The Liberal Democrats And London

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 104 months ago
The Liberal Democrats And London

2309_libdems.jpg Nick Clegg made a bold statement in his conference speech today, declaring his ambition to be Prime Minister and not just a handmaiden to power. Never mind that his speech coincided with President Obama's UN address — which the news channels chose to screen instead, somewhat undermining Clegg's big moment — he's made his pitch to voters, and should the improbable happen and the fresh-faced Lib Dem leader move into No.10, Londoners will see a freeze on transport fare rises, he said in a video interview with BBC London News.

Not that wealthier Londons are likely to vote yellow after the clunking reaction to the party's mansion tax, which could well doom a number of London's Lib Dem MPs to dismissal by their constituents at the General Election. Moreover, less pecunious Londoners might well be irked by the party's apparent cooling on Crossrail: Vince Cable said it was "not a priority" for the party. Impressive stuff, managing to piss off both ends of the electorate in the same week, and it reinforces the lingering suspicion that the Liberal Democrats stumble over the intricacies of policy detail.

Last Updated 23 September 2009


The Lib Dems have long talked about replacing council tax with a local income tax - arguably fairer as you don't have people rattling around in big homes crippled by their council tax bills, and you don't have the expensive administration of evaluations and maintenance of council tax exemptions. The £1m+ council tax is really a baby-step in that direction, and does have exemptions for people on low incomes (eg pensioners). It will probably win more votes for the LDs than lose.

The Crossrail point though has me pretty angry. London needs long term transport projects to help deal with the crippling overcrowding that we currently suffer. The proportion of tax paid in London is far greater than the proportion of government spend in London. I'm not saying stop building the Highland roads that serve only a tiny hamlet, but it's not too much to ask for funding for such a key project? The Tories have also expressed doubts about its funding - I can only hope that the fact that Canary Wharf and TfL have already started building some of the stations will be enough to force whichever government comes to power to push ahead with the plans.