Vince on the Budget

Statement from Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable MP:

Today, Britain needed a Budget that gave us honesty in spending and fairness in tax. Alistair Darling has given us neither.

Labour is in denial, while the Conservatives are talking tough to cover up the fact that they only offer more of the same.

You can watch my video response to the Budget here:

Today’s budget wasn’t honest.

The Chancellor is incapable of coming clean about where spending cuts will have to fall. Rather than being honest with people about what the Government can and cannot afford, the Chancellor would rather let others indiscriminately shave departmental budgets.

And the Budget did nothing to make Britain a fairer society.

We’re campaigning for fair taxes, lifting millions of people out of income tax altogether. But today’s Budget, by confirming the freeze in personal allowances, means everyone will see a real increase in their income tax bill.

Rather than forcing the nationalised banks to lend to good British businesses, Labour have chosen to create a feeble quango to arbitrate between bullying banks and their small business clients.

Today’s Budget shows even more clearly that Britain needs real change. Thank you for everything you are doing to make that change happen.

Last Chance for Heaton Park?

Local residents campaigning against turning the St Margaret’s end of Heaton Park into a commercial soccer centre are fearful that a current request for review by the Secretary of State might be the “last chance” to save the park.

Manchester City Council passed the controversial plans for artificial soccer pitches, tennis courts, car parking and a club house which would take up the entire St Margaret’s corner of Heaton Park earlier this year. This was despite more than 10,000 people raising objections in some way to the plans, with letters, petitions and the “Save Heaton Park” Facebook group. Following the decision the campaigners have taken legal advice about the decision, and have asked the Government Office for the North West through Ivan Lewis MP to refer the decision to the Secretary of State for reconsideration.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim Pickstone, who worked with the campaigners said: “It’s a terrible shame but this really does seem like it’s the last attempt to save the park. Hopefully the powers that be will see sense. There is clearly so much wrong with this decision. How any elected official can ignore so much local opposition continues to amaze me”.

“The campaign group want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has been so supportive. The level of support for the campaign has been absolutely brilliant. We will keep people informed on how the referral to the Secretary of State goes.”

Vince Cable’s speech to Party Conference

Some of us are in Birmingham as Bury Liberal Democrat’s reps to our national conference.

Vince Cable spoke to Conference today. Here’s his statement and a link to his speech:

I have a very simple message for you. We the Liberal Democrats were right about the financial crisis. We warned of the dangers and led the debate when the crisis came. And now we have a clear vision for the future of the British economy.

Now the public wants to know who can guide the country out of the present crisis. Who’s going to deal with the broken, discredited banking system. Who’s going to lead Britian out of the longest recession since the War. And who will deal with the unsustainable level of Government borrowing.

Today in my speech to Liberal Democrat Party Conference I set out the Liberal Democrat answers to these questions. You can read it here.

The challenges are enormous. We have to be frank with people about the difficulties ahead. We have to be fiscally responsible. But the Tories and their cronies want to create a financial panic to frighten people into voting for them on May 6th.

Only the Liberal Democrats have identified £15bn of savings to make from bloated bureaucracy and unaffordable commitments. We will identify our priorities and debate them publically. That’s open, democratic and Liberal.

Only the Liberal Democrats will invest in jobs with a Green New Deal.

Only the Liberal Democrats will change our unfair tax system so that 3.6 million people will no longer pay any income tax at all. Pensioners will be £100 better off and the average person’s income tax bill will be cut by £700.

People are desperate to see the back of this Labour Government. But they don’t want the same old Tories. And make no mistake, the Tories are exactly the same.

Thank you for what you are doing in the Liberal Democrat campaign to change Britain for real.

Nick Clegg – “I am not the Kingmaker”

‘We’ve just returned from Birmingham as one of the delegates from Bury Liberal Democrats to the Party’s national Spring Conference.

There’s a link to Nick Clegg’s speech to Conference below – well worth a read. In a statement Nick said:

I’m not the kingmaker.

45 million voters are the kingmakers.

Today I’ve used my keynote speech to our Spring Conference in Birmingham to make that one very simple, very important point. Some days the papers say our party is doing a deal with Labour. Some days the Conservatives. But they can’t predict the future. I can’t predict the future.

Voters should give politicians their marching orders – not the other way around.

We’ve made it clear how our Party will change Britain.

Under the Liberal Democrats, no-one will pay tax on the first £10,000 they earn. That’s the most fundamental change to the tax system for decades.

We will give every child the fair start they deserve, by reducing class sizes and increasing one to one tuition in our schools.

We’ll rebalance the economy so that Britain is no longer just betting on things, but Britain starts building things again.

And we will build a clean, open, fair politics.

Things don’t have to be the way they are. The coming election is a chance to get fairness and to get change.

Almost 1 in 4 voters chose the Liberal Democrats at the last election. If that increased to 1 in 3, we could lead the next government.

That is what we can achieve together. Thank you for all you are doing to bring it about.

With all best wishes,

A Fair Start for Children

Today at a speech to Barnado’s Nick Clegg announced one of our four key policies for the General Election campaign ahead – A Fair Start for Every Child.

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg today pledged to give every child a fair start in life by investing an extra £2.5bn in schools which could be used to cut class sizes, offer one-on-one tuition and provide catch-up classes.

In a speech to Barnardo’s this morning, Nick Clegg set out the Liberal Democrat manifesto pledge to introduce a Pupil Premium which would raise the poorest children’s school funding to private school levels.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said:

“One of the biggest challenges we face as a country is breaking this link between financial deprivation at home and educational under-achievement in the classroom.

“Despite all the money that has been spent by Labour, schools taking disadvantaged children aren’t getting the money they need to break this link by cutting class sizes and providing them with extra support.

“As we work our way out of this recession and rebuild a country which is fairer, we must ensure our school system gives every child a chance to fulfil their potential irrespective of their background and where they live.”

View a full copy of the speech here.

Read the rest of this entry.

Nick Clegg Launches Youth Jobs Pledge

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg will today use a new and social media initiative co-hosted by the UK Youth Parliament to launch the party’s youth jobs manifesto pledge.

On the day that new statistics show the number of young people unemployed for more than six months has doubled in two years, Nick Clegg will announce the party’s plans using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The proposals would ensure young people do not spend more than 90 days on Jobseekers Allowance before they get more training, education, an internship or a place on a work programme.

Today’s announcement forms the next step in the Liberal Democrats’ economic stimulus and job creation package. The plans will invest almost £900m in increasing the number of further education places, giving students financial support to return to college and creating a paid internship scheme.

Nick Clegg said:
“Young people feel cheated by this recession. Everyone knows someone who has recently left college or university with hopes of starting a career only to find they cannot even get on the lowest rung of the job ladder. We must help them now or they will be left behind in any recovery.

Our promise of more training, education, an internship or a place on a work programme will give hope to the nearly one million young people who currently can’t find a job. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter play just as important a role as TV or newspapers in young people’s lives. Politicians can’t ignore new and social media if they want to connect with the next generation of voters.”

More information on the plans below:

Read the rest of this entry.

London Victories Bring Hope for Heaton Park

The campaign to stop an 8-acre private soccer centre being built in Heaton Park is in its final stages ahead of a decision by Manchester Council on December 17th. Campaigners to save the park have been encouraged by a wave of rejections for similar schemes in parks in London.

Campaigners in Morden Park found out this week that their campaign to stop their park being turned into a commercial soccer centre had been a success. Find our more from their website here.

Regents Park, as well as parks in Morden and Wandsworth in the capital, have all been threatened with “Goals” soccer centres similar to the one proposed for Heaton park. In each case the applications have been rejected after public pressure.

Campaigners in Morden produced this stunning video to support their cause:

Cllr Tim Pickstone, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Holyrood ward and a leader of the campaign to protect the park said “I am pleased that communities in London have come together to save parkland, and that local Councils have listened to what people want. I appeal to Manchester City Council to do the same.

“We have always said that this is a good facility, but in completely the wrong place. We are all for better sports facilities, but this is an 8 acre concrete site with a big car park, charging people a lot of money and open until 11pm. This isn’t something that should be built on green land inside a quiet public park.

“Manchester Council will hear the application on December 17th. In the meantime I urge as many local people as possible to visit the website at www.saveheatonpark.org.uk and learn more about how to stop this development from threatening our park.”

Send a Message on Climate Change

Next month, members of the United Nations meet in Copenhagen for vital talks on securing a new worldwide response to climate change.

On the Saturday beforehand, December 5, thousands of people will march in London to demand the Government goes further in cutting carbon emissions.

Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes will be leading Liberal Democrats on the march. All Lib Dems are urged to join them. Here’s why:

We are the party that has the courage to tackle climate change in Britain. We will go furthest on cutting carbon emissions. Go furthest in generating renewable energy. And go furthest in insulating homes.

But climate change can only be tackled by global action – and that is why the Copenhagen conference is so important. It could prove to be the most important in our lifetimes.

The march on December 5 is a chance for us to show the Government how strongly people in Britain feel. We can’t let this opportunity pass. And a strong Liberal Democrat presence on the march will send a clear message to the nation that we are the only party with the ambition and policies to reverse climate change.

Please let us know that you are going to be able to take part in the day of action in December 5th by signing up here.