Why I won’t be standing down for the Liberal Democrats in Woking

Woking Labour came second in Woking in the last General Election.

YouGov, which the Liberal Democrats refer to frequently in their leaflets, has found that only half of those who intend to vote Liberal Democrat say the party ‘definitely’ has their vote.

I’m not standing down, because for 5 years, the Liberal Democrats voted with the Conservatives, making their cuts possible, supporting decisions that have decimated local government, starved our public services and devastated people’s lives. So many British people have been left with low pay and insecure jobs, not earning enough money to pay rising living costs, getting further into debt. We know that under austerity we have seen the destruction of the rights, dignity, independence and mental health of too many of Britain’s 14 million disabled citizens.

A brighter future under Liberal Democrats? It’s important to remind ourselves what they promised:

⦁ to “scrap unfair university tuition fees” and then trebled them to £9,000.
⦁ a fair tax system, but in government they opposed increasing taxes paid by earners over £150,000 and joined the Tories in handing tens of billions in tax giveaways to the super-rich and big businesses, while everyone else paid more
⦁ not to increase VAT, warned against a “Tory VAT bombshell”, but then voted through a VAT rise on everyday working families.
And important to remind ourselves of their record in government is one of saying one thing and doing another. They helped the Tories
⦁ take our NHS backwards by making it harder to see your GP, wasting £3 billion on a top-down reorganisation, and opening the NHS up to privatisation.
⦁ put our school standards at risk, by allowing more unqualified teachers in the classroom and increasing class sizes.
Jo Swinson is a reminder that you can’t trust the Lib Dems: she was a minister in David Cameron’s government and backed the Tories’ damaging austerity agenda all the way.
⦁ For five years she voted with the Tories as they cut pay for public sector workers, starved councils of funding and let housebuilding hit its lowest peacetime level since the 1920s.

Jo Swinson voted for the Bedroom Tax, which taxed grieving parents on the empty bedrooms of their children who had just died, opposed increasing the national minimum wage and providing more financial support through benefits for those unable to work due to disability and illness.
And what did this approach to government result in? Conservative and Liberal Democrat policies have left Britain with productivity well below other major developed countries, a country over reliant on consumer debt and its financial markets.  It has led to an increase in the amount of people in this country who cannot sustain themselves without government and charitable help. A majority of British people are not earning enough money, are in debt and are struggling with rising living costs.

The Liberal Democrats introduced universal credit.  This week, Woking Foodbank told me that they have had a 50% increase in foodbank use this year and one of the main causes of that is the wait for universal credit payments. One reason people are unable to feed themselves and their children is because of the inhumane 5-week wait for Liberal Democrat introduced Universal credit.

The Debt service that is also provided at the Lighthouse in Woking has had to close referrals until February, as so many people need debt advice that it cannot cope.

A 50% increase in foodbank use in a town in the prosperous South-East gives you an indication of how bad things might be for the rest of the country.

The death rate was steadily declining but reversed when austerity came in. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat austerity policies have been described as economic murder. Many thousands of disabled people are no longer with us.

To this day, the Liberal Democrats have failed to take responsibility for the cruel and shameful consequences of their political choices, choices that contributed to the Brexit vote. Jo Swinson, while belatedly admitting the cuts were wrong, is still much more interested in raging a rampantly anti-Labour campaign. If her main cause is to advance the number of Liberal Democrat seats in Parliament – this strategy is understandable. If her main cause is to stop Brexit, it doesn’t make sense.

The Liberal Democrats know that a Labour-led government implementing the policy of a 2nd referendum is the only plausible route to stop Brexit. However, they continue to demonise Labour as a Brexit party and therefore divide Remainers to the benefit of Conservative Brexiteers.  They know that focusing their vitriol on Jeremy Corbyn strengthens the position of Johnson.
As Sue Hackman, Guildford Labour, has said “the Labour Party has promised a referendum to Remain or accept an improved deal and this is the very last chance for those wishing to stay in the EU. For those who want that outcome, only the Labour Party can deliver it.

Voters need to be big enough to vote for the government they believe in so that politicians know what that is and focus on big issues, not the short-term vote-swingers. Over 50 years of electioneering, I’ve never known the Liberals/Lib Dems not to call for tactical voting to make up their numbers. Don’t encourage them. Tactical voting sends the wrong messages to politicians and the wrong politicians to Westminster.”
The problem with the Liberal Democrat strategy is that the future of the country is far more important than whether they win Woking or Cheltenham.

Those who vote Liberal Democrat and wake up on the 13th December to see a new Conservative majority pledging to implement a Trump hard Brexit by the end of January will feel tricked.

The Conservatives best hopes rely on the Liberal Democrats. If a Conservative hard Brexit is unleashed in the coming weeks, Jo Swinson, and her cynical Lib Dem strategists and leafleteers will be among its chief handmaidens.

When you vote Liberal Democrat, you vote Conservative-Lite and have what the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives done for Woking:

50% = the increase in people using the foodbank in our town this year24% children living in poverty in Woking

17% = how much local government funding has fallen since 2010-11 (23% nationally)£44,051,742 = cuts to Surrey Police funding since 2010

£13,393,190 = cuts to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service since 2015 Surrey Fire and Rescue have lost 240 staff since 2010.

94% increase in Surrey police recorded violence this year£23.1million = the shortfall in our schools in Surrey

7 out of every 100 people in Woking who can’t afford their energy bills

£2980 = what an average commuter will now pay for a season ticket (£786 more than in 2010)

Working for Woking? Really?

The Liberal Democrats are not going to sufficiently re-invest and create the infrastructure that our society needs to turn itself around and meet the challenges of climate change. They are not going to create the conditions for people to be more productive, to be able to consume the goods and services our economy produces.  What are their plans for getting the economy moving again? All three parties are talking large numbers, because they acknowledge that investment is needed but only Labour is planning and costing real change for this country, because that’s what it needs.

Vote Labour on 12th December.

Dr Gerry Mitchell