Nick Clegg is an excellent politician. Not only that, but he’s also a pretty decent human being. Five years ago he made the honourable decision to form a coalition government with the Conservative party, and in so doing put aside party politics and did what he thought was best for the country. Although many people are resentful that the Liberal Democrats did not deliver on their promise not to raise tuition fees, Nick Clegg has to be applauded for apologising. Such an admission of error is incredibly rare in politics, and should exemplify to voters the enormity of self-sacrifice involved in entering the coalition. Over the last five years, the Liberal Democrats have acted as a vital check on Conservative policy. With polls suggesting that another coalition is likely, voting Liberal Democrat would be a tactical decision to ensure Britain remains stable. The Liberal Democrats would ensure a far more ideologically-central government than a Labour government backed up by the SNP, or a Conservative government reinforced by UKIP . The healthy balance that the Liberal Democrats are able to provide is epitomised by projected plans to cut £50 billion less than Tories, whilst borrowing £70 billion less than Labour.
Voting tactically is all well and good, but it’s important to understand that which the Liberal Democrats believe, and what a vote for their party translates to, in term of policy. Their five main priorities are to secure the economy, implement a fairer taxation system, provide quality healthcare for all and education opportunities for every child, as well as protect the environment. The Liberal Democrats’ greatest strength is their prioritisation of the nation’s precious NHS. They intend to inject the £8 billion funding that the NHS needs to cope with both an ageing and expanding population. All this is in combination with the Liberal Democrats’ desire to transform young people’s mental health services. It’s a sad reality that many young people are currently suffering from mental illness, or have a close friend or family member that does. There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self-harm, with figures increasing by 68% over the last 10 years. The Liberal Democrats aim to provide more help for young people, closer to home, through £500 million spending a year on mental healthcare. This is a policy which would hopefully see a major reduction in statistics like these and, in an increasingly stressful day and age, cannot be understated in terms of importance to voters.
Whilst admitting that the European Union is far from perfect, the Liberal Democrats believe that remaining in the EU gives Britain some key advantages which would be lost were we to leave it. These are the ability to negotiate climate change agreements, participate in trade talks with global players like the USA and China, and have a say in introducing sanctions against countries like Russia. The Liberal Democrats believe that people coming to the UK should attempt to learn English and integrate with society, and they are keen to exempt small businesses from EU legislation where possible. When voting, it is important to remember that migration works both ways, a fact which is easy to forget when the media often focuses on the effects of immigration on the UK, and parties such as UKIP use scaremongering tactics to cultivate unhealthy prejudices in sections of the political nation.
If you were thinking of voting Green, then you might find a healthy compromise in the fact that the Liberal Democrats want to build 300,000 new energy efficient homes a year, as well as ten new Garden Cities. They also want to stop people going to prison if their only offence is being a drug user, instead creating help programmes to facilitate recovery. In terms of defence, the Liberal Democrats want to reduce – not scrap – the Trident programme, ensuring we still have national security whilst reducing spending in this field.
These policies aim to make Britain a happier, healthier and more welcoming nation. But what do the Liberal Democrats offer you, as an individual? Well, if you’re a young person, they want to lower the voting age to 16 so that young people get a say in their future, as well as reduce travel costs so that it’s cheaper for young people to get to school and work. They want to double the number of businesses who take on apprentices – providing an alternative route to university for school leavers, creating a society where everyone plays to their strengths. If you’re a working person then the Liberal Democrats want to help you buy your first home for the same cost as renting, as well as allowing you to earn up to £12,500 tax free. They also plan to reduce tax by £400 per person, as well as raising the minimum wage to ensure a higher standard of living for all. In terms of gender equality, the Liberal Democrats want to offer fathers the chance to have more paternity leave as well as make big companies publish differences in male and female pay.
Liberal Democrats are the logical choice if you believe in a fairer society. Whatever the outcome of tomorrow’s election, a vote for Liberal Democrats is a vote for Britain’s future. A future which is that much brighter when you add a splash of orange.
Words by Beth Kirkbride
Note: This piece was constructed on the basis of balance in our coverage of the General Election and does not necessarily reflect all the views of the author