Extracts from another recent e-mail to local LibDem branches from party chief executive Tim Gordon:
GDP figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show encouraging signs of economic recovery thanks to Liberal Democrats in Government. The figures show Britain’s economic growth of 0.7% in the fourth quarter in 2013. Growth was up 1.9% in 2013.
These figures are further evidence that the recovery is becoming established. 2013 was the first year since 2007 to see economic growth in all four quarters. Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society. To ensure the recovery is long term and sustainable, we need business to invest now.
Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain. The Coalition’s economic plan is the rock on which our recovery is being built. Three and a half years in, and the Coalition’s priority is still the same: fixing the economy and cleaning up the mess Labour left behind.
That task has never been simply about balancing the books. We inherited an economy that had become profoundly unbalanced. Growth was driven almost entirely by one industry: financial services, and almost exclusively from one city: London. And behind the boom was a nation becoming less productive and less competitive. For years, governments had simply papered over the cracks.
The Liberal Democrats didn’t come into Government just to make cuts. For us, this has always been about setting in motion a much more fundamental overhaul of our economy so that Britain never finds itself here again. That is not something you can do overnight. There are no quick fixes. No shortcuts to prosperity. It is a slow and steady process.
We’re cutting your income tax bill by £700. Council tax freezes mean that, on average, households are £1,000 better off over the course of this Parliament. Because we’ve frozen fuel duty, you’re £7 better off every time you fill up your tank. Families with young children will save £1,200 per child through our tax free childcare. And, on top of that, if they’re in infants school, you’ll save over £400 per child, per year because we’re going to provide free school meals.
We’re helping people with the cost of living in other ways. On 2 December, we announced proposals to cut £50 a year from energy bills, while maintaining our support for vulnerable households and green commitments. Council tax freezes are, on average, saving households in England £1,000 over the course of this parliament. Our fuel duty freeze is saving people £7 every time they fill up their tank. Families with young children will save £1,200 per child through our tax free childcare and will also benefit from our free school meals policy for infants – worth more than £400 per year per child.
We have created more than a million new jobs since 2010 and now we’re working to create a million more. There are more people in work today than at any other time in our history. We’re helping young people find work. Since 2010 we’ve helped create more than 1.5m new apprenticeships, at twice the rate that Labour managed. Nick Clegg’s £1bn Youth Contract is supporting work experience, wage incentives and apprenticeships.
We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We have had three successive quarters of GDP growth. Under Labour, the economy shrunk for five consecutive quarters. Other economic indicators are also positive:
- Thanks to our changes, disposable income was higher last year than in any of the 13 years under Labour. And the amount of money people had in their pockets adjusted for inflation grew by 1.6% in 2012.
- By fixing the economy we have helped keep interest rates at historic lows, saving £2,000 per year for a family taking out a standard fixed-rate mortgage of £100,000.
- GDP grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2013, following growth of 0.8% in Q3.
On Wednesday, Nick Clegg confirmed that the UK will be providing refuge to some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees. We will provide refuge for some of those most traumatised by the crisis, such as vulnerable women or children.
Nick said: “I am pleased to be able to announce today that the UK will be providing refuge to some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees. The Coalition Government wants to play our part in helping to alleviate the immense suffering in Syria. The £600m we have provided makes us the second largest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid in the world.
“But as the conflict continues to force millions of Syrians from their homes, we need to make sure we are doing everything we can. We are one of the most open hearted countries in the world and I believe we have a moral responsibility to help.
“The UN High Commission for Refugees – which backs our new resettlement programme – has said the highest priority should go to women and girls who have experienced or are at risk of sexual violence; the elderly; survivors of torture and individuals with disabilities, so that’s who we’ll target.”
- We have not set a quota for the number of refugees we will take. We are not focused on a target, we’re focused on helping the most vulnerable. For example, the UNHCR currently has a handful of very difficult cases that they need urgent help with. But the overall is likely to be in the hundreds.
- We will work with UNHCR to look at the individuals involved on a case-by-case basis, for those most in need.
- We expect them to be identified and come to this country over a steady period over the coming months and year.
- The UK has already committed £600m in humanitarian aid to help alleviate the immense suffering in Syria – making us the second largest bilateral donor.
- More than 11.5 million Syrians are now in need of help – either in Syria or neighbouring countries – and our priority has been providing food, shelter and medical treatment in the region.
When a referendum on the EU comes the Liberal Democrats will campaign unambiguously as the party of IN. As Nick Clegg said, leaving the EU would be ‘economic suicide’.
Nick Clegg has called on pro-Europeans, businesses and organisations to join a ‘coalition for the national interest’ to make the case publicly for the benefits of being in Europe. He launched the party’s #whyiamIN campaign, calling on people to declare why they are in favour of being in Europe, which received thousands of online responses including support from Richard Branson.
He said: “Whatever you do, just don’t let the isolationists speak for you or dominate this debate. And if you are for IN, don’t wait for others to say it; make yourselves heard.”
Liberal Democrats are fighting to defend millions of jobs, create millions more and put thousands of pounds back in your pocket by supporting EU membership, making it easier for British companies to trade with the EU and beyond, slashing red tape for small businesses and cutting the EU budget.
A Stronger Economy and a Fairer Society
Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to anchor Britain in the centre ground by building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.
That’s why in Government we have:
Fixed the mess left by Labour. We have reduced the deficit by a third, kept interest rates down, and helped business create over a million jobs.
Eased the squeeze on household budgets by cutting income tax by £700 for 24m people, giving every 5, 6 and 7 year old a free school meal daily, giving 15 hours free child care to all 3 and 4 year olds and 40% of 2 year olds, freezing fuel duty, and delivering the biggest ever cash rise in the state pension
Voters face three choices in the coming election. A left-wing Labour party, a right-wing Tory party, or a liberal party of the centre ground. Neither Labour nor the Tories can be trusted to govern Britain from the centre ground.