Last year year was tough for us, losing many MPs. Only now is it clear to people how essential we were in government to stop Tory attacks on housing, the NHS, civil liberties and our place in Europe. Locally, we are the opposition to councils which are more politicised, and which, in Conservative Sevenoaks, have forgotten the crash and are gambling with public money.
I’d like to thank Richard Streatfeild, 2015 local party chair, and all of the Executive, for helping us put up an effective campaign last May, and for getting to 2016 with many more members and enough money to start work on the new challenges. We also launched a new series of ‘Pizza and Politics’ evenings in November – starting with a debate on Welfare just as our party in Westminster was taking on the Tories on tax credits .. and winning.
In 2016 we have four main jobs to do:
– new political discussion and thinking to develop new ideas for Sevenoaks
– campaign to win the European In/Out referendum being held on June 23
– win the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner elections on May 5
– get ready for the Kent County Council elections in 2017
Many of you are active in the community – living Liberal Democracy as well as political support. Most people don’t realise how much of what we depend on – social housing, parks, education, health services – started by Liberals and Social Democrats taking action like this. They set up housing associations, organised parks and allotments, supported schools and hospitals.
If you are involved in any way please let us know. Please tell us too what topics you think are most important for our policy discussions – and contribute to them. As Labour and the Tories become more extreme there is more space for new ideas in our territory. Suggestions to cover so far are Housing, Europe and ‘Making democracy work’.
Thanks very much for your support during 2015, – and Happy New Year. We’ll be in touch soon to let you know when the next event is.
Yours sincerely, Tony Clayton – Chair of Sevenoaks, Dartford and Gravesham, 2016
Holding the Government to account on Tax Credits
Late last year the Liberal Democrats in Parliament scored a huge victory when pressure from our MPs and peers helped to force George Osborne to re-think his plans to cut tax credits, whilst Labour only proposed delays.
But despite Osborne’s claimed U-turn, he is still pressing ahead with the same cuts to Universal Credit from 2017. This is the Tory way of bringing in the cuts by the back door.
If they go ahead, the cuts would see new claimants, or those who move home or change job, losing an average of £1,080 a year. Our national petition against the cuts is on the party website at:
www.libdems.org.uk/universal-credit Please join and ask your friends!
Launching the Europe Referendum Campaign
Five of us went to Guildford on Saturday to meet 200 representatives across the South and South East – from Canterbury to Bournemouth and from Brighton to Oxford – to plan the LibDem IN Europe campaign.
Catherine Bearder our Euro MP, and the campaign organisers, outlined priorities up to the likely date on June 23rd – or possibly late September.
Liberal Democrats are the only party supporting a Yes vote for a reformed Europe unambiguously, so it will be easier for us to get our case across, and attract supporters, than for Labour or the Tories. We also have much clearer and consistent policies on making Europe more democratic, accountable and effective.
Our case for a Yes vote will be based on Economics and Growth, Peace and Security, Opportunities to Travel, Work and Learn, and Environmental Protection. We want to highlight local people who are using their rights as European citizens to help UK economic and social life, so if you know anyone prepared to speak up we’d like to know.
We will need to get the message across in every way possible – including digital campaigning and social media to convince people yet to make up their minds, and mobilise supporters. If you can help with this please contact us as soon as possible at: