The Liberal Democrat’s General Election Manifesto was officially launched on Wednesday, a document that urges the voter to change the face of British politics by changing the opposition.
Arguably the most significant pledge included in the manifesto is the second EU referendum that will be offered to voters at the end of the two years of Brexit negotiations. This will give the British population a chance to accept or reject the final deal, and provides a chance for the UK to remain in the EU. Other pro-EU pledges include keeping Britain in the single market and continuing the freedom of movement. They will guarantee the rights of all EU nationals currently residing in Britain and maintain the European Health Insurance card, standards on the environment and the cooperation in matters of law and justice.
A Liberal Democrat government will also legalise cannabis, reported to raise £1 billion in tax revenues. The party backs a regulated market for cannabis, stating that having a control over the safety and potency of the drug would reduce the existing health risks. This change will also save money within law enforcement.
Young people have been promised help in buying their first home and cheaper bus travel. The cuts for housing benefits for 18-21 year olds brought in by the current government will be reversed, and a bus card providing a saving of two thirds will be introduced for 16-21 year olds. Both job-seekers allowance and universal credit will be increased for people aged 18-24. The manifesto also promises votes for 16 and 17 year olds.
The Lib Dems have always been committed to reducing the stigma around mental health, and this has been echoed within the manifesto. It pledges to completely overhaul mental health care, increasing access to talking therapies, increasing funding and support for LGBT+ mental health service and introducing support for pregnant women, new mothers and those who have experienced still births and miscarriages.
The NHS will receive a 6 billion pounds injection, money which will be raised by an increase of 1 pence for every pound of income tax. Student nurse bursaries will be reinstated and the freeze on NHS wage will be lifted.
Around £7 billion will be invested in education, ending the cap on pay rises for teachers and bringing back university grants. The expansion of grammar schools and the introduction of new selective free schools will not be supported.
In contrast to the recent Labour manifesto, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to only borrow to invest and promise to decrease the deficit, eliminating it completely on day-to-day spending by 2020.
300,000 homes will be built by 2022 and a council tax of up to 200% could be introduced on second homes.
The manifesto could help win back young voters, many of which perhaps feel betrayed by the party after they failed to keep their promise of opposing a rise in tuition fees after the 2010 election. It includes major policies targeted at the younger generation, both directly and indirectly. Young people were largely against leaving the EU, and the promise of a second referendum could increase the Liberal Democrats popularity within this age group.