As we have noted before, our Leeds NW Liberal Democrat MP thinks of himself as a different kind of politician. This is how he describes himself – weirdly in the third person:
‘Whilst other politicians rely on spin, Greg is known as a plain speaker who is not afraid to speak his mind.’
We are becoming increasingly sceptical about this and here’s why.
Mr Greg Mulholland, Leeds NW MP, has welcomed new powers to tackle rogue traders and give better protection to consumers. He is surely correct in saying that being a victim of rogue trading and mis-selling is highly distressing and can be financially ruinous. The previous Labour government had introduced strict penalties and regulations regarding rogue trading when in office and these arrangements, which seek to increase them, are therefore welcome.
Mr Mulholland’s announcement, however, is misleading, low on information and, not for the first time, as interesting for what he leaves out as for what he boasts about. In short, he’s spinning.
So, let’s examine his announcement.
1. Although Mr Mulholland’s headline makes reference to ‘new powers’ to tackle rogue traders, strictly speaking, at the moment, there are only proposals for new powers. We have seen in the past that proposals do not always become law.
2. He goes on to claim that the changes will boost the UK economy by over £4 billion over the next decade. This is a significant sum of money. However, it is not clear from where this figure has been derived nor is it clear how money lost by consumers will be repaid or reclaimed.
3. Mr Mulholland’s statement suggests a degree of pride not only in the fact that the Coalition Government has taken action in this area but also that a Liberal Democrat Business Minister, Jo Swinson, made the announcement. He hasn’t, however, informed his readers and constituents that the new legislation had its origins in the European Union, or that it is being introduced here only at the last possible moment.
Now we know that Europe is difficult for the Coalition government but you would think, wouldn’t you, that the EU would be given credit where credit is due?
The Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) was passed by the EU in October 2011. All EU member states have to implement it by 2013. That is what the government has done. But why, one wonders, has there been a two year and costly delay?
So this is what Mr Mulholland’s spinned announcement amounts to: a proposal for new powers, that has not been properly costed, lacks important detail and has only been introduced because the EU has determined it should be – and at the last minute too.
Notwithstanding the above, however, there is one point on which Labour stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our Leeds North West Liberal Democrat MP.
Rogue traders should be identified, hunted down and brought to book!
And many of his constituents think this is exactly what should happen to the Lib Dems.
The proposed legislation will include a 90-day period to allow people to cancel a contract if they feel they have been bullied or misled.
Unfortunately, those who voted Lib Dem at the last election didn’t have the luxury of a 90-day cooling off period. Rather, within a matter of days, they found out just how far they had been misled – they discovered that the Lib Dems had revealed their true colours by going into coalition with the Tories.
And the lesson we can learn from this?
Vote Lib Dem for a Tory government!
Next time we’ll be scrutinising the contract very carefully.