'A week is a long time in politics' is one of the most hackneyed phrases in politics, but I couldn't think of another way to start this post. Moving on...
Last Monday saw the second reading of the Tories’ Welfare Reform and Work Bill, a bill that contained more cruel and unusual punishments on young people than the 50 Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Lowering the benefit cap, scrapping the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18–21-year-olds and cutting employment support allowance were just some of the measures that the Lib Dems blocked in coalition and that Osborne is now unleashing gleefully in his first pure Tory budget.
It is unlikely that anyone even vaguely interested in the fortunes of the Liberal Democrats would have missed it, but on Friday, a day after Tim Farron was elected leader, the party got its first juicy post-election controversy: in an interview with Channel 4, Farron was asked (repeatedly, as the numerous think pieces already dedicated to the subject are keen to point out) whether he, as a Christian, believes that gay sex is a sin. His answer, delivered articulately if not entirely confidently, was deemed evasive and unsuitable for a self-congratulatory liberal media culture increasingly averse to any nuance or ambiguity.
Greenwich Borough Liberal Democrats have been bursting with energy and excitement since the May election. An influx of new members of the local party have brought shedloads of fresh ideas and enthusiasm. They shared some at a recent party “development day” and we no doubt will hear more as the summer rolls on, whether at LibDem pints or other informal gatherings. All members will soon have a means of proposing get-togethers on subjects and in venues of their choosing. Watch this space.
What a few weeks it has been since May 7th. Fresh from a truly horrendous result in the General Election I’d fully expected Lib Dems all over the country to be heading to the hills to wait out the remainder of their lives in mournful reflection, but not a bit of it! Instead we’ve had new members signing up in their thousands (over 16,000 at time of writing) and the hunger from members new and old to keep the liberal tradition alive and kicking in this country is as strong as I’ve ever known it.
Liberal Democrats have ensured the Coalition has been the greenest Government so far in Britain. Lib Dem ministers:-
- Secured £37bn investment in renewable electricity;
- Established the world's first Green Investment Bank;
- Led Europe to agree a new more ambitious EU-wide climate change target;
- Ensured more than 1 million trees have been planted.
With Matt Pennycook resigning his seat in anticipation of a General Election victory in May, there are a pleasingly round 50 councilors currently sitting in the borough of Greenwich. So what can we hope for from the 51st, also elected on May 7th?
The incoming councilor will replace Pennycook in Greenwich West, a ward where the existing two councilors are already Labour; Maureen O'Mara and Aidan Smith.
So, a quick write-up of the Charlton Societies General Election Hustings, held on Saturday in Charlton Village. It was my first GE2015 hustings and I was looking forward to seeing some of the runners and riders in the flesh.
Greenwich Liberal Democrats have announced that Sonia Dunlop will be contesting the upcoming Greenwich West by-election on May 7th, the same day as the General Election.
Sonia currently works for the Solar Trade Association in London. Before this, Sonia spent over five years working in the European Parliament on renewable energy policy, including two years working for the Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford.
With a passion for environmental issues, Sonia will work tirelessly to "increase the share of renewable energy and decrease the shocking levels of air pollution and Thames sewage pollution in our city".
Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and fairer society so that there is opportunity for all to get on in life. We've spent the last 5 years working towards that in Government and we aim to go further in the next five years.
Right, fresh from yet another row, with people I respect, I want to finally write my response to the arguments against the Lib Dems going into coalition for the last 5 years.
The charge, in a nutshell, is that the Lib Dems sold their souls to the devil in 2010 when they had to choose between forming a government with the Tories or staying in opposition. They saw ministerial boxes, limousines and miniature whisky bottles with a special 'Member of Government' seal on them or something and ran to the cabinet table. They left the country at the mercy of the vicious Tories while Lib Dem junior ministers spent 5 years calling each other up from inside the corridors of power shouting 'GUESS WHERE I'M CALLING FROM!'
While the Lib Dems fiddled, the UK burned, as the Tories introduced the bedroom tax and the Lib Dems casually tossed tuition fees aside in return for government stationery that had their names on in that special gold curly writing.
Or, to condense the above argument to its rawest, most common form - BEDROOM TAX!!!!