UPDATE

As I am no longer a councillor I am considering the future of this site.

In the meantime local Lib Dem news can be obtained from our Newcastle Site

www.newcastlelibdems.org.uk

 

CABLE ON STEEL

At a regional Lib Dem conference in Newcastle under Lyme Vince Cable made a number of suggestions concerning the steel crisis. He pointed out that the industrial strategy that he introduced as Business Secretary had been abandoned. He proposed that the first action to take would be for the treasury to take responsibility for the pension fund (as the coalition did with Royal Mail) which would make the industry more attractive to a potential buyer.

The government must also drop its dogmatic approach to the crisis. A short period of public ownership might be required to give an opportunity to find a longer term solution.

David’s Comment

We took banks into public ownership to save them, why not steel which is the bedrock of our industrial production as the banks are the bedrock of our financial services?

Whilst Liberal Democrats running the Business Secretariat would not have prevented the crisis, the government the government would have been more prepared to deal with it

DISORGANISED or just PLAIN INCOMPETENCE

Consider the scene:

  • Tory councils protesting about the academy programme
  • The chaos over the cuts to disability support and working age credits
  • The civil war over the EU.
  • The mishandled dispute with the doctors.
  • The lack of an industry strategy to deal with the steel crisis

This Tory government must be the most  disorganised or incompetent  government in living memory.

 

Clearly the Lib Dems kept them going for the last five years.

 

KEEP THE GREEN BANK GREEN

The Green Investment bank was set up by Lib Dem Vince Cable in 2012.

It has invested £2.3 billion into the UK’s green economy bringing in a further £7 billion in from the private sector and its operations are already profitable.  As a result the UK has more renewables, more combined heat and power plants, more energy efficient road lighting, more heat pumps.  It has been a great Coalition success, down to Lib Dems in government.

 

Now the Tories, through the Enterprise Bill, want to take the Green out of Green Bank, so it just becomes another investment bank

 

Lib Dems in the House of Lords introduced the mechanism of a special share in the Green Investment Bank held by ‘green guardians’ appointed initially by the Climate Change Committee.  Those green objectives could only be changed if the three green guardians agreed unanimously.

It was approved by 46 votes in spite of government opposition.

 

This is just one of the many ways the government is wrecking our investment into green technology, and it is the Lib Dems trying to stop them.


 

YOUNG KIDS FORCED INTO SLAVERY AND PROSTITUTION

Last year 200, 000 children fleeing war arrived in Italy as refugees, and these were the lucky ones who did not die on the way.

13,000 were unaccompanied, and of those 4,000 disappeared. Nobody to care for them, no education no health support, and most likely working as slaves or prostitutes. This year it will be worse.

Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron has submitted a private members bill proposing that the UK take 3,000 of these children. That is far less than the number of Jewish children we took in before the last war.

Tim’s proposal is a liberal solution to a humane problem facing the young and vulnerable.

Lynne Featherstone writes… Tories’ huge backward step on climate change

Today the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, will give a speech to update us all on the Government’s energy policy. What she will say has been widely trailed and it contains some seriously bad news.

The last six months have seen a relentless and systematic unravelling of the excellent work done by Ed Davey to develop the green economy. The Government is now going one step further to deprioritise decarbonisation as a main goal, in favour of making energy security its number one priority. It does not seem to realise it is possible to deliver on both.

Amber Rudd will say she plans to curb the growth of renewable industries even further, with the logical conclusion that there must be an increase in nuclear and gas to meet energy needs. This means expensive subsidies paid to other countries, rather than investment in renewables in the UK, and also fracking.

The most baffling aspect of the Government’s abandonment of the renewable sector is the fact there is such a strong business case for investing in green industries. We might understand their actions if it was just about environmental concern, which Conservatives have never been strong on, and we know of the power wielded by backbench climate-change deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists. But to ignore the long-term economic case in favour of short-term cash gains is extraordinary. The UK has been a world leader in this sector and continuing to invest and develop these job-creating industries while we have a competitive advantage and while the costs of producing renewable energy are plummeting is simply good economic sense.

The timing of this speech is extremely worrying, being just a fortnight before the most significant global conference on climate change that there has ever been. The UN Climate Conference in Paris is a precious opportunity to build a worldwide consensus on tackling climate change. Undermining the UK’s clout in those discussions could potentially have devastating consequences.

It is clear now, if it wasn’t before, that the good work of the Coalition on green issues was entirely down to work of Liberal Democrats. Left on their own the Conservatives have shown that there is no genuine commitment to tackling climate change at all. Amber Rudd’s accusations that DECC over-spent over recent years are inaccurate and quite simply a smoke-screen for politically motivated cuts. The ending of electricity from coal announced today is of course good news, but what most people don’t know is that the Conservatives repeatedly opposed Lib Dem plans to do this during the Coalition. Cost pressures have finally changed their mind.

But while it angers us all to see what the Government is now doing, we should be careful to remember that their actions can only go so far in unpicking what Lib Dems achieved. The solar panels we put on roofs will remain. The wind farms we opened will continue to contribute towards our energy needs. There may be no new ones thanks to the Tories, but we can still be proud of the positive difference we have made. We must continue to fight for a greener economy because we have shown that our actions match our words, and it is clear that for the Tories they do not. Unfortunately Amber Rudd’s speech today makes that crystal clear.

* Lynne Featherstone was the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green from 2005 to 2015, and served as a minister in both the Home Office and Department for International Development. She blogs at www.lynnefeatherstone.org.

Farron on Tax Credits vote: Osborne must go back to the drawing board

Commenting on the votes in the House of Lords tonight which resulted in two Government defeats on tax credits, Tim Farron said:

The Government has been forced into an embarrassing climb down. George Osborne must now go back to the drawing board and come back with plans to balance the books that don’t simply attack working families who are already struggling to get by.

We have sent a clear signal to the Tories that the British people will not accept this scale of attack on the vital support they need.

Tonight’s vote gives people hope, but the threat still looms large.

It is utterly depressing that Labour did not join with the Liberal Democrats to kill off the cuts to Tax Credits completely.

We support the delay in the proposals and the demand for transitional protection, but this alone won’t stop the Conservative’s attack on working families who rely on Tax Credits, or ensure that it really does pay more to be in work than remain on benefits.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to do all we can stop tax credit changes that disproportionately hurt low-earning families, and urge others to do the same.

Lib Dems table a fatal motion on tax credits

 

The Lib Dems in the House of Lords are planning to spike the Government’s tax credit plans by tabling a “fatal motion”.

The peers have decided to take this step as the tax credit plans are deeply unfair and would leave three million low income people £1,000 worse off.

Zahida Manzoor, the party’s Work and Pensions spokesperson, will table the motion which would decline to approve the regulations and, if passed, the Government will have to come up with a revised version of its proposals.

The motion is additional to a motion by Labour Peer, Baroness Hollis of Heigham, which would decline to approve the Tax Credit cut unless the Government puts in place transitional measures.

The Liberal Democrats will support Patricia Hollis’ amendment, but the party does not believe that transitional protection is enough to protect the families affected.

Commenting on the move, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

“We have been clear that the Government’s changes to tax credits are unacceptable. David Cameron explicitly ruled them out during the General Election. Yet now he is dead set on cutting support for people who are doing the right thing and going out to work for provide for their families.

“These changes have all the hallmarks of a Poll Tax of the 21st Century. David Cameron and George Osborne need to listen to those, including their own backbenchers, telling them to think again. While we agree that the transitional protection proposed by others would be an improvement on the Government’s plan, we believe that this would not go far enough. That is why we will we seek to stop these measures for good.”

While Baroness Manzoor, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson, said:

“Our motion gives the House the opportunity to make clear its view on the Government’s plans for Tax Credits, and gives the Government a chance to reconsider its proposals. While we support any measure to improve the on the Government’s approach, it is important that the Lords is clear in our view.The House of Lords has the absolute constitutional right to oppose measures that it believes are flawed or damaging. I can think of few better reasons to use this power than to stop moves to cut vital support for millions of working families.”

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Commitment to environment is “systematically unravelling” under Tories

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and former Energy Secretary Ed Davey have written to Amber Rudd to call for the end of the Tories’ “ideological assault” on green energy.

The pair are deeply alarmed with the “systematic unravelling” of the renewable industries since May 8 and believe Conservative policies fatally undermine the UK’s climate change commitments.

They warn that severe cuts to solar and wind subsidies, as well as ending the Green Deal and abolishing Zero Carbon Homes make a mockery of Britain’s environment targets.

Increasing tax breaks for oil giants and further subsidising foreign nuclear firms at the same time as slashing help for clean energy companies will also kill off the industry, they caution.

They have now called on Ms Rudd to set out immediately how the Government plans to meet the UK’s legally binding climate change and renewables targets.

 

In the letter Tim Farron and Ed Davey write:

We are writing to you regarding our concerns for the future of Britain’s renewable industries and our global leadership on climate change.

We are utterly appalled at the systematic unravelling of the renewables industries that is taking place under your leadership. We stand with business executives, trade associations and environmental NGOs and call for an end to this ideological assault on green energy which is economically nonsensical and is undermining Britain’s ability to push for a more ambitious global Climate Change Treaty at the UN in Paris this December.

Despite your statement in May this year that you planned to unleash a ‘solar revolution’, your department has enacted a series of devastating policies which make a mockery of this and will ultimately dismantle much of the work on green policy that the Liberal Democrats achieved in Government, costing thousands of jobs and jeopardising our economic future. Severe cuts to solar and wind subsidies, as well as ending the Green Deal and abolishing Zero Carbon Homes, together mean that progress towards tackling climate change is fundamentally undermined.

You have used two arguments to justify your actions. First, that the Levy Control Framework is overspent, and second, that you are trying to help consumers with their energy bills. You must know both arguments are bogus.

On the LCF budget, what has happened to the headroom contingency arrangements agreed in the Coalition of 20% above the agreed Levy Control Framework totals, in the event of lower wholesale gas prices which we now see? It is economic madness to cut long term investment in solar and wind, because of short term changes to international gas prices.

Second, the assumptions behind the LCF figures published to date are not transparent, and beg many questions such as the assumption made on project attrition. Because you are using these figures to try to justify the devastation being reaped on the UK renewables industry, we call on you to publish all the assumptions behind those figures. We are also calling for the DECC Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee to hold an inquiry into the LCF figures you are using to justify this damage.

You also say you are concerned about consumers. Why then are you deliberately targeting cuts to onshore wind and solar energy, which are widely acknowledged to be the cheapest renewable electricity sources currently, and are both predicted to see large price falls in the future. If you remain, as you claim, committed to the Climate Change Act, meeting our legal obligations will cost consumers more, if you stop these two renewable technologies. In other words, your justification for cutting renewable energy investment is bogus.

Partly because of such concerns above, Liberal Democrat peers are tabling an amendment today on the Energy Bill which requires the Secretary of State to produce a report on how the Government will meet its climate change targets, including its obligations under the legally binding European Renewables Directive, which requires a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from EU countries by 20% by 2020. This amendment seeks to enhance existing reporting requirements on issues such as the Levy Control Framework and the impact of onshore wind investment on consumer bills, given the weakness of your arguments used to justify your policies to date.

Green policy under this Conservative Government is heading in entirely the wrong direction and has already damaged the UK’s credibility and leadership role on climate change ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December. Furthermore, why are we willing to increase tax breaks for oil and gas and maintain subsidies for nuclear power run by the French and Chinese whilst at the same time slashing subsidies for clean energy technologies like solar and wind where British firms are increasingly winning orders? This is not the level playing field for low carbon technologies the UK advocates abroad but politically-driven picking winners.

So we call upon you and your Government colleagues for immediate public assurances that the UK still intends to meet our legally binding climate change and renewable energy targets, and to set out in detail how you will in practice do that.

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