A SENIOR Liberal Democrat peer has said he is ‘appalled’ at the stream of bad news coming out of the coalition government.

Pendle-based Lord Tony Greaves is the first major Lib Dem politician to break ranks with his party because of the policies being introduced by the Conservative/Lib Dem Government.

He is particulularly unhappy at education and health policies and cuts to local services.

Lord Greaves, who lives in Winewall, near Colne, has written a weekly column in the Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale edition of the Lancashire Telegraph for more than six years.

However, he announced yesterday that he felt unable to continue the role, fearing the column would only develop into a vehicle for his rants against the political party he has represented for the past 40 years.

Lord Greaves is credited with helping the Lib Dems to their best ever position of having 63 members of parliament, and the best for any party in the liberal tradition in over 80 years, by moving the party’s famous Community Politics motion, which gave power to ordinary people.

The Waterside ward councillor was made a life peer as Baron Greaves, of Pendle in the County of Lancashire in 2000.

Announcing his decision not to continue the column, he said: “I am frankly appalled by the stream of bad news that is coming out of the government.

"If I continue to write these columns they will inevitably consist of weekly attacks on my own party which I'd rather not do.”

Speaking after, Lord Greaves voiced fears over the Conservatives’ influence on the coalition Government.

He said: “I think there are too many right-wing Tory initiatives popping out of the woodwork that were not in the agreement.

"The Academies Bill will allow schools to convert to academies very quickly with minimal consultation.

"Potentially it will wreck local education.”

He also raised concerns over health policy decisions, singling out the Conservative health secretary for criticism.

“I think Andrew Lansley is a loose cannon who is proposing to hand the running of the NHS over to GPs,” he said.

“I do not know how many GPs want to do that rather than getting on with their own jobs.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said Lord Greaves had been ‘out of step’ with the Liberal Democrat Party for some time.

He said: “I find his comments humorous considering seven weeks ago he was saying that the coalition was an extraordinarily good deal for the Lib Dems.

"He said the Conservatives were out of their depth and that the Lib Dems were getting everything they wanted from it.

“Seven weeks later, when there are hard decisions to be made, he is seemingly walking out on his party.”

Gordon Prentice, who was Labour MP for Pendle between 1992 and last May, said Lord Greaves’ frustration was born out of the Lib Dem Party’s recent move from a centre left position rightwards.

He said: “Tony Greaves has always had run-ins with leaders of the Lib Dems.

"He is an old fashioned Liberal - a Michael Meadowcroft type Liberal - and I can understand why he feels so disillusioned.”

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: "The huge budget deficit left by Labour means that the Government has to make some very difficult choices about spending programmes such as Building Schools for the Future.

"We recognise how difficult this is for the areas affected but as a country we can't go on spending money we simply don't have.

"We have to be prepared to take these decisions in order to get the economy moving again and deliver the fairer society we believe in.

"By its very nature, being in coalition means there have to be elements of compromise.

"But Liberal Democrat policies on increasing funding for the most disadvantaged pupils, radical reform in the tax system, cleaning up our political system and tackling climate change are now part of the Government programme."

Click on the link below to read Lord Greaves' final column.