Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back to normal

The rest of the conference passed in a whirl of activity, too long to note here. Very limited access to the internet while away meant that posting more blog entries didn't happen.
Suffice to say now that there were excellent debates and resolutions on MPs' expenses, torture, consumer rights, tidal power, cutting our carbon emissions, preserving our natural heritage, housing, the war in Afghanistan and much more.

Sadly, the amendment which had been submitted and worked on by a number of members the length and breadth of the country on contracts for waste treatment plants was rejected because people just didn't grasp the complex argument for it.

Suzanne Fletcher
took the opportunity to remind conference of the appalling situation in housing revenue where rents from council houses in some boroughs like Stockton are used to subsidise housing in other boroughs. Over the past 9 years she had found out that Stockton tenants paid £88m out to other boroughs, money which otherwise could have been used to improve houses here in Stockton.

The membership took a number of opportunities to remind the leadership team just who makes policy in this party and it seemed as though the message had finally got through. Conference votes on policy and the Federal Policy Committee decides which things should be highlighted in the manifesto. We are the Liberal DEMOCRAT party.

The key messages we all seemed to agree on during the week were:

In the wake of the recession, the world has changed significantly and many of the old assumptions no longer apply. Given the state of public finances it would be dishonest for any party to go into the election with a long shopping list of pledges and not say how they can be afforded.The next government will have to make hard choices about spending. Fresh Start sets out a framework for how the Liberal Democrats would go about making those choices to deliver three key priorities:
Create a sustainable economy: Putting people back to work through investment in green economic growth; breaking up banks so that the risks they take never again jeopardise the whole economy.
Build a fair society: The best start for every child – so that young people do not pay the price for mistakes made today, through smaller class sizes, extra help for children struggling at school, cutting student debt, training and jobs for young people.
Clean up Politics: Cleaning up Westminster – to stop Labour and Tories going back to business as usual after the expenses scandal; Fair votes – so that every vote counts and safe seats are a thing of the past.
And we will cut taxes for people on middle and low incomes – so that no one pays a penny on income tax on the first £10K they earn – paid for from green taxes and closing the loopholes for the very rich.

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