The closing argument: why you should vote Liberal Democrat in this election
June 7, 2017 § Leave a comment
It’s time to decide how to vote – and this is why that vote should be for the Liberal Democrats.
I’m not a prescriptive sort of person – when the list below says “Vote Liberal Democrat If”, I certainly don’t mean to imply that people who vote a different way don’t care about those things – rather, that I think my party has the best chance of representing that want or value in parliament (accompanied by an explanation as to why). As you’ll see, I think that a Conservative government would be particularly disastrous, and I have friends who are disabled and/or reliant on social security and the NHS who I very much worry about if as seems likely we have another five years with a working Tory majority. If people want to use their votes to block that outcome then there are around 150 of the UK’s seats that are marginal between the Conservatives and another party where that would be very worth considering. There are also a couple of seats where the Lib Dems aren’t standing (Skipton & Ripon and Brighton Pavilion) where I very much endorse voting Green, and there’s Northern Ireland, where the Alliance offer a kinder, non-sectarian option.
That said, that still leaves a good 450 seats that are either safe Labour, safe Tory, or where the Lib Dems have a chance of winning. If you’re in any of those seats, I think you should vote for the Liberal Democrats, and this is why.
1. Vote Liberal Democrat if you want the worst off to have decent living standards
It’s simply a fact that of the three largest GB parties, the Lib Dems are offering by far the most redistributive manifesto. It’s no surprise that the Tories are offering nothing for the worst off, continuing to freeze benefit levels (which erodes them over time due to inflation, meaning families on the breadline will sink further into poverty over the next five years). The Tory disability rating system meanwhile is a national disgrace, and needs to be ended immediately. Labour have pledged some improvements, but have budgeted no money to end the benefit freeze or undo Tory child tax credit cuts. Labour tax plans, based on corporation tax, may also lead to higher prices being passed on to consumers, which without any improvement in social security funding could be very bad news indeed for the worst off. The Liberal Democrat plans, whilst not as radical as I’d like, at least would restore a basic safety net that could be guaranteed not to erode over the course of the next parliament – and every Lib Dem MP elected will help hold both Labour and the Tories to account in order to achieve that.
2. Vote Liberal Democrat if you want to avoid a Brexit recession
The Lib Dems offer a different path on Brexit, and the opportunity to get MPs who will argue for free movement, trade, international cooperation on defence and security, scientific links that have powered up our research sector, and more. Labour and the Conservatives are pretty similar in contast; both want to withdraw from the single market, end freedom of movement, and attempt to negotiate a new free trade deal that avoids tariffs. It doesn’t have to be this way, and we need MPs willing to stand up and say that. Even leaving the EU there is no mandate to crash out of the single market, which will hole Labour or Tory budgetary plans below the water-line and cost jobs. The Lib Dems will provide a desperately needed voice for a different future based on trade, tech, and cooperation. We need them to do so now more than ever.
3. Vote Liberal Democrat if you want an NHS funding solution that works
It’s clear that the NHS is stretched to the brink under the burden of Conservative cutbacks, and the Tories are promising no new money. Whilst Labour are looking at big cash injections, these rely on corporate and financial service tax reciepts remaining stable (see point 2) and don’t account for companies passing on tax rises to customers: a corporation tax boost, whilst a reasonable form of tax in general, will often fall on customers more than shareholders. The Tories would be far more of a disaster, with no plans to seriously address the fact that an ageing population is breaking the health and social care system, already buckling under the strain. The Liberal Democrat solution of a 1p in the pound increase in income tax is a fair, stable, workable plan to save the NHS, and we need Lib Dem MPs in the commons to argue the case for it.
4. Vote Liberal Democrat if you believe in democracy
Representative democracy, the principle that the governed should be able to choose their leaders, is one of the most powerful ideas in human history, and fundamental to liberal values and principles. Neither of the UK’s two largest parties really believe that individuals should be able to elect their MPs – both are committed to retaining a system that presumes instead that local areas have singular, monolithic concerns and that the will of the largest single minority in an area should be taken as an absolute statement of that area’s beliefs. The number of conversations I’ve had with people frustrated that “they want to vote X but have to vote Y to keep out Z” this election is significant and bizarre – because it’s so easy to fix by having a fair voting system where everyone’s voice has a better chance of being heard. The Lib Dems are and will continue to be the strongest voices for electoral reform, whilst the two main parties jealously protect the status quo.
5. Vote Liberal Democrat if you believe in evidence based, cost effective drug policy
On cannabis legalisation, the Liberal Democrats are once again leading the way. Legal cannabis could bring £1 billion into the NHS, save lives by allowing regulation of consumed cannabis products, and fight crime by ripping income sources away from criminal gangs. Legalisation would be a huge step forward and provide vital money to the health service – with the current system being abandoned by police forces and costing us millions that we can’t afford, it’s high time for a legalisation policy.
6. Vote Liberal Democrat if you want a vibrant start-up economy
In a world ever more focused on tech and other service industries run from small businesses, having a strong culture where people have the freedom to start their own business is really important. The Lib Dems’ plans to give new startup owners living support for the crucial first few months will enable many more people to take the plunge and start their own business – that means more chances to find the businesses that will really take off, and levels the playing field so that people who aren’t lucky enough to have a cushion of starting capital can still get into business.
7. Vote Liberal Democrat if you support refugees
The refugee crisis is so often drowned out by other world issues – but it still exists and is still very, very real. We can’t isolate ourselves from the world, it’s simply not tenable in today’s society; we need both an active foreign policy to restore stability in troubled parts of the world, and a willingness to play our part in accepting thousands more refugees. As one of the world’s wealthiest countries this is simply part of our moral and human obligation to our allies – and it’s an obligation that the Liberal Democrats will prioritise delivering, with a fully costed plan that won’t stretch local budgets and will be a hugely important investment in our shared future with our neighbours.
8. Vote Liberal Democrat if you don’t want criminals stealing your data
As liberals, we in the Liberal Democrats are often pretty isolated politically on issues like surveillance and data security – but the Tory & Labour backed Snoopers’ Charter shows just how important it is that there are people in parliament providing a liberal opposition. Tory talk of “encryption backdoors” is extremely dangerous. Either encryption is effective, or it is nonexistent, and there’s no real way around that. Adding backdoors and engaging in mass data collection will put people’s data, including sensitive medical or financial records, at very serious risk both from hostile governments and from criminal activity. Besides, neither is particularly useful compared to the real job of giving the security services decent human resources. We need MPs from parties that have been vocally and consistently liberal on these issues, or we face the prospect of yet more botched legislation that puts the public at risk in the name of keeping them save.
9. Vote Liberal Democrat if you believe in an evidence-based approach to sex work
Sex workers are some of the most marginalised people in society, and the current laws put them in danger on a daily basis whilst doing nothing to cut actual abuse and crime. The Lib Dems’ willingness to put actual sex workers at the centre of an evidence-based plan for decriminalisation. This would greatly help both people who want to leave sex work, by freeing up funds currently spent on criminalisation, and most importantly would protect sex workers who would no longer be forced to fear arrest for doing their jobs. We shouldn’t make policy on this issue based upon arbitrary moralisation, but on the evidence – and that clearly points to the Liberal Democrat decriminalisation approach.
10. Vote Liberal Democrat if you want to care for the environment
As a recent letter to the Guardian by environmentalists and green business owners says – “Only the Lib Dems combine the ambition to bring forward climate change targets and support for the Paris agreement with an entrepreneurial approach to investing in cutting-edge clean technologies, and commitment to international institutions to enable Britain to be a world leader in protecting the global environment.” The environment has been a lost issue this election, but the Lib Dems’ clear commitment to renewable energy and environmental protection is something that is worth rewarding for the future.
So there you have it, that’s my closing argument – we’ll see how things go when the results come in, but I really do hope that you’ll consider voting Liberal Democrat. Liberty needs a voice in our country – and this election, you can help provide it at a time when it is genuinely under threat.