Kate Hollern:A few snippets from the Liberal Conference

 

Nick Clegg says a Tory majority next year would see Britaindiminished and divided. Vince Cable says the Tories are planning punitive and unnecessary cuts to the working poor that go far beyond what is needed to cut the deficit. Both accept that the freeze on benefits would hit  millions of poorly paid working families.

Workers would fear for their jobs because Conservatives would allow bosses to “ fire them at will” while young and old would suffer time and time again  as Osborne  takes his axe to the welfare budget with no regard for the impact on people’s lives.

Schools would be run in the interest of profit for shareholders rather than the life chances of pupils

But, wait a minute. Are these the same Liberal Democrats who have supported the  Tories in implementing unfair cuts for the last four years?  Remember the Tories don’t have a majority in Parliament and every action that they have taken has needed Liberal Democrat support to become law. And now, with a  General Election round the corner, the Liberals start attacking the Tories because  their proposals are unfair. What hypocrisy!!

You can’t believe a word that Clegg and his cronies say!

The only way to avoid the scary predictions of Tory policies after 2015 is to vote Labour.

 

Kate Hollern:Lib Dem’s broken promises!

Where does Nick Clegg think we have all been over the last four years as he has kept in power one of the most ruthless right-wing government’s that has been relentless in attacking working families and those in society unable to defend themselves!

Today he is due to attack his Tory coalition partners and ask the public to trust him – but the truth is that he has backed the Tories all the way, and broken the promises he made at the last election. You can’t trust Nick Clegg, and you can’t trust the Lib Dems.

They broke their promises.
• They promised to scrap tuition fees and then trebled them.
• They promised not to increase VAT, warned against a “Tory VAT bombshell”, but then voted through a VAT rise on everyday working families.
• They promised a fair tax system with the wealthiest paying more, but they cut taxes for millionaires while most families are worse off.
• They promised to be on the side of working people, but working people are £1,600 a year worse off since the Lib Dems joined the Tories in government.

Any promises they make now and in the run up to the General Election are worthless and should be ignored.

Lib Dems must act now or face annihilation in 2015

The Liberal Democrat Party must surely be in turmoil after last weeks’ election results.  Whilst the top headline will be the fact that UKIP polled highest the second will surely be the fact that the Lib Dems were behind the Greens and face being completely wiped out in next years’ General Election.

As a Labour supporter I don’t have a great deal of time for Liberal Democrats who in my dealings appear to possess a strange ability to be part of a coalition yet pretend that they are not part of the decisions which that coalition is taking.  Look at our local Lib Dems in Blackburn with Darwen who appear in total agreement with Labour when it comes to being unhappy with the level of cuts imposed on us by the Conservative/Lib Dem Government.

However, from the point of view of healthy democracy, not to mention the historic contribution made by the Liberal Party – which is one of England’s oldest – it would be far better if they did not disintegrate, and offered a more serious challenge against the Conservatives.

So how do the Lib Dems possibly get out of this mess?  Dumping Nick Clegg might help a little – but nowhere near enough.

The answer – in my view – the Lib Dems should resign from the coalition Government.  They should have pulled out of the coalition well before now but there is still time to redeem themselves a little if they are able to say that they’ve withdrawn as they’ve listened to the voters and it’s clear that the voters do not want right wing Conservative policies.

The current void of unhappy Tory voters is clearly being filled by UKIP, and as they grow in success this will inevitably and worryingly lead to a rightward move in British political thought.  And whilst some UKIP representatives have expressed irritation with being accused of being a rightwing extremist party I have no doubt that it is the same ideas that the Nazi Party and more recently the BNP have proclaimed, which are appealing to voters – ideas and policies that rear their head again and again at times of economic hardship – when the public are struggling day to day and immigrants are the easiest people to blame.

We live on an Island.  Everyone in the UK is a migrant or descendent of a migrant; and Europe is our main trading partner.  UKIP’s policies might resonate with people looking for someone to blame for the current mess but the reality is that it’s our Tory Government and its policies of austerity, causing stagnation, that are to blame.  The Lib Dems could be standing in opposition – like Labour – and opposing those policies.  Instead they are a silent voice.

The current debate on Europe and migration is simplistic and ill informed and will continue to be so if the Lib Dems fail to develop a back bone.

As far as I can see UKIP will fizzle out at the General Election as they will not be able to get enough support to win many seats.  However, the consequence is more likely to be an overall Tory majority – which just doesn’t bear thinking about.

Why Labour should take control of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

In May of this year, despite losing the General Election, the Labour Party in the North West, and in particular locally in Blackburn and Darwen performed well and showed its policies were supported by the majority of the electorate.

In Blackburn Labour made significant gains and is the largest party on the Council with 31 seats. Despite this, the rag bag of other parties including the Tories and Liberal Democrats managed to coble a coalition by agreeing a number of back room deals and engaging in the usual “pork barrel” politics that has become their trademark. Those of us in the Labour Party predicted it wouldn’t work and that it wouldn’t last and we have been proved right.

In the last few weeks after hundreds of ordinary Blackburn citizens took to the streets in protest of the Coalition’s policies to slash services including closing Shadsworth Leisure Centre and our Community Centres two members decided they had had enough and have resigned from the Coalition.

Although these two members have chosen to sit as independents the Labour Group is faced with a dilemma. Should we wait till next year when we are likely to win a majority of seats ensuring we can take overall control of the Council or should we act now?

All members of the Labour Group entered politics to protect their communities and make things better for the people who take the time to support and vote for them. We have seen in the three years that the Coalition has run the Council the damage they can inflict on our communities and neighbourhoods. They have cut vital services, increased fees and charges, withdrawn bus routes and cancelled popular events enjoyed by all such as Arts in the Parks. They are closing Shadsworth Leisure Centre and the Community Centres and they are undertaking a number of reviews that we know will lead to scaling back in key area such as libraries, social services and education and are cutting the valuable PCSOs who protect our communities.

That is why we must try to act and act now.

The Labour Group has agreed that once everyone returns form their summer holidays the Council should meet and a vote of no confidence in the policies of the Tory led coalition will be debated. If, as we expect, the motion is carried the Labour Group is prepared to take control of the Council in order to sort out the mess we find ourselves in.

We know it won’t be easy but we owe it to the people of Blackburn and Darwen who voted for us in their thousands to take responsibility and represent their interests including trying to protect the most vulnerable who rely on the Council’s services.

We are sure the vast majority of Blackburners and Darreners will support us in our endeavours.

Coalition seems to be going soft on crime

It’s the end of the first term of this Conservative/Liberal Democrat government.

It’s been fascinating but above all extraordinary, as these two parties have entered a new upside-down world.

Take penal policy. I am tough on crime, as well as tough on the causes of crime.

What I could guarantee as a Minister is that whatever we did on crime and disorder as a Government, the then Conservative Opposition would shout ‘Not tough enough’.

Two years ago a national newspaper published photographs of long-term female prisoners at Holloway Prison performing in a fancy-dress show. A number of the prisoners were dressed a devils and vampires.

Some of these same prisoners were on life sentences for murder.

Understandably their bereaved victims were deeply offended by what they saw.

The newspapers called for a change in policy. They were backed by Conservative spokesmen.

I very rapidly changed the rules. I had no objection to prisoners taking part in drama, but I did say that there had to be a test of public acceptability.

Last week, out of the blue, the new (Conservative) Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt, evidently trying to out-liberal the Liberals, announced the repeal of my rules.

Prisoners could suit themselves in future.

I was castigated for ‘Dancing to the tune of the tabloids’.

This change lasted all of 24 hours before the Prime Minister took fright, and re-imposed my rules!

But he has not yet straightened out his Prisons Minister, or Justice Secretary, on the matter of short-term prisoners.

There are too many of them, we are told; they often go on to re-offend.

If we cut the 60,000 who receive sentences of six months or less each year we could reduce the record 85,000 in jail in England and Wales.

It’s simplistic nonsense. It’s true that 60,000 people a year are sentenced to six months or less. But precisely because their sentences are short – often very short – there’s only around 5,000 such prisoners in jail at any one time.

It’s true, too, that many go on to re-offend once they’re released. But these are the hard-core repeat offenders. All but a tiny handful – four per cent – have at least one previous conviction or caution; three-quarters have seven or more previous convictions.

So they are the people who’ve failed on community punishments, not the ones who have succeeded.

They are put inside not for trivia but for offences of domestic violence, assault on the police, robbery and such like.

But, on top of going soft on these offenders, the new Justice Ministers are talking of abolishing the ‘indeterminate sentence for public protection’ (IPP) introduced in 2003 with Conservative support, for serious repeat offenders who show no sign of reform via traditional sentences.

In one of the election Leader’s Debates, David Cameron spoke eloquently of how his mother, a JP, had felt compelled to jail such offenders, since every other thing had failed.

He was right in what he said then.

I just hope he uses a little of his summer to straighten out some of his colleagues in this very odd marriage which passes for a coalition.