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TWO Cabinet ministers are to speak at the North East Liberal Democrats’ Regional Conference on Saturday 16th October.
no. 54 October 2010
The newsletter for Liberal Democrats in the North of England
Cabinet Members head to North Lib Dem Conference
Northern members are encouraged to come to the Conference, which will be held in Gateshead Civic Centre, to meet the Liberal Democrats at the heart of Government. Chris Huhne is Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and is playing a crucial role in pushing forward the Coalition’s green agenda. Michael Moore is the Secretary of State for Scotland. New MP for Redcar, Ian Swales, will also be attending. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg speaking at the Northern Night “We are delighted to have reception at the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Conference in Liverpool. For Government ministers for the first time a full report on Conference, see pages 5 - 7. ever attending our regional conference,” said Regional Chairman Frank Hindle. The Coalition has set out to become the greenest government ever. Chris Huhne is in the driving seat of this crucial policy area and he will be addressing the Conference on the Coalition’s energy policy and the North East. Michael Moore has considerable experience of Scottish politics where for eight years a Lib Dem/Labour Coalition ran the Scottish Government. He will be talking on the lessons from Scotland. A registration form can be found on page 10. Registration costs £15. The Conference starts at 10.30am, though doors open at 10am. Lunch is included in the price.
Conference line up for the North - Michael Moore MP, Chris Huhne MP and Ian Swales MP
Produced, printed and promoted by Jonathan Wallace, 7 Laburnum Grove, Sunniside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE16 5LY
Northern Democrat October 2010 Contents
Page 2 Labour “won’t find us an easy touch” - David Faulkner Page 3 By-elections Page 4 News from our Euro MPs Page 5 Conference - Nick Clegg’s speech Page 6 Conference - key Conference decisions Page 7 Conference photos Editorial: please send material for Page 8 Labour’s Hubris - Ron Beadle inclusion to the editor, Jonathan Wallace, Page 9 National News at firstname.lastname@example.org or Page 10 Conference registration phone 0191 4883190
Labour “won’t find us an easy touch”
New Leader of Newcastle City Council, David Faulkner, writes for Northern Democrat
John Shipley will be a hard act to follow and the time ahead for local government will be very tough. But we have a strong base to build on and I’m determined that we won’t just be seen to be managing cuts and decline. We’ll protect frontline services to the maximum extent possible. We’ll continue Newcastle’s record as a national exemplar council for tackling child poverty, homelessness and long-term unemployment, for sustainability, for community engagement and devolution and for working with business. We’ll provide leadership with the new opportunities in health and with the local enterprise partnerships. With Gateshead, Newcastle drives the growth of the regional economy and we’re determined that flagship projects such as Science City take off and create the jobs of the future in the knowledge economy. There will be a strong challenge from an emboldened, deficit-denying Labour Party next May, but they won’t find us an easy touch and we’re determined to keep control of the city council.
Cllr David Faulkner
Join the Fairer Votes Campaign!
Liberal Democrat MPs, led by Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg, have voted in Parliament to give people an opportunity to throw out the archaic First Past the Post system. Up and down the country activists are coming together to campaign to replace that system with the Alternative Vote (AV). This is a fairer system which forces MPs to work harder to earn and keep your support. Over the months until the referendum on May 5, 2011 the Fairer Votes Campaign from the Liberal Democrats will be fighting hard for a ‘yes’ vote. Members are encouraged to be part of this campaign. It will not be easy to win, defeating the voices of conservatism who want to keep the status quo because it protects them from the will of the masses. But with your help we can do it. We need you to inspire, enthuse and persuade your friends, family and neighbours to come out on May 5 and cast their ballot for fairer votes. To keep up with the campaign, go to http://www.libdems.org.uk/fairervotes.aspx
Thursday 2nd September Castle, Alnwick TC Lib Dem Sara Walton 329 Con 238 Lab 94 LD gain from Con Thursday 9th September Middlestone, Spenneymoor TC Lab 358 LD Edward Rhodes 202 BNP 47 Lab hold Spenneymoor, Spenneymoor TC Lib Dem Ben Ord Lab BNP Ind LD gain from Lab 494 422 264 53 Thursday 23rd September Lobley Hill and Bensham, Gateshead Labour 1120 Lib Dem (Michael Ruddy) 298 BNP 101 Conservative Lab Hold Saltwell, Gateshead Labour Lib Dem (Laura Turner) Conservative BNP Lab Hold 97 Friday 24th September Eastfield, Scarborough Lib Dem Johan Zegstroo 182 Lab 159 Con 100 BNP 27 Green 13 Lib Dem hold Thursday 30th September Brandon, Durham CC Lab 1204 LD Maureen Smith 538 Con 140 Lab hold Battle Hill, North Tyneside Lab 1334 LD Dorothy Bradley 826 Con 97 Ind 43 Lab hold
793 196 86 77
Help put Lib Dems on course for win in Leeds
report by Ian MacFadyen Here in Leeds, we have an important by-election in Guiseley and Rawdon ward on 14 October. Our candidate is Cindy Cleasby, who grew up in the area (attending the local primary school with David Miliband among others). Many may know her father Cllr Brian Cleasby. The sitting Tory councillor resigned after some delay following his election to Parliament. We have a good chance of winning and winning would put us on the path back to being the administration on Leeds City Council as the leading party in a coalition with the Conservatives, which we were until the elections in May. Northern Deomcrat readers’ help could make all the difference. Please come to Leeds and help us win. There are leaflets to deliver each weekend and canvassing to do from Cindy’s home (which she shares with her parents), 11 Carr Lane, Rawdon, LS19 6PD, telephone 0113 250 4318. Enquiries can also be made to the Campaign Organiser, Rob Jacques on 0113 267 2802.
Cindy Cleasby with new MP for Bradford East David Ward
News from our Euro MPs
Deputy PM meets Euro MPs in Brussels
The Deputy Prime Minister Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP met Lib Dem MEPs earlier this month while he was in Brussels for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Together they discussed the economic recovery, the EU budget and other key issues on the European agenda. Commenting after the meeting, Lib Dem Leader in the European Parliament, Fiona Hall, said: “Lib Dem MEPs are working closely with the Coalition Government on the many areas of common interest and involvement. Liberal Democrats are now involved for the first time on both sides of the co-decision process, as MEPs in the European Parliament and as government ministers in the Council of Ministers. “As Deputy Prime Minister, Nick is in close contact with other EU leaders. He was able to give us a very useful strategic overview on current EU issues. “Governments right across Europe are having to batten down the hatches to get out of the current economic crisis. This is a very tough time. Fortunately the Coalition Government understands that economically Britain is not an island and that regular engagement with other European governments is vital.”
Fiona backs calls for trains to be built in North
Fiona Hall MEP
A North East Euro MP has put her weight behind the “Back on Track” Campaign trying to bring train building back to the North East. The “Back on Track” Campaign urges the Government to award a £7.5bn contract for the next generation of high-speed trains to Hitachi, which have indicated they would assemble the trains at Newton Yorkshire and Humberside’s Diana Wallis has become the first Euro MP to Aycliffe, in County Durham, visit the South Humber Gateway, a key development priority for the North creating up to 800 direct jobs Lincs and North East Lincs councils and a major gateway to the rest of the and a possible 7,000 more in the UK and Europe. supply chain. Diana visited the area on Friday and was given a presentation of the potential Liberal Democrat MEP Fiona of the South Humber Gateway before being taken on a tour of the site. Hall said, “It would be great to The South Humber Gateway hosts almost 1,000 hectares of development see the next generation of trains land, spanning North and North East Lincolnshire. being built in the North East, the birthplace of railways. It is the last remaining strategic development site that fronts a deep-water estuary in the UK and the largest employment land allocation in Yorkshire and “I hope that Hitachi will firm up Humber with the potential to create thousands of jobs. its commitment to the North East.” The South Humber Gateway is attracting significant global interest and is experiencing unprecedented levels of inward investment with an estimated £3-billion plus of investment over the next 10 years. One such investment has come from Able UK, a major North-East company and land-owner which has £400m plans for a 1,630 metre quay at the South Humber Gateway. The quay will be one of the largest in the UK and will make the Humber the centre of the UK’s offshore wind industry. “The site has enormous economic potential for the whole sub-region and beyond,” said Diana. “What remains a key stumbling block in my opinion though is the mobility of the workforce. “We will see a huge development with very many jobs being created right across the estuary from Hull but I can foresee a continuation of the current situation where such jobs in practice are out of reach for those living on the north bank because of the existence of the toll bridge. “The report commissioned by the four Humber unitary authorities identified the economic synergy across both banks of the Humber would be increased hugely if the tolls were abolished or at least drastically reduced. I think the South Humber Gateway project with its massive jobs boost could be the opportunity to finally call time on the exorbitant bridge tolls. I will be taking up the issue with the responsible Cabinet Ministers.”
Diana visits the South Humber Gateway
Conference report - Delivering for Britain
It was the biggest Lib Dem Conference ever! Liverpool played host to the annual autumn gathering of the party. Members came away in great spirits. And for the first time ever, Liberal Democrat ministers addressed Conference.
Nick’s Conference Speech
In his main speech to Conference, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg outlined the achievements of the Liberal Democrats in government. He presented a long list of Lib Dem policies adopted by the Coalition: We’ve ended the injustice of the richest paying less tax on investments than the poorest do on their wages. We’ve guaranteed older people a decent increase in their pension. In November, we will publish a Freedom Bill to roll back a generation of illiberal and intrusive legislation. By Christmas, Identity Card laws will be consigned to the history books. From New Year’s Day, the banks will pay a new levy that will help fill the black hole they helped create. On 1 April, 900,000 low earners will stop paying income tax altogether. In May, the people of Britain will get to choose their own voting system. And this time next year, there will be a pupil premium so the children who need the most help, get the most help.
Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg addresses Conference.
“We’ve always been the face of change. We are now the agents of change,” Nick told the packed audience in the Conference hall. But he warned, “Our first job, however, is a difficult one. Balancing the budget. I did not come into politics to make spending cuts. But it is the only choice if we want to steer Britain out of the economic mess Labour made. “The only choice if we want to bring back hope and optimism to our nation. We are gripped by a crisis, and it’s the worst kind: it’s invisible. “You can’t see the debts mounting up. We could have decided to go more slowly but it would have worsened not eased the pain. Because every day you ignore a deficit, it gets harder to fix. The debts mount up and you have to pay interest on them. “Already we are spending £44bn a year on interest alone. Under Labour’s plans, that would have risen to nearly £70bn. A criminal waste of money that shouldn’t be lining the pockets of bond traders. It should be paying for police, care workers, hospitals and schools. “That’s why this government’s aim is that by the time of the next election, our debt problems will be solved; our debts falling as a proportion of national income. We will have wiped the slate clean for a new generation.” And Nick concluded, “Britain in 2010 is anxious, unsure about the future, but Britain in 2015 will be a different country. “Strong, fair, free and full of hope again. A country we can be proud to hand on to our children. That is the goal we must keep firmly fixed in our minds. That is the prize. “The years ahead will not be easy but they will make the difference our country needs. Stick with us while we rebuild the economy. Stick with us while we restore our civil liberties, protect our environment, nurture our children and repair our broken politics. Stick with us and together we will change Britain for good.”
Conference report - Delivering for Britain
Key Conference decisions
Backed plans for all service veterans to be awarded a National Defence Medal. Called for greater transparency in Government, better scrutiny of public servants and potential conflicts of interest, and the creation of a statutory register of lobbyists. Called for reform to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) which should be made independent of serving editors and to have greater disciplinary powers but also called on the Government to affirm its opposition to a privacy law that would restrict press freedom in Britain. Welcomed the judge-led inquiry into allegations of UK complicity in the improper treatment of detainees in counter-terrorism operations. Conference also called for the remit of the inquiry to be clarified. Called on the Government to shift the tax burden to polluters to meet radical and ambitious goals to make Britain’s economy green and sustainable. In particular, members voted for: the reform of the Climate Change levy to shift the tax burden to the polluter to promote energy efficiency and investment in renewable energy ensuring that changes to the price of carbon emissions do not result in windfall profits for nuclear energy providers the rapid implementation of the Government’s air travel taxation reforms Called for power to be devolved to local people and for the Government to be ambitious in its plans for decentralisation by the strengthening of local authorities to give local people more power in their communities; freeing up of local administration by ending detailed central control and giving local government financial autonomy and more revenue-raising powers. Reiterated that despite cuts to tackle the deficit, we will use our position in Government to promote and implement policies that will protect, assist and empower the most vulnerable. Education and the continual development for every child and adult, particularly the most disadvantaged in society, and creating a fairer tax system with new jobs, wealth and opportunities spread to every region of the UK will be our priorities. Called for the Government to legislate for equal marriage, open to all, including same-sex couples. Agreed to draw up plans for greater diversity in the selection of candidates.
Vince battles against boardroom excesses
I have managed to infuriate the bank bosses; acquire a fatwa from the revolutionary guards of the trades union movement; frighten the Daily Telegraph with a progressive graduate payment; and upset very rich people who are trying to dodge British taxes. I must be doing something right. (Vince Cable speaking to Conference) Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, announced he was planning to “shine a harsh light into the murky world of corporate behaviour.” In a widely reported speech, Vince took on many of the vested interests and the City “spivs and gamblers” who came close to wrecking the British economy during the credit crisis. Vince told the Conference, “The biggest test of our party’s contribution to the Coalition is whether we can ensure fairness more widely. It will be said that, in a world of internationally mobile capital and people, it is counterproductive to tax personal income and corporate profit to uncompetitive levels. That is right. But a progressive alternative is to shift the tax base to property and land which cannot run away and represent, in Britain, an extreme concentration of wealth.”
Conference report - Delivering for Britain
Alexander announces tax evasion crackdown
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, used his Conference speech to announce a crackdown on tax cheats. An extra £900m would be spent to attack tax avoidance and evasion. The additional investment is expected to raise an extra £7bn each year by 2014/15 from those who currently evade the taxman.
Baker announces local transport fund
Transport Minister, Norman Baker announced plans for a new local transport fund to cut down on short car journeys and encourage greener and healthier travel schemes. These could include encouraging cycle lanes, traffic management schemes and signposting for safe walking routes. Above - members from the region back the “Yes” campaign in the referendum for fairer votes. Below - Newcastle City Leader David Faulkner and Lord Shipley visit the PTEG stand.
Call for Trident to go into Strategic Review
Liberal Democrats voted to include the like-for-like replacement of Trident submarines in the Strategic Defence Review. The call was backed by Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey even though the Conservative Secretary of State for Defence opposes inclusion and wants a full replacement to go ahead.
Above - Cabinet ministers Michael Moore, Vince Cable, Chris Huhne and Danny Alexander at the Q&A chaired by Lorely Burt MP
Above - Councillors Nigel Martin and Own Temple, from Co. Durham, are interviewed by BBC North East. Left - Members from Teeside join Ian Swales MP and Fiona Hall MEP to call for an end to “legal loan sharks”.
Northern Democrat comment: Labour’s Hubris
Many of my Labour friends are rubbing their hands in glee. In their view, the history of the next few years has already been written. The deepest cuts in modern history render the government the most unpopular since the War, the Coalition crumbles as Liberal Democrat MPs cease to countenance the cuts and Labour return to power at the next election merely by turning up. Such is the destruction of the Liberal Democrats and the recriminations in the Tory Party that Labour retain power for a generation. In the meantime Labour can get away with anything because no one will hold them to account. They will oppose every cut – whilst ignoring the £40billion of cuts to which they were committed at the last election; they will oppose the extension of academies – whilst ignoring the fact that academies were a Labour invention; they will condemn every attempt to reform welfare whilst forgetting the growth of welfare budgets during their time in office; they will Ron Beadle support public sector workers’ opposition to the pay freezes that they themselves introduced. Their faith in the electorate’s forgetfulness is “September saw the extent of absolute. Labour’s audacious hypocrisy. Don’t take my word for it. September saw the extent of Labour’s Just five months ago Labour audacious hypocrisy. Just five months ago Labour campaigned on a manifesto commitment to introduce a referendum on the Alternative campaigned on a manifesto Vote. But when Parliament resumed in early September before the commitment to introduce a conference season started, Labour voted against it. referendum on the Alternative Genuine reformers well recall that Labour’s commitment to a Vote. But when Parliament referendum on Proportional Representation at the 1997 General resumed in early September Election was forgotten during their thirteen years in power. So having before the conference season advocated a referendum on the Alternative Vote for just 20 weeks, started, Labour voted against it.” Labour’s renewed hostility to reform is hardly surprising. What is surprising – and surprisingly revealing of the party’s optimistic state of mind, is the argument they provide to support their latest volte-face. It is this. The ‘Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill’ combines proposals to reduce the number of MP’s (shock – horror) and to make the sizes of constituencies more equal. It is against these two provisions that Labour bases their objection to the Bill. In fact the Bill proposes a modest reduction from 650 MPs to 600. This is a reduction of less than 10% and leaves the number of parliamentarians substantially higher than those of other democracies, the United States for example, whose lower house seems to get along just fine with 435. Labour argue that MPs workloads have ‘grown exponentially’ (poor dears) and that we need more MPs because the size of the population has risen. At the same time they argue that it’s perfectly fine for one constituency to represent 25% more electors than another - compare Banbury’s 83,000 electors to Newcastle Central’s 60,000 for example. The sheer self-interest exhibited in regarding arguments for maintaining a large parliament and disproportionately weighting it to inner-city Labour constituencies is brazen. That Labour goes on to argue that these are matters of principle which allow them to reverse a manifesto commitment illustrates their current state of arrogance. Labour believes it can get away with this nonsense because the Coalition’s unpopularity will propel it back to power regardless of what it does in the meantime. In this context it was somewhat surprising to find that Tony Blair doesn’t share their confidence. Blair said last month that “If Labour simply defaults to a “Tory cutters, Lib Dem collaborators” mantra, it may well benefit in the short term; however, it will lose any possibility of being an alternative government. Instead, it has to stand up for its record in the many areas it can do so, but also explain where the criticism of the 13 years [of Labour rule] is valid. It should criticise the composition but not the thrust of the deficit reductions”. If Blair is correct then the future that so many Labour people anticipate may not be so easy after all. Whilst the more salacious and personal elements of Blair’s autobiography attracted most media attention, this was his most important comment because it addresses what Labour should do now. It therefore goes to the heart of the Labour leadership contest even if the contenders distanced themselves from Blair as quickly as their faith in the electorate’s forgetfulness allowed them. I have previously written about the strange political times we live in. I now find myself ending this column taking refuge in the wisdom of Tony Blair. Strange days indeed. Ron Beadle is a Councillor in Gateshead and was Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Newcastle North
Northern Democrat - national news
“Wicked and Malicious” - Blears blasts Labour as the Nasty Party
Former Labour Cabinet minister Hazel Blears has caused a stir by describing Labour in government as “wicked and malicious”. Speaking at the Labour Conference on 27th September, she attacked the “wicked and malicious stuff that’s gone on in our party” during the previous 13 years in office. Blears is an arch Blairite and was a key player in the personality battles that plagued the premiership of Gordon Brown. Her comments are being taken by some as a sideswipe at the Brownites who helped ensure former adviser to Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, won the leadership of the Labour Party against his Blairite brother. Rumour has it that the description of Labour by Blears is already appearing in Liberal Democrat literature!
Barnardos give qualified support to ending child benefit for wealth families
Children’s charity Banrardos have given their backing to the decision to remove child benefit from higher rate taxpayers though they oppose other ideas for reducing the payment that is currently univeresal. The plan to end child benefit payments to families where at least one adult pays the 40% tax rate was announced by the Chancellor on 4th October. The change comes into effect in 2013 and will save £1 billion a year. Barnardos Chief Executive Martin Narey said, “Child benefit is wonderful and we wish it was safe, we bitterly regret that it is going to be reduced, but it costs £11 billion. The government can’t ignore that expenditure.” He then went on to explain, “If child benefit has to be cut, and we regret that it has to be, it should be done on the basis of income. People who earn more money should lose child benefit.”
Tories unhappy at concessions to Lib Dems
A survey of Tory grassroots members, published to coincide with the start of their Conference, has shown that most believe that David Cameron has made too many concessions to the Liberal Democrats so that the Coalition holds together. The survey of 1,727 Tory members found: 64% say it is not acceptable to water down their party’s plans to reform the Human Rights Act; 51% oppose the Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke’s plans to make less use of prison for offenders who are punished in the community instead, a Lib Dem policy; 43 per cent object to the decision to delay Tory plans to reward marriage in the tax system; 40 per cent oppose the shelving of inheritance tax cuts. Right-wing Tory MPs were heard at their Conference in Birmingham expressing the view that the “Lib Dem tail is wagging the Tory dog”. 35 major policy commitments from the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto were included in the 9 Coalition Agreement.
IMF backs Coalition over deficit
It used to be one of Labour’s favourite spin stories when they were in office - Labour leading the world on the economy, Labour saving the world, Labour showing all those silly foreigners how to run an economy. The reality was a country massively in debt both publicly and privately, a government that had borrowed more than all the governments of the previous 300 years put together and a deficit running at 11% of GDP. In the spring international confidence in the UK economy and the pound was weakening and without action to address the deficit, Britain would have hit the rocks in the same way as Ireland and Greece. The emergency budget in June showed the Coalition was determined to tackle the biggest issue of the day. The result is that long term interests have remained low and there is a degree of international confidence in the UK economy and the Government’s measures which was lacking before the election. Proof of this can be seen with the International Monetary Fund who have backed the plans to tackle the deficit. In its annual health check on the UK economy, the IMF said the economy and public finances were on the mend. “The plan greatly reduces the risk of a costly loss of confidence in public finances and supports a balanced recovery,” the IMF report, known as an Article IV consultation, said. “Fiscal tightening will dampen short-term growth but not stop it as other sectors of the economy emerge as drivers of recovery, supported by continued monetary stimulus.”
EAST DEMOCRAT NORTH EAST LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
Saturday 16th October 2010CIVIC
GATESHEAD CENTRE, GATESHEAD
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REGISTRATION FEES: 2010 Conference fees: £15 Claimant and senior citizens’ registration: All claimants (ie: if you are unemployed, the dependent spouse of an unemployed person, a student, a school student, in receipt of income support, family credit or housing benefit) may register at the appropriate reduced rate. Please note: Disabled members do not qualify as claimants unless they are in receipt of income based benefit and/or the state pension is their only source of income. A photocopy of proof of the above should be included with the Registration form (e.g. a photocopy of current UB40, student ID card, or other relevant current documentation). All senior citizens may register at the reduced rate. Please photocopy this form if more than one person wishes to register Please make your cheque payable to: North East Liberal Democrats and return to: Anne-Marie Curry 2 Shearwater Avenue Darlington DL1 1DQ (Reduced rate £12)
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