Monday, 30 April 2012

Let's keep it local

Every time I travel to Swansea, I am grateful to the Liberal Democrat-led city council for the gleaming, spacious bus station. The bus from Neath passes the recreated leisure centre, for which Swansea residents are also no doubt grateful. These are both projects which the previous Labour administration promised, but failed to deliver. I am told that the governance of the council has also improved.

So it is depressing, but not surprising, that Welsh Labour has chosen to deflect attention from local issues with a full-page advertisement in today's Evening Post attacking the Westminster coalition's budget. The only nod towards local campaigning is a box containing the words NO SUCH THING AS AN INDEPENDENT. There are many genuinely independent candidates who will feel insulted by this slur, and I am not the only member of my party who sympathises with them.

The advert lists five categories of people who Labour says will be worse off as a result of coalition policies.  The politest way of describing these is that they are gross distortions or generalisations, rather than 100% lies. However, the claim that "millionaires and fat cats" will be better off as a result of the budget is totally wrong. In fact, the super-rich will not only pay more when then they buy or sell "mansions" as a result of the 2012 budget, they will also pay 5% more on the top slice of their income from 2013/14 onwards than they did under Labour. Remember that the much-vaunted 50% rate was only a temporary expedient for the tax year 2011/12 (only a few weeks of which saw Labour still in government). Because of this, the more adroit millionaires will have taken care to defer earnings for that year.

But to return to local issues: a word of praise for the Conservative party political broadcast tonight which, while taking passing swipes at Labour's record in Westminster and Plaid Cymru's nationalism and socialism, concentrated on Welsh Conservatives' local government policy. Also, from the literature I have seen so far, it seems that Labour candidates in Neath and Port Talbot have the decency (and courage!) to campaign solely on their record in the civic centre.

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