Monday, September 20, 2004

Delusions Delusions

Here's a letter I sent to the EDP today. Their political editor Chris Fisher wrote a very revealing article on the LibDems and Norman Lamb's plans to conquer the rest of Norfolk. I'm told that Norman Lamb believes the LibDems "won" the Easton by-election in South Norfolk last week even though we won it with a 4% swing to us! Quite astonishing. I think even the EDP are getting rather weary of their daily 'Lambograms'.

Chris Fisher's article (20 Sept) on the LibDems' plans to conquer Norfolk highlights their main weakness - which is that no one quite knows what they stand for, apart from wishing to be all things to all people. For instance, all their rural MPs voted against the Hunting Bill, yet their urban MPs voted in favour. Are they in favour of privatising the Post Office, as their Treasury spokesman says, or are they not? The truth is that their are promising the earth without having the faintest idea of how to pay for their ever growing wishlist.

The LibDems are proving to be the wheelie bins of British politics - receptacles filled with protest votes.

It is interesting that Norman Lamb thinks the LibDems are going to sweep Norfolk at the next election. He would do better worrying about retaining his own seat in North Norfolk. Rather than harp on about how well the LibDems are doing why doesn't he tell us what they actually stand for? Maybe he has forgotten that last week the LibDems were trounced by the Conservatives in a local government by-election in South Norfolk (Easton) at which they threw everything bar the kitchen sink. We won with a 4% swing from the LibDems to us.

Nowhere in his interview with Chris Fisher did he tell us about a single LibDem policy. Perhaps this is because he knows that a Local Income Tax will mean that a working couple in North Walsham will pay £650 more tax, that his fence sitting on Europe is no longer sustainable, that his Party's policy on legalising soft drugs and reclassifying hard drugs will be an electoral disaster and his Party's policy of imposing 40 new taxes on a population which is heartily sick of tax rises under Tony Blair, will guarantee that the LibDems remain the third party of British Politics. It is a sad reflection on the state of politics that Mr Lamb has refused to debate any of these issues with me in advance of a General Election campaign - a campaign in which I shall not only explain how a Conservative government will benefit North Norfolk but will also expose the hypocrisy underlying Liberal Democrat policies.


Anonymous said...

"For instance, all their rural MPs voted against the Hunting Bill, yet their urban MPs voted in favour."

So? You do understand the concept of a free vote on an issue don't you, Iain?

David said...

"The LibDems are proving to be the wheelie bins of British politics - receptacles filled with protest votes."Brilliant!

Iain Dale said...

Yes of course I understand a free vote. My point is that on so many issues the LibDems delight in facing both ways at once. There are countless examples I could mention.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I notice you ridicule the Lib Dems for their rural MPs voting against a ban, while the town and city MPs voted for. Would you also care to apply this to your own Tory MPs- your MPs for Solihull (town), Southend (town), Bournemouth (town)and Maidstone going against the tory line. You have few town and city seats, so this a quite a large number. Again, as another poster said, IT WAS A FREE VOTE. Unlike the tories, who argue over all the issues that split them (Europe and social reform being the main ones- 'stay far right or you're fired' Mr Bercow and Ms Kirkbride!) the Lib Dems are happy to except that people from differing backgrounds have differing views. I think you should to.

Iain Dale said...

Good try, but 3 Conservative MPs out of 166 does not an argument make...

Anonymous said...

There are more than 3 Tories- and you know that. You have very few town and city MPs, so, apparently like the Lib Dems, your MPs are split down the town country lines too. If that is the biggest split you can find in the Lib Dems, then that is a shame. As I have said, if the tories cannot understand freedom of speech, then shame on them. Luckily, you won't be near downing street any time soon.

Iain Dale said...

Oh dear oh dear. You want other examples of LibDem hypocrisy. Right then.

• Within six months of getting into power Torbay Liberal Democrats awarded themselves a 65% rise in allowances. After a public outcry they reduced the figure to 40% claiming this was a victory for “common sense, fairness and listening to public opinion”. Torbay Liberal Democrats President has, to his credit, resigned from the LibDems after 40 years’ membership.

• LibDems in Swansea have been campaigning against the council’s offer to pay £20,000 to long serving councillors to retire. All credit to them. But what’s this? True to form, one of the LibDem councillors has just accepted the pay-off. Talk about ‘take the money and run’.

• Milton Keynes councillors have just spent £6400 on a hotel junket…in Milton Keynes. £2000 of it was spent on overnight accommodation for councillors who live in…you guessed it, Milton Keynes.

• LibDems make out that they are against tuition fees, yet in Scotland, where they are in government, they have imposed tuition fees on students which are payable after graduation. So they’re actually only against up-front tuition fees, not the concept.

• The LibDems call for an end to bloated government but their record demonstrates the opposite. Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie says: “This takes LiBDem hypocrisy to new levels. They have conveniently forgotten their party’s shameful culpability in the bloated and interfering Scottish Executive that meddles in very aspect of peoples’ lives. The LibDems are responsible for record numbers of public servants, politicians, spin doctors and bureaucracy and for their Treasury spokesman to attack the government as a ‘bloated. Overweight couch potato attempting to operate by remote control and failing’ is a perfect description of the Lib-Lab coalition in Scotland.

• LibDem politicians are notorious for wanting to be all things to all men, but Norman Lamb’s close friend Brian Cotter MP takes things further than most. Cotter signed up to an Early Day Motion tabled by Labour MPAndy Burnham calling for the government “to give communities the power to choose water fluoridation by allowing an amendment obliging water companies to fluoridate supplies where a clear majority want it.” Conservative MP John Butterfill tabled an EDM arguing “the addition of medicines to public water supplies is a breach of fundamental human rights”. The motion foes on to reject “any proposals to amend legislation to permit the addition of fluoride to public water supplies.” Astonishingly Brian Cotter signed that one too!

• Before the council elections in Portsmouth last year LibDem councillors campaigned to keep Fulcher Special School open after it was threatened with closure. But within hours of taking control of the Council, new LibDem education chief Cllr Eleanor Scott told parents there was no way to save it. Local parent Debby Jones said: “The LibDems are turning this into a political circus but this is about our children’s future, not party politics. They keep changing their minds and the way they are going to vote.
The News, 17 May 2003

• In April 2003, LibDem spokesman Ed Davey MP declared to the national press: “War is not an issue for the local elections. Our advice to candidates has been not to campaign on it because, with British citizens fighting, it’s in poor taste.” Unless, Davey should have added, you’re trying to win seats in areas with lots of Muslim voters. In Leicester, for example, LibDem pamphlets proudly proclaimed: “The Liberal Democrats were the only national political party to oppose the war in Iraq.” Meanwhile, in Birmingham Selly Oak, a message to the local Muslim community – written in Urdu – declared: “No to the Iraq war. The Liberal Democrats were the only political party to oppose the war on Iraq.”
Daily Telegraph, 29 April 2003

• In May last year LibDem Health Spokeswoman patsy Calton MP voted against the Government’s plans for foundation hospitals. Strange, then, to see her popping up in her Cheadle constituency to campaign for the Stepping Hill hospital to be granted foundation status. “We can all modify our opinions according to local circumstances. I see no inconsistency in my position. My constituents always come first.” Indeed, Patsy, indeed.
Daily Telegraph, 16 May 2003

• The new £2 million public library built for the residents of Emerson’s Green near Bristol is standing empty because the LibDems forgot to order any books. Contracts agreed for the project, which was three months late and £175,000 over budget, did not include shelving, furniture or power points, but the oversight was not noticed until the building was three weeks from completion. The extra expense put such a large dent in the budget of LibDem controlled South Gloucestershire Council that even when the books do arrive the library will only open two afternoons a week and on Saturdays. The LibDems now have to find an additional £225,000 topay for the books and shelves. A LibDem spokesman commented: “It’s unfortunate that this has been overlooked.” Indeed it is.
The Times, 5 March 2003

• An attack by LibDem councillors in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead backfired when they slammed the Conservatives for a £20 consultation ‘bribe’ which was introduced ain 1999 – while the very same LibDems were in power! LibDem planning spokesman Cllr Howes angrily hit out at the policy if paying selected residents £20 to attend a presentation relating to town centre redevelopment. She said: “I don’t think this is appropriate for the Royal Borough>” It was then revealed that the LibDems introduced the £20 reimbursement in 1999.
Maidenhead Advertiser, 8 March 2003

• A confidential LibDem briefing paper asks activists to persuade ordinary members of the public to stand in local elections “for a laugh”. The document was sent by LibDem chief of staff to local parties, MPs, MSPs and council group leaders. It makes clear that the LibDems don’t care who stands for them as what they call ‘paperless’ candidates. It says: “Be shameless in asking. Paperless candidates need not be members of the party and should not be vetted in any way. If you have a university of college LibDem group in your council area this will be an excellent source of candidates. Not just for those who are party members, but their friends and flatmates will be persuaded to stand ‘for a laugh’ – and for the price of a round of drinks.” The document recommends asking people in the name of party leader Charles Kennedy. It also says to tell the dummy candidates how to hide their embarrassment of standing for the LibDems from neighbours and friends, and to tell them that their cause is hopeless. It says: “Make it clear that they will not win, will not be expected to do anything and can choose a ward on the other side of the council area where no one knows them.”
Daily Record, 21 February 2003

• Lord Sharman, who headed a Liberal Democrat group that recommended a maximum of five non-executive directorships “to limit the excesses of the merry-go-round, held eight posts according to the most recent register. LibDem Treasurer and strategist Lord Razzall holds 21 directorships. The Party said the proposals were a ‘valuable contribution to the debate’ rather than a limit LibDem Peers and MPs had to observe. So that’s all right then.
Financial Times, 12 August 2002

• The LibDems make great play of criticising the fact that business help to fund the Conservative Party. Perhaps they have selective amnesia about the donations they have received from Tesco, McDonald’s, Manchester Airport, Independent News & Media, Bloomberg & Robert Rhodes.

• To show what level of importance LibDems attach to real political issues, at their 2004 Spring Conferences they have relegated their core general election these to a graveyard slot on Saturday morning. Instead, the prime slots, deemed most likely to get media publicity, go to debates on a plastic bag environmental levy, relaxing pornography laws and legalising euthanasia.

• So the Chancellor has announced an extra £100 for pensioners to help pay their Council Tax bills. But Lib Dem Work & Pensions Secretary Steve Webb is not impressed, saying: Whilst we support more help for older pensioners, they will not be fooled by this blatant pre-election bribe. Presumably that would be nothing like the pre-election bribe offered to the voters of Brent East last September, when the Liberal Democrats put out an election leaflet boldly promising: The Lib Dems want to cut £100 from every Council Tax bill before replacing it with a fairer scheme. And nothing like the pre-election bribe in the Lib Dem local election manifesto Power To The People in 2003, which pledged: A Liberal Democrat Budget this April would provide the cash to cut every council tax bill by £100

• Amazing inconsistencies between the Liberal Democrats' fervent support for the congestion charge nationally and their totally different policy in London. It now seems that in Edinburgh too the local Liberal Democrats do not want to put their policy into practice. The Scotsman reports:In total, 20 councillors say they would not willingly pay the congestion charge - all are Conservative or Liberal Democrats. One Lib Dem, Paul Edie, wasn’t content just to say no. He adds: "I am a very keen environmentalist but I think this is a clumsy tax which doesn’t tax congestion, doesn’t tax pollution, doesn’t tax fuel consumption and will put the cause of environmentalism in this city back 20 years. It will hit Edinburgh’s economic performance in far more ways than just the retail sector." Lib Dem John Longstaff is the only person to respond saying he had two cars - but he says they’re required because "it’s difficult getting in and out of Edinburgh from Ratho Village where the bus service is hourly at best and two-hourly in evenings and on Sundays." He adds: "I will be campaigning against it [the charge]. The tram lines need to be built first and their effect on congestion taken into account before any charge is levied." So, once again, we ask, which one is Liberal Democrat policy: the support for the congestion charge in principle in their draft manifesto or their continual opposition to it in practice? Or is it that with the Liberal Democrats you really can have it both ways (as long as nobody notices)?

Enough to be going on with? There's plenty more where that came from. Have a look at www.libdemwatch It's very educational.