Last year was a roller coaster ride of a year for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats with its highs and lows in the polls, the decision for them to form a Coalition Government was not easy, they had no option as no one party had actually won the election.
A discredited Labour government had decisively lost, leaving the country with billions of debt, a quick solution had to be found otherwise the financial problems that were arising in other European countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain were likely to spread to this country, due to the impending uncertainty of the financial markets there was no time for dithering or procrastination.
Putting their political differences aside the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties in the interest of the country and its people uppermost, the first real Coalition since the war was formed, Coalition governments in Europe have been successful, in this country many of our local councils are run through a coalition of different political parties, including even more significantly the assemblies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland .
Whilst the Liberal Democrats are the junior party in the coalition they have faced many tough challenges and decisions since the General Election. Nevertheless they have been able to curtail some of the less desirable Conservative policies, they have also been able to introduce real reforming policies in Westminster, nearly a million of the country’s lowest earners will be taken out of income tax, the link between pensions and earnings will give pensioners a much needed increase, the abolition of the I.D. Card will save millions of pounds, the pupil premium would not exist without the Liberal Democrats being in Government, £2.5 billion extra will benefit the poorest children, the spending review protected school funding at a flat cash per pupil rate, as pupil numbers increase the overall budget goes up as well, one of the biggest bones of contention in the country is the way bankers and directors award themselves large bonuses. A banking levy is to be introduced which will raise nearly £3 billion; banks will also be coerced into lending more money to businesses. Capital gains tax will be raised to 28% for higher rate tax payers, The Localism Bill with its powerful new rights will put real power in the hands of real people, “local decisions by local people” this will benefit and improve the lives of many thousands of people which they would have been unable to do if the Liberal Democrats were still in opposition.
This year will give the Coalition Government perhaps some even tougher decisions to be made, yet the opposition Labour Party even with a new leader have still to come forward with any substantive proposals and plans for the future, they failed us before can they ever be trusted again?
(EXECUTIVE MEMBER OF NORTH THANET LIBERAL DEMOCRATS)