Sir Malcolm Bruce writes…Creating liberal policies to change the political agenda

I was delighted on Tuesday to be elected as chair of the Federal Policy Committee, for the period up until the general election when I will stand down after 32 years as an MP. With the election now only a few months away it will be a busy and exciting time for the committee as we look to finalise the manifesto and the offer we will take to voters on May the 7th. I’m confident the new committee is up to the challenge and I cannot think of a more talented or committed group of people to work with over the coming months.

Our priority, in drawing up the manifesto, will of course be to focus on the huge task ahead of us at the general election. On how we can best communicate our great achievements in governments to voters and how we can build on them with a promise that Liberal Democrats can deliver even more. I’m sure the committee and the wider party will pull together to face this challenge.

The best manifestos I have stood on over my time in Parliament have had eye catching policies that are deliverable in government, vote winning and which firmly speak to our values –  such as a penny on income tax for education or increasing the tax threshold to £10k. Policies that only our party could promote initially but that were so powerful they changed the policy-making weather. This time round we must again ensure our new policies meet those tests.

We take on this task from a good position. In October Conference passed a Pre-Manifesto brimming with exciting Liberal Democrat policies to take to the electorate – from further delivery on tax cuts for low earners, better funding for mental health and education ‘cradle to college’, to a digital bill of rights and 5 new green laws. The Pre-Manifesto also gives us a clear and settled position on how Liberal Democrats would deal with the budget deficit and a fiscal mandate for the next Parliament, agreed by conference. Huge credit must go to the work of Duncan Hames and the previous committee as well as David Laws and the Manifesto Working Group for this. My role as chair will be to help the committee build on this extremely strong base, working closely with David and his group, as we develop the final manifesto.

* Malcolm Bruce was the Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon until 2015 and was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2014-15. He led the Scottish Party from 1988-92 and is now a member of the House of Lords.

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  • Follow Colorado, alaska, oregon, Washington, D.C. And Washington state and make legalising, regulating and taxing marijuana for recreational use in the manifesto.

    The problem is though that these measures were passed by referendums. Political parties are too spineless to put policies like this in there manifestos at them moment, the general public are at least ten years ahead of the mainstream ‘progressive’ parties.

    Am I wrong?

  • Conor McGovern 1st Dec '14 - 10:50pm

    ^Agreed. Too liberal for Clegg and Laws?

  • Makes you wonder what the point in voting is. If I endorse a manifesto with my vote, it has to be something I believe in or I’m not doing it. I’m not voting for something just because it is slight less bad… If it’s to liberal for Clegg and co, who are supposed to be leaders of a liberal party then there really is no point in voting at all if no one will represent my views.

  • Stevan Rose 2nd Dec '14 - 12:23am

    How about reversing the massive cuts in Corporation Tax rates for large companies. That’s been happening largely under the radar and I doubt the public would be too impressed. Then making them pay the tax where the profit is generated. And closing down the schemes that create false losses or depressed profits. Perhaps you wouldn’t need any personal tax hikes.

  • Paul Reynolds 2nd Dec '14 - 10:33am

    ‘Eye-catching’ can also be interpreted as spin-orientated, tactical or even shallow.

  • David Faggiani 2nd Dec '14 - 12:16pm

    I agree with Mr Wallace. How about a Referendum in the next parliament on the legalisation of Cannabis? Big, distinctive, bold, liberal, and democratic. It would take the issue to the Tories, Labour and UKIP in the debates. It could even be a potential ‘double-header’ with the EU Ref in 2017! (that last part’s a joke)……

  • I just received an email from Sal Brinton in which she says, among other things, “During my campaign I spoke about the need to reform the party, the constitution and some of our processes which are no longer fit for a 21st Century party.

    I’m sure Sir Malcolm Bruce and others in key leadership roles will be working their socks off to upgrade Party processes etc. over the crucial next few months in line with that vision so it’s a great shame that a gremlin has eaten an earlier comment. Apart from agreeing with Paul Reynolds about ‘eye-catching’, I suggested some other issues the FPC might consider.

  • Jonathan Pile 2nd Dec '14 - 8:47pm

    Malcolm – give the party a policy to give us a edge in Middle England – and places like Wakefield – scrap HS2 and use the money to rid the party of tuition fees once and for all. Higher education over High Speed White Elephants.

  • “such as a penny on income tax for education or increasing the tax threshold to £10k”

    Which of these won us more votes and seats, Malcolm! Also, see the very next article, in which Stephen debunks the myth that the latter policy does what it says on the tin!

  • Malcolm

    “The best manifestos I have stood on over my time in Parliament have had eye catching policies that are deliverable in government, vote winning and which firmly speak to our values ”

    You had a policy on tuition fees at the last GE that was exactly that. I don’t think I have ever seen a more popular headline policy and the LibDem leadership in government blew it by voting to triple them. It doesn’t really matter whats in the manifesto, it will take time and a change in leadership before the LibDems will be trusted again.

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