Following my blogpost here LINK – covered by the brilliant Political Scrapbook website here LINK the issue of the Brent Central Liberal Democrats political communications during Lib Dem Alison Hopkin’s Dollis Hill Ward by-election campaign has been raised to the Leader of the House of Commons Sir George Young.
In a Parliamentary debate, Angela Eagle MP said:
May I wish everyone a happy international women’s day and welcome the debate later today, for which I thank my hon. Friend the Member for North East Derbyshire (Natascha Engel)? Does the Leader of the House agree that the Justice Secretary should clear his diary to attend it? The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will halve the number of women entitled to legal aid in domestic violence cases. The Opposition have set out proposals to reduce the legal aid bill without penalising the most vulnerable. Will the Leader of the House explain how the Government’s proposals are fair?
One person who does not think it fair is the junior Education Minister, the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), who spends her day voting for Government cuts and then goes delivering leaflets in the evening asking, “Who can you trust to stop the cuts?” The answer is clearly not the Liberal Democrats. Will the Leader of the House arrange for an urgent debate on Government communications to the electorate to enable her to explain herself?
This was picked up by a number of MPs on Twitter who highlighted the level of Lib Dem hypocrisy on the social networking site:
This is a Lib Dem leaflet from Sarah Teather's seat - meanwhile she's merrily voting for every savage cut in sight http://t.co/Nd6X1xK8
While cutting Brent’s budget by £104 million, reducing the Brent Police budget by 20%, spending money on top down reorganisation of the NHS, trebling tuition fees, scrapping EMA and much more, the Liberal Democrats have reached a new hypercritical low in Brent. They have distributed an attack leaflet on the Labour Party in Dollis Hill Ward which asks the question, “who can you trust to stop the cuts?” All this while Lib Dem Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central is a Minister in the Tory Liberal Coalition Government and is responsible for not only cutting too far too fast, but disproportionately harming and damaging our community in Brent with front-loaded cuts and more cuts to us compared to other Boroughs and areas in the country.
On the inside of the leaflet….
Using red text, no mention of any Lib Dem candidate or the MP Sarah Teather and nowhere in the leaflet is it admitted that it is from the Brent Liberal Democrats apart from in very small text, size 6 (or perhaps even size 4!!!!), where it says Printed by xxx (address in Brent) Published and Promoted by R Wharton on behalf of A Hopkins (Liberal Democrat) both at xxx (address in Brent). In an additional twist, the address provided is the address of none other than leader of the Brent Council Liberal Democrats Cllr Paul Lorber.
This sort of campaigning, which if anything is more likely to turn people away from the ballot box altogether rather than using persuasive, genuine arguments to inspire people to support your party is something we are used to from the Liberal Democrats in Brent. The politics of hatred and negative campaigning is very much embedded into their ethos here.
I was absolutely dismayed at the level of hypocrisy shown by the Brent Liberal Democrats and Brent Tories at the Full Brent Council meeting this week. I tabled a motion at the meeting reading, “This Council condemns the £104 million cut to Brent’s Budget over the spending review period”, which Brent Liberal Democrat and Brent Tory Councillors failed to support.
While appearing to fight for local services they have adopted a peculiar position of apparently supporting the Coalition’s chosen method of cutting public spending which has led to more cuts to Brent’s Central Government grant than in other Councils.
There are two main arguments floating around as to why we have a large public debt. In short, one that it was a global economic crisis that led to a collapse of the banking system meaning that the Government had to borrow to stimulate the economy, bail out the financial sector and lost out on projected tax revenue income. The second that Labour public spending was out of control and is to blame for the country’s deficit and deficits of USA, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Germany, France and many more, which we have to pay for now.
Regardless of what line of argument you believe, I thought that all Councillors of all parties would be unified in condemning the scale of cuts to Brent compared to other Boroughs.
Even if you believe that the scale of cuts is necessary nationally and that the debt should be tackled within one Parliament (The Coalition Government’s original plan A on the economy), is it fair that Brent Council has to make cuts in the region of 27-28% of our controllable budget whilst other Councils are not being hurt as bad as Brent? Brent is losing out on £73 per resident whereas Guildford faces a cut of £10 a person and Richmond £5.39 a person.
If Brent Tory Liberal Councillors do blame Labour for creating the deficit, do they believe that people in Brent caused the recession more than residents from other areas and therefore should be made to pay and suffer more?
Both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives will start turning on eachother. The Tories will say that they were unable to sort out the mess left behind by Labour because the Lib Dems were a constant pain in the you know where.
The Lib Dems will say, thank god we were there to tame the Tories. Without us, they would have done some really nasty things like I dunno… treble tuition fees, cut off access to justice to the vulnerable through changes in the legal system, oversee the social cleansing of London.
I’m afraid this won’t wash off for the Lib Dems because the fundamental problem that they have caused and been party to is this decision to cut the deficit within one Parliament.
So the Lib Dems will come out with things like because of us the NHS reforms were improved and that they reigned in some of the crazy Tory ideas.
However, the initiative to reign in the Tories should have been at the very start of this marriage and instead of holding up their hands and signing up fully to the Tory plan to reduce the whole deficit over a Parliament, they could have negotiated at the very least somewhere in between their pre-election rhetoric and the Tory plan.
This fundamental sell-out on the economy means that I will not be buying any excuses from the Lib Dems and you shouldn’t either.
“Britain’s banks, bailed out by the British people, have just as much responsibility as everyone else, arguably more responsibility, to help Britain build a strong and dynamic economy. Unleashing black and ethnic minority talent is their duty too.”
“If you are a white player you have a one in 50 chance of moving into management. If you are a black player? One in 500.”
Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
What a load of hypocrisy from Nick Clegg.
It is absolutely hypocritical of Nick Clegg to talk of a duty to unleash ethnic minority talent while in the House of Commons, the Lib Dems have ZERO ethnic minority MPs in Parliament.
Despite the activities of some members of their Party (LINK), I think the Tories are actually doing well in producing ethnic minority MPs and I have congratulated them on this in the past LINK.
Nick Clegg is right to raise the issue of pay discrimination to ethnic minorities in the private sector and the lack of Management and Executive positions given to ethnic minorities in the sports industry. But, if the Liberal Democrats are to lecture others with any ounce of credibility, they must sort out their own house first.
In a speech to Liberal Democrats’ spring conference in Birmingham on 13 March 2010, Teather said Conservative plans to abolish subsidised rents for Council and housing association homes would be a “total disaster.” She said their housing plans lacked substance, causing them to try and keep housing off the agenda.
She said there was no “bearable” alternative to her party’s aim to invest £1.4bn in bringing 250,000 empty homes back into use.
“The Tories think the only way to solve the housing crisis is to change the law so that it is easier for big developers to stuff vulnerable families in to houses the size of shoe boxes”.
If you abolish subsidised rents for Council and housing association homes, all that is going to happen is that many more people will end up on housing benefit, and many fewer people will be able to work.
Put poor people into worse housing, and make them pay more for it. That’s it. That’s the Tory big idea.”
(Sarah Teather, 13 March 2010 speaking at the Lib Dems’ Spring Conference in Birmingham)
Well that is now also Sarah Teather’s big idea as well.
Nick Clegg dismissed the alternative vote (AV) system proposed by the Prime Minister as “a baby step in the right direction”, and said he would not settle for “a miserable little compromise thrashed out by the Labour Party”.
– The Times, 22 April 2010
Chris Huhne said: “Gordon Brown has undergone a deathbed conversion to electoral reform now that defeat is staring him in the face, but the alternative vote does not give voters enough power.”
– Daily Mail, 3rd February, 2010
“Only the Single Transferable Vote in multi-member seats would abolish MPs’ meal tickets for life, and we will fight to amend this proposal to give people a real choice for a more significant change.”
– Lib Dem Press Release, 1st Feb 2010
Now they will be offering a referendum on it, it is no longer a miserable little compromise.