Sanjay SamaniCampaigner for Angus North & Mearns

CAT | Electoral Reform

In the wake of the Adam Werritty scandal surrounding Liam Fox MP, the Labour party are apparently demanding a lobbying register.  It might surprise you to know that such a bill was introduced to the House of Commons by the Lib Dems in 2006 and it was voted down by 284 Labour MP’s.

You will be pleased to know that just such a register is in the Coalition agreements from 2010, as demanded by the Lib Dems.

Gareth Thomas MP, Shadow Cabinent Office minister said:

“David Cameron has still not introduced the compulsory register of lobbyists he promised.

“In the wake of the Adam Werritty and Atlantic Bridge activities it is now essential we have greater transparency.

“The government should bring forward as a matter of urgency plans for a compulsory register of lobbyists with records being kept of meetings between lobbyists and ministers.”

Read the full article on the BBC by clicking here.

Every Lib Dem member, supporter and MP agrees.  Which is why we have been calling for regulation of lobbying for years.  In fact we introduced a bill to the House of Commons calling for a reporting of corporate expenditure on lobbying and putting a cap on their lobbying expenditure.

Remember, this is all before the Stephen Byers “Cab For Hire” incident.

Any guesses for Labour MP’s who voted against the motion?  You guessed it Ed Milliband, Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper, and one Gareth Thomas.

Also of note, the Conservatives did not bother to vote.  And 5 of the 6 SNP MPs also voted against the Lib Dem bill, including Angus MP, Mike Weir.

You can see full details of the Bill and all those MPs who voted against it by clicking here.

Image courtesy of BBC

Image from BBC.

Over the last few weeks, I have been disappointed to hear fellow Liberal Democrats repeat the accusations of our opposition, and in particular certain portions of the national media who have been desperately trying to portray Lib Dems in a negative light.  There is a continuing misconception that the Liberal Democrats sacrificed too much to the Conservatives during coalition negotiations. Here’s the real story of what we have achieved in Government.

This document is already 3 months old, so the list has grown since then, but it is a good starting point.

Lib Dem Achievements in Government

 

After the first TV debate during the General Election campaign, our opponents recognised that Nick Clegg was our strongest asset.  Since the morning of the second debate, there has been a sustained attack on him personally and on the reputation of the party as a whole.  Even Ed Milliband has resorted to personal attacks on Nick Clegg.  It is disgraceful, gutter politics.  Unfortunately, if you throw enough mud, it will eventually stick.

Nick Clegg is the antithesis of Teflon Tony Blair.  His record, as demonstrated above, is one to be proud of.  I for one, do not think I could cope with excrement posted through my door, my effigy being burnt, being called a traitor and receiving death threats and still come out fighting the way that Nick Clegg did at the Sheffield Lib Dem Conference.

I cannot agree with those in the party that take the attitude that they are in politics to fight Conservatism as a result of Thatcher’s legacy.  Saying that we would only go into a coalition with a discredited, illiberal, economically incompetent Labour Party would doom our party into subservience.

I came into politics and joined the Lib dems to make a difference on issue that I cared about, whether it was the environment, children’s welfare or civil liberties.  I believe in the values of the party, that local people know best about their area, that solutions should last and that everyone deserves a fair chance.

Those values, issues and policies are now being successfully implemented in Government, and it is a record that we should all be proud of.

 

I have been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Angus North and Mearns for the Scottish elections next May.  I have also been selected as one of the Liberal Democrat Regional Candidates for the North East.

I am very grateful to the Liberal Democrat members in Angus and the Mearns for their support and their decision to select me as their candidate. I am looking forward to continuing the campaigns that we have been running in the area.

The SNP have said they will fight the next election on just the issue of independence. Most people are concerned about their jobs,  rising prices and the economy. This shows how out of touch the SNP really are. They have been completely unprepared for the economic crisis, created by the Labour government.

In just five months, the Liberal Democrats in coalition have put in place plans to take 900,000 low earners out of income tax, restore a fair pension and to provide £2bn extra in child tax credits for poorer families.  In stark contrast, in over four years, the SNP have failed to deliver on their hollow promises of more police, smaller class sizes and maintaining teacher numbers.  The Liberal Democrats can do more for Scotland and for Angus and the Mearns.

Stonehaven Liberal Democrat Councillor, Peter Bellarby, said, “I am very pleased that Sanjay has been selected. Mike Rumbles has served Stonehaven and the Mearns well and I am sure that Sanjay will continue to listen and respond to the concerns people have in this area, just as Mike has done. In the revised constituencies, Mike Rumbles will be the candidate for Aberdeenshire West and I am sure that Mike and Sanjay will form an excellent partnership for this area.”

Liberal Democrat Cllr David May from Montrose, commented “I am delighted that Sanjay has ben selected.  He has an excellent record on campaigning on local issues.  He has called for the SNP government to reinstate funding to prevent coastal erosion and flooding, to provide relief to small businesses who received huge rises in their business rates and for a full time service at Forfar fire station. And he has been a strong supporter of Jill Campbell’s campaign for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk Junction.”

David continued, “Angus North and Mearns is a new constituency for the Scottish Parliament.  In the Mearns, residents have elected four Lib Dem councillors, Sir Robert Smith MP and an outstanding Liberal Democrat MSP, Mike Rumbles who has stood up for their needs at Holyrood.  Unfortunately, SNP representatives have let down Angus residents.  Now, Angus and Mearns residents will get a straight choice between an SNP candidate and a Liberal Democrat who will continue to fight for local people.”

Below: Sanjay campaigning for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk, along with Laurencekikrk Flyover campaigners Jlll Campbell and Julie Watson, with Tavish Scott MSP, leader of Scottish Lib Dems, Mike Rumbles MSP, Sir Robert Smith MP and Montrose Cllr David May

Photograph by Neve Photography, Brechin

Sanjay campaigning for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk

In an amazing poll for the Sun from YouGov, the Liberal Democrats are in second place just 3% behind the Tories. Labour have been pushed back into 3rd place. The full results are Conservative 33%, Liberal Democrats 30% and Labour 28%.

Under our completely broken political system this could well lead to Labour having the most seats in parliament, despite having the fewest votes of the main three parties. The prediction from uniform swing calculators would be the Labour Party would have 275 seats, Conservatives 245 and the Liberal Democrats 99.

Is Labour worried and ashamed to drop back into 3rd place in the polls? Not in the slightest:

John Prescott Tweet

It is little wonder that after 13 years in government, the Labour Party has not enacted any meaningful political reform. Labour and the Tories are completely happy with the way things are. A system that denies millions of voters across the country a real voice in the way their country is run. A system that means that tens of thousands of voters across Angus will be denied genuine democracy.

John Prescott and the Labour Party should be ashamed of themselves for celebrating our broken political system.

This is why we must have real change in this elections. This is why we cannot let Labour and Conservative just pass the baton back and forth so they can continue to deny us genuine democracy and carry on their decades of corruption.

The Liberal Democrats would cap donations and limit spending by political parties, introduce independent audits of expenses and set out exactly what MPs can and cannot do. Voters would have the right to sack corrupt MPs.

We would introduce a fairer, proportional voting system so your voice is heard. Mike Weir was elected with just 1 out of 5 of those eligible, voting for him. Surely Angus deserves an MP with a better mandate than that. The Liberal Democrats are the only party who would introduce a system that supports that.

I was really disappointed to read two new articles on the ongoing ugly spat over donations and expenses between Mike Weir and Alberto Costa. Angus residents really do deserve better from their prospective representatives.

I highlighted how this spat has become national news in my previous post, which you can read by clicking here. The whole sordid affair reflects badly on Angus and I had hoped that the matter would end there. Unfortunately the argument has continued to rumble on.

Firstly The Daily Record highlights how Alberto Costa’s campaign received £10,000 from Swiss banker, Henry Angest, funnelled through a City company called Flowidea Ltd. You can read the article in full by clicking here.

Then Alberto Costa hit back, accusing Mike Weir of accepting a £4,000 donation from someone who he is running a campaign for taxes on holiday lets. You can read the full article in the Press and Journal by clicking here.

The merits of the accusations and counter accusations aside, there is clearly a need for our politics to be cleaned up.

In my previous blog post and in an open letter to all the other candidates, I called on them to give cross party support to full political reform, rather than nips and tucks or little tweaks here and there, asking:

Will the other candidates back proposals for a fairer political system, including the right of Angus residents to recall their MP, to cap donations to political parties, independent auditing of expenses and limits on spending by political parties? Crucially will they back a written constitution that clearly sets out the role and powers of MPs, ministers, judges, the Head of State, parliament and national assemblies?

On a separate issue, will the candidates back proposals for a fairer, proportional voting system, as used in Angus Council elections? Mike Weir was elected as MP for Angus, with just over 1 out of 5 of those eligible actually voting for him and very nearly 2/3rds of actual voters, voting against him. Surely the Angus MP needs to have a better mandate than that?

The letter has appeared in all the Angus local newspapers and I have yet to hear a response from any of the other candidates. This is hardly a surprise as Labour, SNP and Conservative MPs, including Mike Weir, have all voted in the past against proposals by the Liberal Democrats to clean up politics. It is little wonder that Nick Clegg described the last session as “the most corrupt parliament in history”.

I make my call again:

I would ask for full backing from Mike Weir MP, Kevin Hutchens and Alberto Costa. Angus residents can that way be assured, that whether it is myself or one of the other candidates that is elected at the forthcoming election, they will be voting for genuine, open, fairer political reform.

Will the other candidates back full, genuine, fair political reform to create a functioning, responsive, clean democracy in this country?

I was very disappointed to see the ugly public spat over donations and expenses, over the last two weeks, between Mike Weir MP and Angus Tory candidate Alberto Costa. Angus residents deserve better from their prospective representatives. Now that their arguments have spilled over into the national press, including the BBC News website, is it not high time that Angus candidates agree how we can restore trust in our democracy?

With the recent lobbying scandal, I was particularly surprised to find that Mike Weir MP, voted in 2006 against a Lib Dem motion for limits and full disclosure for corporate lobbying. I would ask that he explain his stance on that motion, supported by the Conservatives, but defeated by Labour and SNP MPs.

The Tories have been talking about a “Broken Britain”, but it is clear to me that it is our politics that is broken. It is not enough to simply tinker with existing system, but we need a radical reform of our political institutions to ensure that the long succession of scandals under both Labour and the Tories, cannot be repeated.

Will the other candidates back proposals for a fairer political system, including the right of Angus residents to recall their MP, to cap donations to political parties, independent auditing of expenses and limits on spending by political parties? Crucially will they back a written constitution that clearly sets out the role and powers of MPs, ministers, judges, the Head of State, parliament and national assemblies?

On a separate issue, will the candidates back proposals for a fairer, proportional voting system, as used in Angus Council elections? Mike Weir was elected as MP for Angus, with just over 1 out of 5 of those eligible actually voting for him and very nearly 2/3rds of actual voters, voting against him. Surely the Angus MP needs to have a better mandate than that?

I am fully backing all of these proposals.

I would ask for full backing from Mike Weir MP, Kevin Hutchens and Alberto Costa. Angus residents can that way be assured, that whether it is myself or one of the other candidates that is elected at the forthcoming election, they will be voting for genuine, open, fairer political reform.

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Printed (Hosted) by 1&1. Published and promoted by Tina Ng-A-Mann on behalf of Sanjay Samani (Scottish Liberal Democrats), both at 19 Cedar Place, Perth, PH1 1RL.

© Sanjay Samani 2010-11.

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