This doesn’t tell the whole story, though. How did this get in to our manifesto in the first place? Did it fall out of the Orange Book and hit David Laws on the head? I have to say there’s no clue in either of the emails I’ve seen from Danny Alexander today.
Actually no. It came from an idea by Chester’s Elizabeth Jewkes, way back in early 2009. The Chester Lib Dems website has the story.
If the Income Tax threshold was raised to £11,174 then every adult who works full time would be £20 a week better off. Putting £1,000 a year back into the pockets of working people and helping to improve their quality of life. The government should be supporting working people more’ claims Elizabeth. ‘And reducing the amount of tax the lowest paid have to pay is one way of doing that.’
Elizabeth discussed this with Vince Cable when he visited Manchester last October and he agreed it was excellent idea. With the support of Vince Cable M.P. and Jo Swinson M.P. Elizabeth presented her policy suggestion the Liberal Democrats policy conference at the London School of Economics on 17 January where it received an enthusiastic reception. Nick Clegg told Elizabeth that he is supporting her proposal and in his speech Vince Cable singled out Elizabeth’s proposal as one which has his support too.
The idea was adopted by the Party at its Conference in 2009 and today has been delivered in Government. I think the Party should be making quite a fuss of Lizzie Jewkes right now. Her original idea, of raising the threshold to the minimum wage, has still to be reached. Maybe we should be pushing for that ahead of the next General Election.
It just goes to show that party members can shape and influence the party’s direction. If you have some good, liberal ideas, then now is the time to be putting them forward as we develop our platform for 2015. If you’re not already a member, you can join us here.