MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Since entering Government, my Lib Dem colleagues and I have worked hard to make the childcare system fairer for working families.
Couples and single parents should not be forced to give up work to look after children because of the costs of childcare – and more generally people shouldn’t have to choose outright between a career and a child.
That’s why we recently announced that working families will get up to £2,000 a year tax free childcare, from Autumn 2015.
Parents will be given vouchers for any Ofsted regulated childcare in England. In Haringey alone it is estimated that 8,340 families will benefit from the new scheme.
This is another boost for children and their parents, to work alongside the other changes guaranteed by the Lib Dems.
These include supplying 15 hours a week free childcare for 2, 3, and 4 year olds, introducing free school meals for infant school pupils, and the Pupil Premium – providing schools with £2.5 billion extra a year.
In tough times we need to ensure that families are given the support they need to help children thrive. The schemes brought in since 2010 have been put in place to provide a more equal playing field for all children and their families.
At school, teachers are getting extra funding to help the most vulnerable, and the administrators can now provide nutritious meals. At home, with the cost of childcare reduced, parents can feel secure in the knowledge that they will be better off in work and their children will be provided for.
These changes are making the country fairer, and they would not have happened if the Lib Dems hadn’t entered Coalition in 2010.
It was good to hear Nick begin to set out our real narrative – not the one written for us by other parties.
He said in a speech on Monday: “We may be the smaller party, but we have all the biggest ideas,” crediting the team who have brought so many good things into the coal – including:
And there is much more obviously. For example – one thing I will be forever proud of in my national work is my campaign on FGM. Of course it is now talked about on a daily basis (and on this I also have to thank the media particularly the Evening Standard) but hardly known about a year and a half ago when I came to the Department of International Development and said ‘we are going to campaign on FGM’. Working with all those campaigners who had campaigned tirelessly for years with no take up – now I would work with them to make sure that ending the cutting off of girls’ genitals was at the top of the political agenda. And now it is.
Even the Prime Minister has now recognised how important this is and chosen this as the subject of our Development World moment in July on FGM and Child Early and Forced Marriage which he will be hosting.
The economy was the reason we went into Coalition – and that is looking really good as are the employment figures. And make no mistake – without LibDems – that would not have happened. But the list above just shows how effective we have been at delivering our fair, green and liberal agenda – even in a Coalition.
The inevitable letter to the papers calling for Nick to go was bound to happen. It always does when things get tough – and they don’t get tougher than the elections we have just been through.
But that is why Nick must stay. He is brave and capable – and taking us into government has achieved remarkable progress. I won’t rehearse all our achievements here – but even if you just take turning round the economy – which would not have happened without the Liberal Democrats – for that alone he should be applauded. Putting the country’s interests before party interests is the right thing to do.
Nick has taken so much flak from the moment he became Deputy Prime Minister – and borne it bravely. He is always focused and has a phenomenal strategic understanding. And right now when people are saying that he shouldn’t have given Farage exposure in the debate – I say well done Nick. Standing up for what you believe in is something the cowardly leader of the Labour party is incapable of and something we need politicians from all parties to do more of. Staying silent simply lets evil prosper.
Thank goodness there are still more progressive MEPs elected in Europe from other countries to hopefully hold it safe. I find UKIP and the rise of the right a terrifying prospect. Sending a message to government is one thing – but sending MEPs to Europe who want its destruction is quite another.
However – the country has spoken and we will see what happens next.
Labour-run Haringey Council has not built any council housing for 25 years. Unforgivable!
So much of my casework is to do with housing. There isn’t nearly enough and people stay on Haringey’s housing list for years – living in overcrowded and sometimes absolutely terrible conditions.
It is not unusual for people to come to me in desperation over their living conditions to ask me to help get them moved. So often it is the parents worried about the children having to sleep several to a room and no place for a child to do homework or study – and years are spent in temporary accommodation just waiting and waiting for a home.
My Liberal Democrat council colleagues have committed in their manifesto to build the first new council homes in Haringey for 25 years. When Labour Haringey published its manifesto for these local elections (after the Liberal Democrat manifesto had been published of course) lo and behold – suddenly – Labour are promising to build houses.
Given they have been in power in Haringey for decades and haven’t built any council housing – not sure local people will believe this leopard is changing its spots!
There’s only one way to be sure – back the local Liberal Democrat team on Thursday with our consistent record of campaigning to tackle Haringey’s housing shortage.
And of course with a record of action goes a promise of more – so do take a read of our 2014 Haringey Council elections manifesto, including our top six priorities.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg visited Wood Green today, to visit the local Cypriot Community Centre and to back the Haringey Lib Dems in their local election campaign.
The Deputy Prime Minister was greeted by local MP Lynne Featherstone, before having a tour of the centre and talking to the residents who use it. He also discussed the management of the centre with the team.
Nick Clegg then joined some of Haringey’s local Liberal Democrat candidates, to discuss the upcoming local elections. The local Lib Dem team want to take control of Haringey Council on May 22nd, to stop Labour’s wasteful spending and implement their own, positive six-point plan.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg MP said:
“It was fantastic to come to Haringey and meet the wonderful people at the Cypriot Centre. It’s a great example of a community centre which does so much good for so many people, but could use a little extra support to keep it going.
“I am backing the local Liberal Democrat campaign to take control of Haringey Council on May 22nd, after 40 years of Labour misrule. It’s appalling that Haringey Labour has wasted so much money here, on bonuses and a trip to the South of France. Local residents deserve better than that.
“A Liberal Democrat led council in Haringey would stop this kind of awful waste, and provide more support to centres like the one I visited today.”
Haringey Lib Dem leader Richard Wilson said:
“I’d like to thank Nick Clegg for backing our campaign and doing all he can to highlight Haringey Labour’s waste.
“Haringey Labour like to hide from their local record, whereas the local Lib Dems are very proud of ours. We will keep working all year round for local residents and, if we take control of the Council on May 22nd, we will be working hard to implement our positive six point plan, too.”
Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“It was a pleasure to welcome Nick Clegg to Haringey, and to show him one of the best run community centres the borough has to offer. I’d also like to thank Chris and Susie for hosting us.
“Like Nick, I am fully behind the local Liberal Democrat campaign. For years I have battled to hold Labour to account – and it has become clearer and clearer that change is needed. The Liberal Democrat team have a positive, six point plan to fix our borough, and I hope residents will back them.”
Here’s my latest Ham and High column – on why Haringey Council needs to change.
A few weeks ago, the Broadway exposed the cost of Haringey Council’s trip to Cannes in South France. It was three times more than the council originally stated. So, not only did they use taxpayers’ money for the jaunt, they didn’t tell us the truth about the cost, either.
This is just one of the reasons why I believe that Labour’s control of Haringey Council needs to end.
Those on the trip were two senior council officials and one Labour councillor – who is responsible for housing in the borough. They went to meet organisations like Tottenham Hotspur.
Residents are rightly angry – if Haringey has wanted to meet with Tottenham, they could have got on a W3 from outside the civic centre and saved the taxpayer thousands.
But despite the controversy and reaction, the Labour council leader (who authorised it all) is still defending the whole trip, and its cost to the public purse.
Unfortunately this kind of behaviour is what we have come to expect from Labour-run Haringey Council – ignoring residents, whilst providing bad services and wasting money.
Just a few months ago, we discovered that the council had authorised £3.7million in bonuses for housing staff at Homes for Haringey. At the same time, hundreds of residents were contacting me, and asking for help with getting decent repairs.
On the Noel Park estate – the area ‘represented’ by the Labour councillor who went on the trip – residents are in such desperate need, that I called a public meeting so that Haringey Council and Homes for Haringey could hear the problems first hand.
The Labour councillor declined the invitation to attend the public meeting – another let down for local residents he is supposed to represent.
The waste is not just confined to the housing sector. On our local roads, we’ve seen yellow lines repainted days before the entire road was dug up for resurfacing. Just last week the Labour-run council introduced a new roundabout, with the arrows painted the wrong way round. All of these mistakes add up – and it’s the taxpayer who ultimately pays.
There is another way. Labour’s control of the council is not absolute. And on May 22 this year, Haringey residents get the chance to vote Labour out.
The Haringey Lib Dems have been working hard all year round for residents, and will shortly be releasing their manifesto. It’s packed full of great proposals which would greatly improve our local services, our local area and our borough as a whole! And all of these would be funded by cutting Haringey Labour’s waste.
For me the choice – between a Labour party who have mismanaged our borough for 40 years, and the local Lib Dems, who want to work with residents to fix Haringey – is easy. I know who I’ll be voting for on May 22!
Residents of Sky City contacted the Hornsey and Wood Green MP recently, to express their frustration and anger at Metropolitan Housing, the company that manages Sky City.
On the site visit, the MP saw piles of uncollected rubbish, broken lighting and problems with drainage in communal areas.
Residents also reported problems with vermin, with disability access because of broken lifts, and with antisocial behaviour and crime.
Residents have sent a petition to Metropolitan, demanding a meeting and detailed plan for repairs and improvements. The meeting has been agreed to, but no date has been set. The Liberal Democrat MP has now also contacted Metropolitan on behalf of the residents, to pile on the pressure for action.
Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“Metropolitan need to take action, and fast. What I saw on my visit to Sky City was just appalling – there was uncollected rubbish strewn everywhere. The broken lighting is not helping the situation with crime and antisocial behaviour – and there should always be easy access for disabled and elderly residents.
“Residents should not have to live like this. I am fully behind them and will support them every step of the way to secure the vital repairs they need. I have already contacted Metropolitan, and will continue to do so until we see results.”
Lynne Featherstone and the Wood Green Liberal Democrats last week launched a survey, to find out local residents’ views on the opening of yet another betting shop on Lordship Lane.
A number of residents have contacted the Liberal Democrats expressing concern about the number of betting shops on the road, and the impact on local crime and antisocial behaviour.
The local Liberal Democrats are now trying to persuade the Labour-run council that another betting shop is wrong for this community. The application could be rejected if it can be proven that local betting shops are a cause of crime.
The Wood Green Liberal Democrat team will be writing to Haringey Council in response to the planning application shortly, to fully represent the views of over 100 residents who have filled in their survey.
Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“Over the years, many residents have contacted me with concerns about anti social behaviour in the Wood Green area. The Haringey Lib Dems and I are committed to helping fight crime in our local area.
“I am fully behind the Wood Green Lib Dems. Together we will make sure the Labour-run Council is aware of residents’ views on this matter.”
Wood Green campaigner Roxy Squire commented:
“As a local Wood Green resident, I am aware that anti-social behaviour is a problem in the area. My colleagues and I are concerned that some of that behaviour is a consequence of the large number of betting shops.
“Local residents don’t want or need yet another betting shop on Lordship Lane. We want to persuade the Labour-run council that another betting shop is wrong for this community – but we need residents’ support.
“That’s why we’ve launched our survey, and I hope as many residents as possible respond.”
Ex CEO of Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, is in the news for calling Liberal Democrats ‘cynical’ in our initiation and championing of same sex marriage. He says it was all because this was to put clear water between ourselves and the Conservatives.
As the instigator and architect of same sex marriage – I can say that Summerskill could not be more wrong.
In fact – the opposite is true. One of the key factors in making me think I could get same sex marriage on the statute books was the very fact that the Conservatives were desperate to leave their poor track record on matters homosexual behind. I thought they would be keen to prove this. I was right – both Theresa May and David Cameron were staunch in their support. What I had not predicted (and I suspect David Cameron had not predicted) was the huge rift within the Conservative ranks which ensued.
Mr Summerskill’s comments almost certainly have more to do with his misery at this most recent step coming from the Liberal Democrats than anything else. It has now been well-documented by Peter Tatchell and many others – that Stonewall under Ben’s stewardship was against same sex marriage.
However, when I had Ben in to see me when I started on my mission, to ask for his support. He did in the end change Stonewall’s position . I am extremely glad he did change his position – but reading all the recent comments it would seem that was because he had no alternative.
I met with all the key stakeholders, campaigners and activists in the early days to ask for support. Everyone put their egos aside and we all worked together to deliver what now is the law.
Stonewall does a huge amount of excellent work – and it is a great pity that Summerskill has damaged the brand by his comments. The acting CEO Ruth Hunt is great – and I have no doubt will take Stonewall forward in a much better way than before.
In terms of same sex marriage I lay the credit at the doors of those who suffered and those who fought this battle over the years. Moreover, without civil partnerships and all the campaigners who have fought over the years for equality and came together in the same sex marriage campaign – this most recent and significant step forward could not have taken place.
But equality is part of the Liberal Democrat DNA – and we have our rightful place among these campaigners. And for me it is probably one of the best things I will ever do as a politician.
Currently I am a Minister in DFID with Africa in my patch. As you can imagine – in terms of LGBT issues – there is so much work to be done. See my recent blog on this here. And there is still much to do on our own streets and in our own schools. Same sex marriage is certainly a great step forward – but quite frankly – this is no time to let up.