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Liberal Democrats – finding a space

The Liberal Democrats are about to enter uncharted territory. As the party which pays most attention to internal party democracy, they are already in the midst of developing a manifesto which the leadership knows must be carefully calibrated in two ways. First, the party will have to campaign in 2015 not just on its ideals but the reality of its track record in Government. And second, whatever the party says publicly, the manifesto will have to be constructed with one eye on potential coalition negotiations in 2015.

The process has now begun in earnest. Following the approval by conference in 2013 of the Manifesto Themes Paper – formalising the stronger economy, fairer society tag line, the 2014 Autumn Conference will see the pre-Manifesto paper voted on, and will be the clearest indication yet of what may or may not have made the cut.

The 16 policy areas identified in ‘Facing the Future’ are now well developed, with most having already been consulted or voted on. With just a few to be finalised, the emphasis now shift to what of the hundreds of new official policies from the 15 working groups will actually make it into the Manifesto: it must be conference policy to be included, but being conference policy does not guarantee it will make the cut.

 

THE KEY ISSUES

POLICY WORKING GROUPS: APPROVED POLICIES

 

Fairer taxes

‘Those with the broadest shoulders should carry the largest burden’

  • Increase the Personal Allowance to £12,500
  • Match the Personal Allowance to National Minimum Wage
  • Mansion tax for properties above £2m
  • Reduce cap on lifetime limit for tax relief on pension contributions
  • 45p top rate of tax starting at £150,000

 

Defending the future

‘Being realistic about UK capabilities’

  • UK cannot aspire to full spectrum capabilities
  • No like for like replacement of Trident – reduction in the numbers of submarines to at most three
  • Continue Coalition policy for force reduction and increase in reserves
  • Review policy on arms exports

 

Prosperous, sustainable and secure

‘Better off IN Europe’

  • Campaign strongly to remain in the EU if there was an In/Out referendum
  • Strengthen the single market, particularly in the digital and services sectors
  • Adopt an EU emissions reduction target of 50% by 2030 on 1990 levels
  • Reform of the EU Emissions Trading System to incentivise investment in low-carbon technology

 

Making migration work for Britain

  • Fully implement border entry and exit checks
  • Quicker visas for students, tourists and short-term business visitors
  • Support EU 6 month delay on benefits claims
  • More checks on employers to stop foreign workers undercutting wages
  • Community fund to help relieve pressure
  • Encourage all migrants to learn English

 

Sustainable prosperity and jobs

‘An economy that meets the needs of the present and is secure for the future’

  • Increase competition in banking, opening up the payments system and new responsibility for the FCA
  • Small Business Zones and New Enterprise Hubs
  • Encourage innovation and sustainability in the public sector supply chain
  • Expanding the remit and scale of the Green Investment Bank

 

Decent homes for all

‘A sustainable housing system for all’

  • Increasing construction to reach 300,000 new homes a year
  • Freeing up land for development through releasing public land and consideration of a ‘use it or lose it’ land policy
  • Measures to tackle second homes and bring empty homes back into use

 

A balanced working life

‘A balanced working life for low and middle income families’

  • Establish an official Living Wage
  • Increase free child care
  • Creation of 6 months ‘carer’s leave’
  • Measures to increase work/life balance, flexible working and wellbeing
  • A new ‘daddy month’ to encourage fathers to take parental leave

 

Power to the People

‘Power to the People’

  • Proportional Representation as the voting system at every level of Government
  • An elected House of Lords
  • Subjecting new Secretaries of State to Select Committee interviews
  • £10,000 cap on political donations
  • Long-term devolution roadmap towards a federal structure
  • Votes for 16 and 17 year olds

 

Mutuals, Employee Ownership and Workplace Democracy

‘Economic inclusion for all to deliver fair and ethical capitalism’

  • Workers rights to participation in organisations with over 250 employees enshrined in legislation
  • Employees should be given a say on remuneration and strategic direction
  • Where employees own more than 5% of a company, they should have the right to elect a Board member
  • Greater ‘Right to Request’ by employees on share ownership

 

Tackling inequality at the roots

‘Enhancing the capabilities of the most disadvantaged’

  • Create a ‘Nursery Premium’ top help most disadvantaged families early
  • Extend the shared entitlement to parental leave to 18 months
  • Requirement of private sector companies to provide social tariffs for those most in need
  • Require companies with more than 250 employees to publish average pay figures

 

Green growth and green jobs

‘Transition to a Zero Carbon Britain’

  • Limited new nuclear plants without public subsidy
  • Transform the Green Deal into a one-off programme to bring all homes up to standard by 2050
  • Target for decarbonising the power sector by 2030
  • Increased emphasis on local, small scale generation and energy efficiency projects

 

Learning for life

‘Access for all, regardless of income or background’

  • Literacy and Numeracy until aged 18, and ICT to Level 2
  • A Student Premium and free school meals to be extended to 14-18 year olds
  • Equality between vocational and academic routes and more flexibility to switch
  • Retain the current system of university finance, with a review in next Parliament

 

Policies in consultation at Spring Conference 2014 due to be voted on at Autumn Conference 2014:

  • Gender Equality
  • Crime & Justice
  • Challenges and opportunities of an ageing population
  • Public Services

HOW THE PARTY WILL DECIDE

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