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Capital Gains Tax (Rates)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:08 pm on 23rd June 2010.

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Photo of Chris Williamson Chris Williamson Labour, Derby North 6:08 pm, 23rd June 2010

Unemployment certainly fell in my constituency in the 13 years of the previous Labour Government. I will tell the hon. Gentleman this as well: thanks to the measures that they put in place, poverty was reduced in my constituency, people enjoyed the national minimum wage and were able to get health treatment far more quickly than previously, and children were not taught in overcrowded schools, so let us have no more lectures from him.

Let us never forget that everything that I have described has only been made possible by the vacillating Liberal Democrats, who say one thing then do another. Less than seven weeks ago, the Deputy Prime Minister said that his party represented a new kind of politics, with fresh ideas. What we got was a party supporting reactionary right-wing policies instead. Fewer than seven weeks ago, he was apparently opposed to the self-same right-wing policies that he now endorses. This is what he told his party conference on 23 September last year:

"We know what happens when you simply squeeze budgets, across the board, until the pips squeak. We know, because we lived through it before, under the Conservatives. We remember the tumble-down classrooms, the pensioners dying on hospital trolleys, the council houses falling into total disrepair. We remember, and we say: never again."

In an interview with Jeremy Paxman on 12 April this year, the Deputy Prime Minister said:

"Do I think that these big cuts are merited or justified, at a time when the economy is struggling to get to its feet? Clearly not."

That is what he said at that time.

Millions of people who rejected the Conservatives' right-wing policy prospectus were seduced into voting for the Liberal Democrats by the Deputy Prime Minister's rhetoric. People actually believed that the Liberal Democrats represented progressive values. How wrong they were. People now see that the reality is very different from the Deputy Prime Minister's rhetoric. People see that he is now so determined to appease his Conservative masters that he is even prepared to sacrifice his own constituents by opposing a Government loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.

That is nothing new. The Liberal Democrats and their predecessors in the Liberal party have assisted the Conservatives into power in four out of the last seven general elections. It is thanks to the Liberal party splitting the centre-left vote in 1983 and 1987 that Margaret Thatcher was able to secure two landslide election victories. Then the Liberal Democrats did the same thing in 1992, forcing the country to endure another five years of Tory rule. The truth is that they are not a progressive party at all; they are merely a collection of self-indulgent political loners.

All the post-war progressive legislation has been introduced by Labour Governments often in the teeth of fierce opposition from the Tories and sometimes the Liberals, too. Examples include the NHS, the welfare state, comprehensive education, equal pay, civil partnerships, the national minimum wage, Sure Start, the ban on fox hunting, and the Open university, to name but a few.

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