13 October 2011

Lib Dems and the truth - a marriage of convenience?

Leave aside for a moment the betrayals, lies and right wing politics of the coalition. If you really want to know what Lib Dems are like, just take a very close look at the way they behave in your borough, Southwark. Sometimes I am left breathless at their behaviour. They will do and say simply anything if they think they can get a vote out of it.

Let me give you a recent example. In the neighbouring ward to our own is a Lib Dem Councillor, James Barber. He has recently written a blog post about what he calls Southwark Labour's "Wedding rip-off".

He is scathing in his criticism of the council for putting up wedding and civil parntership fees by 27%. He goes on: "Labour Southwark are penalising people for falling in love. Rather than saying 'I do' couples will be saying 'I’m sorry but I can’t afford it.' It is a heartless move from a mean spirited Labour Council ..."

First things first. It's clear to anyone who's been awake for the last 18 months, that the council is being forced to make savings it would never otherwise have made simply because of the precipitous, growth sapping cuts of a Lib Dem-Tory coalition Government. They, for example chose to cut funding far more harshly for boroughs like Southwark than for leafy Tory areas like Richmond.

But what is even more incredible about Cllr Barber's position is that the Liberal Democrats (who controlled Southwark Council up until May 2010) had an IDENTICAL policy when they were in power. Let me prove it to you.

Here is the Labour report and decision on Marriage Fees and Charges which Barber is referring to. As you will see Paragraph 6 of the report agrees to increase Fees and Charges for marriages and civil partnerships in line with the Medium Term Resource Strategy for 2010/11 -12/13. It states: "The (MTRS) 2010/11 – 2012/13 has been referenced as part of this review. In particular the report acknowledges that Fees and Charges should be set at a level, at a minimum, that is equal to the most appropriate London average except where this conflicts with council policy, would lead to adverse revenue implications or would impact adversely on vulnerable clients."

So far, so good. But now take a look at Southwark Lib Dems own Medium Term Resources Strategy 2009/10 to 2011/12 “Shaping Southwark Together”. This agrees: "To generally increase discretionary fees and charges by 2% above the current rate of inflation for the type of service being provided with the objective of ensuring Southwark’s fees and charges are at a minimum at least equal to most appropriate London average (e.g. inner London, family, groupings etc)..."

So, even without £34m of cuts the Lib Dems intended to increase marriage fees in line with other inner london boroughs which is precisely what Labour is having to do. I could give you many, many other examples of this kind of behaviour. It's the kind of dirty politics which drags everyone down with it.


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