Our panel pronounces on Nick Clegg's centrist mission statementby Prospect Team / April 15, 2015 / Leave a comment
Nick Clegg today stood beneath a set of dangling glow sticks at a trendy South London art space to launch his party’s pitch to the reasonable centre ground of British politics.
You can read the full document here, but below we’ve gathered together some key pledges, plus responses from our expert panel.
What are the Lib Dems promising?
“It is not a shopping list of pie in the sky ideas, but a set of proposals that builds on our record of action in government,” said Clegg of his party’s manifesto this morning, and that sums it up pretty well. The document, weighing in at 155 pages (compared to 85 for Labour and 82 for the Conservatives) spends a lot of that ample space reminding readers of what Liberal Democrats have already achieved. The pledges here are mostly presented as building on existing accomplishments—the manifesto writers use the word “continue” 79 times—and there are plenty of graphs and charts to show us how well things have gone under the Coalition. Clegg is setting out a clear pitch, then, if not an especially ideological one: a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a reasonable, centrist voice with a record of delivery, and a restraining hand on the party of government. The alternative, he says, is to see a coalition of the more unpredictable hard left or right.
Six key pledges
The Lib Dems have set out their policy stall according to five “priorities” for coalition negotiations, so we’ve tackled one from each, then added one quite distinctive pledge in at the end.
The first Lib Dem priority is “prosperity for all:” achieved in part with the setting out of two clear fiscal rules. The first is a commitment to cutting debt as a share of national income every year from 2017/18. The other is to balance the overall budget, with no borrowing to pay for everyday expenditure, but borrowing for investment in “the things that will help our economy grow” permitted. That second point puts them squarely in between the Tories (who have ruled out all borrowing) and Labour (who only want to balance the current budget, leaving room for more borrowing).