At the last election, the Liberal Democrats stood on a platform of “fair taxes that put money back in your pocket”. In his foreword to your party’s 2010 manifesto, Nick Clegg wrote, “Don’t settle for low politics and broken promises”.
In the recently-released Liberal Democrat pre-manifesto, Nick Clegg writes that the Liberal Democrats’ “objective is to create a stronger economy and a fairer society”, and he says he is “incredibly proud of what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in Government”.
What have they achieved? They promised to scrap tuition fees and then trebled them. They promised not to increase VAT, warned against a “Tory VAT bombshell”, but then voted through a VAT rise on working families. They promised a fair tax system with the wealthiest paying more, but they cut taxes for millionaires while most families are worse off. They promised to be on the side of working people, but working people are £1,600 a year worse off since the Lib Dems joined the Tories in government.
If Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats in Stockport want to stand on their record in Government, then they may be in for a nasty shock.
As a Shadow Health Minister, I have seen what the Lib Dems have done to our NHS. Nick Clegg backed the Tories in taking the NHS backwards. Thanks to them it’s harder to see your GP, waiting lists are going up and £3 billion was been wasted on top-down reorganisation of the NHS. The Tories couldn’t have done it without the Lib Dems.
One of the first acts of Nick Clegg’s government was to scrap Labour’s guarantee of a GP appointment within 48 hours, which we are pledging to bring back. They also removed this right from the NHS Constitution saying that it was “no longer a priority”. No wonder one in four now wait a week or more to see a GP.
Nick Clegg supported a tax cut for millionaires while working people suffer a cost-of-living crisis. The decision to cut the 50p rate to 45p from April 2013 handed a £3 billion tax cut to the richest one per cent in the country. It means that someone earning £1 million received a tax cut of over £42,000 a year. Before the election Nick Clegg warned of a Tory ‘VAT bombshell’ but then signed up to a VAT rise which means families are paying hundreds of pounds more a year.
As you can see, a pattern is emerging. On every big call they have had to make, the Lib Dems have consistently taken the side of the Tories in Westminster and not people up here.
The Liberal Democrats wanted to become a Party of Government. They did – it just wasn’t their Government. So let us see what Stockport and the country makes of the Liberal Democrats’ record. Frankly, I think they blew it.