Manifesto Priorities – A Statement from the Social Liberal Forum Executive

As the Liberal Democrats move towards finalizing the party’s manifesto, The Social Liberal Forum sets out the key principles that we believe should be the basis for formulating tax policy and spending commitments:

  • The party should commit itself to the goal of reducing income inequality over the next parliament. Proposals to reduce public spending should be assessed in terms of whether they further that objective.
  • Tax increases for the richest members of society should take the greater part of the strain in reducing the budget deficit in order to protect vulnerable users of public services, like housing, health services and social care. In 1993 the Clinton Administration faced with a big structural budget deficit expressly chose to use tax increases rather than spending cuts as the major means of deficit reduction.
  • We should be the party of fair, redistributive taxation. We welcome the proposal to include a 0.5% property tax on mansions over £1 million and see this as an addition to our reconfirmed policy of replacing the Council Tax and replacing it with a Local Income Tax.
  • Immediate action to further the transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy is essential and this goal should substantially influence tax and spending policies. A global climate change agreement should be based on the principles of contraction and convergence.
  • Reducing youth unemployment should be another priority for the next government. Academic evidence has shown that youth unemployment generates serious losses in lifetime earnings that can persist up to twenty years after a period of unemployment. In the last two recessions large numbers of people out of work for long periods became stigmatized, depressed and hard to place – a phenomenon known as ‘scarring.’
  • The abolition of tuition fees is important so that students from working class communities do not face the re-imposition of barriers at university level. Our policy on fees has been reaffirmed at the Harrogate Conference and by FPC. The policy is right and is popular.

We believe applying the principles outlined above to policy development would make a reality of calls for progressive austerity.

The Social Liberal Forum Executive

Tagged with:
Posted in blog archive
7 comments on “Manifesto Priorities – A Statement from the Social Liberal Forum Executive
  1. I’m not sure this really takes us very far on sustainable economy / climate change.

    Of course, I agree strongly with the sentiment but so would a lot of people in the Lib Dems – and Labour, and even the Tories. What does this mean in practical terms? We need to provide details about the spending priorities and approach and, likewise, ways of using green taxes to help in changing behaviours. But then, existing Lib Dem policy contains quite a lot on green taxes. Do you suggest the party should go further?

    This is existing policy too.

  2. James Graham says:

    Neil,

    I think you misunderstand the purpose of that statement.

    We weren’t attempting to rewrite party policy, but rather state what we think should be priorities in the party’s next manifesto.

    With this in mind it certainly does not take party policy any further than at present. But the pre-manifesto does not go this far, merely calling for “leadership” and more ambitious targets based on historical and future emissions responsibilities. It falls short of calling for C&C, which we have a problem with and would like to see rectified.

  3. Yes, I think I understand what a priorities statement is . . . it’s just that “Immediate action to further the transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy is essential and this goal should substantially influence tax and spending policies” is a vague aspiration, and doesn’t really establish a point of difference with the other parties. Why are you not as specific on policy in this area as you are on, say, tuition fees or taxation?

    I take your point about contraction and convergence, but perhaps it might be useful to explain to people what it is? just a thought.

  4. James Graham says:

    I’m not at all clear of the point you are trying to make here Neil.

  5. David Weber says:

    “The abolition of tuition fees is important so that students from working class communities do not face the re-imposition of barriers at university level.”

    I’m not sure how you can infer the latter from the former — haven’t the number of new university places been founded, in part, from increased funding?

  6. Tony Greaves says:

    “Tax increases for the richest members of society should take the greater part of the strain in reducing the budget deficit in order to protect vulnerable users of public services, like housing, health services and social care.”

    I can’t disagree with this as a stands but it is not “vulnerable users of public services” who need to be protected – it’s the public services themselves.

    Particularly at local level they provide much of the glue that binds communities together, that makes life worth living. Without them the most “vulnerable” people will suffer most, but everyone will suffer.

    If the Tories (or indeed Labour) launch a major assault on public services after the election, there will be a series of local protests which will gain ground and turn into local insurrections and then a wave of them across the country. This party will have to decide which side it is on.

    I have no doubt that most local activists will be campaigning against the dismantling of community services: it’s in our political DNA. There will be difficulties where we are running Councils that are caught by drastic cuts in government funding: will they join the insurrection or tamely behave like part of the establishment?

    If our party is not backing the campaigns and indeed leading many of them, we will disintegrate.

    It might help if some thought were given to this now.

    Tony Greaves

  7. Aubrey Meyer says:

    Neil suggested some explanation of Contraction and Convergence [C&C].

    Here are links to a couple of C&C related documents that may help this: -
    http://www.tangentfilms.com/C&C29sept.pdf
    http://www.tangentfilms.com/GCIEAC10nov09.pdf

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Manifesto Priorities – A Statement from the Social Liberal Forum Executive"
  1. [...] we’re at the point of the political cycle where people appear to be demanding what should appear in the party’s manifesto for the next election (current working title: No, You Can’t [...]

  2. [...] Manifesto Priorities – A Statement from the Social Liberal Forum Executive by the Social Liberal Forum. “The SLF executive spell out what they feel should be [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Follow us on Twitter

Blog archive