Breaking With The Past

Tim Farron MPIf you haven’t seen Tim Farron’s first Lib Dem leadership speech, you should. It’s good in general, but I want to concentrate on something said in the first ten minutes. He came to praise his predecessor Nick Clegg, not to bury him. He explicitly said that he was proud of Nick’s achievements in Government, proud that the Liberal Democrats had gone into Coalition to do our best by the country, and that the tough five years for us as a party was nothing compared to the tougher five years for the country under a majority Tory Government since May 2015.

Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, he has said nothing of substance about his predecessors. The general impression is that Labour is a brand-new party, completely separate from the days of Miliband, let alone the days of Brown and definitely the days of Blair. Any criticism of Labour’s record, both in Government and in Opposition, is met with “Yeah but that was before Corbyn”. I don’t believe that that dismissal is valid, even if we ignore Corbyn and McDonnell’s terrible, meaningless U-turn on the Fiscal Charter (exposed neatly by John Humphrys’ interview with Diane Abbott around 2:42), and the inevitable further cock-ups and rebellions to follow.

Most of the Labour MPs under Corbyn’s leadership were MPs under Miliband, and many under Blair and Brown (including Corbyn himself). They have their own power and ability to influence the party’s direction. There is a long-term threat to rebels in terms of deselection and replacement in 2020, but a party is always more than just its leader. Especially if, as Corbyn says, he wants a less Presidential style of leadership and more internal democracy in Labour.

I believe that Corbyn’s election as leader was the best option for Labour; I also think it’ll be the best outcome for the Liberal Democrats as well. But we should be proud that our leader is standing on his party’s historical record, and not allow Labour to wriggle out of responsibility for the past.

Safer, Warmer Homes for Gorton’s Renters

Terrace on Lloyd Street South in Moss Side, ManchesterTwo recent measures announced by Liberal Democrat Ministers in Government are great news for the many private renters (including myself!) in Gorton, Levenshulme, Fallowfield, Longsight, Rusholme and Whalley Range.

Firstly, thanks to Lib Dem Communities Minister, Stephen Williams, revenge eviction will soon be made illegal. A lot of private rental houses and flats in the city are in relatively poor condition, with buy-to-let landlords seeing them as effort-free investments, rather than a contract involving providing a good quality house and tenants paying for that provision.

Many of us have been too scared to report serious problems such as vermin, damp, unsafe plumbing or electrics because we fear we’ll just get thrown out and they’ll find a less picky tenant. This is about to change; the Deregulation Bill includes measures to stop section 21 notices being served to evict tenants in response to a complaint about poor standards. There are a couple of procedural things – the complaint should be in writing where possible, and you’ll need to notify the council if you don’t get a satisfactory response to your complaint. Still, this should give us a lot of reassurance that we can report problems without risk. I recently had to involve the Council after going three days without water due to my landlady failing to fix a plumbing leak, and I was terrified that I’d be given my notice in response.

Secondly, the Lib Dem Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, has announced that landlords will be forced to meet minimum energy standards, particularly if they can get assistance through schemes like the Lib Dems’ Green Deal. The Green Deal has helped insulate millions of homes already, but private landlords haven’t been motivated to improve their properties. These new regulations mean that private tenants will be paying less for heating, and have fewer problems with damp, mould and other things that can cause or aggravate poor health.

It’s this kind of joined-up thinking being delivered by Lib Dem Ministers in Government which show the difference a Liberal Democrat voice can make.

Terrace on Lloyd Street South in Moss Side, Manchester” by Lifeofgalileo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.