The document sets out many policies for the 2015 general election, with more powers promised for the nations, regions and cities.
Under the section ‘A decentralised but United Kingdom’ (p.63) the party laid out its plans for devolving more powers.
With the upcoming Scottish referendum the Liberal Democrats’ proposals could have an impact on undecided voters in Scotland. For Scotland the party is promising to further the ‘recommendations of the Campbell Commission for fiscal federalism for Scotland’. This would mean allowing Holyrood to raise more than half of the money it spends.
The manifesto also says they would ‘Give greater control over social protection’ and ‘Begin work on agreeing next steps for Home Rule immediately after a “No” vote in the independence referendum’.
What the Liberal Democrats are proposing is a federal future for Britain, one essentially with ‘devo-max’ for Scotland.
The proposals also set out plans for a high-speed rail for Scotland (p.22). The party plans to ‘restore twin track lines to major roots and proceed with HS2, as the first stage of a high-speed rail network to Scotland’.
Additionally, as well as devolving more powers to Scotland the party plans to enforce ‘A new wave of devolution to the nations of the UK’ and improve on City Deals and Growth Deals by creating ‘Devolution on Demand’ to give more power and ‘control to local areas’.
For Wales (p.64) the party is proposing to implement the ‘Silk Part 1 proposals' on more powers for Wales and allow for a ‘reserved powers model’.
Also for Northern Ireland, the Liberal Democrats will ‘continue to press for the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement.’
There is also a section on ‘Devolving power in England’ (p.66) proposing to take power away from Westminster and give it to ‘communities, villages, towns, cities and regions of England [to] drive growth, improve public services and give people the freedom to run their own lives’. One proposal would be to lessen the control of the Department of Communities and Local Government over local government, allowing councils to have more of a say on local issues.
What all this means is that matters will be decided further down the chain and much closer to the people, showing that the Liberal Democrats are portraying themselves as the forward thinking and democratic party of devolution.
Whether any of these proposals will happen will depend on the make-up of the parliament next May, however, with guaranteed proposals of more powers for Scotland from the three main parties in the run-up to the referendum, if there’s a ‘no’ vote, then there is a chance for a much more decentralised UK.
However, with the Liberal Democrats only getting 7% in YouGov’s latest UK-wide poll (6th September) - less than half of UKIP’s 15% - it is likely that a lot of the party’s policies will not become law.
The policies will be discussed by Lib Dem members at next month’s party conference in Glasgow, before being put to a vote.
The full document of the pre-manifesto can be read here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/6272/attachments/original/1409941645/Pre-Manifesto_3_Sep_2014.pdf?1409941645