Leader of the Peterborough Liberal Democrat City Council Group, Cllr Nick Sandford writes:
It’s not trendy or fashionable at present to be a Liberal Democrat. Our poll ratings are not good. So should be approaching next year’s general and local elections with fear and trepidation? My answer is a clear No in both cases.
One advantage in the weeks running up to a General Election is that Lib Dems get something approaching fair coverage and the broadcast media are regulated by strict rules to ensure this. For the rest of the time, the BBC in particular likes to portray everything as a “Two horse race”.
For the past four years we have had a coaltion government…..the first in the UK for 75 years.
Liberal Democrats have had a massively positive influence within the Coaltion. Yes we have stopped the Tories doing some of the more extreme things they might otherwise have done. But also there has been a lot of really strong and positive Lib Dem policy going through. Let’s just list a few things:
The income tax threshold has gone up from £6,500 to over £10,000. 3 million of the lowest paid people in Britain no longer paying any income tax. All basic rate tax payers now paying less tax than before.
The state pension now going up every year by inflation or average wages or by £2500 whichever is the highest. And next year a new enhanced level of pension coming in for everyone reaching retirement age. And massive additional flexibility for everyone in defined contribution company or personal pension schemes.
The biggest investment in clean, green, renewable energy ever. Britain reaching its goal of 15% of our energy coming from renewables ahead of the target date of 2020.
A new pupil premium which has given vital extra funds to schools in our most socially deprived communities, including many here in Peterborough.
Millions of new jobs created in the private sector and a record number of new apprenticeships to help give our young people a more positive future.
And of course, we must not be like Ed Milliband and forget the most important achievement. Reducing the budget deficit by a third and turning the British economy from the brink of collapse to becoming the fastest growing economy in the EU.
Yes there have been mistakes and problems. Coalitions involve compromises but they also force politicians of different views and persuasions to work together for the common good. Some may not like this Government but no-one can now argue that coalitions fall apart after a few months and cause instability and financial chaos …the reality is quite the reverse.
Here in Peterborough, Lib Dems can also have cautious optimism. The Labour group on the Council is beset by internal dissent and there is open warfare in the media between the Tory council leader and Peterborough’s MP. Lib Dems are the only group on the Council to show strong but constructive opposition. We are the only party to show strong unequivocal support for opening up the Council by scrapping the cabinet and introducing a more democratic and accountable committee system.
We have not yet made big gains on the Council but we were starting from a very low base. But we gained a seat in 2012 against the national trend and people in Walton, South Werrington and North Gunthorpe have seen over many years the benefits of having hard working Lib Dem councillors. If you support us, why not go to www.peterboroughlibdems.org.uk, follow us @borolibdems on Twitter or search for Peterborough Liberal Democrats on Facebook.
Q: What do YOU think? Please leave a comment below!