This motion summarises the policy paper Demand Better: Liberal Democrat Priorities for a Better Britain, produced by the Federal Policy Committee in close cooperation with the party’s campaigns and communications operations. It aims to summarise the Liberal Democrat approach to politics in 2018 and to highlight our key policy priorities. It is particularly aimed at new party members and anyone who thinks we have nothing to say other than our opposition to Brexit. Should a general election take place in the next year or so it will provide the core of the Liberal Democrat election manifesto.
Its main theme is that Britain nowadays is fundamentally unfair and unequal. People too often struggle to achieve a decent quality of life for themselves and their families; work and effort are often not rewarded, while a rigged system allows wealthy people and companies to avoid contributing their fair share. Too much of people’s success in life is determined by the circumstances of their birth, rather than their hard work and skills. Public services such as the NHS and schools are starved of resources to do a proper job. People from diverse backgrounds often face unfair barriers to success. Long-term challenges such as climate change or the impact of automation on employment are neglected while the machinery of government is consumed by Brexit.
The motion and the paper set out our priority proposals to tackle these problems, organised under six headings: society (including communities, social security, equality, taxation and constitutional reform); health and social care; education; the environment; the economy; and Britain’s place in the world, including our opposition to Brexit.
Conference deplores the fact that:
- Britain is a place where people too often struggle to achieve a decent quality of life for themselves and their families, where work and effort are often not rewarded and a rigged system allows wealthy people and companies to avoid paying their fair share.
- Too much of people’s success in life is determined by the circumstances of their birth, rather than their hard work and skills.
- Public services such as the NHS and schools are starved of resources to do a proper job.
- People from diverse backgrounds often face unfair barriers to success.
- Long-term challenges such as climate change or the impact of automation on employment are neglected while the machinery of government is consumed by Brexit.
Conference believes that this represents decades of failure by both the Labour and Conservative Parties, to break down barriers, to challenge the concentrations of power in society, and to lay the foundations for a successful future.
Conference demands that people have the opportunities they need to make the best of their lives, instead of being trapped by inequality, poverty, debt, ill-health, a failing economy and the shambles of Brexit.
Conference calls on Liberal Democrats everywhere to stand up to power and privilege and enable everyone to build the future they want and deserve.
Conference therefore endorses Policy Paper 134, Demand Better: Liberal Democrat Priorities for a Better Britain, as a statement of Liberal Democrat priorities for action.
Supporting the approach of the paper, conference in particular:
- Demands a better society, in which everyone is supported in times of need, with an end to austerity where everyone pays a fair share of taxes on income and where wealth is taxed fairly; where everyone has the chance to live in decent homes in safe and clean communities; where everyone has opportunities to succeed regardless of their race or caste, gender, sexuality, religion or belief, age or disability and where everyone has a chance to make their voice heard through the decentralisation of power and a reformed voting system.
- Demands better and more integrated health and social care, including a higher priority for mental illness and standards of public health and greater equality in healthy life expectancy, supported by an immediate injection of resources funded by a 1p rise in income tax and, in the longer term, a dedicated health and care tax.
- Demands better education, with more resources for schools, teachers and further and higher education, in particular to support children from deprived backgrounds and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, in order to foster understanding and tolerance and equip people to play a full part in democracy, to provide children with the skills they need to make the most of their lives and to underpin future prosperity.
- Demands a better environment, in which people enjoy clean air, clean water and clean energy; where the countryside and wildlife is protected; where businesses are supported to invest in green solutions, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low-carbon transport; and in which Britain is a leader in the fight against climate change, achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- Demands a better economy, breaking the cycle of low productivity and low-paid and insecure employment; providing opportunities for people to make full use of their talents and be properly rewarded; and spreading prosperity to every community in the UK including a major programme of capital investment to stimulate growth and encourage business in turn to invest, the establishment of a British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank, and support for innovation in the digital economy.
- Demands a freer society, in which surveillance and other encroachments upon civil liberties are curtailed, justice is accessible to all and focused on rehabilitation, and the state does not criminalise people for victimless actions; in which the state does not make unjust intrusions into people’s lives to impose arbitrary lifestyle restrictions or ration service provision; in which people can be confident that the government, law enforcement, and corporate entities alike are fully and effectively accountable for their actions towards individuals; and in which the UK remains a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and fully upholds the Human Rights Act.
- Demands a better Britain, open to and engaged with the world, benefiting from the opportunities of world markets and a positive approach to immigration, cooperating with other countries in promoting peace, human rights, sustainable development and the rule of law world-wide, and remaining a full member of the EU.
Applicability: Federal; except 2 and 3 (lines 40–51) and those elements of 1 (lines 31–39) that relate to housing, and of 4 (lines 52–58) that relate to the natural environment, which are England only.