Friday, September 24, 2004

A bumper crop

With the Liberal Democrats' party conference over, it must be time to reflect on what SG has been up to this week. There she was uring Charles Kennedy's speech, sitting on the front row like the Head Girl. But did he know that the previous night she had been desperate to get hold of an inflatable sheep?

Lib Dems Woo "Let Down" Labour Voters (PA News, Monday)
Sandra Gidley, who first snatched her Romsey seat from Tories in a 2000 by-election victory, said Labour and Tories had “squandered” people’s trust and would pay for it at the ballot box.

But she warned that Liberal Democrats still faced an uphill struggle to convince voters that they could be trusted with the “bigger picture”.
She told delegates her by-election victory had proved the party could win seats from Conservatives and was the launch pad for the 2001 General Election campaign.
“There are no no-go areas for the Liberal Democrats. Conservatives are going nowhere and we are still in a position to take seats from them.

“Labour supporters feel let down, disillusioned, and are looking for an alternative and that alternative is Liberal Democrats.”
She continued: “The challenge in front of us is to convince the country not that we’re nice, I think people think that anyway, but that we can be trusted with the bigger picture.”

Climate change 'our greatest threat' (The Guardian, Tuesday)
Environment spokeswoman [news to us! -GW] Sandra Gidley warned that Britain would have to find a home for more than three million tonnes of toxic waste after the government had failed to prepare for the EU 1999 landfill directive.

She said: "The result could be devastating for regions of England and Wales, with a huge rise in illegal fly-tipping by cowboy waste contractors. Serious questions must be asked of ministers where this waste is going, what damage it could be doing to the environment and what threat it could be to human health."

Lib Dems target "grey vote" (The Guardian, Wednesday)
On a day set to be dominated by "third age" issues, Ms Gidley highlighted the loss of almost 19,000 care home places in England and Wales over the past three years, and warned that urgent action was needed to stem the decline.

"Ministers have had their heads in the sand for far too long," she said.

"The loss of care homes has been unforeseen, unstructured and unplanned. The shortage of places leads to an increase of vulnerable older people stuck in hospital increasing their risk of infection, places extra strains on the families and can lead to older people being put in a care home miles away from their family.

"The clock is ticking; unless action is taken to prevent further closures and restore confidence in the care home sector, more homes will close their doors."

Ms Gidley also reiterated the party's pledge to fund free long-term care for the elderly and to cushion the impact of council tax - to be funded through a 50% tax rate on incomes over £100,000, together with its other key proposal to abolish university tuition fees.

Double pitch for the "grey vote" (BBC, Wednesday)
Sandra Gidley, spokeswoman for older people, said it was unfair so many pensioners were too poor to heat their homes properly or eat healthily.

"Older people have been pushed around... for too long," she told the party conference in Bournemouth.

Women face "gross injustice" on pensions
At the Bournemouth conference on Wednesday, the party also pledged that older citizens would benefit from plans to replace council tax with a local income tax.

Sandra Gidley, the party's spokesman on older people, said the current local taxation system was having "a hugely damaging impact on older people".

"It is time this regressive Tory tax was abolished," she said.

At the Lib Dem Conference Today (PA, Wednesday)
Sandra Gidley, spokesperson for older people, said it was unfair that hundreds of thousands of pensioners were too poor to heat their own homes properly or eat healthily. “Older people have been pushed around and treated as second class citizens for too long.”

Conference Highlights (The Independent, Thursday)
Sandra Gidley MP, left, the party's women's spokesperson, was baffled to receive this message from Charles Kennedy's aide de camp: "Please call re: Charles, beach and women." It should have read "Charles, speech and women."

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