Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Knives Are Out For Nick Clegg, But Beware Who Is Holding The Scabbard...

So the dust is finally starting to settle over the political landscape, the post debate froth is slowly dissipating, yet the star of Nick Clegg is at least managing to sustain its altitude in the days following the inaugural leader’s debate. In the midst of all this Liberal Democrat euphoria, the airspace that spans the majority of the European Union has been closed down as a different type of dust settles upon the holiday plans of the masses.

Meanwhile, as Sunday groans and creaks into life, the political pundits and news hawks are reporting with glee as the Conservatives begin patting themselves down, straightening up their old school ties, and sharpening the knives that they have been throwing at the life sized posters of the Liberal Democrat leader, such is their fury at his barefaced cheek in turning up to last Thursday’s debate and actually daring to connect with the electorate in a way that shows the Conservatives and Labour up as the outdated talking shops that they truly are.

Sitting here watching the various interviews with the political commentators and party spokespeople, it makes me wonder just what depths the Conservatives and Labour are prepared to sink to in order to fool the electorate into voting for the status quo.

This morning, we have already heard the Conservatives try to scare you into not giving your vote to the Liberal Democrats. A spokesman claimed that the Liberal Democrats were espousing a policy of amnesty for illegal immigrants. What they do not tell you is that this is a policy that has been put forward by the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson!

So this is a clear example of how you cannot trust anything that the Tories tell you, because they will do anything to ensure that we do not get the real change that this great nation desperately needs, and that will shatter their dreams of getting their grubby hands on power and looking after their friends in big business

We hear them crowing about the fact that the Liberal Democrats are supposedly ‘hell bent’ on assimilating the United Kingdom into a federalist Europe, once again trying to play on people’s fears in order to prevent real change, at your expense. Europe is by no means perfect. It is a collection of different states with different agendas, cultures, and priorities. Alliances rule the roost. Horse trading is the order of the day, it is how laws are made, concessions are won, and European law is shaped. There are many, many things that need to be urgently improved within the framework of the EU for it to be more relevant, more responsive, and to be better serving of our interests as a separate sovereign nation that holds membership of this body.

The fact is that the Liberal Democrats are the only one of the major parties who have stated that they will hold a referendum on whether or not the UK should remain a part of the EU, or whether we should leave. The Conservatives are so bogged down in dogma and ideology that their MEPs are failing to represent the best interests of the British people. Conservative MEPs voted against the EU law that spawned the European Arrest Warrant, and laws that have enabled the police forces of European countries to co-operate in order to trace, arrest and bring to justice major paedophile rackets.

If the Conservative party had their way, these people simply would not have been brought to justice.

In many cities around the UK, companies and public bodies have been able to finance new jobs, new facilities, and new amenities for the benefit of ordinary people, by gaining grants and loans from the European Union. In South Yorkshire for example, station improvements and new stretches of railway line that have improved passenger services have only been made possible by money granted from the EU development funds.
So we have to take a fair and balanced view when it comes to Europe. Good things as well as bad have come from Brussels and Strasbourg.

Let us be frank, many of the things that the EU do are quite frankly ridiculous. It is hard to fully respect any organisation that takes 15 years to define what chocolate is!

But whoever is in government needs to recognise the fact that we are a member of the EU.

We cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and pretend that Europe does not exist. Crime now spans international borders, as do the influences of the major banking organisations that have endangered the major economies of Europe. Industrial policies of multi-national companies cross the jurisdictions of sovereign nations.

So it is in my view essential that we at least play a part in European affairs. It is in our interest to make sure that we have a relationship with the European Union that ensures that we get the best out of membership in the interests of our country and our citizens, and that we co-operate with other EU countries in order to ensure that we are not disadvantaged by their actions, or those of their companies. It simply makes sense.

The key point is though, that whereas the other major parties spout endless hot air about Europe, with the Conservatives so obsessed with dancing around the maypole instead of representing YOUR interests in Europe, the Liberal Democrats are the only major party to pledge to hold a referendum on whether or not the UK should remain as a member of the EU. This would happen in the event that European events would threaten to majorly alter our laws, and is the true HONEST debate that we need to have.

Only the Liberal Democrats have promised to deliver this.

The other parties are readying their attacks in the area of foreign policy, believing that his is a weak area for the Liberal Democrats. Yet the Conservatives and Labour are trying to fool you into believing that the arguments around Afghanistan are based on whether helicopters are painted the right colour, and whether they work properly.

The true debate is centred around the reasons for us being in Afghanistan. The Liberal Democrats were the only major party to oppose the invasion of Iraq, and they are the only party who are prepared to take on the difficult questions raised by our supporting a corrupt and inept Afghani regime.

Our brave men and women who are going into that country to lay their lives down on behalf of the United Kingdom deserve these issues to be examined. It is the least that the major players in our political system can do in return for such brave and dedicated service.

By questioning the validity of the Afghan strategy, you are not failing to support our troops. You are showing them that you care desperately that they are sent to risk life and limb only when necessary, that they’re properly trained, equipped and supported, both before during and after conflict, and that they are not put in harm’s way in the name of a flawed strategy.

Our armed forces also need and deserve to be paid in parity with our Emergency services, who also do a great job. The Liberal Democrats are the only party who are proposing to reform Armed Force’s pay and tackle the questions surrounding Afghani strategy and the war on terror.

So bear in mind when the Labour party and the Conservatives try and stick in the knife in, that they may try and portray Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats as being no substance in terms of policy, but when you examine the true position of their own policies, their smokescreen and abject panic at the surge in the opinion polls in the Liberal Democrats’ failure demonstrate that they are all mouth and no action.

As we go into the second of the leader’s debates, the Conservatives and the Labour Party will certainly be sticking in the knife. But before you allow your perceptions to be changed by the panicking strategists in the Labour and Tory camps, take a long hard look at who is holding the scabbard.

Friday, 16 April 2010

My Take on the Inaugural Leader's Debate

I’m sitting down to watch the inaugural leader’s debate as I write these first few words, the dog finally admitting defeat and returning to his basket, a glass of milk and whiskey on the table.

I have to say that I have high hopes for Nick Clegg during the opening exchanges of this debate. It does all seem rather staid and a little starchy to be honest, however, I feel that it is fair to say that my impressions are as follows based on the opening few minutes;

• Gordon Brown is still approaching both audience and fellow political leaders as if he is at the despatch box during PMQs. He still, worryingly, looks like a pale android, and if I were a Doctor, I would be worrying about the state of his circulatory system.

• David Cameron is trying extremely hard to say all the things that he believes the electorate wish to hear, but I still cannot escape the feeling that he is reading every word of every answer from a pre prepared cue card. I must admit that I have also just experienced the frighteningly plausible mental image of David Cameron being wheeled back into the store cupboard of Madame Tussaud’s come the end of this debate.

• Hold the phone citizens! Nick Clegg is a flower that is starting to bloom! I am finding this deliciously ironic that he is the party leader that has invested the least amount of resources and time in preparations for this debate, yet he is coming across as the easiest to believe, the most comfortable in front of the camera, and the most assured under cross examination. He is talking alot of sense, and talking it well (Grammar Police stand down please)

• I am feeling quite a pronounced sense of antipathy all the way over here on my sofa. This is all too polite. Please excuse me for a moment whilst I try and suppress my bubbling indifference.

• Nick Clegg is managing to get lots of local references in his answers to his constituency in Sheffield. The Liberal Democrats are an extremely locally focussed party. Well Done Nick!

• Gordon Brown talking about successful police forces taking over failing ones. Bearing in mind that there is an unofficial recruitment freeze within the public sector, including the Police service, how on earth are the successful forces going to adequately apportion manpower to run the failing ones? Complete tosh and twaddle!

• David Cameron talked about visit to police station in Hull. Wonder why he isn’t talking about any police stations he has visited in Oxfordshire, or any other location that is more ‘well heeled’? A vacuous attempt at appealing to the working class vote perhaps? A Play and a miss for Cameron methinks..

• Nick Clegg drawing references from the other two party manifestos..I am glad to see that Nick is showing some teeth here. Now and again the Lib Dems need to show some mettle, as well as good ideas..more of the same please..

• Brown returning to the same old Punch and Judy PMQ approach. Cameron resorting to type and attempting to shelter under the banner of attacking the Labour Party economic policies that he and his Shadow Chancellor supported..excuse me whilst I yawn..

• And so on to expenses! Well done Nick Clegg on pointing out that the Liberal Democrat MPs were by and large clean following the expenses scandal

• I am rather unsettled by the not too subtle love bombing that Gordon Brown is directing at Nick Clegg..anymore and this broadcast will have to be age certificated!

• Why is it that David Cameron always brings the argument back to cutting the cost of what is being discussed?? If he were talking about the costs of getting on the housing ladder I would be more receptive, but when he talks about this in the context of cleaning up politics as if it were some great panacea I have to say to him that he is well and truly missing the point.

• David Cameron trying to spread the muck and deflect from ‘Cashcroft’ and Gordon Brown hovering and smirking like a patronising teacher.

• Noteworthy that David Cameron wants a ‘predominantly’ elected second chamber. If the Tories have changed and are no longer elitist, why can we not have a completely elected House Of Lords?

• Cameron lands a big blow on Brown. DC makes a good point when he pins down GB on why it is that he only became interested in political reform weeks before this election. It is fair to say that Labour have had 13 years, after all!

• Nick Clegg making the good European comparisons on education. Good strategy, as he is showing that where strategies have been adopted that Liberal Democrats support, real success has been achieved

• All the leaders are agreed that we need more discipline in schools. Nick Clegg mentioned the Liberal Democrat plans for smaller class sizes. Personally I wouldn’t be a teacher if you gave me a golden pig as a golden hello!

• David Cameron banging on about the Tory smoke screen that is the so-called ‘job tax’ (National Insurance Contributions) YAWN!!

• Gordon Brown is obsessed with successful groups taking over failing groups..Is he a messenger from the Borg???? He seems awfully preoccupied with assimilation!

• David Cameron (again) going on about how the roof will fall in if National Insurance rate raises. The 100 businessmen he has recruited have all (allegedly) bought ad space in the Conservative in house magazine.

• Nick Clegg claiming the scrapping of trident will save £100 BILLION!! Why are doing this?? Common sense please!!!

• As it stands, the Liberal Democrats are the only political party who have a ‘menu with prices’ with regard to the inevitable post election cuts.

• Gordon Brown making shrewd economic point regarding the fact that the UK has a lower level of unemployment than the US. Trying to cast himself as the steady hand on the tiller.

• Nick Clegg talking about open and honest in politics. The Liberal Democrat idea of instigating a Council of Financial Unity is certainly a very interesting one. We need to do something differently!
• David Cameron claiming that Lib Dem proposal to abolish income tax for all earnings below £10,000 as a £17bn tax break. Personally I would see it as a demonstration of fair and radical tax reform that the country needs.

• The whole debate is a little stop start due to Alistair Stewart. He is putting up a strong show though.

• Noticeable how David Cameron is completely ignoring what the other leaders are saying in reply to him.

• All three leaders are quite rightly showing gratitude and deference to our brave servicemen and servicewomen. They do a fantastic job, and we are all in their debt.

• I’m liking the Liberal Democrat proposal to bring harmony to the pay comparison between junior soldiers, sailors and airmen and comparable emergency service personnel. Also showing the idiocy of MOD beaurocrats in ignoring the engineering expertise that we have right here in our own country. A play and a hit for Nick Clegg!

• Lib Dem and Conservative leader agreeing on calling for a defence review. Nick Clegg pinning down David Cameron on the issue of trident. Cameron scaremongering with strange talk of losing nuclear deterrent. Cue much alarmist talk about Iran.

• Nick Clegg making good point in saying that the argument regarding trident is one of priorities.

• David Cameron making very valid point regarding lack of helicopters in Afghanistan. Gordon Brown stuttering in reply. Play and a hit for Cameron.

• Nick Clegg making great point about the NHS employing 5000 more managers in the past year. He is right to say that the priorities are all wrong when A & E departments and hospitals are threatened with closure.

• David Cameron makes heartfelt point regarding the treatment his late son received. Nursing & Medical staff in the NHS are indeed an excellent breed.

• Cameron bringing the debate back to the Tory confidence trick that is the campaign against NIC.

• Gordon Brown failing to connect through the camera. He is talking about the cancer treatment guarantee, which would be great if ever brought to practice, but he is looking like the pale android again.

• Cameron reeling out dodgy statistics about Bulgarian cancer rates. I’ll reserve my judgement on that one!

• I concede to the reader that I have a party political interest in this debate, however I do believe that Nick Clegg is providing a breath of fresh air as I type. Honesty is truly a refreshing approach from a political leader!

• Gordon Brown is using his supposed agreement with Nick Clegg as a life raft. Swim Gordon, Swim!

• Nice to see a fellow Train Driver putting a question to the leaders!

• David Cameron makes nice sounds with no answer again, taking a cheap swipe at Gordon Brown, yet forgetting again to mention that he and his party supported the very economic measures that he is now castigating Brown for!

• Nick Clegg is getting alot of positive press, I believe for his emphasis on honesty and consensus in politics. In the area of elderly care we do need cross party co-operation on this issue. We need to respect our elders and treasure them. David Cameron is making some good points on this also.

• Gordon brown is reverting once again to PMQ mode. I am losing the will to live whenever he speaks. I know that he is a decent and honest man, but he has the talent to switch the political passion within this political animal off! Lord knows what effect he has on the public at large!

• Nick Clegg proposing a week per year respite care for long term carers. A fine and noble proposal to end the debate on.

• Clegg makes a compelling appeal in his closing statement. Give real change a chance.

• Gordon Brown strikes for the populist tone by mentioning X factor. Cleverly using the statement to clarify Labour policy on cuts and NIC, honing in on Cameron’s jobs tax claim and misinformation. A good closing statement overall.

• David Cameron is trying to let sunshine win the day again. Trying to paint the Tory party as the victim within the political process is a bit rich, even for someone who is more than a bit,!

Overall, I believe that Nick Clegg came out he victor in this debate. I believe that he managed to portray a better way of sorting out the problems that face the country. I believe that Gordon Brown was tired and repetitive, and suffering from the ‘brake fade’ of holding office. David Cameron on the other hand failed to take advantage of the opportunity to instil dominance in the electoral campaign, and instead came across as far too polished and false, purveying a slightly tinted version of the same old politic that has outraged the electorate so much.

This has been vindicated by the exit polling from the debate, where ratings were recorded as Gordon Brown gaining between 17 and 32%, Cameron on between 22 and 29% and Clegg on between 37 and 61%.

I think that this shows that when each party is given equal coverage that isn’t distorted by the bankrolling of the big businessmen and the trade unions, the policies and philosophies of the Liberal Democrats, under the leadership of Nick Clegg really do present a credible option for where you should place your vote.

I would call upon you all to use that vote to the best interests of your conscience, and the best interest of this great nation, and its future generations..

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Why Voting for the Status Quo is a True Waste of The Power You Hold in The Election

The Conservative party have finally shed the venomous and divisive characteristics of their old ways, and are now a modern, progressive, caring, equalitarian party that even the most progressive minded political observer could seriously consider voting for.

This is essentially what the party’s publicity machine, headed up by former News Of The World editor, and professional “It’s nothing to do with me guv” excuse thrower Andy Coulson would have you believe in their myriad of election campaign messages.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with this. This is all fine and dandy. People can, I suppose change. If I had ever rented a room at Lizzie Borden’s house though, I think I would have insisted that I undertake the chopping of firewood, just be safe, but I am sure that a leopard can at least try and change its spots.

This remarkable transition however, does leave me in a quandary.

Thanks to the Conservative party, I have now had my preconceptions of the educational establishment within this great country of ours ripped to shreds, rather like the Saturday plans of a low income parent who intends to use a sure start centre, post any David Cameron victory.

I was always of the view that the reason people shelled out such eye watering amounts of money to send their often below average intelligence offspring to private and public schools was to afford them the opportunities that will propel them into the higher echelons of business, politics and consultancy, regardless of their ability to compete successfully on an even playing field.

Many of the MPs in the approaching parliament will be alumni from the elite public and private schools, and the majority of the Conservative leadership fit into that category. Labour are not above criticism in this field though, with Harriet Harperson, Alistair Darling, and a throng of other leading figures benefitting from fee paying education.

I accept that this on its own is no bad thing, and it would be quite wrong to dismiss any of these people simply because of the fact that their parents paid for their education.

However, when you look at the actions and intentions of the Tories and the Labour party, you begin to see that although these two groups of politicians share an affiliation with the educational elite, they have used what they have learned in markedly differing ways.

The Conservative party have dispelled entirely the myth that a privately financed education leads to greater literacy and numeracy skills, whereas the Labour party have used the skills gleaned within the public and private school sectors to flip flop between their constant and diametrically opposed appeals to the working class voter, and to the captains of large scale commerce and big business.

Over the last week, David Cameron (sorry, I meant to say the Conservative Party) declared all out war against Labour’s plan to raise National Insurance Contributions. (Call me) Dave stated that the rise was a ‘tax on jobs’ and was a measure that would ‘kill the recovery’ He then gathered 68 captains of big business together to shock the nation by saying that they were opposed to an increase in taxation on their massively over inflated salaries, and they claimed that any such move would ‘put them off hiring more staff’ in the future. (Call me) Dave also stated that, if elected, he (meaning his party, obviously) would instigate legislation that would limit public servants who are in senior managerial roles to earning a maximum of 20 times the salary of their lowest paid workers, yet stayed strangely quiet about the massive gap between the earnings of Chief Executives and Directors within the private sector, and the wages of their lowest paid staff.

He also claimed that the Tories could save billions in getting rid of governmental waste and streamlining back office local government posts, all without confirming whether or not there will be any redundancies, which would place further strain on the benefit system, and potentially throw yet more people of working age on the scrapheap.

All of these promises of efficiency look to be very feasible you may say. But when you look closely at the figures, and the effect that these proposals would actually have, it becomes plain for all to see that the Conservatives are just as flimsy as they ever were.

For a start, the ‘extra’ strain on business will be minimal. The M&S Chief Executive Sir Stuart Rose claimed that this increase in National Insurance would ‘put him off’ hiring more staff. What a complete load of twaddle!

For one thing, I cannot see a chain of stores like M&S whose sales are up markedly on comparable periods in preceding years, allowing their stores to go unstaffed despite the obvious need for hiring, simply because the NIC rate has been increased by 1%.

It is estimated in some quarters that, for an organisation the size of M&S, the additional cost of employing staff following any increase in NIC would amount to a figure in the region of £10m. Not good when placed in the context of a fragile economic recovery I hear you say, yet the scene changes again when you take into account that M&S paid the very same Sir Stuart Rose a ‘golden hello’ payment of £15m. So if Sir Stuart were truly concerned about the effect upon his company of any increase, surely he is duty bound as captain of the ship to return his golden hello payment in order to mitigate the effect. At the time of writing this blog, no such offer from Sir Stuart was forthcoming.

Strangely enough, I didn’t see these figures printed in The Sun, Daily Mail, Express, or any other Cameron worshipping newspapers during this debate.

As regards the plan to find billions in efficiency savings in the public sector, the current figure trumpeted by (Call Me) Dave is some £27 BILLION. This is almost the entire defence budget for the United Kingdom.

They have claimed that they will achieve this by implementing measures such as harmonising backroom positions in local councils, and not recruiting more staff when existing staff move on. What they seem to have ignored is the fact that, firstly, this is once again going to put more people onto benefits, thereby placing more strain on the nation’s finances, and having the effect that I have described above.

They have also shown a pronounced lack of understanding of how the public sector works. The commitment to not recruit further staff is discredited further when you take into account the fact that around 8% of public sector staff leave their posts for other jobs within the public sector. 8% of such a body of workforce represents a massive amount of people. If they cannot move because of a recruitment freeze, then the Tories efficiency claims are thrown into chaos, because the vacancies will not be there for any would be Tory administration to leave unfilled, thereby undermining any financial advantage to the tax payers of this great nation. A hit and a miss for (Call Me) Dave.

The only alternative for any Tory government, in order to compensate for this is for them to make redundancies on a large scale. It staggers me that none of the Tory strategists have factored this into their plans.

This staggering error points to one of three possibilities being true; Either the Conservative party have a massive misunderstanding of the way in which the public sector works, in which case they show themselves to be as disinterested in the low paid workforce that administers the essential services of this great nation, as well as being as untrustworthy as they ever were, or the privately financed elite educations that they benefitted from, and which propelled them to their current
elevated positions have left them so ill equipped in mathematical and analytical terms that they are simply unable to see where it is that their plans go wrong.

It is entirely possible, I believe, that (Call Me) Dave was too busy dictating the letter which was hastily endorsed by the 68 big business leaders, and briefing Sir Stuart ‘Golden Hello’ Rose for his appointment with the TV cameras that he forgot to check his figures before firing up his propaganda machine.

The third option is that they are perfectly well aware of the fact that they are going to have to make wholesale cuts to the public sector workforce, but have decided against being open and honest with the electorate about this fact.

I know that it is a shocking thought to deal with, so I would respectfully call upon you to take a moment and just process that idea. Take a deep breath before continuing. In an attempt to be fair about this issue, they do claim to be reformed characters, so I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, and refrain from claiming that they are being dishonest or deceptive about their plans for hard working public servants.

The Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Dr Vince Cable MP has estimated that the net result of Tory plans for the public sector could result in 20,000 to 40,000
redundancies. Can our creaking benefits system really deal with an additional 20-40,000 skilled people claiming Job Seekers Allowances and Housing/Council Tax Benefits, as well as local authorities having to re-house those who lose their homes as a result of the inability to pay mortgages and other credit?

The Tories are obviously either, disinterested and incompetent, or they are so poorly educated despite the immense parental investment in their educations, that they could be perceived as the personification of why it that wearing the correct school tie will always outweigh your qualifications, or abilities when moving in conservative circles.

Either way, the result of allowing the Tories to get their hands on the public sector would be a disaster for our economy.

The Labour party, on the other hand are no better. They have been sketchy at best in identifying areas within which they can cut waste out of inefficient areas of the public service, of which its most ardent supporter must surely admit that there are many. They have only grudgingly admitted at the eleventh hour that there will be ‘some job losses’ although they will not go into specifics.

The Labour party have developed a culture and a practice of serving the gods of re-election, rather than serving the British people. This has resulted in them responding to every problem by slapping a target on it and calling a press conference. Their strategy is to try and smother the flames of voter discontent with a blanket of statistics, seemingly hoping that we become so confused by the numbers that we simply stop questioning them, and give Labour our votes just so they’ll stop the constant attack of numerics.

On the specific issue of National Insurance though, Alistair Darling has said that he had a choice of raising NIC or VAT, and decided to target National insurance because VAT would impact upon the least well off instead off a raise in NIC for those earning in excess of £20,000 per annum. I have to admit that I can see the sense in that to an extent.

Obviously, we all are going to have to pay more in order to help sort out the mistakes of an exalted few in the City of London, we all know that, and it is a sour fruit that we shall have to collectively suck on in order to aid the recovery of the economy.

Surely though, it would make more sense to instigate a raise in income tax, thereby placing the greatest burden upon those with the broadest financial shoulders. If this were to be instigated in partnership with real reform of the tax system, the strain would be placed fairly and squarely upon those able to take it, and not those within society who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Liberal Democrats propose to abolish income tax for the first £10,000 of all earnings, thereby making people £700 better off on average using current rates. This is the kind of fair, progressive tax policy that the UK needs in order to rein in the massive deficit that the country faces in the fairest way possible, with those most able to take the strain contributing most.

These tax proposals would mean that approximately 3.6m people would not pay any income tax. These are among the lowest paid workers in Britain, and are amongst those most susceptible to poverty, as are their children, and both the Labour Party and the Tories have no plans to direct any kind of policy toward these people in order to help them do more with their lives than survive.

It’s a strange thing to say, but politics is one of the greenest businesses around. When you look at the policies of two of the major parties, they are based very firmly around the principles of recycling.

Some of the attitudes of New Labour could well have been wrenched from the philosophies of Thatcher, turning their backs on the commitment made to the 1994 party conference to nationalise the railways if elected and becoming the ‘hungry puppy’ of big business.

The Conservatives under David Cameron have tried as hard as Lord Ashcroft’s millions would let them to emulate the project that was New Labour, casting aside the party’s traditional elitist, unjust and outdates policies and guiding principles for the benefit of the massed media and trying to project an image of caring about the working classes and campaigning on the environment.

The big difference between the two is that where the Labour Party made a public and pronounced act of moving smartly to the right and putting clear space between themselves and their paymasters in the trade unions, they continued this conversion when the cameras were turned off.

The Conservatives, on the other hand have shown on a number of occasions, that as soon as the media walks away and the spotlight is turned off, they revert to type, aspiring to govern from their own ivory towers, believing the same old tired dogma that they have always believed, and looking to return Britain to the nightmare of the 1980’s.

During the recent financial crisis and electoral campaign we have seen Labour stealing policy ideas from the Liberal Democrats, continuing the cycle of recycle and re-use (in some circles it would be known as stealing) and ignoring the fact that in some cases, only months ago these same policies were being ridiculed by both Labour and the Conservatives, yet now both sides seem ready to deride the party in public, yet love bomb them in private!

It is clear to see that the only party that is truly setting the agenda, being clear about what is in store, open about how pledges will be financed, and making real plans that will deliver the kind of democracy and politics in this country that are not centred on protecting the right of the privileged few to claim for duck houses, toilet seats and first class train travel, and that party is the Liberal Democrats.

There are some that claim that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a wasted vote. How can it be a wasted vote when that vote is for fairness in tax reform, greater powers of arrest, detention and removal for the Border & Immigration agencies, responsible banking law, the separation of investment and high street banks, greater investment in public transport, the reform of the most rotten parliament in the western world, and real investment in healthcare and education?

If you truly believe that these pledges are exactly the kind of honest, fair and progressive policies that this great nation needs in order to kick start the economic regeneration and deliver more jobs, responsible investment, and an environment that will be fit for our children and grandchildren, then I would respectfully suggest that you should give serious thought to voting Liberal Democrat on May 6th.

It is important that you do not waste your vote. It is imperative that you don’t waste this opportunity to secure real change.