The truth about Lib Dem policy

Since Nick Clegg’s success in Thursday’s TV debate, there have been incredible comments made by high-profile Labour and Conservative politicians that have led to questions about how seriously the establishment takes the Liberal Democrats.

On Friday, Michael Gove called the Lib Dems “eccentric” and “outside the mainstream”, and Bob Ainsworth called their policy on Trident “silly”.

How can a political party with 20-30% of voters supporting them be eccentric and outside of the mainstream? Many Labour and Conservative policies could be seen as just that.

The suggestions of not replacing Trident, an amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants and cutting class sizes to 16 students per secondary school class are not eccentric, but radical and necessary to make this country fairer and more prosperous, fiscally and socially.

The bizarre imaginations of the Lib Dems’ opponents have led to exaggerations, untruths and mistruths that have emerged about the party’s

“The idea of region-based immigration is unworkable” – Nick Clegg pointed out on Thursday that most immigration now is work-permit based, once an immigrant’s job goes, so does their work-permit, thus making them illegal. The Lib Dem scheme of counting everyone in and out of the country, and the creation of a UK Border Force makes this proposal more workable than it ever would be under a Labour or Conservative Government.

“The Lib Dems would allow illegal immigrants to stay” – Technically true, but only illegal immigrants who have been here for more than ten years, speak English and have a clean criminal record would be allowed to stay in Britain – seems sensible and compassionate to me (although the anti-immigration brigade will be harder to convince)

“Not renewing Trident would make Britain less safe” – This argument struggles to hold water for me. A nuclear deterrent originally established to obliterate Moscow, St. Petersburg and Minsk is not necessarily helpful if, heaven forbid, Tehran or Pyongyang get “the bomb”. In addition, Britain could be seen as a serious leader in ridding the world of nuclear weapons if we start the ball rolling; the reason that rapprochement with Iran and North Korea is not working is because the world powers urging “rogue states” not to have a nuclear weapon, themselves have nuclear weapons (and lots of them), leading to suspicion, hypocrisy and impasse.

“The Lib Dems want burglars and muggers not to go prison” – The Lib Dems want to make less serious and first-time offenders do community service instead of going to prison. This would not only ease the prison overcrowding problem, it would reduce the endemic problem of re-offending, where young prisoners learning the tricks of the trade from older inmates in prisons that, as Nick Clegg put it on Thursday, are becoming “Colleges of crime”.

Ultimately, it seems the truth about LIb Dem policy is that it is much more carefully considered than the exaggerated, ill-informed soundbites you hear from the two bigger parties. I hope the wider electorate will have the sense to see through the scaremongering from the party’s opponents and support them on polling day.

Bryn Evans is a 6th Form student from Weston-super-Mare and has previously written the local magazine of the neraby village of Uphill. His blog is at

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This entry was posted in The Independent View.


  • Tony Butcher 20th Apr '10 - 7:42pm

    Fascinating to think that Tory & Labour MPs who spend expenses on moats, duckhouses and second homes over a hundred miles from their constituency could be considered mainstream!

  • Tony Greaves 20th Apr '10 - 8:03pm

    The problem is that the party is allowing the debate on “Lib Dem policies” to be limited to those few issues which the Labour and Tory Parties have plucked out in isolation.

    Tony Greaves

  • The problem is that prisons are exactly that “colleges of crime” if not universities. Many people exit prison knowing more about how to commit a crime more successfully in more ways than they would have had they not entered prison. They are more useful to clear the deficit by working for the country on parole/community service and paying tax and NI. The less people in prison the less public money is needed for their free B&B education. The more of those convicted of lesser crimes than murder, manslaughter, rape and paedophilia the more the scales tip in the favour of the taxpayer and the less criminal knowledge is shared.

    We need interviewers including in debates to allow LibDem MPs clarify and explain their manifesto fully instead of spinning it and cutting them off before they can justify and correct the twisted spin. The public must realise that the other two parties are resorting to scaremongering tactics to throw the focus of the flaws in their manifestos.

  • Bill Kristol-Balls 20th Apr '10 - 9:31pm

    Stop being so f***ing nice to the 2 smaller parties.

    When someone has a go at you about immigration, demand to know where they’re getting the billions of pounds it would cost to deport the illegals from? That’s if the clueless f***ers could find them in the first place.

    When the Tories bring up your crime policy, ask them where the 10,000 extra prison places are coming from that their idea to send all people carrying a knife to jail would come from. Prison ships?????

    When they call your policies eccentric, ask them how Boris Island is getting along.

  • I agree with Ian Ridley. Nuclear weapons are not fit for purpose and will not protect us from the threats we face today such as terrorists or climate change and don’t really stop other countries attacking us either – remember the Falklands. Iran has already started complaining about us renewing Trident; doing so could make that situation a lot worse.

    There seems to be an accepted opinion that having Nuclear weapons enhances our international influence. This is simply not true, Germany and Japan have just as much influence as the UK but neither has nuclear weapons, indeed many countries have actually abandoned their Nuclear weapons programmes and are no worse of for having done so e.g South Africa dismantled its nuclear weapons, Brazil abandoned its secret program and many ex Soviet Union members got rid of the weapons left over from the USSR.

    What about our seat on the Security Council? Well many countries actually had their seats BEFORE they had nuclear weapons. All permanent members also have the right to veto any proposals other members make so this fact alone ensures all members’ seats are safe.

  • Alec, it is my understanding that the NPT included clauses relating to disarmament so any state which does not disarm is in breach. A state which renews its nuclear arsenal is even further in breach.

    That aside, I don’t recall anyone else referring to the NPT. What made you bring it up?

  • Ian Ridley, you say
    ‘Another counter to the charge that we would lose our “independent” deterrent is that I believe we need the USA’s say so to fire the damn thing. So it’s not Independent anyway.’

    Best Nick doesn’t peddle that lie. The UK has independence of operation but not independence of aquisition, two entirely different things. The PM can decide when and where to use them alone as we always have a boat at sea armed with Nukes.

    On the other issues regarding Trident, can LibDems please understand what the system is for without using the now obvious soundbite ‘to flatten Moscow or St Petersburg’. It is a second strike weapon meaning it isn’t meant to deter the likes of the falklands OR terrorist threats. It is ONLY for retaliation against a nuclear strike on this country, nothing else. The world is a LESS stable place now than it was during the cold war, countries are striving to get the weapon whether the UK disarms or not.

    Nuke tipped weapons simply dont have the range that Trident does and will work out more expensive in the numbers we would need.

    I’ve seen the likes of Japan & Germany mentioned as being perfectly happy without Nukes. I take it that the Libdem defence position is then that the UK should have massively increased conventional armed forces because Germany has a vastly larger army and Japan a vastly larger navy. No?

    So the Libdem position is truly – to neuter the UK’s nuclear might and also perhaps kill our expeditionary navy?

    Does nothing for the Libs sandal wearing image i’m afraid. I desperately want to vote for Clegg, but I can’t see the Libs defence policy looking after British interests?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Apr '10 - 8:00pm

    “I’ve seen the likes of Japan & Germany mentioned as being perfectly happy without Nukes. I take it that the Libdem defence position is then that the UK should have massively increased conventional armed forces because Germany has a vastly larger army and Japan a vastly larger navy. No?”

    Obviously not, seeing that you yourself have just told us that Trident is “is ONLY for retaliation against a nuclear strike on this country, nothing else”! What good would conventional forces be for that?

    If you feel compelled to with half-baked nonsense like this, the case for replacing Trident must be extremely weak.

  • Dr Strangelove 22nd Apr '10 - 4:57pm

    “It is ONLY for retaliation against a nuclear strike on this country, nothing else. The world is a LESS stable place now than it was during the cold war, countries are striving to get the weapon whether the UK disarms or not.”

    We all know this isn’t true The US has threatened to use them against Iran before as has the UK and both the UK and US are looking into using battlefield nukes. All it would take is for another Bush/Blair type combo and a first strike policy would be very much back on the table.

    The world is not a less stable place; no one lives in daily fear of nuclear attack anymore. You obviously didn’t live through the cold war otherwise you would realise this. Our aggressive foreign policy over recent years certainly hasn’t helped stabilise the world. For all its talk Iran hasn’t been to war with anyone since the Iran/Iraq war which was started by Iraq. The UK on the other hand has been involved in its fair share of wars over the past 20 years and most of them started by us.

    The ONLY reason Iran wants nuclear weapons is because it feels threatened by Israel’s nuclear weapons, the best way to diffuse the whole situation would be for a nuclear free middle east. Since the US / Israeli relationship seems to be cooling a bit its a good opportunity to start applying pressure

  • Alec
    I mentioned climate change to highlight the fact that this along with an energy crisis will be the biggest threat we face over the next 20 years, not nuclear war.

    I mentioned the Falklands because I was highlighting the fact that having Nuclear weapons didn’t deter another country from attacking us.

    Thanks for the link by the way; it seems Argentina was developing Nuclear weapons during the war. Who knows what would have happened had they succeed before the end of the war? Kind of blows away any suggestion that nuclear weapons act as a deterrent.

    The UK is very much in breach of the NPT, more so than Iran. Iran only wants to have nuclear weapons, it doesn’t at the moment. We do and under the NPT we are legally obliged to take steps to disarm. Replacing Trident is in no way making any steps towards disarmament

  • Hello,

    In terms of immigration , can someone explain how the Lib Dems are going to stop the illegal immigrants, once given British passports, from then bringing all their family members over. This is not a criticism of Lib Dem policy , I am generally interested in the answer before I decide whether Lib Dem is the way to vote.


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