Lib Dem manifesto: a crusade against Brexit

Battle-cry: Farron called Brexit “the biggest fight for the future of Britain in a generation”.

The Liberal Democrats have put opposition to Brexit at the heart of their election manifesto. Will it appeal to the 48%, or should they just “get over it”? Here are five key policies.

1/ A second referendum on Brexit. The Liberal Democrats are positioning themselves as the party of those who want to stay in the EU. After the negotiations with Brussels have been completed, a Lib Dem government would hold another vote: to decide whether to accept the deal, or to remain in the Union. If that referendum took place, the party would campaign to stay.

2/ Income tax rise of 1p. In order to pay for for extra spending on education, transport and housing, the Lib Dems would: add 1p to the basic rate of income tax (thus affecting all taxpayers); restore corporation tax to 20%: scrap the married couples’ tax allowance; and lower the level at which inheritance tax kicks in.

3/ Build 300,000 new homes per year. The Lib Dems envision this happening through developers and housing associations building new homes underpinned by loans from a new Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank, at a cost £3 billion a year. The party is also promoting a scheme by which those renting a property will eventually be able to convert into full ownership after 30 years.

4/ Legalising cannabis. The party has long called for the laws on cannabis to be relaxed. It says legalising and taxing the drug would generate £1 billion, adding that this would lead to money being saved in police enforcement. Limits would be introduced on potency and adults aged over 18 could buy cannabis through licensed outlets.

5/ More money for education. The Lib Dems will increase spending on education by almost £7 billion over the next five years in order to protect per-pupil funding. Free school meals will also be offered to all children in primary education. But notable by its absence is a pledge to scrap tuition fees — after the party promised before the 2010 election to oppose any increase in them: the coalition government did increase them.

The new opposition?

With the Labour Party set for a historically bad result, Lib Dem voters hope this manifesto will propel the party back from oblivion. Unlike Labour, the party is clear about the big issue of the day: Brexit. It is aiming itself squarely at the 48% who voted to remain, and its policies on education and housing could galvanise young voters. The party looks set to fill an obvious gap in the market for a sensible, socially liberal, progressive party.

But others think the Lib Dems have badly misjudged their campaign. Research has shown that the majority of those who voted Remain now accept the result and feel the government has a duty to lead Britain out of the European Union. The Liberal Democrats’ leader, Tim Farron, has made the fundamental error of basing their campaign around an issue that has already been settled. Do not expect any Lib Dem surge.

You Decide

  1. Would you vote for the Liberal Democrats?
  2. Is Brexit the most important issue at this election?

Activities

  1. Write down three things you would expect a self-described “liberal” to believe.
  2. Research a key figure in the history of liberalism in the UK and prepare a five minute presentation about them.

Some People Say...

“There is no chance the Lib Dems will win — so what’s the point in voting for them?”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The Liberal Democrats had a disastrous 2015 election, losing all but eight of their 57 seats. But the vote for Brexit and the realignment of British politics along the lines of the referendum have given the party new hope that it can become an important voice in British politics once again. However, polls suggest the party is unlikely to make significant gains, and that they may even lose seats.
What do we not know?
What impact the party will have after the election. It has stated that it will not enter a coalition with Labour in the unlikely event that the Tories do not win a majority. Nor do we know whether comments made in the past about abortion and gay sex by their evangelical Christian leader, Tim Farron, will turn away some of their more socially liberal voters.

Word Watch

Renting a property
People renting a property will be able to build up equity (the value of the property) with every monthly payment and eventually own their property outright after 30 years.
Legalising
Cannabis has been legalised in the Netherlands, Uruguay, South Africa and the US states of Maine, Massachusetts, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and California.
Tuition fees
Under Nick Clegg in 2010, the party made a pitch for the student vote by promising to oppose any increase in tuition fees. When the promise was dropped in government (Clegg was deputy prime minister in the coalition), thousands of students descended on London to protest.
Majority
A YouGov poll showed that splitting the electorate purely on Remain/Leave lines is flawed. In fact there are three tribes: Hard Leavers (45%), “Re-Leavers” — those who voted Remain but now believe the country should leave (23%) and Hard Remainers — those who believe the government should ignore the result of the referendum or seek to overturn it, who account for 22%.

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