Despite their lack of support after having joined the coalition with the Conservative party from 2010 to 2015, the Liberal Democrats actually achieved a huge amount in that time period. I think that we should be grateful that Nick Clegg decided to put country over party.
The Liberal Democrats sought to redistribute the wealth in our society, by investing £1 billion into tackling tax avoidance and – consequently – raising an extra £9 billion a year. Tax avoidance, whilst not officially illegal, is certainly morally wrong and the Lib Dems were the only party serious about making sure that everybody paid their fair share into the system. That included, getting rid of taxes for the poorest – with over 3 million of the lowest earners no longer having to pay income tax.
Their record on housing was far better than any of the recent previous Governments, seeing 190,000 affordable homes, 70,000 empty homes brought back into use and the first (net) increase in social housing for the previous 30 years. Wanting to continue their work in increasing the number of homes, the Lib Dems’ recent 2017 election manifesto aims to reach “a housebuilding target of 300,000 homes a year by 2022, including half a million affordable and energy efficient homes.”
Introducing the ‘Pupil Premium’, the Lib Dems actively helped the most disadvantaged children and students. The funding was directed towards:
- special schools for children with special educational needs or disabilities;
- pupil referral units, for children who can’t go to a mainstream school;
- special academies, for children with special educational needs or disabilities;
- alternative provision academies, for children who can’t go to a mainstream school.
The policy has seen an extra £1,320 for eligible pupils in reception to year 6 and £935 for eligible pupils in year 7 to year 11. It is not just the ‘Pupil Premium’ that they inaugurated, but also free school meals for all primary school children – something which would be extended by a future Lib Dem government.
Created in 2012, the Lib Dems also played an instrumental part in the formation of the Green Investment Bank, which has been sold off by the Tories now that the Lib Dems are no longer able to mitigate the environmentally harmful Conservative politics.
“The UK Green Investment Bank is the first bank of its type in the world. We were created by the UK Government and capitalised with public funds. We use this finance to back green projects on commercial terms and mobilise other private sector capital into the UK’s green economy.” – The Green Investment Bank’s website
Supporting green initiatives, the Bank’s purposes are:
- The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
- The advancement of efficiency in the use of natural resources;
- The protection or enhancement of the natural environment;
- The protection or enhancement of biodiversity;
- The promotion of environmental sustainability.
STOPPING THE TORIES
The Liberal Democrats, under coalition also managed to stop many laws that the Conservatives wanted to pass. The Conservative 2010 manifesto pledged to get rid of the Human Rights Act and abolish human rights from the national curriculum, two policies that were blocked by the Lib Dems. Cameron also wanted to cut inheritance tax for the wealthiest, which the Lib Dems again refused to tolerate. A huge list could follow – such as, stopping the Snoopers’ Charter, reducing the time childminders could give to a child and re-introducing the previous CSE/ O-level divide – but there isn’t the time or space to mention all of them, but if you click here it will take you to a website by the author Mark Pack, which has a much larger, more extensive list.
The Liberal Democrats achieved a lot in their coalition with the Conservative party and were unfairly scapegoated. Whilst the tuition fees scandal casted a shadow over the 5 years, they delivered on many of their key policies – even though they were only the third biggest party and so didn’t have the elected mandate to introduce them all.
Totally off the subject: as I was writing this, the news came in about Tim Farron standing down as the Lib Dem leader. Whilst I am sorry to see him go, I hope that the party will now be able to have a new, clear and fresh direction. Expect more posts on this issue over the next week!