Election 2017 Manifestos: Liberal Democrats

The UK general election campaign has taken a rightful pause following the Manchester terrorist attack. It looks like things are going to re-start on Friday, which seems about right. As others have said, the best way to defy terrorists is to carry on as normal – like it or not – and not let them impact your lives, and especially not our democracy.

Continuing my look at the party manifestos, it’s the turn of the Liberal Democrats.

 

  • Election 2017 Manifestos: Plaid Cymru
  • Election 2017 Manifestos: Labour


Change Britain’s Future – (pdf)

Brexit

 

  • “Acknowledges” the EU referendum result, but would hold a referendum on any final Brexit deal, with the option of staying in the EU included on the ballot paper.
  • Guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and seek the same for UK citizens living in the EU.
  • Seek full membership of the EU single market and customs union; supports freedom of movement.
  • Retain EU laws on equalities, environmental standards, the European health insurance card and employment rights.
  • Reform agricultural subsidies post-Brexit, but ensure farmers don’t miss out.


Economy & Tax

 

  • A £100billion infrastructure investment package.
  • Supports High Speed 2, Crossrail 2 and rail electrification programmes.
  • Develop an Airports Strategy for the whole UK taking climate change and pollution into account.
  • Raise income tax by 1p, with an appropriate share granted to Wales to spend on health and social care services.
  • Raise corporation tax from 17% to 20%, reverse cuts to capital gains tax, scrap the marriage allowance and scrap plans to raise to the inheritance tax threshold.
  • Create a start up allowance for new businesses.
  • Create a “good employer kite mark” covering areas like the living wage, avoiding unpaid internships and equalities.
  • Modernise employment rights to take into account the rise of the “gig economy”; scrap employment tribunal fees.
  • Give employees in companies employing more than 250 people a right to request shares.
  • Ensure every property in the UK has access to super fast broadband by 2022.
  • Abolish the Severn crossing tolls from 2018.


Energy & Environment

 

  • Give an immediate go ahead to the Swansea tidal lagoon.
  • Introduce an Air Quality Plan to reduce 40,000 premature deaths a year.
  • Introduce a diesel car scrappage scheme, with all licenced diesel vehicles (i.e. buses) required to be zero carbon or low-emission by 2022.
  • Cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero across the UK by 2050.
  • Generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030.


Welfare

 

  • Maintain the “triple lock” on state pensions.
  • Introduce a single rate of tax relief for pensioners.
  • Separate benefits administration from employment services, turning job centres into places of training and support.
  • Reverse cuts to universal credit and the two-child policy/rape clause for child tax credit.
  • Reverse cuts to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds; increase housing benefit in line with average local rents.
  • Scrap the “bedroom tax”.
  • Scrap work capability assessments and replace it with a system run by local authorities.
  • Withdraw winter fuel allowance from pensioners who pay income tax at the higher rate.


Criminal Justice

 

  • Give an additional £300million to police forces in EnglandandWales for community policing.
  • End the 1% cap on police pay rises.
  • Require all front line police officers to wear body cameras.
  • Scrap Police & Crime Commissioners.
  • Introduce a Victims Bill of Rights.
  • Increase the use of community punishments instead of short prison sentences.
  • Obtain more funding for legal aid from sources other than tax, including insurance for company directors.
  • Decriminalise prostitution, focusing police time on grooming and people-trafficking.
  • End imprisonment for drugs possession.
  • Legalise and regulate the sale of cannabis.


Defence

 

  • The UK should only take military action when there’s a clear humanitarian case, endorsed by a parliamentary vote.
  • Commit to spending 2% of GDP on defence.
  • Provide golden handshakes of up to £10,000 for STEM graduates to join the armed forces.
  • Maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent with only three replacement nuclear submarines, not four.
  • Support improvements to veterans’ mental health.
  • Improve the quality of service housing.


Foreign Affairs

 

  • Use all aspects of government policy to prevent conflict.
  • Presume against arms exports to countries identified as abusing human rights (particularly Saudi Arabia).
  • Seek to break the diplomatic deadlock on the Syrian crisis in the UN.
  • Supports a “two state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Exert maximum diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia to stop them interfering in the affairs of eastern European nations.
  • Maintain foreign aid spending at 0.7% of GDP.
  • Maintain funding for BBC World Service.


Immigration

 

  • Ensure the Border Agency is adequately funded with “strict and secure” border checks.
  • Continue to allow high-skilled immigration, whilst identifying the number of migrants necessary to fill skills gaps on an annual basis.
  • Remove international students from migration statistics.
  • Reinstate post-study work visas for international students who graduate in STEM subjects, with the devolved administrations allowed to sponsor additional post-study visas.
  • Offer safe and legal routes for refugees to come to the UK to prevent them taking more dangerous routes.
  • Over 50,000 Syrians sanctuary over the five years of the next Parliament, including 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees.
  • End indefinite detention of immigrants, limiting it to 28 days.


Constitutional Reform & Misc.

 

  • Opposes a second Scottish independence referendum.
  • Establish a federal constitution for the UK – including extra powers for Wales over transport, criminal justice and policing, as well as the creation of a Welsh legal jurisdiction.
  • Introduce “devolution on demand” within England and Cornwall, and an England-only stage for laws that solely affects England.
  • Lower the voting age to 16.
  • Introduce single transferable vote to elect MPs.
  • Create an elected second chamber at Westminster.
  • Cap political donations at £10,000 per person, per year.
  • Oppose any attempt to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and retain the Human Rights Act.
  • Push for at least 40% of FTSE board members to be women.
  • Extend the Equalities Act to cover companies employing 250+ people.
  • End the ministerial veto on release of information under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

Major faults:

 

  • I supported Remain. I’m annoyed the UK and Wales voted Leave too. Yes, it hurts. However, holding another EU referendum with an In-Out question is hardly“acknowledging the result” and will likely make current divisions even worse. In the same logic, denying a second Scottish independence referendum is rank hypocrisy.
  • No costings at all. Disappointing as the Lib Dems are usually reliable for that.
  • A five year window to get all licenced diesel vehicles low carbon seems optimistic.


Minor faults:

 

  • On their proposals for accepting more Syrian refugees – the numbers are more than double those already laid down by the UK Government. This will require some serious planning; the only part of the UK that’s pulling its weight at the moment is Scotland, while Wales has encountered problems there in terms of support from London (and amongst some local councils).
  • Income tax will be partially devolved to Wales soon, so will their proposed 1p rise in income tax apply here to raise money for something that’s devolved?
  • Reform of the House of Lords has been on the table for many years, and when parties have been in the position to press it through they’ve failed to do so.
  • The plans for devolution seem a bit muddled and some way away from their traditional support for a outright federal UK.