My mornings have started with leafleting sessions at 6.15am twice more this week, to get our local election address out in my ward. But last thing at night my reading material has been our manifesto for the general election.
I bought a paper copy to read in bed, and reading through it has reminded me exactly why I’m a Liberal Democrat. What a fantastic set of policies, many of which have been well publicised.
But I spotted half a dozen gems which aren’t so well known. Some of them I wasn’t even aware of and I’ve been to every national conference for several years now.
So, ignoring the big promises, here are my favourites:
- Encourage community-owned renewable energy schemes (p.28) – It goes without saying that these would be brilliant in Calder Valley, harnessing the water power that was used by industry here 200 years ago.
- Cut red tape for putting on live music (p.46) – Why have Labour made it harder to put on a small gig in a pub or church hall. Seriously. Why?
- Strengthen the Youth Service by making it a statutory service (p.51) – Youth services have been cut severely by Tory-run Calderdale council this year, there is now no council-run youth provision in central Hebden Bridge. As a non-statutory service, it is an easy target for cuts.
- Change the tariffs used by energy supply companies so that the first energy you use is the cheapest (p.53) – I have changed to a gas supplier that charges the same price per unit for every unit used by every customer. I’ve spent hundreds of pounds insulating my house. Why should someone who hasn’t bothered get cheaper and cheaper energy the more they use. This is the case with all the major suppliers.
- Fight to stop MEPs having to travel to the Strasbourg Parliament every month (p.66) – What a waste of time, energy, and money. Surely this is a no-brainer.
- Protect free speech [...] through reform of the English and Welsh libel laws (p.93) – The case against Simon Singh may have been dropped, but it should never have been allowed to be brought in the first place. Our libel laws need urgent reform.
How good would it be to get all these through parliament?
Speaking of manifestos, Lewisham Liberal Democrats have published their local government manifesto which is an extremely impressive document for a local party to produce, with lots of excellent but serious policies. I wish them all the best in their campaign to elect a Lib Dem mayor and take control of the council, and I hope we can produce something similar, if maybe not quite as slick, for the local elections here next year.