Manifesto: What a Liberal Democrat United Kingdom would look like in 2020

Manifesto Lib Dem visionThe preamble to the manifesto looks at what Britain would look like in 2020 if Liberal Democrat policies were implemented. It certainly sounds like a country I want to live in. I am pleased to see that it is seen as a priority to tackle the culture of everyday sexism with decent, mandatory sex education.

I certainly like the look of our “five year plan” – although I might have preferred it if we didn’t call it something quite so Kremlinesque. Here it is in full. 

This manifesto is a five year plan to build a fair, free and open society in our United Kingdom. Follow this plan and by 2020, our economy will be strong, sustainable and fair, our public finances will be healthy again and there will be jobs that last in every part of the country. Follow this plan and there will be opportunity for everyone to get on and live the life they want –at work, at home, online and in our communities.

We have to finish the job of sorting out the UK’s public finances – but we must do it fairly, making sure the wealthiest pay their fair share. Only the Liberal Democrat plan will keep the UK on track, balancing the books in 2017/18 so we can get back to investing in the public services and infrastructure that help make our country strong. In 2020, debt will be falling as a share of our economy for the fourth year in a row, steadily rebuilding our national resilience against future economic shocks.

Our economy will be thriving, delivering balanced growth with jobs that last in every nation and region. Government will take a long-term approach to supporting business and industry, helping supply credit, skilled workers and infrastructure. Over a third of UK electricity will come from renewables, not least from Scottish generators, and we will be leading the world in the technologies of the future, from electric cars to tidal power.

Britain will be the place to be if you want to thrive in advanced manufacturing, science, creative, digital and green industries, and our country will be open to ambitious entrepreneurs and thinkers from overseas. We will finally be building enough homes, every year, to meet our needs.

By 2020, our plan will bring together a lifetime of opportunities for every generation, enhancing the quality of all our lives. Mothers and fathers will be able to share the joys and struggles of early parenthood with extended Shared Parental Leave. Free, high- quality childcare will be available the moment parental leave is over. Education will prosper under the Liberal Democrats.

Young people will leave school and college confident about their future: we will have doubled the number of businesses hiring apprentices.

Society will be more equal. A million more women will be enabled to work, with fairer rules to help everyone juggle family life, caring responsibilities and the world of work. Carers will be treated with respect and given more help, including a bonus of £250 to spend however they choose. The tax system will be fairer: people will not pay Income Tax on the first £12,500 they earn, but strict rules will be in place to make sure the richest pay their fair share and corporations cannot dodge their tax responsibilities. Targeted green taxes will discourage pollution and reward sustainability.

There will be more jobs in our economy, with steadily higher wages and better employment rights. With Universal Credit and reforms to disability benefits, it will always pay to work, and everyone who needs a helping hand will get one. As you work, and as you save, you will feel confident about life after retirement, too. Millions more will have a workplace pension. Our ‘triple lock’ will protect the State Pension, our new single tier pension will mean your savings are your own to keep.

Our NHS will have the money it needs, and the Scottish Parliament will have the resources to make sure mental health
will have equal status with physical health. Those facing anxiety and depression will be seen swiftly, people struggling not to harm themselves will find emergency help at A&E and teenagers suffering from eating disorders will get the help they need close to home.

Five green laws will be on the statute books, protecting nature and wildlife in Britain and across the world, cleaning up our air and helping fight climate change.

People will be more free. A second Freedoms Act will have embedded citizens’ rights to freedom of speech and protest. The Human Rights Act will remain, with children’s rights protected in law too. The culture of everyday sexism will be declining, with young people taught in school about respect in relationships and sexual consent. Online, people will no longer be worried that the government is monitoring their every keystroke: a Digital Bill of Rights will have enshrined enduring principles of privacy and helped keep the internet open.

Our politics will be open, and fairer too. 2020 will be the first General Election in which 16 year olds can vote – the first generation to cast their first ballot in a fair STV voting system and the first generation to vote for the House of Lords. But every 16 year old will know it’s not just UK elections that matter: Scotland will have home rule powers as proposed by the cross-party Smith Commission, and comprehensive devolution to Wales and Northern Ireland will be completed too, keeping the course to a federal UK.

In 2020 Britain will be a force for good in the world, leading global action against climate change, tax avoidance and international
crime, working to prevent conflict and offer humanitarian aid, and promoting trade, development and prosperity. We will still be meeting our commitments to spend 0.7% of our national income helping the world’s poorest people. And we will be standing tall in our own neighbourhood, a leader in the European Union again. We will have secured real reform of the EU to deliver more jobs, more growth, and more security. Our borders will be secure and our immigration system fair. We will be working across borders to tackle crime and keep Britain safe.

Our Liberal Democrat plan will build a stronger economy and a fairer society, in a truly United Kingdom. Our plan will deliver opportunity for everyone.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • “five year plan ”

    Ugghhh… Someone should have caught that, well can’t be helped now.

  • On the plus side in the manifesto they do say:

    “We are determined to combat antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate in the UK and internationally”

    The use of the term “islamophobia” is used and is so misleading, what we are normally talking about is not a “fear” but an active firm of discrimination.

    Anyway I better get off the question of language as I am the last one entitled to throw stones on that topic…

  • *form

  • A mixed bag on freedom of expression though. Page 110 has:
    “- Ensure judicial authorisation is required for the acquisition of communications data which might reveal journalists’ sources or other privileged communications, for any of the purposes allowed under RIPA; and allow journalists the opportunity to address the court before authorisation.”

    But then on page 111:

    “[…]if, in the judgment of the Press Recognition Panel, after 12 months of operation, there is significant non-cooperation by newspaper publishers, then – as Leveson himself concluded – Parliament will need to act, drawing on a range of options including the legislative steps necessary to ensure that independent selfregulation is delivered. Where possible, we would seek to do this on the same cross-party basis that achieved the construction of the Leveson scheme by the Royal Charter.”

    An silly hostage to fortune, it would end up with a party that is nominally “Liberal” trying to regulate the press and a “Conservative” party arguing for freedom of the press.

    The answer is a specific and clearly defined right to privacy it would not allow the mission creep and manipulation by the powerful that a regulator would cause. An opportunity for sanity lost.

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Apr '15 - 1:40pm

    I’ve read the sections I was most worried about: “Economy”, “Tax”, “Pensions” and “International & Defence”.

    I see the threat of price controls in the pensions sector is there. This, along with tax increases and a lack of pro business and pro defence policies make it all look a bit left leaning. It seems to be how we can stifle businesses and the military, rather than help them.

    I think I thought David Laws and Nick Clegg would have a greater influence on it. I want another Conservative-Liberal coalition in 2015.

  • Eddie,

    “I want another Conservative-Liberal coalition in 2015.”

    I think we will need another election shortly after so the large parties can un-promise all their mad “magic money tree” pledges. It looks like they looked at the kicking Nick has had over the last 5 years and thought “I want some of that!”

    Of course we could end up with the Greens and have foxes ripping pet rabbits to pieces all over the country…

  • Who outside the LD bubble believes a word of it?

  • Jackson

    A statement that could be made about any parties manifesto, but pure cynicism isn’t actually very interesting as a basis for discussion.

    Anything of interest to add?

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Apr '15 - 5:15pm

    Just read more of the manifesto. The section on Europe is nicely pro business. It sounds as though the group who wrote the Europe policy were more passionate about business than the ones who actually wrote the economy part.

    An effective EU single market for digital services is important. As I have stated in the past: some good American tech companies are avoiding the EU market because of the current laws. Reform is needed.

  • Philip Rolle 15th Apr '15 - 5:35pm

    Am I right in thinking that Lib Dems would reduce the capital gains tax exemption and increase capital gains tax? The manifesto indicates that the tax will be changed.

  • Thanks Psi. Yes I’ve got lots to add. The only thing is the LDs have proved that they are no different to the other 2 main parties and aren’t interested and don’t listen. Anything in the Ld manifesto should be taken with a pinch of salt. They won’t win the election on their own so have the perfect excuse ready and waiting for when they ditch other policies and betray their voters again.

    I live in Clegg’s constituency and the LDs are in panic mode. I have had countless visits over the past few weeks. Talk about overkill.

  • I hope this is the correct place to have a discussion about our manifesto. It has some lovely phrases in it and paints a picture of progressiveness. The 300,000 homes a year is in the manifesto but I couldn’t see how we are funding them. Hidden in the manifest are some good policies to get homes insulated and maybe get solar power and maybe it also includes double glazing (but I couldn’t see them mentioned). Our policies for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people seems a good start (we spent some time and effort developing it) but our policies for those who are assessed as having a health issue that effects their working are not as good. I am surprised to see that we will from April 2016 pay the Living Wage to those working in government departments and their agencies. I would have thought we wouldn’t do it until April 2018 when we have got rid of the structural deficit.

    We say we will look again at the 2103 Justice and Security Act with the aim of restoring open justice and having alternatives to closed material procedures. We also say we will review the changes to Legal Aid and judicial review and court fees. Our policy of devolution on demand for English areas made it into the manifesto as has STV for local elections and MPs (an advance from our 2010 manifest where it wasn’t clear) and fewer MPs linked to STV. Also we are rejecting the new Boundary Review conditions of 2010 and emphasising community ties. I do wonder how English votes for English laws got into the manifesto even if watered down and linked to PR. Why is there a page graphic on the reform of the House of Lords without any details?

    There is an interesting table about the number of people in employment (on numbered page 34). It shows employment at about 29.3 million in 2008 and 30.9 million in 2014 and rising to about 31.9 million in 2019 with the largest increase in 2015. This is disappointing. Does this assume net migration into the UK of 300,000 per year or 1.5 million in five years? If it does that means unemployment will rise to about 2.36 million and nothing is done to provide jobs for the approximate 2.51 million who are long term sick or disabled and not in work. The assumption could be that the working population increases by 750,000 from changes to retirement age, children and students entering the work market and net migration and so the total of those in the groups above might be reduced by a quarter of a million to about 4.12 million (over 12.5% of the working population).

    I was wrong about our NHS spending promises. We are not promising £3.5 billion for mental heath but only £500 million a year of the £8bn for NHS England. It gets worse we are also stating that £500 million of the initial £1bn in year 2016/17 will be ring fenced for providing care in peoples homes. This I assume is the result of the new Care Act and the likely increase in take up of care. So it seems we are only increasing the non ring-fenced NHS England spending by £4bn and most of this in the last two years of the government.

    Nick Robinson on the 18.00 BBC News made a very good case for people to vote Liberal Democrat.

  • SIMON BANKS 17th Apr '15 - 2:30pm

    Some good stuff, but weak on devolution, which is not just a matter of a federal Britain. Will we change the way local government is funded? Without that, and with a continuing discriminatory squeeze on local spending, fiddling with structures will deliver little liberation.

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Apr '15 - 5:40pm

    I’m puzzled by something in the education section and cannot seem to find any further information on it. We seem to be advocating the view that in faith schools, the latter are required to appoint teachers who do not share that faith to the staff except where teachers are required to teach ‘optional’ religious instruction. In this case, teachers who share the faith of the school’s foundation are allowed.

    This makes little sense. Firstly, in faith schools, Religious Education is taught, not Religious Instruction. More often than not, RE is part of the core curriculum and all students study it – it is optional in some CofE schools but not all.

    I should know as I have been a Head of Religious Education in a faith school. There is a big difference. RE is learning about religion. RI does not exist any more in state faith schools and hasn’t done as long as I have been involved (since 1989).

    So where does the party stand on RE teachers teaching the core curriculum in RE who are also members of faith communities? This is mandatory in Catholic schools for the good reason that these people are trained in Catholic education. How would it be possible for someone who does not share the aims and ethos of a school or faith to teach it? It’s like asking a member of the Labour Party to train new Lib Dem members.

    I am surprised quite frankly that this basic error was included in the manifesto. To be honest I only checked the manifesto on this after reading about it in The Tablet. This will be a vote-loser certainly in Catholic communities. It feels like the party is picking on faith schools.

    I wonder whether there is some other agenda pleasing to secular-humanists at work?

  • Richard Underhill 8th May '17 - 1:01pm

    Sheep’s wool makes good insulation and is easy to work with.

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