Not too far. Not too fast.

Tameside MEP Chris Davies writes in his blog today about the plan to reduce Britain’s deficit:

“Most people know that the country is in a very bad situation. But I don’t think many of them realise just how bad things are, or how much worse they could get if the Government gets the strategy wrong.

To understand you have to go back to 1997.”

Read the full story here on Chris’ website.

Oldham East & Saddleworth: Results

The Oldham East and Saddleborough byelection result:

Labour 14,718 42%
Elwyn Watkins (Liberal Democrat) 11,160 31.9%
Conservatives 4,481 12.8%
Other 7 candidates 4,571

The Liberal Democrat share of the vote increased, in contrast to the vote collapse that Labour and some commentators had predicted. Lib Dem candidate Elwyn Watkins has paid tribute to his campaign team and thanked his many supporters across the constituency.

Speaking to supporters after the count, Elwyn said, “I want to thank you all for a superb campaign. Although it is always disappointing not to win, I am proud that our share of the vote actually increased. Those who sought to write us off have been proved wrong. I am also delighted that the BNP lost their deposit. The town has shown we have no taste for their hateful and divisive approach.”

Commenting on the by-election result , Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, said: “This was a very hard-fought contest but we were not able to gain this Labour seat on this occasion. I’d like to pay tribute to our superb candidate, Elwyn Watkins, and his team up in Oldham who have run an exceptional campaign.

“I am proud of each and every one of the hundreds of activists and volunteers who have brought the fight to Labour’s front door in a way that will have confounded our critics.

“It was always going to be a big ask to take this seat from Labour, given the circumstances. We are undertaking some enormously difficult decisions because Labour left Britain’s economy in a mess and we are now forced to clean up after them.

“By 2015, I hope that the people of Oldham and Saddleworth will see, like everyone else in the country, that the difficult choices we made were the right ones and that Britain is in better shape than when we entered Government.”

Overcrowded housing reveals Labour’s failure

Commenting on today’s report by Lloyds TSB Insurance which reveals the number of families living in overcrowded homes has hit a record high, Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Teather said: “The news that a record number of families are trapped in overcrowded housing is yet more devastating evidence of Labour’s failure on social housing.

“We urgently need to build new family-sized homes, and get a grip on the number of properties sitting empty and unused.”

Labour’s PFI costing the NHS 63 billion pounds

Commenting on Number 10’s refusal to answer questions about the £63bn PFI (Public Finance Initiative) bill facing the NHS, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb, said: “Labour’s scandalous mismanagement of the NHS has left many hospitals facing PFI bills they simply cannot afford.

“Gordon Brown’s speech contains even more spending commitments but he has yet to explain how on earth he intends to pay for the damage he’s already done to the future of the NHS.

“Despite the enormous amounts of money we owe for these hospitals, many of them will never end up in public ownership. Hospitals all over the country are mortgaged to the hilt and there are serious concerns that these repayments will lead to cuts in vital services.

“We need a new approach to public services in this country. By setting up an infrastructure bank the Liberal Democrats will ensure that key projects get access to the funding they need to revitalise our economy.

“The Liberal Democrats will change the way the NHS works so that money goes further and patients come first.”

Figures released yesterday by the Liberal Democrats have revealed that the NHS is facing a £63bn bill for PFI hospitals which are only worth £11bn. The figures also reveal that:

· The first payments for hospital PFIs began in 1999 and the NHS still owes £58bn on 106 PFI contracts over the next three decades

· The NHS will have to pay back £7.3bn in PFI payments over the next Parliament alone (2010-2015)

· The most expensive PFI contract was for Wythenshawe Hospital where the NHS will pay back 16 times the original capital value

Shelter report highlights Labour failure on housing

“Housing costs are making the elderly more isolated and keeping families apart,” said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister.

Commenting on today’s report by Shelter, which reveals the impact unaffordable housing is having on families, Sarah Teather said:

“This report highlights Labour’s failure to provide affordable housing and get a grip on the housing crisis.

“It is appalling that housing costs are making the elderly more isolated and keeping families apart.

“Allowing thousands of houses across the country to sit empty is nothing short of a scandal. The cost of bringing these homes back into use is just a fraction of the cost of building, yet the Government is sitting idly by while they fall into disrepair.”

Labour failure to give extra support to poorer children shameful

“The Liberal Democrats would give schools the extra money they need to cut class sizes and give individual attention to children who are struggling,” said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Schools Secretary.

Commenting on Government figures showing that almost a third of poor boys cannot write their own name after a year at primary school, David Laws said:

“These depressing figures reveal that the gap between poorer children and the better-off is clear when they are only five years old.

“Labour’s shameful failure to give children from disadvantaged backgrounds extra support means that this gap grows wider as children grow older.

“The Liberal Democrats would give schools the extra money they need to cut class sizes and give individual attention to children who are struggling.”

Iraq inquiry evidence suggests Blair and Brown knew war was illegal

Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, Edward Davey says: “Michael Wood’s statement is the final nail in the coffin of the case for a legal war. We need to know just who saw this advice. Did it reach Tony Blair and Gordon Brown? And if not, why not?

“This startling revelation suggests Tony Blair, Jack Straw and probably Gordon Brown knew the war was illegal and may have deliberately and knowingly misled Parliament and the public. This puts Labour’s leadership squarely in the dock.

“Blair and Brown must be closely interrogated on this when they appear before Chilcot.”

Ed Davey was commenting on the statement of Michael Wood, the FCO’s legal adviser from 2001-06, that: ‘I considered that the use of force against Iraq in March 2003 was contrary to international law’, and ‘[I] did not agree with the position, stated in the Parliamentary Answer of 17 March 2003 and the paper of the same date entitled “Iraq: Legal Basis for the Use of Force”, that SCRs 678, 687 and 1441, read together, amounted to such authorization,’

End Labour’s “Insane” Funding Formula Chaos says Lib Dems

Local Lib Dems have called on the Home Secretary to end the unfair funding formula which will mean budget cuts for Greater Manchester Police, despite figures released which show that Greater Manchester has one of the highest crime levels in the Country.

Manchester’s Liberal Democrat Crime and Disorder Spokesperson Councillor Jackie Pearcey said “The figures show that people living in Greater Manchester are more likely to be hit by burglary than anywhere else in the Country and be the victims of crime. Yet because of the Government’s insane spending formula, Greater Manchester Police are facing a budget deficit of over £6 million and are having to look at cutting police numbers rather than increasing them to the level at which they can properly tackle crime.

Cllr Pearcey added, “The blame lies in the funding formula, which has set a ceiling for what Greater Manchester Police are given by the Home Office which has nothing to do with local need. The Home Office should give the police enough resources to do their jobs.”