Don’t let the Tories take you for granted

Disappointingly, there is little doubt that the Conservatives will win this election, or that Charles Walker, the Tory candidate, will once again be returned as MP for Broxbourne.  In each case, all that is really in question is the size of the majority.

So, why bother voting?  Every extra seat the Conservatives win, every extra percentage point in Charles Walker’s majority, every person who doesn’t vote at all – all these send a signal to the Tories that they can take the voters of this country, and particularly those in “safe” seats like Broxbourne, for granted.

Theresa May has already made it clear that she would rather govern with no meaningful opposition, and Charles Walker’s voting record (for example, consistently voting against slowing the rise in rail fares) is symptomatic of someone who does not have to worry about losing his seat.  Strong opposition is a vital part of our political system, helping ensure that voters are not forgotten between elections.  The Liberal Democrats are ready to provide that opposition, and set out their ideas for a better direction for our country.

Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote that says “I believe in a better vision for this country”.  Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote that says “I believe the best governments, and the best MPs, are properly held to account.”  Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote that says “I will not let the Conservatives take me for granted.”

Husting at Goffs School #GE2017 #LibDems #BroxLibDems

Next Wednesday 24th there will be a husting at Goffs School (Goff’s Ln, Cheshunt, Waltham Cross EN7 5QW) with Q&A. It is from 6 to 7pm and is open to the general public. You must register first rgr@goffs.herts.sch.uk as if your name is not on the list you won’t get in. Please attend and support Andy.

 

Update: Following Monday’s terror attack in Manchester and the decision to suspend all campaigning across the parties, tonight’s Q&A session has been cancelled.

NHS Hacking: Why Has it Got to This?

The Conservatives try to paint themselves as the party of law and order but crime has changed and they have failed to keep up. Instead of investing in the security of the systems that our public services rely on, they have chosen to extend surveillance systems instead.

Only the Liberal Democrats will stand up against mass surveillance, for cyber-security and a properly funded NHS and we have demanded an inquiry into why the Conservatives failed to support our cyber-security by cancelling a £5.5m deal with Microsoft.

Lib Dems to give £770 boost to 19,210 pensioners in Broxbourne

19,210 pensioners living in Broxbourne will receive at least an extra £772 per year under Liberal Democrat manifesto plans to protect the ‘triple lock’ for state pensions.

Thanks to the triple lock guarantee, secured by the Liberal Democrats when they were in government, the basic state pension has risen in each year by whichever is the higher of earnings, prices or a rate of 2.5%. However, the Conservatives have refused to guarantee whether the triple lock will continue, raising fears it could be scrapped.

The Liberal Democrats have committed today to keeping the triple lock, meaning the state pension would be worth at least £137.15 a week by 2021, up from £122.30 in 2017, or an extra £772 a year.

This would be paid for in part by restricting perks such as the winter fuel allowance so they are no longer paid to the wealthiest pensioners.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Nigel Quinton said:

“Protecting the triple lock will mean an extra £772 a year by 2021 for the 17,170 people receiving the state pension in this constituency.

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“The Liberal Democrats are making a clear commitment to older people in Welwyn Hatfield, unlike the Conservatives who have repeatedly refused to give this guarantee.

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“The triple lock has succeeded in lifting thousands of pensioners out of poverty, but many are still struggling to get by.

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“An important test of a civilised society is the way in which it cares for the elderly. This commitment will ensure older people are able to meet their basic needs and that their living standards will be protected, especially with prices set to rise in the coming years.”

 

Notes to Editors


Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in August 2016, there were 19,210 people living in Broxbourne in receipt of the state pension (link)

The Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to keep the ‘triple lock’ protection for state pensions. All of those receiving the full state pension would enjoy a rise from £122.30 to at least £137.15 a week by 2021, the equivalent of an extra £772 a year.

The Liberal Democrats would also limit some non-pension benefits for the wealthiest pensioners. The Winter Fuel Payment would be withdrawn from those pensioners who pay tax at the higher rate (40%). The Liberal Democrats would retain the free bus pass for all pensioners.

The Conservatives have hinted strongly that they will drop the Triple Lock. Theresa May has refused top guarantee the triple lock when asked, and Conservative senior figures have spoken out against it (link)

Labour increased the State Pension by just 75p in 2000. Help the Aged described the 75p increase as “just unacceptable”.

Labour had 13 years to restore the earnings link to pensions which Margaret Thatcher severed in 1980. The Liberal Democrats restored the link to earnings within six weeks of getting into government.

Lib Dems penny for NHS would raise £126.6million extra for Hertfordshire

The Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign.
 The tax would raise an additional £126.6million for Hertfordshire, with £82million for the NHS and £44.6million for social care each year.

This is the party’s flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats manifesto will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services in their manifesto.

At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra 1p in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, an ITV poll found last October (link).

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Nigel Quinton said:



“Having attended today my first briefing as a new County Councillor it is clear just how much the additional funding for social care especially is needed. Right now in Hertfordshire we are seeing urgent operations being cancelled and the elderly being denied the care they need, and beds being blocked due to the lack of community and social care available.

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The Liberal Demo crats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all, especially those who can afford it most, need to chip in a little more.

“A penny in the pound would allow us to invest in improving local NHS services and ensuring the elderly receive the care they deserve.

“This Conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded – and while the crisis gets worse they just don’t seem to care.

“We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more, without giving it the resources to do so.”

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:



“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.

“A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.

“But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term.”

7 Things the Lib Dems Put the Brakes On

The coalition government of 2010-2015 must have been a frustrating time for the Conservative party. While they managed to get many of their proposals through (raising university tuition fees, for example), their Liberal Democrat coalition partners blocked a number of others.

Mark Pack has put together a list of “21 extreme Tory policies the Lib Dems blocked“. However, that article was written in 2015, so here I’ve commented on seven areas where the Conservatives have finally got their own way. (OK, so technically its six that they’ve actually done, and one big one they’re still trying to get round to doing.)

 

1) The Snoopers’ Charter (aka the Investigatory Powers Act)

Described as providing “totalitarian-style surveillance powers – the most intrusive system of any democracy in history”, this law requires (amongst other things) that internet service providers to keep a record of your internet browsing history for 12 months, and share it with a host of government agencies if requested.

 

2) Ditching the Human Rights Act

This is the one which technically hasn’t happened yet (partly because of the need to sort out Brexit, and partly because of significant opposition), but it is still very much on the agenda. A major reason for getting rid of the Human Rights Act is the desire to get rid of the link between the European Court of Human Rights and British courts.

 

3) Removing help with housing costs for young people

Since 1 April 2017, 18- to 21-year-olds making new claims for universal credit have not been able to claim for the cost of housing (with certain exceptions). This change has less scope than that originally proposed (covering 16- to 24-year-olds), but has still raised serious concern from homelessness charities.

 

4) Cutting inheritance tax

In the first budget after the 2015 General Election, a £175,000 “family home allowance” was announced, in addition to the existing £325,000 allowance before 40% inheritance tax is payable. Married couples and civil partners can “pool” their allowance, so this means couples with a combined wealth of up to £1 million will no longer have to pay anything. Note that only around 3.5% of deaths were liable for inheritance tax in 2013-14, and so only the wealthiest will benefit from this change.

 

5) Requiring landlords nation-wide to carry out immigration checks on all new tenants and lodgers

Since 1 February 2016, landlords have been required to act as immigration enforcers, checking that anyone to whom they let is in the country lawfully. Landlords can receive penalties of up to £3000 for every adult without right to rent living in their property.

 

6) Renewing Trident

In July 2016, MPs voted to renew the UK’s Trident system of nuclear missiles, at an estimated cost of £31 billion. The Conservatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of renewal, and the Liberal Democrats and SNP voted against. Labour were split, with approximately three times as many voting for as against. Furthermore, Teresa May has said that she would, if necessary, “press the button” to use the nuclear weapons.

 

7) Cutting investment in green energy

Since its formation in 2012 the Green Investment Bank has provided £3.4 billion to 99 green energy projects.  There is no guarantee that the buyer will continue to use it to fund eco-friendly projects.

 

And finally…

For something more positive, take a look at this infographic, also by Mark Pack, showing what the Liberal Democrats achieved while in government.

 

References 
  1. Pack, M. 21 extreme Tory policies the Lib Dems blocked. [online] Mark Pack. Available at: http://www.markpack.org.uk/129190/what-the-lib-dems-have-stopped-the-tories-doing/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  2. Carlo, S. (2016). The Government just passed the most extreme surveillance law in history – say goodbye to your privacy. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/snoopers-charter-theresa-may-online-privacy-investigatory-powers-act-a7426461.html [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  3. Investigatory Powers Act 2016. (2016). [pdf] Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/25/pdfs/ukpga_20160025_en.pdf [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  4. The Week UK. (2017). Will the Human Rights Act be scrapped?. [online] Available at: http://www.theweek.co.uk/63635/will-the-human-rights-act-be-scrapped [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  5. Wilson, W., Keen, R. and Barton, C. (2017). Housing cost element of Universal Credit: withdrawing entitlement from 18-21 year olds. [online] Researchbriefings.parliament.uk. Available at: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06473 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  6. Inheritance Tax: main residence nil-rate band and the existing nil-rate band – GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inheritance-tax-main-residence-nil-rate-band-and-the-existing-nil-rate-band/inheritance-tax-main-residence-nil-rate-band-and-the-existing-nil-rate-band [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  7. Inheritance Tax Statistics 2013-14. (2016). p.7. [pdf] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/541725/IHTNationalStatisticsCommentary.pdf [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  8. Citizensadvice.org.uk. Immigration checks by landlords. [online] Available at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/renting-a-home/immigration-checks-by-landlords/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  9. BBC News. (2016). MPs vote to renew Trident weapons system – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36830923 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  10. Greeninvestmentbank.com. (2017). Our investments | UK Green Investment Bank. [online] Available at: http://www.greeninvestmentbank.com/our-investments/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].
  11. Pratley, N. (2017). Green Investment Bank sell-off: only time will tell how green it is | Nils Pratley. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/nils-pratley-on-finance/2017/apr/20/green-investment-bank-sell-off-only-time-will-tell-how-green-it-is [Accessed 22 Apr. 2017].

Introducing Andy Graham, Broxbourne’s Lib Dem candidate for the General Election 2017

Andy Graham started his career as a teacher of French and Drama and then went on to run his own business, the internationally acclaimed Snap Theatre Company based in Hertfordshire which he ran for over 25 years pioneering theatre in education and winning the Prince Michael Award for Read Safety.. He has reached over 3.5 million children and young people with over 220 plays and educational projects touring the UK in theatres and schools.

He is also a writer of children-s books and has published plays including Sense and Sensibility (which also toured the USA,) The Borrowers and Maurice.

He set up a charity in 2005 to develop teacher training support in schools all over the world including Rwanda, Romania, Bangladesh, The Gambia and the UK.

Andy was chair of the Local Government Arts Forum between 1998 and 2003 and was a member of the Arts Council of GB during the same period

Andy has been elected a district councillor for 16 continuous years on East Herts District Council and 9 years as a town council becoming its Mayor in 1998/1999.

He has stood for parliament twice in the Clacton By Election 2014 and stood against David Cameron in 2015.

Andy is a strong advocate of ensuring in whatever walk of life but particularly in education, that has everyone has equal opportunity to reach their maximum potential.

Incinerator in Hoddesdon: An open letter to the Media

The Broxbourne Liberal Democrats would like to invite all to read our letter to the media regarding the proposed incinerator in Ratty’s Lane Hoddesdon. The Liberal Democrats are fighting for the rights of the community and trying to stop this proposal going ahead, the Conservative run county council meanwhile, has been trying to site the incinerator in Broxbourne for some time. To read the letter please click here

County Council Election Focus – Introducing Sara Mihajlovic For Hoddesdon South

Sara M

Sara Mihajlovic lives locally and has been an active member of the Liberal Democrats since the last general election when she felt stirred into action by the re-election of the Conservatives to government.  A parent and part-time languages teacher Sara is very worried that Brexit is not a good idea and she agrees with Tim Farron and Nick Clegg that we must hold the Leavers in government to account for every decision they make.

Sara Mihajlovic says

'As a parent I am extremely concerned about opportunities in the future for our children.  School budgets are having to be cut because of the Conservative government's continuation of austerity and our County Council has not prioritised what any parent would consider to be essential – that is education.  Instead the county council wastes money on press releases and marketing; road surfaces have to be repaired too often because corners are cut and our bus services have been severely reduced making it harder for our older children to travel to college.'