In ‘The Echo’ – Southend A&E

The Echo is generally a Conservative leaning newspaper cheering on Tory promises like facts that had been put into action. It was good therefore to see them print 2 brutally honest letters last night, one from the Secretary of Save Southend A+E Group and one from a member of the public Malcolm Watson.

How the tax burden is changing with Lib Dem input

Not much to be said, really. This is for my Labour friends who still don’t admit that the last government had any responsibility for the mess we’re in, and who can’t bring themselves to give any credit to the Lib Dems for bringing a measure of fairness to our tax system.

Lib Dems Welcome Prison Sentence For Lord Hanningfield

In response to the nine month prison sentence imposed on former Essex County Council Leader Lord Hanningfield, for the House of Lords expenses fraud, Cllr Mike Mackrory, Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition Liberal Democrat Group on Essex County Council commented:

“The public have every right to expect that people who abuse their position to defraud the taxpayer, must feel the full force of the law. The case exposed a shocking misuse of power which has undermined the reputation of hard working local councillors. We now await the further police investigations into the outstanding allegations of fraud within Essex County Council by Lord Hanningfield.”

The BBC reports:

Paul White, 70, was convicted of six counts of false accounting relating to nearly £14,000 of claims in May.

White has said he will seek leave to appeal against the verdict. If granted, the Court of Appeal will hear the case.

He was found guilty of claiming money for overnight stays in London when he had actually returned home to Essex.

Peers were able to claim up to £174-a-night when attending Parliament, if their main home was outside the city.

But during his trial in May, the court was told White submitted false claims for hotel bills including one when he was actually on board a flight to India at the time.

He also fraudulently claimed for train fares and car mileage.

Passing sentence at Maidstone Crown Court, Mr Justice Saunders said that while there were “ambiguities” in the expenses system in the Lords, it was clear that White had claimed for expenses “he did not incur”.

“He knew when he accepted a peerage that the job of a working peer was unpaid and he did not have to accept the honour,” he said.

“It is not for me to say whether peers should or should not be paid but whatever you think of the scheme, it was not for any peer to take money to which he was not entitled on the basis that he believes he is worth it.”

Mr Justice Saunders said White’s dishonesty and that of others had had “serious consequences” for the reputation of Parliament.

“Great trust was placed in peers to be honest in their claims for expenses. The public expects no less of them. Lord Hanningfield and others have broken that trust.”

Thousands of Rochford residents benefit from Lib Dems’ tax break

Three years ago Labour abolished the 10p tax rate, caning the country’s poorest workers. Next month the Liberal Democrats in government are increasing personal tax allowances by £1000 a year. This simple act – the first instalment on one of the promises on the front page of our election manifesto – will take 880,000 people out of income tax altogether and help many thousands more. In Rochford alone 32,500 people can expect to pay £200 a year less in income tax.


The Hanningfield expenses saga drags on …

Read about it here on the BBC site.

A pre-trial hearing has been held by a judge in the case of a Conservative peer facing accusations that he fiddled his parliamentary expenses.

Lord Hanningfield faces six charges of false accounting between March 2006 and May 2009.

They are said to relate to overnight allowances for staying in London when records allegedly showed he was driven to his home near Chelmsford, Essex.

Lord Hanningfield is the former leader of Essex County Council.


Tories wrong on AV – again!

The latest Conservative newsletter distributed in Rayleigh contains some inaccurate and misleading comments about AV.

1) they say it is complicated. It isn’t. Instead of marking an X by your preferred candidate, you number candidates 1, 2, 3 and so on, in order of preference. If you find that tricky, you can still use the old X method. (If our MP finds it tricky, we might need to look for a new MP!)

2) they say some votes are counted several times, some votes only once. Not true. What happens is this: all the votes are counted. If no candidate has more than 50% of first preferences, votes for the lowest scoring candidate are re-allocated to their second choice, and ALL VOTES ARE COUNTED AGAIN. Everyone has one vote. All votes have the same value.

3) they tell you what Churchill said about AV. They don’t tell you what he said about our current first-past-the-post system:

“The present system has clearly broken down. The results produced are not fair to any party, nor to any section of the community. In many cases they do not secure majority representation, nor do they secure an intelligent representation of minorities. All they secure is fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation.”

Local Lib Dem spokemsman Sid Cumberland says: “It’s about time we had some honesty in politics. Trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes like this in order to keep the old, broken system is deceitful and patronising. The old guard don’t like AV because they’ll have to work harder and their safe seats won’t be quite so safe any more.”

For more information:

A Fair Voting System At Last – part 2

Ten reasons why the ‘Labour No’ campaign are wrong on AV

(The same reasons apply to the Tory No campaign as well.)