Driving down the deficit and repairing the economy

August 20th, 2014 by danielbarker
Comment?

Posted August 20, 2014

Figures released yesterday by the Office of National Statistics show that inflation fell from 1.9% to 1.6% in July. The rate fell more than was forecast, with economists expecting it to fall to 1.8%.

Commenting on the latest inflation figures, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

“The fact that inflation has been below the Bank of England target for seven consecutive months shows that subdued inflation is now becoming the norm as the economy recovers. Eliminating the deficit fairly, and repairing the UK economy remains central to the role of Liberal Democrats in Government.

“These encouraging inflation numbers should give businesses the confidence they need to deliver the investment required to boost productivity. Rising productivity is the only route to sustainable increases in living standards.”

Arms Export Licences to Israel

August 19th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have been very clear for some time both privately and publicly that they wanted to see arms export licences to Israel suspended because of the situation in Gaza.

Following a Government review, twelve licences have been identified for components which could be part of equipment used by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza

If the current ceasefire ends in Gaza and there was a resumption of significant hostilities, then there would be an immediate suspension of those arms export licences to Israel that give cause for concern.

It is no secret that there has been a difference of opinion in the Coalition Government on this issue. This is a coalition and this is as far as we have been able to reach in collective agreement with the Conservatives. It has taken a significant amount of time and effort from Liberal Democrats in government to get us this far.

Lib. Dems. aim to enable people to know the truth about public services

August 18th, 2014 by danielbarker
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The Lib Dem’s have made proposals for the overhaul of freedom of information laws. The “Big Six” energy firms may be made to detail staff bonuses and why bills are so high under suggested amendments, while companies which operate local services would also be forced to publish information which has previously been protected, for example – children of elderly parents could view the disciplinary record of nursing home staff. “I want to open up the information about the way public services, and other services given to the public, are run,” explained Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem justice minister.

Cap referendum – what do you think?

August 16th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Kirklees Council may become the first in the country to host a referendum on ignoring Government caps on council tax rises. Currently, council tax increases are limited at 2% and councils are encouraged to freeze their citizen’s bills with financial incentives. However, Kirklees must make “drastic” cuts to its £70m budget over the next three years, and is facing laying off 1,000 of its 7,000 staff, as well as cutting funding to care, libraries and museums. As a result, it has suggested increasing council tax, but must receive majority support in a public vote to do so. Council leader David Sheard has claimed the authority will first get feedback on whether the public back the idea, to avoid an expensive and fruitless referendum taking place without reason.

Question – should Walsall follow suit?
Although I felt that council tax should not be increased this year if it could be avoided, I’ve always disliked the fact that our local authority is restricted by central government when it comes to council tax. It seems odd to me that if the council did think it necessary to raise council tax more than 2%, because it didn’t have enough money to do what people wanted, that it would first have to spend money on a referendum, even if, as this year, the budget was decided by extensive consultation involving more people than those who might bother to vote in a referendum!
What do you think?

Green Party speaks out against HS2 ……what???

August 15th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has said that the Government’s high speed rail network, HS2, will only benefit London. “We are totally opposed to HS2. It is simply going to concentrate resources, money and people even more on London which is actually the opposite of what we need to do. Most of the journeys on it will be journeys into London. It is not going to benefit the North and the Midlands,” stated Ms Bennett.

My opinion

The big reason for improving our railway network – not to mention the time it will save commuters each & every day – is that it will take people off our road network. New improvements means that even if existing drivers choose to stick with their cars, there’s bound to be newly qualified drivers who will choose to travel by train because of a quicker and more reliable service. Its these younger drivers who are also more likely to listen to the environmental argument, as they are the ones who in the future are most likely to see the effects of negative global change unless people don’t change their ‘un-environmentaly friendly’ behaviour. Obviously some people need their cars to get around, but many others don’t.

HS2 will negatively affect people living along its route – I get that and am sympathetic to people affected by it. BUT, the following facts also need to be considered:

- without the money that comes with HS2, we’re not going to get the investment also pledged to improve the whole train network
- HS2 will take the high speed trains currently clogging up main lines and put them on a separate network. This will lead to improved journey times for most routes.
- The hub for HS2 will be based in Birmingham, which means more jobs for the local economy
- there’s bound to be an increase in the numbers of London visitors deciding to visit the central and north of the country because it will be so much quicker for them to get there. Yes the same routes will also take people into London, but saying it won’t benefit the north and the midlands is just daft!

So the way I see it, HS2 is bad for people living along its route, but good for commuters, good for the midlands and the north, good for the economy and ultimately good for the environment.
Question – is the Green Party leader actually thinking about the economy, the regions or the environment in her policy on HS2, or is she just jumping on a popular bandwagon set in motion by a lot of nimbys – no offence!

Energy Prices

August 14th, 2014 by danielbarker
Comment?

Anyone found guilty of rigging wholesale gas and electricity prices could face up to two years in jail under proposals being put forward by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.

These laws would give UK energy regulators new powers to prosecute people suspected of abusing the energy market.

Under the new laws, it would be a criminal offence to fix the price of energy at an artificial level or use insider information to buy or sell energy on the wholesale market. It would also be an offence to make misleading claims or conceal facts about wholesale energy prices to manipulate the market.

Manipulating the energy market is absolutely unacceptable, and these proposals provide a much stronger deterrent – better in line with wrongdoing in the financial markets.

UKIP hands power to Labour

August 13th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Twice in as many months UKIP has handed power to Labour. In June they handed the Chairmanship, and with it, control of Willenhall Area Partnership to Labour. On Monday at a special meeting of Walsall Council one of their members was on holiday, so didn’t turn up for an important vote on the future of Walsall, allowing Labour to take control there for the first time in 14 years.

On the night Labour managed to field a full house of its 30 councillors. One was brought in on crutches having recently broken her ankle and three were flown back from their holidays at the expense of their local party.

All three Liberal Democrats were there as were the 21 Tories 2 Independents and 1 Democratic-Labour councillors. However, the one missing UKIP councillor was all it took to allow Labour to win the vote.

We will all be hoping and praying that the new administration will not do as they have done elsewhere in the midlands – allow vulnerable people to suffer by savage cuts and then blame the Coalition Government – and will instead follow in our footsteps by investing in the third sector to allow them to take on many of the services that Walsall Council can no longer afford to do.

Miliband’s policies are branded catastrophic by Labour grass roots

August 12th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Extract from The Times by Michael Savage Chief Political Correspondent

Some of Ed Miliband’s flagship policies have been derided as catastrophic, pathetic and “wishy-washy” by Labour’s own grass roots.

Party branches criticised policies on the economy, housing, welfare reform and education, as part of the party’s agenda review on the Your Britain website. The concerns echo remarks by Jon Cruddas, who is overseeing Labour’s policy review, who said this year that the party was focusing on “cynical” policies that “chime with focus groups”.

Clegg on Gaza

August 11th, 2014 by danielbarker
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… if you look over the last several years, we’ve had these cycles of violence, rocket attacks, ground incursions, massive loss of civilian life. And what have we discovered, is that violence begets violence, extremism begets extremism… and here’s the thing, from Israel’s point of view, as someone who is a staunch defender of Israel’s right, of course to exist, but much more importantly, to defend itself, and to secure the safety of its own citizens. I simply do not believe…the evidence shows this is the case, you know, you’ve got to learn from history, look at recent history…it’s the third major ground incursion into Gaza, it does not make the people of Israel safe. I just don’t think it is in Israel’s interest to have this strategy of sporadic military intervention, and not sustained negotiation to create…at the end of the day, the braver, bigger, bolder thing to do would be to do what has happened in Bosnia, and Northern Ireland, and other bloody conflicts, is people who loathe each other, you know, detest each other, nonetheless pluck up the courage to talk to each other in order to secure peace.

Midlands best for job hunters (An antedote to all those negative headlines out there!)

August 8th, 2014 by danielbarker
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The KPMG/Recruitment and Employment Confederation Report on Jobs for August indicates that job hunters stand a better chance of getting a pay rise in the Midlands than anywhere else in the UK. KPMG’s Bernard Brown said: “All the indications are that if you want a new job and want an improved salary offer, the central part of the UK is the place to be.” Figures also show unemployment has fallen faster than expected, with many economists now predicting the jobless rate could fall to 6% before the end of the year.

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Daniel Barker

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