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Actions speak louder than words

September 9, 2008

After a sombre start to the week at Priory Meadow, there was fabulous news and much celebration last Thursday.

The independent experts charged with reviewing the decision of the Primary Care Trusts about local maternity care backed the Save the DGH and Hands Off the Conquest campaigners, and have put the kibosh on a one site solution.

The PCTs appear to have accepted the result, and will not be contesting the findings of the panel.

This is good sense after so much time and taxpayers’ money has been wasted by them. The key players, to use Charles Clarke’s phrase about Gordon Brown, should be resigning with honour.

As I said on Thursday, I am absolutely thrilled for Margaret Williams and all those people who have campaigned tirelessly for the right result.

As a Liberal Democrat, I am proud that our Party backed the campaigners. We were the only party to do so unanimously, and this was the reason that Margaret Williams joined us at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, our Labour MP, Michael Foster, dithered in his support of Option 5 (the two site solution). He flip-flopped. And he has been unusually quiet since the announcement of the IRP’s recommendation.

Maybe he’s taking his lead from the top?

Gordon Brown, ditherer about the General Election that never was, ditherer about the 10p tax rate fiasco, has now become a ditherer about tackling fuel poverty.

What does it say about a Government that volunteer campaigners have had to work, lobby and cajole in order to preserve an essential health service for a town the size of Eastbourne?

What does it say about a Government that it prevaricates about providing for our vulnerable citizens, with energy bills on the rise, and the winter on its way?

All this despite a willingness over these last 11 years to protect disproportionately, Private Equity magnates, and the super-rich of the City.

The philosophical bankruptcy of New Labour has never been more poignantly evident than it is now – when the economic squeeze is on.

We need decision-makers whose instinct is to provide for our most vulnerable. And whose record in Parliament reflects it.

Once upon a time, it may have been thought that the natural political home of such people was the Labour Party.

Not so now.

Nor is it the Conservative Party, whose only tax policy commitment to date is a pledge to raise the Inheritance Tax threshold to £2 million.

Attending the Hastings Borough Council Cabinet meeting on Monday evening, it struck me just how chaotic the Hastings Conservatives are – overturning their decision here, renouncing their action there.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats continue to make the right calls at a local and national level.

Lib Dem voting records will stand the test of progressive scrutiny.

Actions speak louder than words.

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