“The era of single party government is over”. This was the focus of Nick Clegg’s pitch to the British electorate as he launched the Liberal Democrat General Election manifesto this morning. A full summary of the Liberal Democrat manifesto policies can be found in our official Cicero Elections Manifesto Hub.
In a short but passionate speech, Clegg argued that the key question in this election is who will hold the balance of power in Westminster on 08 May. He stated that “Only the Liberal Democrats can make sure that the next government stays on track” and warned against the danger of putting UKIP or the SNP in this vital role.
Encouragingly, this was the first manifesto to mention alternative finance models, stating that the Liberal Democrats will “encourage the growth of crowdfunding and alternative finance models, encouraging Local Authorities to use these platforms to improve credit access in their areas.”
In his speech Clegg firmly positioned the Liberal Democrats as the sensible party of coalition government, that would act as a brake to either the Conservatives or Labour. His central argument was that “The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government and we will add a brain to a Labour one.”
Clegg described the manifesto as “a blueprint for a stronger economy and a fairer society” and stressed that “At its heart is one word that is absolutely central to what Liberal Democrats believe: opportunity.” The manifesto is entitled ‘Stronger Economy. Fairer Society. Opportunity for Everyone’ and spells out the following top policy priorities:
• Prosperity for all: Balance the budget fairly and invest to build a high-skill, low-carbon economy
• Opportunity for every child: Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class
• Fair taxes: Cut your taxes by an additional £400 by raising the Personal Allowance to £12,500
• Quality healthcare for all: Invest £8bn to improve our NHS and guarantee equal care for mental health
• Our environment protected: Protect nature and fight climate change with five green laws
As with the Conservatives yesterday, much of this manifesto’s messaging is focused on continuing the work that the Liberal Democrats have driven in government, rather than on a range of new policy announcements. Hence the party’s highlighting of Liberal Democrat leadership in policy areas such as tax reform, green investment, mental health and education.