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Victory Vince: Cable Wins Channel 4 Chancellors Debate

The first ever TV debate between the three candidates to be the next Chancellor has seen Lib Dem Vince Cable win a clear victory. In a Channel 4 on-line poll carried out immediately after the debate, Vince out-polled both Alistair Darling and George Osborne.

The Channel 4 vote results are at http://tinyurl.com/yza4m6a and place Vince Cable as clearly ahead of both the Labour and Conservative contenders:

  • 36% Vince Cable
  • 32% Alistair Darling
  • 32% George Osborne

BBC Commentator Nick Robinson said on the 10 o’clock news that “it was Vince Cable who generated the most applause.”

A separate Yougov / Channel 4 poll carried out on the eve of tonight’s “Ask The Chancellors” debate on asked voters of all parties which of the three men would be best for the job. 26 per cent picked Mr Cable, against 17 per cent for the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, with just 12 per cent opting for the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne. You can read more at http://tinyurl.com/yks5lza

The Guardian’s “Wiintour and Watt” blog at http://tinyurl.com/yl9rf3r said that “The consensus tonight, at Westminster and in the Twittersphere, is that ‘King Vince’ was the runaway winner of the first major televised debate of the general election campaign.”

You can watch Vince Cable‘s closing statement again online at http://j.mp/cyxywl

You can join the Liberal Democrats at www.libdems.org.uk/join_us.aspx

Ask the Chancellors: Live debate on Channel 4

At 8pm on Monday 29th March, Channel 4 will stage a live debate between the would-be Chancellors, Liberal Democrat Vince Cable, Labour’s Alistair Darling and Conservative George Osborne. Krishnan Guru-Murthy will be asking the questions.

From 7pm on the night, Channel 4 will be hosting a discussion of the debate. You can send questions and comment to [email protected] and follow the debate and comment at http://www.channel4.com/microsites/A/askthechancellors/

You can also get involved on Twitter by “tagging” your Twitter messages “#askthechancellors”.

Vince Cable is the Liberal Democrats’ Deputy Leader and Shadow Chancellor and one of the most popular current politicians. A 22/23 March poll by YouGov showed more people thought he would make the best Chancellor than either Alistair Darling or George Osborne.

Local MEP angered by tuna decision

Tameside’s Lib Dem Euro-MP has spoken of his anger at the decision not to ban the trade in the world’s most valuable fish. Liberal Democrat Chris Davies says that the Mediterranean bluefin tuna is likely to become extinct as a result of the decision by governments represented at a world conference on trade in endangered species.

European Union proposals for a complete ban to allow stocks of the fish to recover were rejected by a coalition of countries led by Japan. Bluefin tuna is prized as a delicacy, and individual fish can command prices of up to £100,000.

But with organised criminals ignoring all restrictions stocks in the Mediterranean are said to be at less than 8% of the levels of 20 years ago.

Chris said he was shocked and angered at the failure of so many governments to recognise the folly of continuing the trade.

The Liberal Democrat strongly supported efforts by WWF, the world’s largest environmental charity, to secure a total ban. He said: “Governments must recognise that if we carry on like this there will be no fish left in the seas and no jobs for fishermen.”

Election an opportunity to win back privacy

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg will today say this election is ‘an opportunity for the British people to vote to take their privacy back’.

In his speech to Privacy International to mark their 20th Anniversary, Nick Clegg will say: “Labour has spent 13 years trampling over people’s privacy. From allowing children’s fingerprints to be taken at school without their parents’ consent; to making us a world leader in CCTV; to wasting vast sums of taxpayers’ money on giant databases that hoard our personal details. And now we hear that ministers want pensioners to swap their bus passes for ID cards.

“The Government’s staggering record on losing private data – leaving it in pub car parks and on commuter trains – just makes matters worse.

“And there’s an even bigger issue at stake: Labour’s flagrant disregard for our privacy flies in the face of hard won British liberty. It betrays a deep distrust of the British people, as well as an obsession with controlling every aspect of everyday life from Whitehall.

“Those same reflexes underpin this Government’s obsession with law-making. Since 1997 they have flooded the statute books with nearly 4,300 new ways of making us criminals. Some of them are completely bizarre, like ‘disturbing a pack of eggs when directed not to by an authorised officer’, and ‘causing a nuclear explosion’, as if we needed a new law for that.

“And where do all these new laws get us? Only one in a hundred crimes ends in a conviction in court.

“The Conservatives talk a good game on privacy, but scratch beneath the surface and it’s clear they can’t be trusted to roll back Labour’s surveillance state. Just look at their plans to make it even easier for the police to watch and record people getting on with their daily lives, all in the name of cutting red tape.

“Only the Liberal Democrats will bring an end to the endless snooping on innocent people.”

Labour has let down unpaid carers

“The Liberal Democrats will guarantee that a million unpaid carers who work the longest hours get a week’s break every year – to be taken in whichever way they choose,” says the Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary. Commenting on today’s Princess Royal Trust for Carers report, which reveals that next year Primary Care Trusts only plan to spend 25% of the £100m they have been allocated to increase services for carers for this purpose, Norman Lamb said: “This report makes clear that Labour has completely let down millions of hardworking unpaid carers across the country.

“Yet again we see that ministers have chased headlines with grand spending commitments but completely failed to make sure the money gets through to the people who really need it. This is tantamount to a fraud on vulnerable people.

“The Liberal Democrats will guarantee that a million unpaid carers who work the longest hours get a week’s break every year – to be taken in whichever way they choose. Only a guaranteed right will stop vital funds for respite being diverted into other parts of the NHS.”

Liberal Democrats pass plans to clean up politics

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference this weekend passed plans to clean up politics and urgently create a fairer and more local political system. The proposals include:

· A fairer voting system

· A requirement for those who stand for Parliament or sit in the House of Lords to pay tax in Britain

· A fully elected second chamber

· The right for voters to sack their MP.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Manifesto Chair, Danny Alexander said, “Our broken political system desperately needs to be cleaned up. Public confidence in politics is at an all time low, and the way the country is governed needs urgent reform.

“The Liberal Democrats have passed plans today to make politics fairer, local and more transparent.

“Labour has had 13 years to change our broken politics, and it’s failed to do so.

“Only the Liberal Democrats would end safe seats, reform the voting system and give local people a real say over how their neighbourhoods are governed.”

Longest serving Tory in Europe joins the Liberal Democrats

The former leader of the Conservative MEPs has announced his defection to the Liberal Democrats at the Party’s Spring Conference in Birmingham. Edward McMillan-Scott, who was the Conservative’s most senior MEP, has joined the Liberal Democrats. He announced his defection to the Liberal Democrats at the Party’s Spring Conference in Birmingham.

Edward McMillan-Scott, the Vice-President of the European Parliament with responsibility for human rights and democracy, was welcomed to the Liberal Democrats by Leader Nick Clegg.

Edward, who is MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire said: “I have been around the higher circles of the Conservative Party for long enough to fear that on Europe Cameron says one thing in opposition and will do another in Government.

“I have long fought against totalitarianism and the extremism and religious persecution it brings. It was wrong of Cameron to associate with MEPs who have extremist pasts in his new European alliance.

“My reasons for joining the Liberal Democrats are that in Nick Clegg they have a leader whom I like, admire and respect. They are internationalists, not nationalists. They are committed to politics based the values of fairness and change.

“From being a liberal Conservative I become a conservative Liberal. Most of my family are liberals: I am pleased to join the Liberal family.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said:”I am delighted to welcome Edward McMillan-Scott to the Liberal Democrats.

“For many years he has fought for human rights and democracy world wide and he is rightly a respected politician across Europe.

“As someone of principle he has refused to cosy up to right wing extremists, despite pressure from the Tory machine.

“This flies in the face of David Cameron’s claims of change. It shows that people of principle, who believe in fairness and want real change for Britain are at home in the Liberal Democrats.”

Tameside BNP Euro-MP accused of expenses cover-up

Nick Griffin has been accused by Tameside’s Lib Dem MEP of an expenses cover-up. British National Party leader Griffin has yet to publish any details of how he is using expenses from the European Parliament that could be worth more than £280,000 per year. He is the only one of the North West’s 8 MEPs to provide no financial information at all on his website.

Despite an allowance of £14,000 a month for the payment of staff Griffin lists only 3 employees, one of whom is part time and one of whom also works for Yorkshire MEP Andrew Brons.

Nick Griffin’s failure to make details of his expenses available comes despite a BNP election campaign last year that attacked MEPs for having “snouts in the trough.”

The Electoral Commission is currently investigating the party for a breach of regulations after its own auditor refused to sign off the 2008 accounts.

Tameside Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies has led a campaign for openness and transparency in the European Parliament and publishes all details of his expenses.

Today he called on Nick Griffin to reveal all. He said, “No-one likes hypocrites, and the BNP will do itself no good by gaining a reputation for sleaze as well as hate.”

“It is time that the stone was lifted on Griffin’s expenses and light was allowed to shine on what lies beneath.”

Holidays for cats, dogs and ferrets

New EU rules will allow family pets to take continental holidays for years to come. Agreement has been reached to extend the ‘Pets’ Passport’ scheme for cats, dogs and ferrets that have been vaccinated against rabies.

British pets are likely to benefit the most. They make up 60% of all the animals in Europe taking advantage of the arrangements.

Tameside’s Liberal Democrat Euro-MP Chris Davies says that it is an idea that the UK gave to the rest of Europe.

He said: “The UK‘s Pets’ Travel scheme is 10 years old and ended the misery of quarantine for thousands of pets and their owners. More than 600,000 have crossed our borders since then.

“The arrangements were copied and extended throughout the EU in 2005 and have proved a great success.”

Rabies incidents across Europe have fallen from 2,679 cases in domestic animals in 1990 to just 251 in 2008, with none attributable to animals with ‘passports.’ But some EU countries still maintain restrictions. In Portugal, for example, ferrets are classified as ‘vermin’ and may be destroyed by the authorities.

Pets’ ‘passports’ are usually embedded microchips that provide proof of rabies vaccination.

Tory party has been bought like a banana republic

Commenting on Lord Ashcroft’s admission that he is non-domiciled for tax purposes, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said, “The Conservatives’ biggest donor is a tax-dodger from Belize who has not paid a penny of British tax on the vast bulk of his estimated £1.1bn fortune held offshore.

“This raises extraordinary questions about the judgement of successive Tory leaders – William Hague, Michael Howard and David Cameron – whose view seems to be that only little people should pay tax.

“The Tory party has been bought like a banana republic.”