Archive for the ‘Liberal Democrats’ Category

Speaking at the hustings in Farnham

There is a tragedy unfolding in the current recession. It is the prospect of a lost generation of young people, unable to secure University places and unable to find work. Most politicians are not talking about it. After all in recent elections only a small proportion of people under 25 years old have voted, so there may not be many votes in taking up their cause.

What may shock you is that nationwide 40% of unemployment is accounted for by young people aged 16-24 years. If current trends continue as many as 1 in 4 young people could be out of work by the end of the year.

For all those people of older generations who are now considering voting in a new Tory government I would ask you to cast your minds back to 1979, the last time there was a change in government to the Tories. Mass unemployment amongst young people was one consequence of the policies that followed, with a lifelong impact on vast numbers. I hope that we do not see such a scenario again.

I have worked with young people almost all my working life and my organisation works to a mission statement that aims to ‘Empower young people to fulfil their God-given potential’. Whether or not people have our faith-based ethos everyone can surely agree that our society is enriched by unlocking the potential of the young, rather than letting them languish on benefits.

I welcome the policy proposals of Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, launched last week. He calls it a ‘Lifeboat for the lost generation’. It is a set of crisis management measures funded by reversing the cut in VAT from the end of this month. It includes some great ideas such as paid internships for young people, fully-funded adult apprenticeships for those over 18 years, more university and college places and removing a lot of the crazy rules that stop young people on Job Seekers Allowance from bettering themselves.

The enthusiasm, passion, idealism, talents and inventiveness of youth are greatly needed in an ever more competitive world economic environment. I fear that the economic policies of the Conservative Party would not release that potential, but instead could see our country return to the dark era of the early 1980s. That is one reason why I am passionate about fighting to win this constituency come the General Election.

Mike Simpson
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for South West Surrey

What goes through your mind as you watch the television News these days? Bewilderment at the sums of money we, as taxpayers, have put into the Banks to save them? Anger at the politicians and so called ‘financial experts’ who landed us in this mess? Or perhaps it’s a feeling of resignation because you look at politicians and think ‘they’re all as bad as each other’.

The last year has shown beyond doubt that those in power who claimed all was well, were either deluded or deceitful. We have all been let down. Is it possible to change the way our country is run? We certainly need to!

We have had 12 years of ‘New Labour’, ending in arrogance, incompetence, sleaze and in-fighting. Before that we had 18 years of the Conservatives ending in arrogance, incompetence, sleaze and in-fighting. Is there a different way? I believe there is. In simple terms I believe the key is not to give so much power to so few people.

The top bankers who messed up so catastrophically, only did so much damage because of the almost unlimited power they had. Politicians tend to make their worst decisions when they have too much power and don’t need to consult or reflect on consequences. The problem is that the political class and the elites who run our government, banks and economy, don’t want to give up any of their power or privilege and all the accompanying perks. We need to challenge that power and privilege which has failed so spectacularly.

We also need to dramatically reduce the extent of government interference in our lives and roll back the ‘big brother’ state. We must give people much more power in their communities, particularly over public services, schools and local health services.

In Parliament we must have a more considered and honest approach rather than the same old political dog fight. There are some huge issues to deal with.

Decisions about what to do about public and private sector pension funds need political parties to work together so that none tries to gain a temporary electoral advantage. The same is true in respect of the hard choices to make about climate change and government debt.

Please contact me if you would like to share in my campaign.

Click here for Mike’s main website

Read more about Mike Simpson

Mike Simpson Liberal Democrat candidate for South West Surrey in the May 2010 General Election

As the war in Afghanistan takes a heavy toll of young British lives there have rightly been demands that we must provide the best possible equipment for our troops. It is also vital that those who return injured both physically and mentally are properly cared for. A friend told me of the superb work of Major Phil Packer – a disabled officer in the Royal Military Police. He spoke at Haslemere Hall recently. His fundraising campaigns have raised huge sums for Help for Heroes. Such charity work is inspirational. For Phil’s website click here

Sadly the care offered by the NHS to military veterans with post traumatic stress disorder is not so inspirational according to the head of the charity Combat Stress. Commodore Toby Elliott says his charity has 9,000 registered patients but the government provides for less than half of them. He says that NHS mental health pilot schemes are inadequate and may end up providing a patchy service. 300 former service personnel who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are being treated by the charity, which looks after veterans with psychological injuries. See the Combat Stress website by clicking here

Whatever we may think of the Afghan war and the rather muddled war aims set by the powers that be, our troops are putting their lives on the line there. We have an absolute duty to provide high quality care and support for those who return disabled, injured or traumatised. Whilst the work of many hard working charities is to be applauded, it must be the responsibility of our government to ensure that these young men and women receive the best possible treatment.

Mike Simpson
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for South West Surrey
Click here for www.mikesimpson.org.uk

I recently visited the CHASE children’s hospice, near Godalming to learn about their work and hear concerns over future funding. I met staff and some of the children. I was deeply impressed by the amazing work they do at CHASE and the obvious dedication that is put into the care and support of the children and their families.

Bridget Turner, CHASE’s Deputy Chief Executive said, “CHASE currently benefits from a government grant. It represents about 10% so we still rely on raising funds from the public for 90% of the income we need. However even this grant is due finish in March 2011. The government expects the local health economy to replace the crucial funds that this grant has provided. We are very worried about this as we know that any extra money allocated to PCTs to do this is not ring fenced so there is no guarantee it will be used for Children’s Palliative Care at all. This is especially concerning in the absence of specific targets for PCTs to improve services for children, teenagers and young people that will have tragically short lives. All this can only increase the vulnerability of sustaining such vital services like those CHASE provides.”

I will do all I can to put pressure on the government to provide at least as much support to CHASE as they have done in the past. The work they do should not depend solely on the generosity of the public through donations. Government has a duty to support the care that CHASE provides. There are few, if any, more worthy recipients of State funding.

Click here for Mike’s main website

Jeremy Hunt tried to claim for a 1p phone call

The Conservative MP for South West Surrey won the award for the most penny-pinching expense claim, as all the national newspapers told us today. Jeremy Hunt, who last summer was estimated by the Spectator Magazine to be worth £4.1 million, tried to claim for a 1p mobile phone call.
And it wasn’t some technical error. The claim was actually hand written!
Like my mother would say, “Look after the pennies ….”

See the actual claim by clicking here

For the Spectator report estimating Jeremy’s wealth click here

Speaking at the hustings in Farnham

Over the last few weeks it seems that the whole country has been consumed with the MPs’ expenses saga. Many people are now growing weary of the whole thing.

There are grave issues raised and the South West Surrey MP has many questions still to answer. In a democracy it is crucial that the opposition challenges and questions vigorously and I will continue to do so.

At the same time we need to present our positive policies for the way forward.

A Positive Way Forward

Our country and indeed the whole world faces very serious matters, including the economic crisis and climate change to name but two.

I would love to see the main political leaders in our country coming together to address some of the more intractable issues, but the nature of our current political system works against such a consensus approach. You might expect me, as a Lib Dem, to say that we need a new voting system, but more and more people of all political parties and of none, are calling for ‘electoral reform’. Click here for the campaign for electoral reform which is gaining such momentum.

The current system of voting is a kind of ‘winner takes all’ system which usually leads to huge majorities in Parliament for one or other of the main parties. If they think the mood is swinging their way then, of course, they don’t want to change the system! Labour obtained a large majority at the last election on the back of just 22% of the electorate voting for them (and only 35% of those who actually voted). That can’t be right.

But it’s not just unfair on the 65% who voted for other parties. It is also bad for our country, because it leads to disenchantment with politics. This is because it appears that the only voters who really matter are those in a handful of marginal constituencies where the election could go either way. “What’s the point in voting. It doesn’t change anything”, many people say across the rest of the country.

I believe the time is ripe for major reform and the core of that reform must be a fairer voting system.

My Reform Agenda

There are some major reforms needed. They include rolling back the ‘Big Brother’ state, stronger privacy laws for ordinary people, scrapping ID cards, enshrining freedom of speech and religion, a fully elected House of Lords, making the government much more accountable, fixed-term Parliaments and dispersing power to the most local possible level. My speech to secure my selection by Lib Dem members in South West Surrey in March was almost entirely focussed on these issues. After the last few weeks I think the case for radical reform has never been stronger in my lifetime. I would love to hear your views on these matters.

Click here for Mike’s main website

Updated 2nd June 2009 10.15 hrs
Last Friday Jeremy Hunt MP held a public meeting to explain himself over his expenses.

In response to my questions Mr Hunt admitted that the Conservative Party Agent for the area has lived rent-free in his taxpayer funded ‘second home’ in Farnham.

Current Parliamentary rules say,

‘Claims cannot relate to party political activity of any sort, nor must any claim provide a benefit to a party political organisation’.

The 2006 rules said,

‘You must ensure that arrangements for your ACA (second home) claims are above reproach and that there can be no grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money. You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you is obtaining immediate benefit or subsidy from public funds or that public money is being diverted for the benefit of a political organisation.’

Taxpayers are entitled to ask why we are paying for the Conservative Party’s professional agent to have free accommodation at taxpayers expense in Jeremy Hunt’s second home.

Jeremy Hunt said at the public meeting that he thought this was for just 7 months ‘after the election’ and that he had allowed her to use a room, but after I emailed him to ask him to explain how his agent was on the electoral roll up to September 2008, Mr Hunt changed his account of events.

He now says that she lived there for over 2 years after the election.

In contrast local residents interviewed by a reporter said that they ‘never see’ Jeremy Hunt at the address.

Jeremy Hunt says that his Hammersmith address is his main home. He has owned this property from October 1997.

In the interests of genuine ‘transparency’ I call on Jeremy Hunt to explain himself fully. Perhaps he might explain to his electorate why he thought it was OK to have his Political Agent live at his taxpayer-funded ‘second home’. We await with much interest his attempt to justify this sorry state of affairs.

Speaking at the hustings in Farnham

Mike Simpson has called on the Conservative MP for South West Surrey to explain why he has claimed over £37,000 in his first 3 years as an MP for ‘the cost of staying away from his main home’, rather than commute to London from Farnham. Farnham is just 45 miles from Westminster and trains take less than an hour to Waterloo.

Mike Simpson, the new Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate says “If Mr Hunt think he needs a third home he should tell us how he justifies the expense to the taxpayer”.

The figures published for Jeremy Hunt, for the first 3 years he has been an MP, show that he claimed an average of £12,566 per year despite having a home in Farnham and a ‘half-share of a holiday house in Italy’. He is also reported (by the Spectator Magazine) to own a home in Hammersmith. You can read the Spectator report on Jeremy Hunt’s wealth and property by clicking here.

‘Extraordinary’ expense

Mike Simpson said, “If Mr Hunt does not own a home in Hammersmith it begs the question where does he live? He is now claiming ‘SECOND HOME’ expenses for his home in Farnham! It is extraordinary that the Conservative MP claims thousands of pounds every year for accommodation, when so many of his constituents commute into London. There are plenty of late trains or he could drive the 45 miles back to his home in Farnham. He is a wealthy man and I wonder why he thinks the taxpayer should pick up the tab if he chooses to have a third home somewhere else.”

Mike Simpson would commute to Westminster if elected

Mike Simpson has made a commitment that if he is elected he will commute to London and would not be charging the taxpayer for any second home expenses. “As I am not an MP at present, I can’t afford two homes, let alone three and if elected I can say now that I would not claim a penny for a second home. I just can’t see how Jeremy Hunt justifies at least £37,000 in 3 years for an alternative home paid for by the taxpayer. In addition to this money we have still not been told how much he has claimed for 2008/9. Why is he keeping silent on these matters?”

Other amounts claimed by Jeremy Hunt

Mr Hunt also claimed over £54,000 from the ‘The Incidental Expenses Provision’, which can be used ‘to meet the cost of: accommodation for office or surgery use; equipment and supplies for office or surgery; work commissioned or other services; and certain travel and communications’.

He also claimed £10,668 in 2007/8 from the ‘Communications Allowance’, which includes paying for websites and constituency newsletters.

These expenses exclude the substantial sums claimed for staff to support his work.

Mike Simpson Liberal Democrat candidate for South West Surrey in the May 2010 General Election

Who would be an M.P. these days? It’s a hard life for them travelling between multiple residences, having to submit expense claims for every can of cat food or bag of manure, arranging to have one’s swimming pool cleaned on the state… and all for a salary of just £64,000 plus tax free expenses which are embarrassingly splashed across the front pages.

Once upon a time it was an honour to be elected as a Member of Parliament. The scandal that has been rightly exposed over the last week or so is no joke. We need to shake up our whole political system and make politicians much more accountable for their behaviour. Part of the problem is the fact that MPs seem to expect to live a privileged existence at taxpayers’ expense.

There are of course good M.P.s in all Parties, but not enough of them understand ordinary people’s lives and struggles.

When there are such dire economic circumstances and we face so many huge challenges, it is critical that people can trust their elected representatives to act honourably and without duplicity. It is clearly not good enough for M.P.s to say, ‘I kept to the rules’, because they drew up the rules allowing themselves to rip off the taxpayers. It is especially galling when the rest of us have to tighten our belts.

I aspire to be the M.P. for South West Surrey, but the torrent of shocking news about M.P.’s expenses makes me wonder how few people will even turn out to vote at the next General Election. The number of people using the phrase, ‘You’re all as bad as each other’ is likely to rocket and who can blame people for thinking that?

The problem is that the political class don’t want to give up any of their power or the accompanying perks. They have the same attitude as the top bankers who have so comprehensively messed up our economy. We must challenge the politicians and make them genuinely accountable to the public, because they, along with the bankers, have failed us so spectacularly. Challenging those in power, particularly for the sake of the less powerful, is one reason why I am in politics. And I still believe it can be a noble profession.

You can read more about my background and experience by clicking ‘About Mike Simpson’

Mike Simpson has been selected as the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for South West Surrey. He secured 80% of the votes of party members.

Mike says, “Now the real work begins – winning the votes of the people of South West Surrey. I don’t underestimate how much hard work I will have to put in to achieve that, but I think increasingly people are having doubts about the desirability of having another Tory government. The Liberal Democrats are certainly coming up in the opinion polls and that’s partly because we have consistently shown wisdom in our economic policies and a strong standing with the public on environmental and civil liberties issues.”