A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

Conference – Sunday, a day of Two Halves

Throughout Conference I will try to give an armchair view on how things are going in Liverpool.

Today had good morning….

  • Danny Alexander announced that the coaltion will implement a crack down on tax evasion -a Lib Dem manifesto policy. I really like the way he labelled tax dodging as an unacceptable lifestyle choice – it takes money away from those who need it the most and is “morally indefensible”. This is a £900 million investment in more resources (I assume for HMRC) that should net £7 billion a year by 2015. I just hope it works. Many governments have promised similar crackdowns but the extra investment indicates that the government means business;
  • Lord (Tony) Greaves called for new rules to replace “collective responsibility” in Government decision-making so that Lib Dem Ministers are able to set out Lib Dem policies and give more transparency as to how compromise policies are made;
  • David Rendel said that the leadership pretended every policy was agreed by both sides because they “seem terrified of the tabloid stories that they might get about splits in the coalition”;

…followed by a poorer afternoon as Jill Hope (candidate here in Harborough in 2001 and 2005) asked Nick Clegg if Lib Dem ministers could say when they disagree with the policies they’re having to implement. This seemed to me to be a similar approach to ending the collective responsibility suggested by Tony Greaves.

Nick replied it would be crazy and wrong for him to pick a synthetic row with David Cameron simply to show he’s still a Lib Dem.

A simplistic answer that did not allay my fears.

On a better note, the Federal Lib Dem web site reports that Andrew Stunell, the Communities and Local Government Minister announced this evening that the Standards Board for local councillors will be axed. This has led to some petty local vendettas stopping good local councillors properly representing their areas.

Instead, serious misconduct for personal gain by councillors will be a criminal act.

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