Lib-Dems target the young as Farron reaches out with pledges

Tim Farron has set his sights upon hoovering up the youth vote with the publication of the Lib Dems’ manifesto. Brexit remains the focal point of the document – with Farron pledging to “protect Britain’s place in Europe” – but, positioning the party as the natural home for the younger demographic is clearly one of Farron’s strongest domestic pitches.

On offer for younger voters is a new “rent-to-buy” scheme for first-time homebuyers, a promise to reduce the voting age to 16, renewed housing benefit for 18- to 21-year olds and even discounted bus travel. Additionally, an extra £7bn has been set aside for schools and colleges and the pupil premium will be tripled for early years.

To pay for this list of pledges, the Lib Dems are proposing to add 1p to income tax, set corporation tax at 20% and lower the level at which inheritance tax applies, to an as of yet unspecified amount. Yet, it is the party’s offer on Brexit that is already dominating the headlines – a promise, in black and white, to hold a referendum on the terms of any Brexit deal. Farron is hoping that such a promise can cement the Lib Dems as the party of the 48%, attracting disgruntled remain voters from both Labour and the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems’ stance as the pro-EU, anti-Brexit party has so far failed to produce the anticipated benefits in terms of a poll bounce. National polls are stubbornly refusing to budge, with the party only recently having overtaken UKIP in third place and sitting at just 10% in the polls. Though it achieved an increase in vote share in this month’s local elections, its so-called resurgence was not reflected in the number of councillors it had elected, with the party losing 28 seats overall.

 

It is the party’s offer on Brexit that is already dominating the headlines – a promise, in black and white, to hold a referendum on the terms of any Brexit deal.

 

On a national scale, the party is hoping to gain a foothold in the Southwest of England, regaining many of the seats it lost in 2015. But, recent polling in the region shows the Lib Dem vote share having increased by just 1 point from 2015 to today from 15% to 16%. The Conservatives are off in the distance with a projected share of 52% of the vote. As the UKIP vote appears to be moving in favour of the Conservatives, Farron and his party have what looks to be an increasingly insurmountable hill to climb in the next three weeks.


Economy

  • A major programme of capital investment aimed at stimulating growth across all areas of the UK
  • Eliminating the deficit on day-to-day spending by 2020 in order to control the national debt
  • £100bn package of additional infrastructure investment


Tax & Welfare

  • An immediate 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rate of Income Tax to raise £6bn in additional revenue, ringfenced to be spent only on the NHS and social care services
  • Return Corporation Tax to 20%


Public Services

  • Income Tax raise to be spent on the NHS and social care services
  • Investing nearly £7bn extra in our children’s education – increasing school budgets and the Pupil Premium to protect against rising costs and pupil numbers, and introducing a fairer national funding formula
  • Lift 1% cap on public sector pay


Brexit and Migration

  • A referendum on the terms of any Brexit deal obtained by the Government
  • Guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK
  • Any deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU will ensure that trade can continue without customs controls at the border and must maintain membership of the single market
  • Any deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU will protect the right to work, travel, study and retire across the EU