Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Out of FOCUS

One annoying and less than engaging characteristic of the Lib Dems is their pretence that elections are about something that they aren't about at all.
In 1994 I fought St. Mark's Ward. It had and still has a large student population. Students were annoyed at the time at the Major government's replacement of student grants with a system of repayable loans. The Lib Dems put out FOCUS leaflets encouraging the students to vote Lib Dem to 'send a message to Major' that grants should be restored and the loan scheme be scrapped. The students obliged by voting for the Lib Dems who won the ward and the Borough. Result? The loan scheme wasn't scrapped. It's still there and has been made more arduous for students by Blair's imposition of tuition fees which will soon be increased by 'top-up' fees. Of course the Council in Kingston has not and never has had any say whatever over such matters and the Liberal Democrats knew that all along.
Now they're at it again. 'Axe the Tax' they say. They're embarrassed by their failure to tackle Council spending and the resultant hike in Council Tax to the point where Kingston residents are paying the highest Council Tax in London. So their FOCUS leaflets are now encouraging voters to vote for them again to abolish the Council Tax altogether. But again this is blatant deception. They know that Kingston Council has no control whatever over the system of financing local government and that Blair is as unlikely to be influenced by the return of a Lib Dem Council in Kingston as Major was in 1994. But they also know that they have had power over the level of the Tax in Kingston since 2002 - and that's what the election is really about.
In fact they encouraged us to vote Edward Davey into Parliament to 'axe the tax' a year ago. He got in but the tax is still there.
There is a desperate need now for politicians at all levels to tell the truth as they see it if respect is to be restored for those in public life. I wish the Lib Dems would show that they understand this too.

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