Monday, March 22, 2010

The Liberal Democrats: just what do they stand for??

Watching Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg on The Politics Show this weekend I was disappointed that he was not challenged on the [lack of] consistency and conviction behind Lib Dem policies and action. There’s no shortage of examples:

*Economic policy
Nick Clegg says he wants a fair society BUT has recently stressed his admiration for monetarist, ‘no such thing as society’ Margaret Thatcher! This presumeably will help his work for savage cuts in public services.

The LibDems [so-called] “green tax switch” promises to “cut income tax and switch to green taxes on pollution instead” BUT no serious Green would contemplate this. We need income taxation to pay for schools, hospitals, public services… So-called green tax revenue in place of income taxation means keeping the pollution going, to keep the revenue coming in, so that we don’t then have less money for schools, hospitals, public services…

*Democratic reform policy
Nationally say they want voters to have the power to sack MPs through a recall system BUT in Bristol Lib Dems opposed a Green motion to introduce recall locally.

*Transport policy
Norman Baker has said a LibDem government would stop spending on road building BUT his colleagues in Lancashire support the Lancaster Northern bypass.

Lib Dems wanted a moratorium on road building BUT then wholeartedly supported the Newbury bypass, the Batheaston bypass, the M74 extension in Scotland…

They favour congestion charging nationally BUT are against it in Edinburgh, Manchester and York.

Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has [rightly] complained that British rail passengers pay the highest fares in Europe BUT then he said the LibDems would improve matters by freezing UK rail fares - at the highest level in Europe!

Lib Dems opposed the expansion of Heathrow BUT have been happy to expand Birmingham, Carlisle, Exeter, Liverpool and Norwich airports – and enthused about Manchester airport’s second runway (except Lib Dems in Stockport, under the flightpath!).

*Waste management policy
LibDems in Sheffield argued for a new incinerator BUT in Hull fought against an incinerator. They stopped incineration in Bristol BUT have supported incinerator projects in Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple, and also in Essex.

*Energy policy
Say they want a zero carbon economy by 2050 BUT have opposed windfarm proposals in Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon and Worcestershire and in Lewisham the they voted against a Green Party budget package to insulate 25,000 homes for free. (They have until this year opposed Bristol Green Cllr Charlie Bolton’s budget amendments allocating more money for insulation.)

They say the environment is at the ‘heart of everything’ they do BUT the party is built on flip flopping opportunism not ecological principles. This explains their lack of joined up (systems) thinking, the root of all truly Green politics.