Views from a New Member

The Liberal Democrats’ uncompromising stance on leaving the EU has caught the imagination of many many voters, rapidly swelling the national membership. The party has been consistent in its views since it was formed, but apart from being seen as some kind of centrist party between the Tories and Labour I wonder how many new members, myself included, would see themselves as familiar with all the aims of the party other that preventing Brexit?

So, I have fetched out the current manifesto, agreed by the party at conference and used to campaign at the General Election of 2017, developed in 2018 and 2019. There are many, many policies so I have picked out those relevant to the principles of the party and also some that I think will really matter to repair the damage of the Brexit campaign, the last 3 years and the future consequences whatever the outcome of Brexit. If you prefer, a much shorter overview of LibDem policies is available on Mark Pack's website and details of all policies are available on the main Lib Dem website

If I have left out one dear to your heart I apologise.

Key policies

Brexit

  • Second EU referendum on Brexit deal (a vote on the deal)
  • UK to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK and same rights for UK citizens living in European Union countries
  • Membership of the single market and customs union
  • Protect freedom of movement and EU schemes which increase opportunities for young people
  • Guarantee the rights of all NHS and social care service staff who are EU nationals to stay in the UK
  • Retain City of London's rights in EU financial markets
  • Retain European Health Insurance Card, reduced roaming charges and pet passports
  • Protect the rights of the people of Gibraltar.

Democracy

  • Votes for 16-year-olds
  • Introduce the single transferable vote for local government elections in England and for electing MPs across the UK
  • Reform the House of Lords with a proper democratic mandate
  • Cap donations to political parties at £10,000 per person each year
  • Mandate the provision of televised leaders' debates in general elections and allow for the empty-chairing of party leaders who refuse to attend
  • Prohibit MPs from accepting paid lobbying work
  • Trial weekend voting to help raise turnouts in elections
  • Allow for all-BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) and all-LGBT+ parliamentary shortlists
  • Make parliament more family friendly with job-sharing arrangements for MPs
  • Devolve more powers to Wales and secure political stability in the Northern Ireland Assembly

Budget

  • 1p in the pound on income tax to raise £6bn for NHS and social care services
  • £100bn package of additional infrastructure investment
  • End the 1% public sector pay cap
  • 200% council tax on second homes
  • Spend 2% of GDP on defence
  • Spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid
  • Invest nearly £7bn extra in education
  • Suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia
  • Spend £2bn to ensure the provision of high-speed broadband across the rural UK

The economy

  • Boost the economy with a major programme of capital investment
  • employee national insurance threshold to the income tax threshold, while protecting low earners' ability to accrue pension and benefit entitlements
  • Ensure those with the highest incomes and wealth are making a fair contribution
  • Reverse cuts to corporation tax from 20% to 17%, capital gains tax, marriage allowance
  • Reverse the raising of the inheritance tax threshold
  • Action on corporate tax evasion and avoidance
  • Reforming corporation tax to develop a system that benefits the smallest
  • Expand the activities of the state-owned British Business Bank
  • Create a new 'start-up allowance' for new businesses
  • Review business rates
  • Protect the science budget, including the recent £2bn increase, by raising it at least in line with inflation
  • Encourage employers to promote employee ownership
  • Champion the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine initiatives
  • 40% of board members being women in FTSE 350 companies.

 

Education

Every Child Empowered: Education for a Changing World (2018) 

  • Scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools
  • Reinstate university maintenance grants for the poorest students
  • Campaign against any reduction in investment in UK universities
  • Triple the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000
  • Oppose new selective schools and give local authorities control over admissions and new schools - Abolish Regional Schools Commissioners.
  • Raise the quality of early years provision
  • End the 1% cap on teachers' pay rises
  • Guarantee all state school teachers are fully qualified or working towards qualified teacher status from January 2019
  • Introduce a professional development entitlement of 25 hours per year for all teachers, rising to 50 hours by 2025
  • Tackle unnecessary teacher workloads
  • Reform Ofsted inspections
  • Ensure that identification and support for special educational needs and disabilities takes place as early as possible
  • Protect the availability of arts and creative subjects in the curriculum
  • Improve the quality of vocational education, including skills for entrepreneurship and self-employment, and improve careers advice and links with employers
  • Double the number of businesses that hire apprentices.
  • Provide free further or higher education for anyone who has served in the armed forces for 12 years or more.

Environment

  • A diesel scrappage scheme, and a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025
  • Prevent 40,000 deaths a year with Air Quality Plan to reduce air pollution
  • Run all private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas on ultra-low-emission or zero-emission fuels within five years
  • Extend ultra-low-emission zones to 10 more towns and cities
  • Maintain EU environmental standards and cooperation for law enforcement and justice
  • Additional funding to bring more private investment into renewable energy
  • Ensure that four million properties receive insulation retrofits by 2022, prioritising fuel-poor households
  • Pass a Zero-Carbon Britain Act to set targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and to zero by 2050
  • Aim to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030
  • Support investment in energy storage, smart grid technology, hydrogen technologies, offshore wind, and tidal power
  • Oppose ‘fracking'
  • Pass a Zero-Waste Act

 

 

Social & employment 

Good Jobs, Better Businesses, Stronger Communities: Proposals for a new economy that really works for everyone (2018) 

  • Extend free childcare to all two-year-olds and to the children of working families from the end of paid parental leave
  • An additional month's paid paternity leave
  • Introduce a new Young Person's Bus Discount Card for 16-21 year olds, giving a two-thirds discount on bus travel
  • 30 hours' free childcare a week for all parents in England with children aged from two to four years
  • Take 13,000 children out of poverty by letting both parents earn before their Universal Credit is cut
  • Reverse cuts to work allowances in universal credit and housing benefit for 18-21 year olds - increase jobseeker's allowance and universal credit for 18-24
  • Uprate working-age benefits at least in line with inflation
  • Abandon the two-child policy on family benefits and abolish the 'rape clause'
  • Reverse cuts to employment support allowance to those in the work-related activity group
  • Increase local housing allowance (LHA) in line with average rents in an area
  • Scrap the 'bedroom tax' and the work capability assessment
  • Maintain the 'triple lock' of increasing the state pension each year.
  • Raise the amount people earn before losing Carer's Allowance from £110 to £150 a week
  • Stamp out abuse of zero-hours contracts
  • Take steps against worsening poverty - A Fairer Share for All (2019)
  • Bring in a legal, regulated market for cannabis
  • Introduce limits on potency and permit cannabis to be sold through licensed to over-18s
  • End imprisonment for possession of illegal drugs for personal use
  • Reduce the proliferation of betting shops and cap maximum bets on fixed odds betting terminals

 

Law and order

Crime and Policing (2019)

  • £300m for community policing in England and Wales
  • Require all front-line officers to wear body cameras on duty
  • Replace police and Crime commissioners with police boards made up of local councillors.

 

Health, mental health and social care

  • 1p in the pound on income tax to raise £6bn for NHS and social care services
  • mental health care and waiting times
  • Limit the amount elderly people have to pay for social care
  • Reinstate student nurse bursaries
  • Produce a national workforce strategy to prevent shortage of GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and other NHS staff
  • Increase access to mental health talking therapies
  • Examine the case for introducing a dedicated service for children and young people based on the Australian 'headspace' model
  • Early mental health support for pregnant women, new mothers and those who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Fast-track exceptional graduates into children's social work and encourage high-achieving graduates to pursue a career in mental health social work
  • Tackle stigma against mental ill-health
  • Promote easier access to GPs and prevent practice closures
  • HIV prevention available on the NHS
  • Tackle childhood obesity
  • Develop a just settlement for haemophiliacs who were given contaminated blood
  • Diversity and rights - Eradicating Race Inequality (2019)
  • Ensure that LGBT+ inclusive mental health services receive funding and support
  • Challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation

 

Housing

  • Build 300,000 homes a year by 2022, including half a million affordable and energy-efficient homes
  • £5bn of initial capital for a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank
  • Green Buildings Act to ensure every home in England reaches at least an energy rating of Band C by 2035
  • Ensure at least four million homes are made highly energy efficient (Band C) by 2022, with priority given to fuel-poor households
  • Restore the zero-carbon standard for new homes
  • Create at least 10 new garden cities in England
  • End the voluntary right to buy pilots that sell off housing association homes and the associated high value asset levy
  • Enforce housebuilding on unwanted public sector land
  • Penalise land-banking when builders with planning permission have failed to build after three years.

 

Transport

  • Investment in road and rail infrastructure, continued commitment to HS2, Crossrail 2 and rail electrification
  • Take over the running of Southern Rail and Govia Thameslink
  • Invest capital in major transport improvements and infrastructure
  • Oppose expansion of London airports but focus on improving existing regional airports such as Birmingham and Manchester.

 

Farming and food

  • British farming remains competitive
  • Establish a £2bn flood-prevention fund
  • Increase the amount of accessible green space
  • Suspend the use of neonicotinoids until proven that their use in agriculture does not harm bees or other pollinators
  • Increase maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and a ban on caged hens
  • Clamp down on illegal pet imports
  • Reform agricultural subsidies
  • £2bn Rural Services Fund to co-locate council offices, post offices, children's centres, libraries and visiting healthcare professionals.

Migration

A Fair Deal for Everyone: Prosperity and Dignity in Migration

  • Vote against attempts to scrap the Human Rights Act or withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Offer safe and legal routes to the UK for refugees - offering sanctuary to 50,000 Syrian refugees over five years
  • Reopen the Dubs scheme to take 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from Europe.

 

 

Alastair from Beckenham, a new member who joined in May 2019

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