-negotiable this was meant to be, they said in the manifesto that tuition fees should stay capped at just over £3000 per year, and that ultimately they should be scrapped. In the first year, final year students would see their fees abolished, in the second year part-time fees would begin to be scrapped, and eventually in the final year all first degree students would pay nothing.

So passionate were the LibDems about this, that they attracted a large share of the student vote in recent years and recruited students as campaigners for the cause. Many Parliamentary candidates were photographed signing a pledge not to vote for an increase in top-up fees, including Colin Eldridge here in Liverpool Wavertree and of course leader, Nick Clegg who posed proudly with students for his own photo opportunity.

And now? Well, the coalition is planning on removing the cap and allowing fees to rise to a limit somewhere around £7000 with a top limit of probably around £12000 per year for the top universities. With three Universities in Liverpool, and a large student population, the LibDems may have damaged their chances with this group for all time. Despite student anger, Mr Cable defended the plans as "fair and progressive". He told MPs that his previous pledge to scrap fees was "no longer feasible" - and that he saw proposals to raise fees as "on the right lines". I expect what he really meant to say was "That was in the election, we've now moved past the election.”

And then there is the issue of votes for 16 year olds. It has long been another popular plank of LibDem policy (and one that I have always supported) that young people should get the vote at 16. The 2010 LibDem manifesto said “Introduce voting rights from age 16”. And yet just days ago on 18th October 2010, when they had the chance, LibDem MPs voted against letting 16 years old vote in the planned PR referendum – a real missed opportunity that would have really tested the water about levels of participation.

I really don't understand this particular broken promise, I am assuming it would not have cost any great deal more to have included young people in the referendum, they are already on the register, and we could have used this opportunity to hold some intense citizenship courses in schools and sixth forms, perhaps bringing in some elected representatives to help with the debate so that they understood both sides before casting their votes. Another reason for young people to turn away from the Liberal Democrats, I am sure.

There’s not much left of the Liberal Democrat manifesto now, it lies in tatters, trampled on in the pursuit of power at any price, barely worth the paper it was written on, the last few scraps then burned on a final pyre of principles.

But of course "That was in the election, we've now moved past the election.”


scouseboy said...

And now we are "past the election" the Fib Dems are the joint architects of the CSR, alongside their friends the Tories,of which the CSR,despite their protestations penalise the poor much more heavily than the middle class and the rich. There again, that's the Tory definition of fair!
Attacks on the public services, councils, welfare benefits are all draconian.
I'll pick out housing benefit for the under 35's: Only to be paid at "average social housing rent."
This will lead to young people living in sub standard housing, and it will also lead to more homelessness and social problems.
Pensions: They have stolen £5ooo off every man under the age of 56, and £30,000 off women of the same age, by raising the state pension age to 66. There are riots in France because they want to raise their state retirement from 60 to 62!
The Fib Dems have their dabs all over the CSR. They are finished in Liverpool.

Anonymous said...

actually scouseboy, the deal for under 35s with regards to housing benefit is even worse than that, and is to be calculated on the rate of a room in a shared house (i believe the going rate in liverpool as such is around £250). also suppressed from their supposedly "progressive" budget was the fact that council tax benefit is to be cut by 10% leaving already struggling families in isolation and without the means to help themselves do any better.

i'm disgusted, particularly with the lib dems whom i voted for and supported throughout the election. they sold themselves as a social democratic party, yet even after a resounding majority of the country voted for parties of the left (or so we were led to believe) they jumped straight on board with the tories, selling out their own voters in the process. essentially they have robbed the electorate of their votes through deception.