Lib Dem 'meaningless pranks'

It has been brought to my attention that that master of cynicism and Gateshead councillor Jonathan Wallace has accused me of hypocrisy because I complained about the local government grant formula in the House of Commons but then voted for the settlement at the end of the debate. He says the people of Gateshead deserve an explanation.

I am happy to give one - if only to prevent Cllr Wallace from doing the usual Lib Dem thing and attempting to mislead by omission.

My complaint to the Minister (Hansard 4th Feb '08) was that the formula for distribution of grant to local authorities is flawed and that Gateshead, a flag-ship authority, should have had a better deal. However, to have voted down the whole settlement - as the Lib Dems tried to do - would have meant the Gateshead, and every other local authority in the country, would have been even worse off as there would have been no legislation to distribute the settlement at all. Even the Conservatives were not that stupid.

The Lib Dem Parliamentary group are making a practice of silly demonstrations like this in order to deceive the electorate in to thinking they are a serious political party. They did the same thing over the Lisbon Treaty when - while they were for the treaty and against a referendum on it - they tried to kid electors that they were in favour of a referendum by tabling a completely spurious motion calling for a vote on EU membership, knowing fine well that it would not be allowed by the speaker as it was completely out of order and not relevant to the discussion under consideration.

Then, in an entirely synthetic protest, they spat their dummies out and staged a juvenile walk-out of the chamber. All they succeeded in doing in the end was splitting their own party down the middle and forcing resignations from their own front bench.

The Lib Dem group on Gateshead council got up to the same sort of nonsense when they voted against the Labour council's budget for 2008/09 - but put no alternative proposals of their own to finance the public services the council is responsible for providing. If their motion had been carried all of the council's services would have ground to a halt and thousands of workers would have lost their jobs.

But, of course, they knew it would not be carried and that this was yet another meaningless stunt.

This kind of fraudulent behaviour kids no one.

During my term as a councillor in Gateshead the main opposition came from the Conservatives and while I opposed their political philosophy and policies at least they were a serious opposition and did not engage in the kind of meaningless pranks we now see from the Lib Dems.

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Promoted by Ken Childs on behalf of David Clelland, both of 19 Ravensworth Road, Dunston, Gateshead. NE11 9AB