What does it feel like to be the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bromsgrove?

My selection as the Lib Dem PPC for Bromsgrove was confirmed last night at a hustings in Blackwell. After sorting out a few things for the media and a relatively early night I was awoken by my mother who wondered why I hadn’t informed her of the result? she was still working as I went to bed being my chief reason!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to contesting the next General Election in Bromsgrove and giving the voters a real choice there. At last when canvassing I can say I’m the candidate and really push forward the Lib Dem ideas for the area, whereas we’ve mainly been information gathering at present. Many months of hard work ahead (although there is a lot of debate about whether it’ll be 25 March rather than 6 May now) and I’m slowly but surely pulling together my team of willing volunteers.

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Pre-Budget Report – highly anticipated but didn’t really say a lot…

The Pre-Budget Report (PBR) didn’t really say a lot and did not change the economic landscape at all. The two major stories will be National Insurance (NI) increasing by 1% and the tax on banks who choose to pay bonuses over £25k to employees before April 2010. My take on the two are:

  1. NI tax increase is hardly helping hardworking individuals, The average salary in the UK is £24k, and according to the PBR, those earning under £20k will not pay more NI, so this is hardly fair.
  2. The tax on bank bonuses is actually quite clever as it is on the banks who must choose to either pay out bonuses, and hence tax to the Treasury or keep more of their profit to rebuild balance sheets. Also if bonuses are deferred to next year the new higher rate of tax (50% on those earning £150k+) will come in so the Treasury will get increased taxes then too.

It was a shame that Labour chose not to reveal more about how they would look to balance the books in the long term. The Lib Dems have already stated they would scrap spending on Trident, maximum public sector pay increases of £400, tax on banks profits (as they are artificially making high profits from implicit government guarantees and benign cost of money)  as well as scrap the Regional Development Agency.

The Tories have done a lot of attacking on the UK’s fiscal deficit but have not spelt out what they would cut. Although more importantly for me is their persistence calls for cuts to be made NOW even though the timing of reduction in fiscal support for the economy is critical, too soon and we lurch back into recession or a Japan style growth (i.e. none) for 15 years or more, too late and we will have a massive debt problem.

Personally it is too soon to cut Government spending and indeed none of the other G7 economies are proposing cuts in fiscal stimulus in 2010/11 unlike the Tories.

Action not words on Climate Change

Yesterday I attended the climate change march in Central London with over thirty thousand protestors from the Lib Dems, Oxfam to the Anglican church. The march was calling on World Leaders to agree a deal at the Copenhagen Summit It was a good march, everyone was good natured and even the weather was set fair, even if it was slightly cold as we waited 2 hours before the march began. It was good to see a real mixture of people and age ranges. Simon Hughes the Lib Dem Climate Change and Energy spokesman was there to rally the troops during the march.

Liberal Democrats at the Climate Change March

Simon Hughes rallying the troops in a an old blue ski suit (theme was blue...)

 I don’t believe that doing nothing and burying our heads in the sand is the right way to approach environmental concerns. Regardless of whether you believe climate change is happening or not, we will soon be approaching peak oil (if we’re not already there), and any action to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels surely cannot be a bad thing when we know it will run out soon. 

With Ian McGrath, Bromley Lib Dem members secretary and former Bromsgrove High pupil c.1953