Liberal Democrat pre-manifesto summary published

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg voting at party conference. Photo courtesy of the Liberal Democrats - https://www.flickr.com/photos/libdems/2866415066/ - some rights reserved

Today’s output from the summer Lib Dem policy production line is the pre-manifesto foreword from Nick Clegg, which summarises the document’s overall approach plus a few of the economic and education policy headlines.

Here it is:

The full slate of policies will be revealed when the pre-manifesto is published. It will include plans to:

Finish the job fairly:

  • Balance the budget
  • Rebalance and rewire the economy to cut out carbon, rebuild our national infrastructure, embrace new technology and make sure every region flourishes
  • Continue to cut taxes for working people by raising the Income Tax threshold to £12,500

Spread opportunity through education – a manifesto for the next generation:

  • Protect education spending
  • A parental guarantee of a core curriculum taught by qualified teachers
  • Triple the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 a child

Nick Clegg’s foreword to the pre-manifesto:

This is a manifesto about the future: your future, your children’s future, and Britain’s future.

Since 2010, Liberal Democrats have worked in government to rescue and repair Britain’s shattered economy.

Growth is up. Jobs are up. Government borrowing is down. The repairs to our public finances must be completed. And they must be completed fairly. But I do not believe that in the next five years Britain simply wants more of the same.

We need to move from rescue to renewal. We need to move from austerity to ambition. We need to think boldly and restore a sense of national optimism.

After the rescue from recession we cannot go back to the old Britain.

We no longer want an economy based on debt and speculation; out of the rubble of the 2008 crash we must build a new economy, not just reassemble the old one. We cannot accept a society of unfairness and inequality of opportunity. We cannot mortgage our children’s future by ignoring the threat of climate change; and we cannot have a state where power is hoarded at the centre rather than being returned to citizens and to our local areas.

I believe that the task of a liberal party is above all to empower every person to realise their own potential. No matter what your background, your race, your colour, your sex or your sexuality: we believe in you.

Liberal Democrats don’t write anybody off.

Our determination to set people free is the thread that holds this whole manifesto together. The Liberal Democrat vision for the next five years is to focus our efforts on clearing away the biggest barriers that are holding people, and holding Britain, back.

Our objective is to create a stronger economy and a fairer society: a society of free citizens in which every person is enabled to get on in life.

I am incredibly proud of what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in Government.

Think back to 2010: a country in turmoil, at sea on the financial markets, with borrowing spiralling out of control and forecasters predicting disaster as the first peacetime coalition in 80 years sought to restore order after the financial crash.

We have come a long way. The economy rebuilt. Millions of people freed from paying income tax. More renewable energy than ever. The Pupil Premium to help poor children get a first-class education. More childcare and shared parental leave. Cancelling ID cards. Free school meals for under-7s. More apprentices. The biggest ever cash increase in the state pension. A Green Investment Bank. Equal marriage. The biggest transfer of fiscal power to Scotland in three hundred years. None of these things would have happened without the Liberal Democrats.

But this manifesto is about the future and not the past. Liberal Democrats played an essential role in rescuing Britain; I am asking for your support today so that we can lead the renewal.

I am asking you to back a liberal Britain where you and the people you care about have the freedom, the space, and the opportunity to flourish.

Liberal Democrat achievements in Government:

  • The economy rebuilt.
  • Millions of people freed from paying income tax.
  • More renewable energy than ever.
  • The Pupil Premium to help poor children get a first-class education.
  • More childcare and shared parental leave.
  • Cancelling ID cards.
  • Free school meals for under-7s.
  • More apprentices.
  • The biggest ever cash increase in the state pension.
  • A Green Investment Bank.
  • Equal marriage.
  • The biggest transfer of fiscal power to Scotland in 300 years.

Manifesto policies announced over the summer:

  • Protecting education spending: Extend the protection to all education funding from early years through school to college
  • Parental Guarantee: A core curriculum taught by qualified teachers
  • Curriculum for Life: Children in state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, will be guaranteed age appropriate sex and relationship education, as well as financial literacy and citizenship lessons
  • Early Years Pupil Premium: We will more than triple investment in the early years pupil premium from £300 to £1000 per child under manifesto plans
  • ‘Daddy Month’: We will expand shared parental leave with an additional four week ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ paternity leave period
  • Balance the budget: Aim to balance the structural current budget by 2017/18 and set a course to reduce debt as a share of national income. Make deficit reduction fair by ensuring high earners and the wealthiest pay their share. Set new fiscal rules to balance the budget while allowing borrowing for productive investment. Increase public spending again in line with growth in the economy once the budget is balanced.
  • Cutting taxes for working people: Raise the income tax threshold to £12,500 before beginning to raise the National Insurance threshold
  • Making our tax system fairer: We will increase taxes on the wealthiest, including raising Capital Gains Taxes and introducing a High Value Property Tax. Our manifesto plans include: Introducing a banded High Value Property Levy on residential properties worth over £2m; limit tax relief on pensions to a pot of £1m; maximising revenue from Capital Gains Tax by aligning rates more closely to Income Tax
  • 300,000 homes: Set an ambitious target of increasing the rate of house building to 300,000 a year
  • Ring fence NHS budget: NHS spending will rise by at least the rate of inflation over the next Parliament. We also announced they will pool health and social care budgets. This would help make care more tailored towards individual patients and reduce inefficiencies
  • Help for Carers: We will support carers with a package of measures designed to make their lives easier. The package includes an annual Carer’s Bonus of up to £250 and raising the amount carers can earn before losing their allowance. It also contains measures for more flexible working hours, support in returning to the jobs market and a scheme informing carers of their rights and giving them access to facilities
  • Mental health: We will establish a mental health research fund worth £50m per year to help bridge the gap between physical health and mental health treatment
  • Drugs: We will end imprisonment for drug users whose only crime is possession for personal use. They will instead receive non-custodial sentences and appropriate medical treatment
  • Safe Standing: Clubs in the Premier League and Championship will be allowed to work with their supporters to introduce standing areas, which provide better atmospheres and allow clubs to offer cheaper safe standing season tickets
  • Stop and Search: We want to help transform community relations and the public’s trust in the police through tightening the laws on stop and search, and requiring some police officers to wear body cameras when they stop someone. We will introduce rules making the wearing of body cameras by officers mandatory for: Section 60 stop and search areas; officers armed with firearms; members of Territorial Support Groups
  • Tree planting: Within the first year of entering government we will develop the national tree planting programme in order to plant one tree for every child born in England. We estimate this will be approximately 700,000 to 750,000 trees per year
  • Benefits yellow card: Under manifesto proposals people claiming unemployment benefit would be given a final warning for failing to stick to claimant conditions. Claimants would be given a reminder of their obligations and clear information about the sanction process which would only be triggered in the event of a further misdemeanour
  • High Pay: Companies will be forced to publish their highest earners pay. Our outline plans to encourage fair pay deals by requiring companies with over 250 employees to publish the pay levels of their highest paid employee and median pay across the Company. And we will require these larger companies to consult employees on executive pay proposals to help put downward pressure on excessive awards

The pre-manifesto document which will get debated at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow this October and there is also still time to submit policy ideas to the manifesto consultation.

Take a look at my archive of policy posts to see the other proposals recently launched that will also feature at Glasgow.

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