Manifesto 2015: The debate is on

logo_lg new Liberal Democrat logoLast week saw the final, rearranged, Manifesto Roadshow in Leeds chaired by Sal Brinton. Those of us present had some good opportunities to suggest and debate policy ideas for the 2015 General Election manifesto.

There was lots of discussion of transport issues – around the quality and reliability of buses and trains and the capacity of the rail network. I raised the point that transport links between and within the northern cities has been identified as a vital ingredient in the agglomeration recipe that supports economic growth. While there has been some progress on this, such as with the Northern Rail Hub, we need much stronger and clearer ambition still.

The meeting impressed me for the extent to which it was about listening to members as opposed to telling us what was going to happen. If you didn’t get to one, all is not lost: the manifesto website is still running, taking ideas and debating them, leading up to a pre-manifesto document later in the year.

There you can submit your idea to the website, or contribute to the debate on some of the topics posted, arranged under six themed headings:

  • Foundations for growth: Investing in infrasctructure, Champion small businesses, tax transparency …
  • Modernising our economy: Energy efficiency, planning, apprenticeships, agriculture, building more homes, …
  • Jobs and living standards: Shifting the burden of taxation from income to wealth, immigration, welfare reform,
  • Every person’s potential: Pupil premium, free schools, child care, …
  • A country fit to live in: Environment, Welfare reform (again), health, mental health, rehabilitation, …
  • Free citizens in a safe world: Defence, aid, political reform…

Don’t tear your hair out at what is missing from this list. Write it down and send it in. The social liberal forum are also operating a similar manifesto discussion, so it would probably not do any harm to submit your idea there too.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017, is a councillor in Sheffield and is Tuesday editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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  • “There was lots of discussion of transport issues”

    Knowing some of the attendees, why does this not surprise me? <3

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Apr '14 - 6:40pm

    I think the Lib Dem policy making process needs reforming. Total amateurs in specialist areas should not be able to bind the leaders hands. Maybe the answer is more democracy, maybe it is less, but the status quo fails too easily.

  • I don’t see decentralisation in there: if we really believe in subsidiarity, then let us make it so.

  • Richard Dean 12th Apr '14 - 1:30am

    Why not include a promise to clean up parliament? The behaviour of MP’s revealed by the deputy speaker’s case and the Channel 4 investigation is disgusting.

  • I agree with Eddie. Policy making hasn’t been reformed since “tuition fees” proved the party inept at making deliverable policy. The manifesto website is a good idea poorly implemented; anyone can send in ideas, but if you want to discuss them you have to be a member! The party only has ~40k members, you would of thought someone would realise that opening up discussion would yield better results. Instead, it’s the same ol’ story – the manifesto will be full of half-baked ideas from well intentioned people, that may prove impractical in government.

    Anyone aware of modern Liberal Democrats knows party members are often secretive, illiberal sorts that like to do everything behind close doors with a wink and a nod. Take my constituency – Farron pushed Rix on us, who turns up on this site telling us he wants a Cornish Assembly and a host of other rubbish! We lost a councillor for that (and also a PPC that would probably of won the seat!). These are not the actions of a liberal or democratic organisation, they’re the swansong of something that became corrupt and ineffectual.

    Democracy in the party is for those that can afford it and even senior members publicly voice frustration at internal hierarchy. Policy has been proven fairly unimportant – when in a position to implement the leadership cherry picked. This is what the next 6 years will be about for Lib Dems; after election damnation makes it clear this system isn’t working, a new one will have to be invented. So, if you’ve got any good ideas for policy now is probably a bad time to throw them down.

    Transparency, democracy and liberty are the key; I think Lib Dems need to be able to show as much of their internal workings and be as open as possible, they need to broaden participation and clamp down on policy that centres around banning stuff. When this happens the punishment will be over, because the party will of demonstrated it has learnt lessons and moved on.

  • Let’s talk up the value of the status quo in Europe before it’s too late — we have the best of both worlds at present — we are members of the biggest trading block in the world, we benefit from the security of a Europe reunited after half a century of division, and we don’t have to be members of the Euro block. What’s not to like about the present position? Why antagonize the British people further by pressing for Federal constitutions?

  • Chris Manners 14th Apr '14 - 2:04pm

    “Every person’s potential: Pupil premium, free schools, child care,”

    Free schools aren’t going very well. You want more of them?

    Note that lots of them are academies anyway- 3 of the outstanding ones are run by existing providers. Take those out (and the Inadequate E-Act academy) and you’ve got pretty dismal figures.

    And wasn’t the pupil premium supposed to be extra money?

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