What will happen on Thursday?

You can find out the full range of our policies in our manifesto which you can download at http://www.libdems.org.uk. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says its the only one which financially adds up. The Resolution Foundation says it gives most to the poor and we say it’s the only one which will keep us in Europe!

After six long, long weeks the 2019 General Election will be coming to an end at 22.00 on Thursday. Given the reliability of exit polls we will have a reasonable idea very shortly after that about what the new Parliament will look like.

The people (such of them that choose to vote) will have spoken and we will have a elected a new Parliament although whether that will sit for 5 years or 5 months is not yet clear.

Some things are clear. The Lib Dem vote will be at least twice as great as in 2017. We are relentlessly moving away from the 2015 nadir and will have a more sizeable and influential block than we had in 2015 when just 8 Lib Dems were elected.

The Labour Party will not form the next Government and are likely to have less seats. Sitting on the fence over Brexit has satisfied no one. As the major opposition they should have been able to capitalise on the most incompetent Government in modern times. Their only advances however, have come not from their own brilliant oratory but from the mistakes made by Tories. I suspect that by Friday night, or very soon after, Labour will have a new Leader.

The Tories have been a disgrace here in Liverpool as nationally. The London based Tory candidate has not even responded to requests from hustings organisers and appears never to have left London. To date I have not even had a leaflet from them. Nationally Johnson has been shown up as a buffoon who has cheated and lied and also has refused to turn up for scrutiny in a number of important debates and scrutiny sessions. They have become the Brexit Party they claimed to despise.

The Greens will have spent a lot of money getting 3 or 4 % of the vote but will still only have one MP. They suffer even more than the Lib Dems in a grossly unfair voting system which leads to a grossly unrepresentative Parliament.

Whether or not there is a hung Parliament now rests on tactical voting in about 50 seats. Polls show that about 30% of the electorate may well end up for against a candidate or Party that they do not like than for a candidate or Party that they do like. Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru have stood down for each other in about 60 Constituencies. Yet in not one Constituency did Labour agree to do the same. However, it looks as if the average Labour voter has more sense than the Labour Party and will be making their own mind up on a local basis as to the best way to defeat the Tories.

In Liverpool the calculations are different. Hell will freeze over before a Tory gets elected to Parliament in this City. The Tories have not won a Parliamentary seat in the City since 1979 and have not won a council seat since 1994. All 5 of their candidates come from outside the City four from London and the South East. The Tory candidate for Garston and Halewood boasted that she had hired a home in Liverpool for the election. So she’s full of confidence then!!

The Labour Party has fundamentally shifted. In the last Parliament 4 if the MPs were remainers but at this election 4 of the candidates believe in a fantasy of a good Corbyn inspired deal with the EU (without saying they would support that deal!!) Only one of the 5 has been prepared to support the Liverpool Against Anti-Semitism pledge which talks heartachingly about the lonely road travelled within the Labour Party by Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman.

That leaves the Lib Dems. In Liverpool as elsewhere we will do much better than in 2017 and who knows how the peculiar Liverpool factors will come into play. With a Labour Party that has been beset by storms over sexism and racism and which has failed to acknowledge their role in anti-Semitism there are clear signs that our vote will be swelled by democratic socialists appalled by their Party locally and their Leader nationally.

Those people who voted Tory nationally in Liverpool have always been ‘One-Nation’ Tories like Ken Clark, Michael Heseltine and Dominic Grieve. How many of them will follow the lead of those three and not vote Tory this time and follow their lead further and vote for us.

Lib Dems are a constant in Liverpool. We are pro-environment and pro-Europe. We believe that we need to reform our education and health systems not just throw more money at systems that have failed to adapt to modern circumstances. We believe that politics should start in the streets and communities and end up in Westminster via the Town hall and not the other way around.

You know that on Saturday we will be out again in our communities taking up the issues that matter to you and not locking our HQ for the next five years knowing that we won’t have to face the people again!

The 5 Lib Dem candidates in Liverpool are:

  • Kris Brown, Garston & Halewood
  • Richard Kemp, Wavertree
  • Rob McAlister-Bell, Riverside
  • David Newman, Walton
  • Paul Parr, West Derby

All the polls indicate that about 30% of the population have still to make up their mind as to how to vote. I hope that if you are one of those you will come out of the polling station having endorsed one of us. We stand for change; for the environment; for international ideals. Above all we stand not just for our Party but for the City of Liverpool to which all five of us are totally committed.

You can see more about this on our video: https://www.facebook.com/LiverLibDems/videos/697415504115006/

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Anti-Semitism is racism

Just a tiny part of the evidence presented to the EHRC by Jewish Labour yet Labour members in Liverpool have accused me of libelling the Party when I have accused it of anti-Semitism. I’ve said to them, “if you want to sue me, Bring it on!”

It’s not often that Labour can surprise me any more in Liverpool but I was nearly taken by surprise at a meeting last night.

I turned up at a hustings meeting and, as always, tried to be polite to my opponents. However, the Labour agent for Wavertree surrounded by a coterie of ageing activists told me that he didn’t want to talk to me because I had said in a leaflet that Labour is an anti-Semitic Party and that I had therefore libelled the Labour Party

This was on the day that the evidence that the Jewish Labour final submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission was leaked to the press. What a litany of shame and disgrace that document is. Case after case involving Labour members smearing Jewish Labour members on the basis of their supposed religious faults.

Many of the examples given were in Liverpool and were conducted against two fine, outstanding Labour women Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger. These are people that I have respected for many years in the case of Louise Ellman more than 40 years as our paths crossed in local government before she came to Liverpool as an MP.  Even in another Party they were people I could work with and I was delighted when Luciana joined us and attended a number of events with us.

The vast majority of Labour members are not anti-Semitic. Unfortunately for them an increasing number of people both locally and nationally have risen to take over the Party and they clearly are.

The submission to the EHRC included so many of the old tropes; hook noses, banking conspiracy, master race, Hitler was right, the Holocaust is a Jewish invention. Jewish people inside and outside the Labour Party have been subject to a torrent of abusive filth.

In the past few days my fellow Lib Dem candidates in Liverpool and I have been on the receiving end of this with anonymous messages posted to our HQ protesting against our support for ‘Jewish Scum’. They were terrible but as nothing compared to what Louise and Luciana have had to put up with over the past few years.

They have both spoken to media about the anti-Semitism they faced within their own Party. Luciana Berger told me that this was the worst part of it. I understand that. All politicians get ‘knocked about’ to some extent. When things are tough, we go back into our Party for solace and support. Luciana and Louise did not get the help and support they should have expected.

 So who do I believe? Louise and Luciana or the people who had a go at me last night at least one of whom was mention in the Jewish Labour submission. Well I can go further that and reproduce here what the Jewish Labour Movement said on 30th October:

The Jewish Labour Movement’s General Election Statement

Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015, a culture of antisemitism has been allowed to emerge and fester in the Party at all levels. From murals and wreaths, to Livingstone and Walker and Williamson, there are too many shameful examples to list – itself damning evidence of the Party’s moral slide.

Our Honorary President, Dame Louise Ellman MP, along with our former Parliamentary Chair, Luciana Berger MP were hounded out of Labour after years of relentless abuse, particularly in their local parties. Despite being well aware of this bullying, Jeremy Corbyn did nothing to address their concerns. When two accomplished and dedicated Jewish Labour MPs no longer see a place for themselves in the Labour Party, it’s clear that the party has lost its way. 

This crisis of antisemitism in the Labour Party stems from a failure of leadership from Jeremy Corbyn. When the answer has been to take swift, decisive action, the reality has been equivocation and token gestures. Time and time again, the Party has not engaged in good faith to try to implement the actions that we believe are necessary to tackle anti-Jewish racism.

Well I believe that Labour Members know best about what is happening in the Labour Party and that Jewish people are most able to know anti-Semitism when they see and feel it. On that basis I have no hesitation in saying I believe Luciana and Louise.

There is a chance for the Labour Party to redeem itself by supporting the Liverpool Against Anti-Semitism statement. To date not one Liverpool Labour candidate has agreed to do so despite two of them the candidates for Wavertree and Walton being challenged to do so in person. This is the statement:

“Liverpool has a proud history of mobilising against racism and a proud history of solidarity with the victims of racism.

Over the past few years we have seen a string of antisemitic incidents culminating in 2019 with the successive resignations from the Labour Party of two Liverpool MPs, Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman.

They both denounced institutional antisemitism in the Labour Party and a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation in their local CLPs [constituency Labour parties].

This should have been a turning point. Instead, they were largely allowed to “walk alone”.

We, citizens of this city, Jewish or not Jewish, want to express our profound disquiet and regret at these events as well as our solidarity with Luciana and Louise.

We will not tolerate antisemitism and we will not tolerate the accommodation of antisemitism. We commit to hold to account, to educate and to mobilise. Today, we reclaim Liverpool’s proud history.”

On checking before I wrote this it had been supported by more than 130 Liverpool citizens from a range of backgrounds including Labour Councillors but not Labour’s Parliamentary candidates for this General Election. So, I say to Labour candidates that they should support this simple statement and I say to Wavertree Labour Party, “If you think I have libelled you, take me to court and sue me”.

I am prepared to stand up and be counted to defend decent people irrespective of their religion, colour or gender. If people cannot be relied upon to be there for one faith or group, they cannot be relied on to stand up for any.

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It’s the little things that count; pubs, local businesses and local community activists

Beechley Riding for the Disabled are a perfect example of what the community and its volunteers can do. Organisations like this, and amenity groups and community groups and local shops and pubs and faith groups are at the heart of of our lives yet too often they are overlooked in our materialistic world.

Politicians like to talk big. A £ billion here and £2 billion there. Let’s change this law, lets amend that law. All, of course, important stuff and much needs to be done at the national or macro level.

But that means we often overlook the blindingly obvious. It can be the little things that count in life. Our communities are not made up of laws and politicians. They are glued together by local people, local facilities, local schools, local actions and of course, local pubs! All politics is local. It might be discussed at the UN, or the EU or Parliament or Town Halls but it all gets delivered in streets, neighbourhoods and communities.

That’s why in this election as through the rest of my political career I have been a ‘bottom-up’ politician. I believe that politicians of all Parties should spend more time in their communities and learn the lessons from what they see there. How can any of us speak in the Town Hall or Parliament or elsewhere when they don’t listen to the people who elect them and whose experience is huge?

I thought this 5 years ago when I was one of the 25 local politicians from around the world on the High-Level Task Group which negotiated the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which the UN and every member Country signed up to and has tried to implement since 2015. Those goals have to be interpreted in many ways and specific targets met at every level. Ultimately though, it is local councils, schools, health practices and churches who deliver the goods.

In my ward we have some great examples of local level activities which if we all supported them would make an even greater contribution to Liverpool’s economy and community.

We have excellent local restaurants and cafes. Almost all the restaurants on Allerton Road, Rose Lane and Penny Lane are either local businesses or part of very small local chains of businesses. They buy stuff locally, often from each other to make up their menus. They live reasonably locally, employ local staff, pay local taxes and keep their profits in the community.

But there are also great shops here as well. You can buy fresh baked bread at Furrow or Rays, meat from Clarks, fish from Brian, deli stuff from Auberge, veg and fruit from Dougy. It’s not only food. Mike will serve excellent wine from Oddbins (a local franchise) Julie has great presents for Christmas at Voglio most of which are produced by local crafts people. Maze and Benetton (another franchise owned locally) will supply some great clothes. If you have a few bob to spare than you both invest in and borrow from the Lodge Lane Credit Union which has an outreach at St Barnabas every Tuesday morning. Their money and profits stay local as well.

A favourite topic of mine is ‘local pubs’. We have four ‘locals in Church Ward. I define a local as one in which most of the people walk to it and are regulars. The Storrsdale pub, the Rose of Mossley, The Greenhills Tavern and the Dovey all fall into that category. They all do great things for the local, provide good ale and food and your heart will be warmed by the sense of community and friendship inside them.

Our local churches run almost all the local youth activities. If you look at the Brownies and the Guides and Scouts and many of the nurseries and pre-school activity, they are either run directly by the churches or in church premises. There’s always something going on at St Barnabas which uses its premises on Penny Lane to provide a great venue for a variety of community events and fund-raising activities. The same is true of every other church, mosque or synagogue in or around the area.

Then we just have some marvellous community led activities. Beechley Riding for the Disabled run a city-wide facility which provides great support and therapy for disabled children and their families. Allerton in Bloom keep our streets looking great with their all-year round floral displays. We are discussing with them the development of a herb and sensory garden. Friends of Allerton Library run a range of lectures and activities.

Friends of Harthill & Calderstones Park raise money for a range of support activities and plant buying for the Park. The Reader Organisation runs an international network of ‘written word’ activities from its base in the Mansion House in Calderstones Park.

The centre piece of the community for the past 2 years was the magnificent work of the Liverpool Open and Green Spaces Group (LOGS) and ‘Save Calderstones Park’ campaign which successfully took the Council to Court in ajudicial review to prevent the Council selling off 13 acres of land in the Park for housing. They raised more than £40,000 and got 52,000 names on a petition.

As a local councillor I support all these organisations with small amounts of money; by bringing them together so that they can achieve more than they can individually; and by taking appropriate action within the Council to ensure that wherever possible support is given to them.

As an MP I would seek to do the same at a much higher level. We need a change of culture at national level to ensure that we properly assist the energy and enthusiasm of all these community activities which are in my area but replicated in almost every community in the UK. Money might be needed but this will provide not a cost but a saving. How many people’s live are enriched by being able to go for a natter at the pub? How many people benefit from being assisted by volunteering or by volunteering themselves? Local shops, especially Post Offices, also provide a community meeting point with all the benefits that I have described above.

When we consider the big things, we must consider all these small actions, and so many more as well. Perhaps if all our politics was ‘bottom up’ we might create better laws and use money better to alleviate so many of the problems that are faced by the communities of the UK. That’s my belief and that’s what I would try and do.

You can see and hear more on my thoughts about these issues on this video: https://t.co/sfKtcM00Ww?amp=1

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Austerity was invented by the Labour Party

Austerity was introduced to the Country not by Cameron and Clegg but by Brown and Darling in the Labour budget of 2010. They introduced and started most of the things for which the Coalition Government took the blame.

The Labour Party either have a very bad or very selective memory when it comes to remembering the situation that the country was in after the last Labour Government. They choose to portray the cuts that were made and other things such as the ‘bedroom tax’ and Universal Credit as inventions of the Coalition Government. None of these are true.

You can see from the Guardian article reproduced below that it was the Labour Party who in their last budget in March 2010 just before the General Elections started promised the Country “Two parliaments (10 years) of pain”.

In fact, the Coalition Government cut £1 billion less in their 5 years than Labour had intended to.

Remember the fuss about bedroom tax which is, in truth, an iniquitous way of saving money? It was introduced in 2007 for private sector tenants and trialled in 2009 for social housing tenants. The reason that the new Government could introduce it so quickly was because everything including the legislation was already in place.

Remember the Students loans debacle? Introduced at the cost of £3,000 a year by Labour in 2007 just 2 years after they vowed not to introduce it in the 2005 General Election. They then wanted to raise it to £6,000 in the discussions after the 2010 election and would not accept Lib Dem proposals to increase the grant levels to let more working-class youngsters attend Uni.

Labour don’t want you to know these and other things and when you find out they will tell you that it’s a different Labour Party now. Well it’s a different Lib Dem Party as well. Just as Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are gone so are Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander.

Ironic isn’t it that the Lib Dems got blamed for introducing less cuts than Labour intended!

Alistair Darling: we will cut deeper than Margaret Thatcher

Guardian Article March 10 2010

Alistair Darling admitted tonight that Labour’s planned cuts in public spending will be “deeper and tougher” than Margaret Thatcher’s in the 1980s, as the country’s leading experts on tax and spending warned that Britain faces “two parliaments of pain” to repair the black hole in the state’s finances.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said hefty tax rises and Whitehall spending cuts of 25% were in prospect during the six-year squeeze lasting until 2017 that would follow the chancellor’s “treading water” budget yesterday.

Asked by the BBC tonight how his plans compared with Thatcher’s attempts to slim the size of the state, Darling replied: “They will be deeper and tougher – where we make the precise comparison I think is secondary to an acknowledgement that these reductions will be tough.”

The shadow chancellor, George Osborne, seized on the first admission by the chancellor that Labour was planning greater austerity than that achieved by Thatcher’s chancellors Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson. “Labour has been found out. Gordon Brown is basing his election campaign on the claim that Labour can go on spending. That is completely blown apart by Alistair Darling’s admission, under pressure, that Labour’s own budget numbers imply deep cuts. But why didn’t he admit that yesterday? Twenty-four hours on, this empty budget has completely unravelled and Labour’s failure to act will hit families hard.”

Robert Chote, the IFS’s director, said he was wary of the chancellor’s claims that he could raise £11bn through efficiency savings, and added that capital investment in Britain’s infrastructure would bear the brunt of the cuts. Current Treasury plans implied reductions in capital spending of almost 15% a year for the next four years, Chote said.

The IFS used its post-budget analysis to spell out what was in store for Whitehall departments, but said there appeared to be only a modest difference between the plans of the two main parties.

Assuming that the Conservatives wanted to eliminate Britain’s structural deficit over a five-year parliament, a David Cameron government would have to find an extra £8bn of savings.

The thinktank said Labour’s plans implied a cumulative decline of 11.9% in departmental spending on public services and administration over four years, a cut of £46bn in inflation-adjusted terms.

But a two-year government pledge to protect spending on the NHS and schools, and to raise overseas aid to the UN target of 0.7% of national output, will result in deeper cuts of 20% for those departments not protected, the IFS said. If the government continued to spare health and education for a further two years, departments such as transport, defence and the Home Office would face budget reductions of 25%.

The IFS said that the planned austerity would reduce public spending as a share of the economy from just over 27% to below 21% and return it to its level in the late 1990s, when it began a decade-long rise. A government that wanted to slash the deficit without inflicting such deep cuts would have to raise taxes or reduce welfare payments instead, the IFS added.

Chote said there was a lack of clarity about how either Labour or the Conservatives planned to tackle deficit reduction. “There are an awful lot of judgments still be made, or revealed, notably with regards to public spending over the next parliament. This greater-than-necessary vagueness allows the opposition to be vaguer than necessary, too.”

The budget, Chote added, had failed to provide a detailed picture to voters and the financial markets of the “fiscal repair job” in prospect after the election.

“Of the £46bn a year of real cuts in public services spending that we think budget forecasts would require by 2014-15, the government would presumably claim to have ‘found’ about £20bn by 2012-13 from pay restraint, cutting programmes and efficiency savings. We should be wary of some of these claims, particularly on efficiency.

“First, because it is not obvious that the efficiency savings would be delivered. Second, and more fundamentally, if they are cutting out genuine waste we would expect the government to try to achieve most of these efficiencies even if it was not having to cut public spending overall.”

The IFS said that the slight improvement in the state of the public finances in recent months had reduced the size of the structural budget deficit – borrowing that will not be eliminated by faster growth – from £73bn before the budget to £67bn.

Chote said: “Presented with this good news, the chancellor had a choice: to give away his good luck in pre-election bribes, or to bank it and bring government borrowing down more quickly as the recovery takes hold. Perhaps in the face of pressure to do otherwise by the “forces of hell”, he has sensibly chosen to do the latter.”

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All candidates for public office should be prepared to face the people

The red box on the right was the Labour candidate. The blue box on the left was the Tory candidate. The Brexit candidate stormed off because no one in the audience was a Brexiter and he couldn’t answer the questions. The Liberal candidate was represented by someone else but The Green Candidate and I stayed to the end and answered questions from about 50 local people.

Last night we had the unedifying sight of the Prime Minister refusing to turn up at a Leader’s debate on climate change on Channel 4. ALL the other Leaders were there but at the last-minute Johnson tried to send a sub. Not surprisingly the Leaders who had turned up said, “no”. If it was a debate for environmental spokespersons the Leaders of the other Parties would not have been there.

Climate change is equally with Brexit the most urgent issue on the UK political scene at the moment. The fact that our Prime Minister was not prepared to turn up and debate and be questioned on the issue shows how little he cares for it.

Johnson has form on all this. Every other Leader has been prepared to be grilled by Andrew Neil. Andrew is a hard task master and anyone would have some trepidation in facing him. The other Leaders said. “yes”. Some have already appeared and Jo Swinson will be ‘done’ next week. Apparently Johnson hasn’t got time. I understand that some 3 million people turn on to these interviews. That’s a sizeable proportion of those who will vote on 1th December – yet the Prime Minister is just not prepared to answer for his personal and political actions.

It’s no better in Liverpool. There haven’t been a lot of hustings meetings this year but the Tories have not and are not turning up to any of them. As I understand it, they haven’t even responded to requests. This is hardly surprising given that none of them live in Liverpool. The Tory candidate in Liverpool Wavertree lives in Islington. BUT there are trains to get her here and we do have hotels!

More surprising is no-shows from Labour. I’ve just got back from a hustings for Wavertree where the Labour candidate originally agreed to come and then 24 hours later backed down. That happened in the Church Ward local elections as well this past May.

When I was out in my Ward this afternoon, I was told by a Labour member that it was because she felt that the meeting would be aggressive. Never have my flabbers been so gasted!! The only bullying and aggression that I have seen in Liverpool is the bullying and aggression that lead to two fine women, Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman leaving the Labour Party and Liverpool. This was not external bullying but internal within the Labour Party.

In fact, the hustings meeting was excellently chaired, as it always with, and the audience and panel treated each other respectfully but forcefully. Just what a husting should be about. It then occurred to me later that if she cannot take me on how is she hoping to take the Prime Minister on!

I have been many detractors in the City because I have been prepared to take Labour and the Tory Government to task. But none of my detractors would ever be able to see I have hidden from a debate. At times when there were just 2 Lib Dems in the Chamber it was very difficult to go head to head with a Mayor who had 81 people on his side. As many of you know who have been to the Town Hall I did take him on and made my case. This was particularly so when the huge local issue of the sale of part of Calderstones Park was suggested by Labour and Erica and I had to lead the political fight whilst organisations like LOGs and Save Caldies led the community fight.

I regularly tweet my views, and I can be challenged on them. I blog on average twice a week about political issues and respond to everyone who queries what I say. When possible, I go to meetings of all sorts of action groups. Sometimes it’s real ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’ time but I go. I have beliefs and take actions based on those beliefs and I am prepared to go and defend both.

You can find me regularly on the streets of Liverpool and particularly Church Ward. Every month I go with my colleagues Liz and Andrew Makinson and stand for 4 hours at our open-air advice centre at the Farmer’s Market. Anyone can come along for information, advice or to talk politics. On an average week the three of us will talk to about 75 people. Our next advice centre is on 7th December between 9 a.m. and 1 pm. The Farmers Market is held at the junction of Garthdale and Allerton Roads. For this one there will be church and school choirs singing carols and stalls from various community groups in addition to the normal fare and the advice from the two wise men and one wise woman!

To me that’s what politics is all about. It’s about listening to the community and taking the ideas and concerns from the community up to the Town Hall and Westminster. As an elected representative I am not accountable to my political party I am accountable to the people who elected me. If I don’t hear their concerns how can I voice them in the forum to which I have been elected.

This is election time. It’s a time when the voters make the decisions and the politicians should be in super listening mode. The fact that some candidates for high or low office choose to ignore this element of an election demeans them, demeans their Party and is part of the lowering of respect in society for politicians as a whole.

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Tory and Labour Spending Plans – “I don’t beeelieeeve them!”

These are the Government’s own figures for the reduction in our regional economies under the various Brexit options. Neither Labour nor Tory Parties have explained how they are to fund big increases in spending when the wealth of the nation will decrease.

A friend of mine told me few weeks ago that she was afraid that as she got older she was turning into her mother. That’s no problem I said, as I get older, I think I am turning into Victor Meldrew!

I’ve thought that particularly in the last few days as I’ve looked at the spending plans in the Labour and Tory manifesto. I went full Victor Meldrew time after time as I said, “I don’t believe it!”

The Conservatives haven’t actually told us how much their manifesto will cost but we have had a lot of pre-election spending commitments. The trouble is that they all fall apart as soon as you look at them. Let me give two NHS examples. In October, Johnson announced that the Tories would build 40 new hospitals. When you looked at the finances allowed for this project it allowed for the refurbishment of 6 hospitals and the development of plans for building up to 34 more. It didn’t supply the money to build the hospitals themselves!

Over the weekend we were told that there would be 50,000 more nurses than today. No-one doubts that the NHS needs more nurses but no-one in the NHS has asked for 50,000 more and if they did what type of nurses would they be? The fact is that the NHS budgets already have cash in them to take on 20,000 more nurses but they cannot fill the vacancies as EU nurses either go home or don’t come. The Tories were unable to explain whether its 50,000 more than currently budgeted for i.e. 70,000 nurses more or 30,000 more than currently budgeted for. In either case they were unable to say how and when these nurses would arrive! That’s a lot of money unexplained.

They have also failed to tell us whether or not their spending plans are based on staying in the EU or leaving it under the various options available. All the options in the pictures above shows that there will be less money to send on anything.

Labour, in part, have put some figures to their proposals. The highly respected and totally independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has the following thoughts on Labour’s taxation polices:

  • Labour’s proposed income tax rise for those with incomes above £80,000 would affect only the highest-income 3% of adults. But this accounts for less than a tenth of the additional revenue Labour says it would raise.
  • About three-quarters of the revenue comes from increasing taxes on companies and their shareholders. It would be a mistake to think of this as falling entirely on ‘the rich’.
  • To the extent that corporation tax falls on company shareholders, that includes everyone with a defined contribution pension. And in practice much of the burden will be passed on to companies’ employees through lower wages, and customers through higher prices – and that means all of us.

In all Labour’s tax and spend plans have been described as “colossal, enormous and simply lacking credibility”, by the IFS. Why is this important? Because there are 17 references to the IFS in Labour’s manifesto as they have sought to use the organisation to add credibility to its financial proposals.

As with the Tories a major fault with the Labour proposals is a total failure to say whether they intend to spend these amounts within or outside the EU.

The contrast between both these Parties and the Lib Dems is great. There are four key components to the Lib Dems announcements.

£7.5 billion a year more for health and social care which would be funded by a 1p increase in income tax. All economists agree that this is deliverable and the correct amount. This would give £40 billion over the assumed 5-year lifetime of a Parliament.

£10 billion a year from a ‘Brexit bonus’. This is the amount of extra tax which will arise from the bigger economy which will occur if we stay in the EU. It would be spent on a range of series including housing and the environment. Again, all economists have agreed that this is a realistic estimate of the enhanced prospects for growth if we remain in the EU.

Systematic detail of how other improvements would be paid for either by more specific topic based taxation, charges or savings. Every single announcement like these have been reviewed by a relevant external body.

Lastly, we recognise the need to start paying back the huge debts that we already owe as a nation. Countries are no different from families and individuals when we borrow money, we have to pay it back. If we spend today and don’t pay back money our gift to future generations would be huge debts.

So, my conclusions and those of most economic observers is very simple. The LibDem and Green manifestos ‘are credible’ because they are based on the UK still being ‘in the EU’. The Tory manifesto must be predicated on a No Deal exit, the terms of which are unknown. Labour can’t decide if we’ll be In or Out so how can their manifesto be costed or trusted?

I hope that you will join with me in saying, “I don’t beeelieeeve them!” if you look at what the Tory and Labour Parties are saying about your money.

You can hear more about the financial offerings of the three main Parties on our video channel. https://bit.ly/2LbUnxl

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It’s no way to treat our elderly

My long suffering wife, Erica, and I hope to have a long and happy third age. But like everyone else we have had to plan for it without clarity of the Government’s long term intentions.

Yesterday I spoke to people who are representing those women (WASPIs) who lost out on their pensions when the age that women could claim pensions shifted at relatively short notice (about 10 years) and many received no information about the change until it was too late to do anything about it.

I used that insight in a speech I gave later in the day at the LGA’s adult services conference about the woeful inadequacy of the way our society has thought about the issues created by the increasing number of elderly people in our communities. It would be easy but wrong to blame this Government for the problem although its performance over the past three years has been dire. It is a fault of every Government since the early 1970 because it is since then that we have known conclusively that the age to which we will live would get considerably longer but the number of years in which we would live healthy and satisfying lives would not grow at the same level.

Dealing with the issue must be a long term one because of the complexities that it presents:

Pensions. We need to be making major payments into private or occupational pensions from about the age of 40 if we are to have saved enough to provide comfort in the third age. Not easy when house prices have soared, people are having children later and there are all sorts of things to pay and support like tuition fees. The Government too has to make a careful assessment of the amount of the tax and NI take it can pout into pensions as compared to other priorities.

Health. If you arrive at retirement in a healthy physical and mental state it is likely that you will have a long and happy retirement. The reverse clearly applies. Yet we do little to support people from the age of 50+ to keep fit and healthy and make them aware of the problems that they will face. More than 10% of the nation’s hospital beds are filled at any one time with elderly people who have no major clinical or medical needs but cannot safely return to their own family home.

Housing. At the current rate of replacement of the nation’s housing stock a house built today will have to last 200 years! To make an appreciable change in a city’s housing stock can take 20 years. Yet the level of forethought about what type of housing; in what type of community; with what type of services has been minimal. Of course, elderly people want different things but they have a commonality about certain issues which need to be included in all long-term physical plans for an area.

Social Care. The biggest unseen killer for many people but especially the elderly is loneliness. That’s not what goes on the death certificate but it has been calculated that the difference between having no one to talk to and having regular chats is the health equivalent of smoking 10 cigarettes a day. What public and private facilities are readily available to encourage community and neighbourly activity. How do we use all the assets of the public sector which ae often underused to meet these hidden needs for companionship?

Technology. One of the joys of my life is when the grandchildren unexpectedly facetime Erica and I to tell us about an exciting thing that they have done or what they are going to do. It is not quite as good as a hug but it can come very close. If only every elderly person had access to what is relatively cheap technology and someone at the other end to chat to. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of communications systems for a range of interactions including diagnostic activity and ‘take your medicine’ reminders.

I could go on into other policy areas but I closed my speech yesterday about how its not only the Government that needs to do things but all of us.

Families need to think through what being a family means and who supports which part of the family at which time. Do we live near each other or far apart? Which part of the family at any one time has money and time to deal with issues?

Communities need to think about how they can use assets to benefit the silent people who are too wary to come out and take advantage of what is available.

Neighbours need to be more aware of the people who live in their streets. Sometimes all you need to do is say hello and have a two-minute chat. If the weather is bad could you just make sure that your neighbours have basic supplies or could you get them for them if its too cold to go out?

Individuals must give more thought to their own future. Are, you saving enough money for retirement or are you spending their income on a spend today and let tomorrow sort itself out basis. That’s based on the assumption that there is anything left to save after paying for basics! Where do you want to live; how fit and healthy will you be; how will you react with the rest of your family if that is you have one.

The current government is especially culpable because of their failure to discuss the issues properly. We were supposed to get a Green (discussion) Paper on these issues in June 2017. Promise after promise was made about revised publication dates but know that the Green Paper has yet to be written. Until we know what the Government’s intentions and roles are over a 20-year period we cannot easily assess how councils, pension providers, the NHS, housing providers and the private sector can shape the services that are required.

We don’t just need one Government term to shape the future but many. That is why it is so important that all the political parties work together to achieve a consensus wherever possible on these issues. We need a Royal Commission to meet publicly to bring the issues to Government and the nation as a whole. We need politicians locked in a room and made to work together on these crucial issues which we all face towards the end of our lives.

Action is desperately needed now. The attitude of successive Governments in kicking the can down the road because the issues are too difficult to deal with must stop. We all deserve to end our lives in comfort, warmth and with dignity. Too few of us will achieve that without concerted action now.

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