What do the Liberal Democrats stand for, exactly?


In a time when the old established party elites, and the minor parties and nationalists join forces, pushing an illiberal agenda, there has never been a more important time for a strong liberal, Liberal Democrat voice in Parliament.

What is the Lib Deb’s view on the future of the BBC’s role in the sector and how will the Lib’s Deb’s position on the deficit affect its charter re-negotiations with the BBC?

In Labour’s paper on the future of the Creative Industries, “Leading the Field: A Review of the Creative Industries, they have vowed not to weaken the BBC if it wins the election. What is the Lib Deb’s view on the future of the BBC’s role in the sector and how will the Lib’s Deb’s position on the deficit affect its charter re-negotiations with the BBC?


The Liberal Democrats have been the BBC's strongest supporters in Parliament and are committed to maintaining a BBC funded by the license fee. 96% of people access BBC content for about £3 a week, which is exceptionally good value. I am happy to see the license fee rise with inflation to ensure that the BBC can maintain its position at the top of UK broadcasting and to force other broadcasters to up their game.

Do you feel that the Liberal Democrat’s have more influence inside the government or in opposition?

What Nick Clegg did at the last Election was very brave, one philosophical view is that to make change we must follow the rules that govern them.

With the move into Government, it gave the LD’s a chance to block and comment, pause for further discussion on some decisions that otherwise would have had a total Conservative stance.

It’s time for NC to raise the profile of LD’s manifesto and lead the party to have further influence in the future.


As one of only two Lib Dem MPs that did not vote to go into coalition, I can still confidently say that you have more influence in Government than in opposition. Politicians go into politics to get things done, not to simply complain about what others are doing. 

-0.7% of GDP to international aid
-Linking pensions to earnings and the triple lock
-More then 1 million of the lowest paid taxpayers taken out of paying tax
-The pupil premium
-Anti-tax avoidance measures

None of the above would have happened without the Lib Dems.

As far as coalition discussions relating to culture are concerned, I would hope that the future of the BBC and more equitable geographic funding for arts and culture would be are priorities.

Why didn't the Liberal Democrats go into coalition with Labour?


In 2010 Labour offered nothing. They were so determined to go into opposition that they made a very difficult option into a completely impossible one. Labour need to recognise that coalition Government does not mean that the other party simply becomes Labour Party voting fodder. Coalition Government is about compromise and breaking down partisan party boundaries.
We stand on our manifesto. The reality is that in 2010 only 57 Lib Dem MPs were elected, but we still managed to get plenty of our manifesto into a programme for Government at a time when (as Labour put it) "there is no money left".

Would you support another Conservative government?


Firstly, I did not vote for the coalition last time but I think it is unlikely to happen again because the relationship between the two parties has deteriorated significantly in the last couple of years and I would expect to see the Tories recognise that their agenda for cutting welfare and other savage cuts is simply not acceptable.

What do you think about the dissolution of Parliament and the way in which MPs are not MPs from the start of the election period?


Councillors are councillors until the election, so I have never really understood why Parliamentary elections are different. Constituents still have concerns and problems that they need help with, and just because there is an election on, I do not understand why they should not be able to go the person that they elected at the previous election. Of course they do contact their former MPs, and so I see no sense in not describing people as MPs until the actual election.

How will the Liberal Democrats restore confidence in an electorate which believed in and voted for you as an individual and not a coalition party?


I can only stand on my record of what I have done locally and how I have voted in Parliament. We did not win the election in 2010. The more Lib Dem MPs that get elected, the more Lib Dem influence there will be in Parliament. 

Anybody that thinks that we have made no difference in Government either does not really know what the Tories stand for, or spends too much time reading bias media.

I suspect that history will be far kinder to the Lib Dem role in the Government between 2010-2015. The easy option was to do what Labour did and stay out of Government on the basis that we did not win the election. In Government we have delivered many of manifesto commitments.

What do you make of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ plans?


At the moment it is not altogether clear how the plans will turn out. We already have some fantastic venues in the north, both in sport and arts and culture. 

A strengthened northern economy, with local decision-making powers and booming creative industries will undoubtedly encourage investment into our cultural offer. At the moment there is still an attitude amongst some that nothing exists outside of the M25. A stronger north, both politically and economically, will undoubtedly help to explode that myth. 

The Liberal Democrats are facing wipeout - what did they do wrong in government?


Not a lot, other than coming into Government at a time when some very tough decisions had to be made, and at a time when the right wing and left wing press were determined to tell everyone that we had failed.

How can you persuade me to vote for you and your party when I am determined to see the Conservatives prevented from governing in any form?


The problem with our electoral system is that you can only vote for your local MP. In Manchester Withington constituency you have a choice of voting Lib Dem or Labour, every other vote is wasted. Either way, you won't get a Tory. I would argue that you need to decide whether the best person to represent you is either me or the Labour candidate. If you vote for me, you certainly will not get a Tory.

Did you vote to raise tuition fees?


Absolutely not. I have never voted to raise fees, or even introduce them for that matter. However, it is interesting that Labour and the Tories made increased tuition fees a condition of any coalition agreement in 2010, yet have escaped the blame. Labour introduced fees and raised them with an enormous commons majority and a promise not to.

If you could get one thing into the programme of the government for the next five years, what would it be and why?


A massive programme of council house building, because housing costs are the biggest financial burden facing the majority of people.

Did you vote in favour of the 'bedroom tax'?



I always voted against the 'bedroom tax' it in all of the law-binding votes. It is a tax that targets the poor and I wouldn't let it pass under my watch.

How can the Liberal Democrats come back from a wipeout in Manchester?

Since 2004 the Lib Dems have lost all (38) representation on Manchester City Council of which 31 have gone since you went into coalition. This appears to indicate that whatever local good was being done the decision to prop up the Tories has been far from popular.


Good local councillors have been lost because people have stayed at home or not voted. We have to get the message across that the Labour councillors are not standing up for local people (eg over the Christie parking issue) and that Manchester needs an opposition to Labour.

What have you and the Liberal Democrats done about tax?


In Greece public sector workers ended up with a 40% pay cut because the Government failed to deal with their deficit.

However, in the UK the Lib Dems have delivered an economic recovery, tax cuts for the least well off and relinked pensions to earnings, which Labour, to their shame, failed to deliver in 13 years. 

The richest are now paying more tax than they were under labour through a number of changes to the tax system and the closing down of tax loopholes, many of which were encouraged by the last Labour Government.

Are you for or against the 'mansion tax'?


I am in favour of widening the bands for Council Tax to better reflect the value of property. In principle I am not opposed to a mansion tax, so long as people on low incomes, but living in very valuable homes, are able to defer payments.

What are your thoughts on voting reform?



I think that it was a mistake to agree to a referendum on AV, given that it was a minor change to our FPTP system. While I support STV for local elections, I want to see a commitment to voting reform for Parliament at the same time. Unfortunately I see no chance of this happening, and any warm words from Labour on a Constitutional Convention are just that - warm words.

Until we change the system, so that every vote does count, we need to make sure that everyone knows that their votes are being wasted because Labour and the Tories are happy to retain the cosy electoral system that suits them, and disenfranchises so many.

How much damage do you think those Liberal Democrats who went through the government lobby have done to your party?


One of the reasons that I did not vote for the coalition agreement was because I thought it was a mistake to allow fees to rise. I think that a freeze on fees would have been a reasonable compromise on tuition fees, but the Tories would never have agreed to ensure that universities were properly funded. 

On the positive side, the big increase in the threshold for paying back fees has had a very positive impact on graduates who were having to start paying their fees on very modest incomes.

As far as the damage it has done is concerned, there is no doubt that it has been damaging, but Labour appear to have got away with introducing fees and then increasing them, despite a promise not to, and a big commons majority.

Do you regret going into coalition?

A number of my relatives specifically voted Lib Dem to keep the Tories out and feel totally betrayed. They are vowing to never vote for your party again. Considering that at the last election your party’s vote was 22/23% and now it’s 7-9% and you have virtually lost all your Councillors in the two major City’s in the North West while voting for right wing pernicious legislation, was it all worth it?


Given that the alternative would have been a second General Election, a Tory majority and then massive cuts which would have damaged any chance of an economic recovery, it was in the country's best interests. Whether we get any credit for that remains to be seen.

As for voting Lib Dem to keep the Tories out, it is the flawed electoral system, and not the Liberal Democrats who are to blame for the Tories being in Government. People seem to forget that more people voted Tory than any other party.

Would you support a basic income?


It is important that we have a decent welfare system to help those who are out of work, or unable to work. The Green Party plan for an income for everyone, regardless of whether they get other money or whether they make any effort to get a job, is completely unaffordable.

Why is it that, for a supposed “small l” liberal country like Britain, centre parties suffer at the hands of more extreme parties?


Extreme views often appear artificially attractive and grab the headlines, and the older people get, the less "small l" liberal they become.

What can your party promise this time?


It is difficult to promise anything specific, because if other parties who might be in coalition are not prepared to support a policy such as scrapping tuition fees, it is simply not going to happen. Although I am not an ideologically driven MP, I remain totally opposed to tuition fees. I went to University for free, and I am not about to vote for future generations to pay.

The key themes from our manifesto front page are the following:

-Prosperity for all: Balance the budget fairly and invest to build a high skill, low carbon economy
-Fair taxes: Cut your taxes by an additional £400 by raising the tax-free allowance to £12,500
-Opportunity for every child: Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class
-Quality health care for all: Invest £8bn to improve our NHS and guarantee equal care for mental health
-Our environment protected: Protect nature and fight climate change with five green laws

Which sporting events do you think should be protected as free-to-air?


I should be clear that this is a personal view. I think that the whole of Wimbledon should be protected for free to air TV. I would also like to see one domestic test match on free to air TV each summer.

Do you think unpaid internships are a good thing?


Yes I do, so long as they properly comply with employment legislation. In my office we have successfully helped dozens of people find full time employment as a direct result of their unpaid internships. 

As a result of bad publicity, most MPs no longer take on unpaid interns, but quite happily take on student work placements doing exactly the same as an unpaid intern, but justifying it as part of their course. This results in too many people not having the same opportunities as university students.

Is it true that The Christie hospital was not actually under threat?


No. But this is typical of the nonsense that Labour have peddled for the last 10 years. Funnily enough, Labour have never accused the Christie clinicians of lying, who first raised their concerns in the Manchester Evening News. Instead they try to rewrite history that somehow the review of services was made up, and that nobody from the Christie said anything. This is what was said at the time and reported in the MEN -

Head of surgery and critical care at the Christie, Sarah O'Dwyer, said: "Many people believe this is a matter of trying to save the Christie Hospital. Not building the unit would have major consequences - complete downgrading of what can be done on this site. If surgery leaves there will be no support for patients who develop complications that require surgical intervention, such as internal bleeding or a perforation of the bowel. Patients would have to be transferred and that would seriously put them at risk. They may not be accepted at that next hospital, there could be a delay, and they would not be treated by someone with the skills and specialist knowledge of the cancer treatment that the patient is undergoing. In short, lives could be lost."

Dr Mark Saunders, consultant clinical oncologist, said: "There are many novel and intricate treatments now available. They require close monitoring and the back-up of a comprehensive service including surgery and critical care. If this is threatened, the use of these new treatments will also be threatened. Patients will therefore suffer."

Dr Nick Slevin, chairman of the Medical Staff Committee at Christie, said: "The review is not due for publication for another three months. Nevertheless, 60 consultant cancer specialists at the Christie have communicated to me their concern that dislocation of these services from the Christie would seriously restrict the range of treatments and facilities available to our patients and jeopardise patient outcomes."

According to Labour I made this all up. They even claimed that the 60 clinicians did not exist. Just because Labour keep repeating the lie, does not make it the truth.

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