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Liberal Democrats Set To Support Universal Basic Income

In a move to become more politically relevant, the Liberal Democrats will set out a new vision for their party and the country as a whole during their 4-day virtual party conference.

During the 2019 General Election, former party leader Jo Swinson lost her seat to a member of the SNP. The new leader, Sir Ed Davey, is aiming to move the party in a drastic new direction.

The Liberal Democrats are expected to set out a number of policies that will be voted on by members in their 4-day virtual conference taking place this week.

The main policy the party is expected to support is a commitment to some form of Universal Basic Income for all UK residents. This is different from Labour, who only proposed trials of the scheme in local areas as part of their 2019 manifesto. Issues such as the criteria to apply and the value of payments will be finalised by 2024.

Official portrait of Christine Jardine (cc David Woolfall)

Lib Dem Treasury spokeswoman Christie Jardine explained to The Independent that: “The guarantee of a regular income to cover essentials for every UK resident would provide the flexibility for people to retrain or start new careers and businesses in the wake of the economic damage caused by Covid-19″.

Sir Ed Davey wishes to foster a new vision of the party away from the central position the party is known for, by “reclaiming” patriotism from the “populist right”. He wishes instead to promote one based on progressive values and a desire to be the party of aspiration, relevance and compassion.

The future manifesto will include areas such as rebooting the economy after coronavirus, climate change, mental health and looking at crime and anti-social behaviour.

Controversially, the manifesto will not include last year’s aim of rejoining the EU via a General Election. The party’s younger base is outraged and an amendment is being proposed to rejoin it (within 10 years), having gained 750 signatures so far.

2019 General Election results map. Credit: ThatGamingSheep. Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

This could be a move by Sir Ed Davey and the Liberal Democrats to position themselves as an alternative and the main ideological opposition to the Conservative Party. They may be aiming to sway some Tories who are unhappy with Boris Johnson’s premiership and the Internal Market Bill.

There is some evidence to support this. According to a report by Datapraxis: “The overwhelming majority of Lib Dem target seats are currently Tory-held”.

Sir Ed Davey’s speech to the Liberal Democrat party conference can be watched here: