I have recently been chosen as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the North West Cambridgeshire constituency at this year’s General Election.
The seat includes all of urban Peterborough south of the Nene, the rural area to the north and west and a chunk of Huntingdonshire to the south.
Liberal Democrats need to remind the voters at this election of our party’s achievements in Government over the past 5 years.
We need to tell them how we have taken 3 million of the lowest earners out of income tax completely and given all basic rate tax payers an £800 a year tax cut.
More ordinary people keeping more of their own hard earned cash.
Tell them about the £2.5 billion we have invested in the pupil premium to give extra help to children in schools in our most socially deprived areas
The biggest ever cash increases in the basic state pension and more to come as a result of the introduction of the triple lock guarantee.
And from April this year the biggest shake up in private pensions for 100 years making them more flexible and more adaptable to people’s needs.
A record number of new apprenticeships, the world’s first Green Investment Bank, massive investment in renewable energy and planting over 1 million new trees across the country.
And finally the biggest achievement of all has been providing the economic stability to move us from the biggest budget deficit per head of population in Europe to a situation where the deficit has been halved, we have slow but steady economic growth and falling unemployment.
Constitutional reform is vital for the Lib Dem vision of creating a more open and democratic society,
Neither Tories nor Labour really get this argument and it probably explains why over the past few years both of them have blocked attempts at electoral and House of Lords reform.
Now we need to extend our reform still further and push for industrial democracy too... giving workers a say in how their work places are run and also encouraging co-operatives and employee ownership where there is demand for this. It’s surely no accident that the John Lewis partnership (wholly owned by employees) is one of the UK’s most successful retail companies.
Liberalism is about freedom first and foremost.
From the great 1832 Reform Act and throughout the 19th century Liberals fought to give the vote to more and more people and we now want to give it to 16 and 17 year olds as well.
Lloyd George and Sir William Beveridge showed that Liberalism is also about freedom from poverty, illness and disease when they championed introduction of old age pensions and a national health service.
Peterborough has made a claim to be creating the Environment Capital of the UK.
The city council has a good record on some aspects of environmental policy but not on others.
We need to constantly remind them ….. and we do regularly as a council Lib Dem group……that Environment Capital is not just a PR slogan but requires action on the ground.
Both locally and nationally the Tories are not really serious about the green agenda.
Locally they have cut public transport funding in both Peterborough and Cambridgeshire and nationally Tory ministers have obstructed on shore wind energy planning applications.
One issue which has been key to Lib Dems in recent years has been giving children a decent start in life.
We have done a lot in Government to give more day care for two year olds, free school meals in infant schools and increased freedom for schools with a slimmed down and streamlined national curriculum.
There is more we can do on all of these.
Starting from second place in the North West Cambridgeshire constituency, we have a chance to show how proud Lib Dems are of our record in Government and show how with more votes and more seats we can do even more to create a freer, fairer and more democratic society for all our citizens.
- This week’s speaker: Councillor Nick Sandford, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for NW Cambs