Neil Darby

Liberal Democrat Campaigner in Preston

Vince Cable responds to Ed Balls

March 22nd, 2014 by neildarby


“I have calculated that this is the 18th Budget to which I have responded in some capacity, and the fourth directly to the shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. However, since he wrote many of the others, I was probably responding to him indirectly. Having heard the right hon. Gentleman over the years, I have picked up on some traits. First, he obviously has a capacity for a crunchy, memorable soundbite that often turns out to be wrong. I think he was the author of the phrase “No more boom and bust”, the consequences of which we are still living with. I also think he was the author of “triple-dip recession”, which of course we never had.

When we first had these exchanges a couple of years ago, the right hon. Gentleman had a very good football chant going on the Back Benches behind him: “Growth down, inflation up. Unemployment up.” Now of course we have growth up, unemployment down and inflation down. His current favourite is the “millionaires’ tax cut”, which I would find a little more persuasive had I not sat on the Opposition Benches for 10 years being lectured by him and his boss that any increase in the top rate of tax above 40% would be counterproductive and damaging to the economy.

One feature of the right hon. Gentleman’s speeches that we all look forward to is the annual conjuring trick, and the 10 different ways we could use a bankers’ bonus tax. The rabbit out of the hat trick gets progressively more difficult because the rabbit gets bigger and the hat gets smaller as time passes, so I shall remind him of some of the figures.

When the right hon. Gentleman was City Minister and presiding over all of this, the total bankers’ bonus pool was something in the order of £11.3 billion, and it was £11.5 billion the following year when the Labour Government brought in a bankers’ bonus tax. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which monitors these things, the bankers’ bonus pool was £1.6 billion last year. In the current year, it is estimated to be £1.3 billion. That is one-tenth of the size of the bonus pool on which the original tax was placed. We are then left with the question that is at the core of his fiscal policy: how is he going to get £3 billion in tax out of a £1.5 billion bonus pool? The charitable way to describe that is as a mathematical puzzle. We ought to refer it to the new Turing institute to investigate.

I should perhaps declare one self-interest. I do not have an interest in the millionaires’ tax, but compared with both the shadow Chancellor and the Chancellor I am more likely to take advantage of the relaxation in the annuity rules. It is worth recalling that over many years I came to this House on many Friday mornings, with Back Benchers from my own party and Conservative Opposition MPs, to try to achieve this reform. We were confronted with relentless stonewalling by the Labour Government of the day, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a part and in which he participated directly, with the very simple message that pensioners were far too stupid and irresponsible to be trusted with their own pension savings. This is one of the really big, major positive changes to come out of the Budget.”

With thanks to Jonathan Calder’s blog article here.

Lib Dem Preston Budget Speech – from Cllr John Potter

February 28th, 2014 by neildarby

“My speech today is going to be shorter than in the previous two years mainly because you are finally doing what we said back in 2012.

“We will hear a lot of blame being dished out today but if you had implemented what we said two years ago the city finances would be over 1 million pounds better off than we are now.

Delays cost money. 

“In the case of Preston City Council your decision to delay will cost this council and the people of Preston jobs and services.

“The blame for that extra million pounds worth of pain and cutbacks is on your shoulders. Peter Rankin said last year he, and his cabinet, were tempted to walk away and leave it the other political parties to sort out. Unfortunately Peter if you had the city would be in a far better place.

“Even now you are pushing the vast majority of your cuts back a further year. Further delays costing the city even more money. We would bring them forward and save as many jobs and services as we can. Because we are bringing the cuts forward we can save the inner city litter picking team and provide a car parking subsidy to help out struggling businesses in the city centre.

“There is so little wiggle room now is this Council’s finances that we can find very few things to oppose in your budget.

“Prioritising monitoring of CCTV over PCSOs is definitely one. A report designed to highlight the virtues of CCTV still cannot give us a single crime that has been prevented because someone was monitoring. True crimes have been spotted and dealt with after the incident but our proposals will have no effect on that. Public responses clearly show that residents rate PCSOs as being more important to them than CCTV (let alone the monitoring of it).

“Another difference between the Lib Dem group and every other councillor (Eric Fazackerley excluded) in this chamber is protected position of Councillors. Once again, while every other department in this organisation is taking its share of the pain, the politicians protect themselves. Cut Councillors, save services. I’m guessing public opinion is on our side of that argument as well.

“A vote against our budget amendment, is a vote for more job cuts, fewer services and an ending of this council’s support of PCSOs. I urge you to support our amendment.”

Family spending power rising

February 22nd, 2014 by neildarby

The latest Asda Income Tracker has revealed that family spending power increased by £3 a week compared to last year. The rise was driven by a fall in the rate of essential item inflation to 1.9%, the lowest rate in four years.

Key figures include:

  • The average UK family has £160 a week of extra spending money after taking bills and essentials into account
  • Inflation has fallen to 1.9% – the first time inflation has dropped below 2% in over 4 years – helping to keep costs down
  • Petrol and diesel costs have fallen by 1.8% since last year and food price inflation is low at 2%
  • Energy bills rises, while still putting pressure on household finances, are slowing down thanks to new measures introduced by the Coalition Government
  • Pay has grown by 1%

Find out more about what Liberal Democrats are doing to help you with the cost of living at

Delivering a Stronger Economy and a Fairer Society

October 25th, 2013 by neildarby

The economy is, without doubt, on the road to recovery.

Today’s GDP figures offer yet more positive signs. It proves the Coalition Government made the right calls to put us back on track. And, make no mistake, the recovery would not be happening without Liberal Democrats in Government. It is thanks to policies delivered by Lib Dem ministers that businesses are gaining confidence to invest and more people are back in work.

Where to start? How about the 1.5 million apprenticeships created under our watch. Maybe the millions of workers who will benefit from a £700 tax cut, or more than two million people who won’t pay income tax at all. And that is before we have mentioned the Regional Growth Fund, which is ensuring the recovery is not fenced off in London and the South East. Meanwhile, a string of City Deals (including Preston) have been signed off inspiring huge transformations across the UK – with more to come.

The Conservatives may be quick to claim credit, but I have no doubt they would not have given us a fair recovery. Liberal Democrats have blocked Tory plans to allow bosses to fire staff at will and introduce regional pay. Instead, we are anchoring Britain in the centre ground and strengthening the economy.

But we cannot afford to be complacent in the slightest.

People are still struggling to pay bills and face a daily grind to improve life for their families. So, the focus must now be on bolstering the economy and making sure this recovery is sustainable. And it is only the Liberal Democrats who will continue to ensure nobody is left behind.

In 2010, we could have hidden away in a corner, but instead took a tough decision to form a coalition at a time of economic crisis. People said we wouldn’t have the stomach for the fight, they said we couldn’t take big decisions, they were wrong.

And because of that I am proud to say today we are delivering a stronger economy, and a fairer society.

More jobs and a stronger economy in Preston shows our plan for growth is working

October 25th, 2013 by neildarby

Commenting on today’s GDP figures showing that the economy grew by 0.8% in the last quarter, Liberal Democrat Neil Darby said:

“Fixing the economy was always going to take time, but these figures are further evidence that the Coalition’s plan is working.

“The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life. Getting growth going and creating jobs is at the heart of that. We have helped businesses create a million jobs, now we want to help create a million more.”

“This recovery would not be happening without Liberal Democrats in Government.”

A million more people are currently in work compared to early 2010, according to the Office of National Statistics, and across the UK the number of unemployed people in the UK has dropped by 18,000 in the last three months.

The growth figures follow the announcement that new energy, road and rail projects worth £33 billion have passed the first hurdle in securing Government backing, as announced by Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander earlier in the week.

More money for Enterprise Zones

October 9th, 2013 by neildarby

The government is making an extra £100m available to England’s 24 enterprise zones, including the Preston-based Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. This is aimed to speed up job creation, following frustration that they have been slow to develop. The cash, on top of nearly £700m of existing public money, will fund projects such as road building and land clearance to unlock areas currently idle.

“This is long overdue” says Neil Darby.  “We need a lot of infrastructure development in this country, but it needs to be done in an orderly fashion.”