Party focuses on opposition to independence and hard Brexit
THE SCOTTISH Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto for the 2017 General Election to be held on 8 June.
The manifesto focuses on their status as an opposition to a future Conservative Government, which they say the UK is heading into and opposition to Scottish independence and hard Brexit – in that order.
CommonSpace looks at some of the key policies in the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto.
Independence and Brexit
The central pitch of the manifesto is that the Scottish Liberal Democrats are the party to restore order to a chaotic constitutional situation.
The manifesto openly says that Brexit is a threat to jobs and the economy, but that the threat from a second referendum on Scottish independence is “so much bigger”.
The manifesto reads: “We will vote against another divisive independence referendum. Full Stop.”
This despite the fact that a second referendum has already been voted on by the Scottish Parliament. In this respect, Scottish Liberal Democrat votes on the matter no longer matter. However, the party does want a referendum on the final Brexit deal terms – a referendum in which failure to support final terms would result in the UK remaining in the EU.
The Scottish Economy
The manifesto says the Scottish economy must be protected from a looming recession. The party’s efforts to stave this off begin with stopping a second independence referendum, followed by the threat of hard Brexit – the threat of which can be partially mitigated by protecting as a close as possible a relationship between the UK and the EU.
Besides preventing or causing more referendums, the manifesto also commits to increase public spending, but not so much as to threaten “throwing away our hard-fought efforts to control the deficit during the Coalition years”.
To that end the manifesto promises £100bn in capital investment over the next parliament – modest compared to Labour and the SNP.
Education is one of the several devolved areas, not directly affected by the General Election, covered in the manifesto.
The Liberal Democrats attainment policy focuses on their Pupil Premium, a legacy of the 2010-15 UK coalition government. The premium operates in England and provides extra funds for children with low attainment. The party calls on the Scottish Government to “fund properly” the policy.
On higher education, the manifesto pledges to keep universities “open to all” by protecting them from hard Brexit. However, there is no mention of university fees, which the SNP abolished and the Liberal Democrats raised to up to £9000 per year in England during the coalition government.
The manifesto pledges to back efforts for the integration of health and social care, the flagship response of the SNP to rising social care costs, which has committed record funds to the integration process.
The Liberal Democrats also want to protect the status of EU nationals working in the NHS, and deal with the staff recruitment crisis.
The theme of support for existing international associations like the EU is extended to Nato as part of the “open and co-operative rules-based international order”.
This fealty to the western military alliance includes concerns about an “increasingly aggressive Russia” which the manifesto says should be subject to the “maximum” in economic and other forms of pressure. The manifesto pledges to defend Nato allies in Eastern Europe.
Picture courtesy of David Thomson
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.