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Exposed: LibDem's mixed messages

Cleg IN THEIR desperation for votes this General Election, the Liberal Democrats are willing to say absolutely ANYTHING to get your vote.

For an exclusive News of the World investigation we have trawled the length and breadth of the country, examining the millions of leaflets being shoved through your doors by Lib Dem, volunteers.

We have also tracked down the promises their senior politicians have been coming out with when they think no-one is listening.

On some of the most crucial issues that will help voters decide who to back at the next election they are trying to be all things to all people.

In some areas, Liberal Democrats say they will put 10,000 more police on the beat: 

In Cardiff South and Penarth their election leaflets say: ‘The Lib Dems support an extra 10,000 police on patrol in the UK so we can actually catch more criminals.’

But in West Worcestershire they say they would put only 3,000 extra police on the beat. ‘[T]he Liberal Democrats’ commitment to put 3,000 extra police on the beat was “the firmest central commitment yet from a political party

And nationally, the Liberal Democrats promise only 3,000 more police on the beat: ‘By scrapping pointless ID cards, we will pay for 3,000 more police, and cut bureaucracy so they’re out fighting crime not filling in forms.’ (Liberal Democrats, Pocket Guide to Liberal Democrat Policies, March 2010)

On immigration, the Lib Dems have promised a “sensitive” approach that allows the right number of foreign workers into Britain and then gives them the resources they need to look after their families and language problems.

In Hove, on the South coast, Nick Clegg told his party’s local newsletter: “Nasty right wing politicians and even Labour politicians try to blame the immigrants for the problems.

“It’s time areas with higher levels received the resources they were promised.”

And in West Worcestershire, candidate Richard Burt said “The Liberal Democrats are the only party willing to offer a green card immigration system like Australia.”

But in areas where local voters have been warnng they are fed up with large numbers of immigrants the Lib Dems miraculously change their tune.

In Caerphilly, a crucial Welsh marginal seat, local candidate Kay David promises: “Immigration will be fixed with stringent border checks and newcomers should learn English.

And in the London seat of Kenilworth and Southam, Lib Dem leaflets say: “Immigration, especially illegal immigration, is rightly of concern to many people and lack of proper controls is just not good enough.”

On crime, the message differs as well.

In some parts of the country, Lib Dems talk tough on crime - saying ‘life should mean life’.

On Merseyside, where they are contesting Sefton Central, Nick Clegg said: ‘A “life sentence” usually means just over ten years in prison. It’s got to change.’

But back in London, Clegg’s own policy guide says “Labour and the Tories have become embroiled in a sentencing arms race in a bid to pander to tabloid newspaper editors and to exploit a politics of fear.”

If that didn’t make you confused, then their policies on school funding certainly will.

Last week Nick Clegg said every penny in his Party’s election manifesto was fully funded, but local candidates clearly have different ideas about where the money will go.

In Salisbury, the Lib Dems call for more spending on all schools in Wiltshire: ‘[T]he unfair funding of Wiltshire’s schools has to stop. It cannot be fair that Salisbury’s schools receive less than almost every other area in the UK. I will make raising this to the same level as in other areas a priority if elected.’ (‘Liberal Democrats Focus’, March 2010)

But hop over to the West Countery, in Wells, and the Liberal Democrats say they will spend more money on disadvantaged pupils. ‘Delivering our multi-billion pound pupil premium means children from less privileged backgrounds will be funded up to the level of private schoolchildren.

“The money would be targeted at schools with children who need more help.’

And nationally, the Lib Dems promise a more support for struggling pupils.

And it’s not just over school funding where confusion reigns.

In some parts of the country, Liberal Democrats promise to scrap tuition fees entirely if elected.

In the vital Cornish marginal of Camborne and Redruth, local MP Julia Goldsworthy says: “Labour’s unfair tuition fees for those who want to go to university will be abolished.”

In Cheadle they have the same message: “And we’re the only party with fully costed plans to scrap university tuition fees straight away.

"Graduates shouldn’t have to start out in life with massive debts...The Liberal Democrats will not make a promise unless we can pay for it...It’s just not right for young people who want a university education to have to make that decision based on their bank balance. Under the Liberal Democrats they wouldn’t have to.”

But nationally, they say it will take six years to phase out tuition fees.

Their policy guide clearly states: “We have a financially responsible plan to phase out [tuition] fees over six years”

Like Labour, they are also using local campaigns against the Tories to attack them over claims they will impose “savage cuts” to public services.

In Bromsgrove, Liberal Democrats say Conservatives would make ‘savage cuts’.

Their leaflets say: “The Conservatives promise progressive change, but would lead to savage cuts in public services and tax cuts for the rich.”

But speaking at his manifesto launch, Nick Clegg himself said cuts needed to be “savage and bold.”

In Bristol North West, Liberal Democrats says Conservatives will raise VAT.

There the leaflets say: “Tory MP, Ken Clarke, has also admitted that VAT is likely to rise under a Conservative Government.

But Treasury Spokesman Vince Cable says he won’t rule out a rise in VAT.

On the first televised debate between the three parties, he admitted: “You can’t rule it out.

“We’ve got to focus on spending which got to levels which weren’t supportable with the level of tax revenue we had.”

Yesterday, Mr Clegg told the News of the World: “I really welcome any scrutiny of our polcies on a national or a local level. I’ve always said this campaign should be about policies and ideas.

“We are the only party to set out how we will do it and how we would pay.”



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