Archive for April, 2010

The Lib Dem Team of Clegg and Cable is the best choice for Britain

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat finance spokesman warned this week that Britain risks sliding into a Greek-style fiscal crisis unless the next government takes drastic action to cut borrowing.

Taxes must rise sharply over the next decade to bring down borrowing, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. They suggest that taxes will have to rise by the equivalent of a 6p in the pound on income tax! They also said the UK economy faces sluggish growth and rising unemployment this year.

The Governor of the Bank of England governor Mervyn King is reported to have warned that “Whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be.”

Who would want to take the economic reins of power in such a scenario?

I ask another question – ‘In such dire circumstances who will be best suited to reduce the government debt, oversee a much needed restructuring of the banking sector, whilst protecting the vulnerable from cuts in vital government services?’ It will not surprise you that my answer this question is Vince Cable, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

The next government could make the situation a lot worse. We need sound financial judgement if we are to recover and not sink into a second recession. Vince Cable and the Liberal Democrats have consistently got the analysis right over the economy. We must tackle government debt without choking off the economic recovery

We cannot afford to take a leap in the dark with Osborne and Cameron. Many people are fearful of the mass job losses and VAT increases likely to follow a Conservative win. Cuts and tax increases will be needed but who will bear the brunt of these?

Vince says, “The public will accept austerity for a time if the burdens are fairly shared”.

Vince Cable and the Lib Dems are determined to make our tax system fairer and we would raise the tax threshold so that nobody earning less than £10,000 would pay any income tax. This would be paid for by a tax on mansions worth over £2million, closing tax loopholes and making airlines pay for the pollution they cause.

Raising the tax threshold will benefit the average tax payer by £700 per year, but it will also have the added benefit of greatly increasing the incentive to work rather than languish on benefits.

Our manifesto sets out a carefully costed plan of cuts and spending commitments that would result in a £10billion cut in the deficit. Much more needs to be done and that will include hard choices about benefits and public sector pensions for example.

Nick Clegg proposes a ‘Council on Financial Stability’, involving representatives of all parties, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chair of the Financial Services Authority. We face the kind of dire circumstances that require all Parties to work together if we are to avoid major social division when cuts and tax rises are implemented.

A strong Liberal Democrat presence in Parliament will ensure a wise, prudent and compassionate approach to the crisis we face.

I have been struck by how many local small business people are outraged by the foolish and illiberal digital economy act which Labour rushed through Parliament with support from my opponent Jermey Hunt. I wrote an open letter to Mr Hunt on 5th April about this.

On 11th April I called for the Digital Economy Act to be repealed.

I have been delighted to receive strong support from the local E-Commerce community. Here’s one comment:

“As a local businessman who voted Conservative in every election to date I’m changing to vote for Mike and the Lib Dems. I’m very impressed with the Lib Dems strong pro-business policies, in particular their balanced and sensible approach to E-commerce and the digital economy.” James Firth

And it’s not just the Act that is a problem in Farnham. Read this comment by local film and television producer Jack Jewers who I met recently:

“Britain’s digital infrastructure is seriously under-developed and it really does hurt us. In most of Farnham, broadband access comes down old copper phone wires (rather than fibre optic cables), so the average broadband speed is barely 2MB. That makes the internet slow and unreliable. I’m a filmmaker by trade and have recently moved two businesses here from London because I want to support my home town. However I may be forced to move back to the city because I cannot get the reliable, high-speed web access I need. There are wider implications of this too. Imagine if the thousands of people who live in our area could commute digitally, what a difference it could make to the environment, not to mention to our crowded trains. Given all of this, I simply cannot understand why, when Britain lags so far behind Europe and the wider world on digital infrastructure, Parliament chose to pass a bill (the Digital Economy Bill) that limits digital growth instead of one that improves access. I fear we’re going to be left behind, and that companies like mine will find it hard to compete with better wired businesses elsewhere in the world.”

Mike Simpson will press for sustainable funding for youth facilities across South West Surrey

I recently visited the Wey Centre in Haslemere where I met a group of young people following concerns about the lack of facilities they have available to them.

I listened to Sharon Mitchell and a group of young people who have formed a charity, ‘Stars in the Helping’. It was set up last year to provide help for children in Kenya. They have been sending children clothes and have also paid for food to be provided in Kenya. They visited villages in the area last August, working in orphanages. As a result they are going to help rebuild a school next year.

Sharon said “It was great for Mike to come and see the efforts of some of the local children in Haslemere. It is important that we increase the profile of the charity so that we can increase our membership, helping young people get motivated”.

I have a lot of experience in working with young people having been employed by the YMCA for over twenty years, currently as a Chief Executive Officer. I have worked with hundreds of disadvantaged young people including those with drug and alcohol problems, homeless young people and pupils at risk of exclusion from school.

I have become increasingly concerned with the inadequate facilities that there are for young people. Young people are sometimes targets for criticism. The lack of appropriate facilities for them can lead to problems with members of the public in open space areas.

The Wey Centre is a much needed facility that deserves sustainable funding and quality youth work provision by Surrey County Council. I was very inspired to hear about the young people who are involved in Stars in the Helping and the impact they are having on the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.

There’s been so much concentration on the TV debates that you may have missed some of our best policies as set out in our manifesto!

So I thought I would list a random collection:

We will introduce a Banking Levy on bank profits, so that banks pay for their tax-payer guarantee.

Bring in step-on-request for night buses, so that you are let off the bus as close to your home as possible.

Launch an ‘Eco Cash-back’ scheme for the first year of the new government. This will give you £400 if you install double glazing, replace a boiler or install micro-generation.

We will uprate the state pension annually by whichever is the higher of growth in earnings, growth in prices or 2.5% whichever is the higher.

Invest £400 million in refurbishing shipyards so that they manufacture offshore wind turbines and other marine renewable energy equipment.

Allow Mums and Dads to share parental leave between them, introducing much greater flexibility.

Phase out University tuition fees over 6 years, helping to reduce the appaling burden of debt being loaded onto young people.

Legislate to end unfair bank and financial transaction charges so you cannot be charged more than the costs incurred.

Give a pay rise to the lower ranks of the armed forces so that their pay is brought into line with the starting salary of their emergency service counterparts.

Impose maximum interest rates for credit cards and store cards following consultation with the financial industry and consumer groups.

Scrap ID cards and use the savings to pay for 3,000 more police on the beat.

Make Network Rail refund a third of your ticket price if you have to take a rail replacement bus service.

Abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and return decision-making, including housing targets, to local people.

Scrap ‘home information packs’ for when you buy a home saving you money.

Jeremy Hunt’s expenses got a good airing at a public ‘hustings’ meeting in Godalming on Friday night. Anyone wanting full details about his expenses should click here

There is growing support for our campaign to Save The BBC I am standing against Jeremy Hunt, the Tory’s Shadow Culture Secretary. If I beat him it will be a major blow to the Tory plans for the Beeb. And it looks like I can win, given the huge swing to the Lib Dems across the country.

Leading actors are today calling for voters ‘to protect the BBC on polling day’.

And across the country other groups are setting up to fight for BBC independence which is threatened by Tory plans. I wrote to the Tory Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt about his own position some months back.

It’s clear that the Murdoch press are desperate for a Tory victory as they would have much to gain from Tory plans. Nick Clegg’s rise could lock Murdoch out of UK politics for years.

Another very good reason to vote Lib Dem!

In case you missed this –

Goldman Sachs says buy the pound as there’s little to fear from a hung Parliament

Check out the Daily Telegraph (!) piece here