Sometimes decisions are made for you in life, and in May 2010 the decision to leave front line politics in Manchester was made for me. I would have continued to serve the community I had represented for the past 7 years if they had re-elected me, but having not been re-elected and having therefore had the opportunity to properly reflect on my own circumstances and needs for the first time in over 20 years I find myself strangley content not to be seeking re-election this coming May.
I believe in the Liberal Democrat cause, and I am broadly in support of what Nick Clegg is doing as Deputy Prime Minister. I was quite willing to go out and argue the Lib Dem case on the doorstep, but last year minds were closed, and we lost a lot of good people from politics as a result.
Increasingly though, the response on the doorstep is that the public are recognising that in these tough times we need a government prepared to take the difficult decisions to get our country back on the road to economic recovery. Of course, we would rather not be facing public spending cuts but the reality is that the last Labour Government left us massive debts and we are spending around £400m a day just to pay back the interest on those debts.
There is an old saying, ‘You can fool most of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people most of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’ and as more and more people are realising that they were duped last year by Labour and the Labour leaning press such as the Manchester Evening News they are getting increasingly angry with Labour.
People are angry with Labour now they have realised that:
- Labour’s switch to fortnightly bin collections hasn’t saved a single penny, or a single job;
- Labour’s axing of school crossing patrols was stopped thanks to Liberal Democrat opposition;
- Labour’s privatisation of Sure Start centres was started over two years before the coalition came to office;
- Labour’s increase to City Centre parking charges was introduced on the third attempt as a manifesto pledge;
- Labour’s cuts to front line services and jobs were planned before the coalition came to office;
- Labour is spending £ 160 million tarting up the Town Hall whilst cutting front line services;
- Labour is spending £ 20 million on new pavements outside the CO-Op headquarters; and
- Labour is spending over a million pounds in wages for just seven top Town Hall exectutives.
Labour have grown arrogant, refusing to listen to local people, and making political motivated cuts rather than saving front line services. Only last month, Liberal Democrats exposed how Labour have been cutting too far and too fast here in Manchester, creating a £9 million budget surplus in just six months on top of the £60 million they already have in reserves.
People have also seen the Liberal Democrats delivering for them in Government:
- The new Manchester airport city enterprise zone is forecast to create 7,500 local jobs by 2015;
- The Youth Contract announced by Nick Clegg will help thousands of 18-24 year olds finding long term work;
- The increase in the basic tax threshold will lift over a million workers out of tax altogether;
- The more than £9 million extra cash for Manchester schools via the Pupil Premium provides real investment in educating our children;
- The linking of pensions to inflation will raise pensions to record levels (an extra £5.30 per week);
- The provision of nursery education for 40% of two year olds;
- The continuation of the winter fuel allowance which Labour had proposed to scrap;
- The targeting of support to help the poorest and middle earning families to access University Education;
- The protection of the NHS and Education from the draconian 20% cuts proposed by the Labour Party; and
- The freezing of the Council Tax for a historic second year.
None of these measures would have been possible had it not been for Liberal Democrats in Government.
People have seen the UK retain its AAA credit rating, keeping inflation down and protecting jobs, whilst America which followed the Ed Balls agenda as a result of being held to ransom by the (Mad Hatter’s) Tea Party has lost its AAA rating and is seeing both inflation and unemployment increasing dramatically as a result.
There are other changes this Government is introducing that are less visible at the moment.
- British manufacturing has increased for the first time in my lifetime under the stewardship of Vince Cable;
- British last steel manufacturing, stopped under Labour, has been re-started thanks to the direct intervention of Nick Clegg;
- British Banks are to be broken up to protect retail banking from the gambling which was at the root of the recession;
- Manchester’s new Picc-Vic rail link and the increased funding for Metrolink are bringing new money and pipelineing new jobs for this city.
When the Liberal Democrats entered into coalition with the Conservatives I was very wary, but the rapid action on deficit reduction has resulted in lower cuts than were propsed by Labour, a substantial increase in private sector jobs and a shift from service to manufacturing. Confidence is beginging to return in the UK and despite the fact that 2012 will be another difficult year, I belive that the foundations are now in place for this country to recover from recession and lead Europe back into growth.