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Liberal Democrat Doncaster Coal Speech
(NUM and coal industry representatives also attended the speech)

Good afternoon everyone, 

It is great to be in Doncaster, this town feels like home to me, down to earth, working class and proud. My parents were Jewish and participated in French resistance, after the war, they immigrated to Britain, my mum was a teacher and my pa was a factory worker. We lived in decent conditions, not the greatest but certainly not in conditions working class people see today. Working class communities across the country faced the brunt of Thatcher’s brutal attack on our public services. I was there, I remember it all too well. I was working as a social worker, I have seen the effects of this horrible attack on our social services and I have also seen how Labour was incapable of doing anything because of infighting and refusal to compromise. Right now, we face a different problem, Labour has gone from refusing to compromise to basically adopting Tory policies. Unfortunately, the British Coal has been privatised and only Liberal Democrats opposed this policy, now we have to do damage control first and then work on how to revive our working class communities in coal mining areas. 

As Liberal Democrats, we do have a plan for reviving our communities and make sure we can do best of this privatisation. First of all the value of British Coal, the amount the government will make from this deal is around 2 billion pounds, as Liberal Democrats we pledge to invest this amount in our working class communities over a decade, ring fenced obviously, to ensure that the money made off of our working class communities are spent in our communities and not used to subsidies tax breaks for the wealthy. The reason why we want to invest over a decade instead of one off deal is because we want to create an economically sustainable environment for our communities, one off deals are great for short term solutions but in general they barely make dents in the long term and that is why as Liberal Democrats we promise to make sure this investment is spent effectively and in a way that ensures sustainability and viability of our communities in the long term.

Our policy around coal mines has been to keep British Coal and open up mines to other firms as well to ensure a competitive environment, this way we could see much better conditions for our workers and for our communities, instead of a monopoly that holds every card in the table. Our policy to shift the mines to the crown and issue licences for companies to mine stays the same, we will use these licencing fees to create a Coal Investment Fund. Every single penny earned from licencing fees shall be appropriated to the Coal Investment Fund. The fund will be used for two things investing in our local communities and to develop green technology especially in areas of energy and transportation. 90 percent of the fund shall be reserved for our coal communities, this investment shall be used on areas of  housing, healthcare, interest free business loans, infrastructure, education and culture. 20 percent of the local community fund shall be spared for environmental preservation projects in our coal communities. 10 percent of the total fund shall be used to develop green technology. 

We will also attach two conditions for companies who wants to have access to our licences. First condition shall be that, these companies have to agree to invest in the local NHS specifically to aid in areas of workplace related diseases such as black lung and other respiratory diseases. This will ensure sustainability of our NHS and ensure that resources for coal mining related diseases are met in these local areas. Second condition will be that companies who wants to have access to these licences will be required to invest in local environmental infrastructure and preservation projects as well. Our lands will be used to generate huge profits, that should come with good conditions for our miners and investment in our communities that allow these companies to soar in profits. That is the only fair way we can ensure that our communities get a fair deal. 

It would be a disservice to this community and to our coal miners without mentioning the losses these communities and miners endured. Our miners and their communities endured disasters, accidents and blatant disregard for safety in the name of profits over the years, to fire up the engine of this country and when it came to disasters, accidents and workplace deaths, they were told off, one stark example is in 1966, a horrific disaster occurred in Aberfan, Wales. 144 people died, 28 adults and 116 children. This was not an accident, it was a disaster happened due to unscrupulous employers, this was an entirely preventable disaster and it still happened. The Labour government of the time, even had the gall to demand money from the Aberfan Disaster Memorial Fund for the clearance, money that was collected for the victims and their families. As Liberal Democrats, we pledged to pay back the money that was taken from the Memorial Fund with interest and inflation adjusted. This will amount about 1.5 million and as Liberal Democrats, we will return this money immediately to the fund, with an apology to the fund for this disgraceful action and to the people of Aberfan for inadequate actions from the UK government regarding prosecuting and fining people who were responsible for this disaster. Because supporting our coal miners and communities should not and can not happen without fixing mistakes of the past and that is why Liberal Democrats are the party of working class communities.
Noémie Suchet MP

Member of Parliament for Bath

LibDem Leader
You really are beginning to max out your appeal to the left, this is deep red Labour territory with people who's ancestors voted for the party when Keir Hardie was running the show, on average they tend to be more socially conservative as well as left-leaning politically and economically which gets to the crux of your issue. You can promise them the world, and keeping coal around into the 21st century is pretty much promising the world, but they won't vote for a liberal, not this side of 1918. You have taken all the low-hanging leftist fruit really at this point, you have got to start focusing back on your right flank or the Tories (and Labour) will take it off of you like taking candy from a baby.

The speech itself was very good though, you have a real flair for campaign politics and some of the policies will start to soften opinions over time if Labour continue to stick to the new rightwards path they are on.

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