When I am out campaigning, one of the taunts peoples often is that Lib Dems have sold out on their values and broken their promises. Well, I could just respond by saying this is rubbish (which it is) but, because of the relentless Labour propaganda ramming it down people’s throats, this entirely untrue assertion has been believed so it is worth looking at the facts
On the front cover of the 2010 Lib Dem Manifesto, there were four promises, let’s examine what the Lib |Dems have done about each.
Fair Taxes – that put money back in your pocket
In May 2010, the Income Tax Allowance, the amount you can earn before beginning to pay tax, was £6475. It is now £10,000, just as promised on page 13 of the manifesto, and set to rise next April to £10,500. This all basic rate tax payers now pay £700 a year (rising to £800 from next April) less tax than in 2010 and that millions of low earners now pay no Income tax at all. This has been paid for by closing many of the tax loopholes exploited by richer people to avoid tax, so much so that the top 1% of tax payers now contribute 29.9% of all income tax, up from 26.5% in 2010.
In the Leaders’ Debates before the Election, David Cameron rejected the idea of increasing Tax Allowances but now want to claim the credit for this Lib Dem Policy.
Promised in the manifesto, over delivered in Government.
A Fair Chance – for every child
On page 34 of the manifesto, the Lib Dems promised to invest £2.5 billion pounds in the Pupil Premium, extra money for schools to help pupils from deprived backgrounds. Up to date, in the first 4 years of this scheme, the Government has invested £5.84 billion in improving the life chances of children from deprived backgrounds (eligible for school meals), children with parents in the armed forces & children adopted of who have been in care.
Rather than dictating who this money has to be spent as labour would have done, the Government has left it down to individual head teachers to use the money in the best way possible for the children in their school. Teachers have been applauding this scheme as one of the bet ways yet devised to get extra money where it is needed.
Promised in the manifesto, over delivered in Government.
A fair future – creating jobs by making Britain greener
Through both Chris Huhne & Ed Davey, the Lib Dems in Government have been the driver behind our investment on greening the British Energy market. Here are some figures from the latest DECC report Delivering UK Energy Investment – July 2014 :
- Since 2010 an average of £7bn has been invested each year in UK based renewable energy, compare to £3bn a year under the previous government.
- Electricity generation from renewable sources has doubled since 2010 and now supplies 15% of the UKs electricity.
- 2010-2013 investment in Offshore wind: £6.9bn, offshore wind supports 18,300 jobs now in the UK
- 2010-2013 investment in onshore wind £6.7bn, onshore wind supports 17,100 jobs in the UK
2010-2013 investment in Solar PV £6.4bn, in 2013 the UKs solar PV capacity grew by 60%, current jobs in UK solar sector – 15,600
- 2010-2013 investment in wind and tidal stream energy £0.1bn, wave and tidal stream energy supports 600 jobs
- 2010-2013 investment in Biomass £6.3bn, 14,700 Biomass jobs
- 2010-2013 investment in Hydropower £0.2bn, Hydropower Jobs – 5,000
- 100,000 jobs now in the energy efficiency industry.
Add in to this work, the world’s first Green Investment Bank, and yes, the Lib Dems have delivered on this promise.
Promised in the manifesto, delivered in Government.
A Fair Deal – by cleaning up politics
On the fourth promise, Lib Dems have failed to deliver. This is not through the want of trying though.
We held a referendum on introducing the Alternative Vote system for Parliamentary election, as a first step towards a proper proportional system. Yet, in spite of promising just such a vote on page 9:2 of their manifesto, Labour in a fit of pique at the Lid Dems going into Coalition with the Tories refused to support the move to AV (indeed many in the Labour party campaign actively against it to, as I was told, give the Lib Dems a kicking).
On the Right of Recall for voters, the plans for this although backed by all parties in 2010 has failed to find much support outside of the Lib Dems when those parties were back in Westminster. Similarly, reform of the House of Lords was scuppered by the vested interests of the Conservatives wanting to retain their built in majority in that chamber and Labour being only lukewarm on it when actually called on to vote for it.
As for a Freedom Bill, we have had to fight hard to stop the Tories introducing legislation that would have eroded those rights even more than the Labour Government managed to do.
Promised in the manifesto, unable to deliver in Government.
Let us not forget that there are only 57 Lib Dems in the House of Commons, compared to over 300 Tories, our partners in Coalition. To have managed to get as much of our main manifesto promises enacted in Government is remarkable. The list above doesn’t even include the State Pension Triple Lock, which re-instates the link between earnings & the state pension which Labour failed to do in 13 years, more affordable house built in 4 years than Labour managed in 13, shared parental leave so both parents can enjoy the first months of their new child, more free childcare for 3 & 4 years olds, free school meals for all 5 to 7 year olds, allowing same-sex marriages, protecting local post offices from closure and much much more. Not a bad record of achievement by a minority partner, in Government for the first time for over 60 years.
So when accusing the Lib Dems of broken promises, let’s look at all the promises made and kept, not just the one (Student Tuition Fees) where we admit we got it wrong. Liberal Democrats in Government have worked hard to deliver as much of its manifesto as it could given the fact that it had less than 1/6 of the MPs in the Coalition